Target: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
Goal: Encourage Pakistan to extend its temporary postponement of several executions into a long-term moratorium
Over 8,000 prisoners are at risk of execution in Pakistan, with 450 of those having exhausted all their legal options. But the prime minister recently postponed the executions of several men pending an audience with President Asif Ali Zardari, who opposes the death penalty. Sign the petition and encourage Pakistan to make this temporary moratorium on executions a permanent one.
Of the “at least eight men scheduled to be executed,” two were minors when they committed their crimes, two claim to have been ill-treated by police, one claims “he did not receive a fair trial after he failed to bribe law enforcement officials,” one claims to have committed his crime in self-defense, and one may not be mentally competent. There are clearly concerns that need to be addressed, especially since Amnesty International reports that many criminals in Pakistan fail to receive fair trials, with “a lack of access to legal counsel,” “an acceptance of evidence inadmissible under international law,” and “judges under extreme pressure to convict.” Furthermore, Pakistan is subject to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which prohibit the execution of prisoners who committed their crimes while underage.
The death penalty is, in the words of Amnesty International, “the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment” under any circumstances, but the problems in Pakistan’s legal system make a moratorium on the death penalty even more crucial. Sign the petition and urge Pakistani officials to convert this temporary stay of executions into a long-term moratorium.
Dear President and Prime Minister,
Thank you for putting a temporary stop to state executions in Pakistan. I encourage you to make this a positive first step toward doing away with the death penalty altogether.
The current problems with Pakistan’s legal system make it difficult for accused criminals to receive fair treatment, and the time constraints on trials put “extreme pressure to convict” on judges. Many of the men whose executions have been postponed by this temporary moratorium have claimed that they were ill-treated by police, did not receive a fair trial after failing to bribe officials, or committed their crime in self-defense. One prisoner’s lawyer has raised the question of whether his client was even mentally competent to stand trial, and two of the prisoners committed their crime as juveniles. Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, criminals cannot be executed for crimes they committed while they were still underage.
According to a 1998 United Nations report, capital punishment is no greater a deterrent to crime than other forms of punishment, and Amnesty International calls the death penalty “the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.” I urge you to make every effort to commute the death penalties of the men in question–Attaullah alias Qasim, Muhammad Azam alias Sharif, Jalal alias Abdul Jalil, Behram Khan Shafqat Hussain, Muhammad Munir Hussain, Zulfiqar Ali Khan, and Mohammad Ameen–into life sentences, to ensure that the legal system is fair for all, and to do away with capital punishment entirely, in accordance with various UN General Assembly resolutions.
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Photo credit: Nomi887 via Wikimedia Commons