As EU leaders and members of the European Parliament prepare to meet the President of Pakistan this week, Amnesty International urges the EU to call for an immediate moratorium on executions with view to abolishing the death penalty in Pakistan.
In the Province of Punjab alone, at least 37 people have been executed so far this year. More than 7,000 men and 36 women wait to be hanged in Pakistani jails according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Most of these are confined in small over-crowded cells.
“Pakistan’s rate of executions is one of the highest in the world. Given the EU’s strong commitment to oppose the death penalty, President Musharraf should be pressed hard for a moratorium on all executions,” says Dick Ooosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.
Pakistan applies the death penalty also against persons who were under 18 at the time of the crime, a practice which contravenes international law. Those from poorer backgrounds are also widely denied basic rights at all stages of the justice system. In contrast, many wealthier convicts are able to escape punishment under provisions of the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance that allows families of murder victims to accept compensation and pardon the offender.
In their encounters with Pervez Musharraf, Amnesty International hopes that EU leaders will raise as a matter of urgency the cases of individuals awaiting imminent executions whose lives depend on a Presidential pardon.
One such case is that of Mirza Tahir Hussain, a UK citizen whose stay of execution expires on 1 October. Mr Hussain has been in detention for 18 years following what Amnesty International believes to have been an unfair trial. He has exhausted all possibilities of appeal and a previous clemency petition to the President of Pakistan has been rejected. His only hope lies with President Musharraf, who alone can decide to commute the sentence.
- background information on Mirza Tahir Hussain
- Other information on Amnesty International UK Section website
For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels)
E-mail: [email protected]