Capital punishment in Pakistan

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Capital punishment is legal in Pakistan. There had been a moratorium on executions since 2008, but the moratorium was lifted for terrorism related cases as of 16 December 2014, following the massacre of 132 students and 9 members of staff of the Army Public School and Degree College Peshawar. On 19 December 2014, Pakistan executed two prisoners convicted of offences unrelated to the Peshawar massacre.[1] As of June 2015, Pakistan has executed 179 death row prisoners since 2014 Peshawar school massacre.[2][3]

At least 241 people were sentenced to death in Pakistan in 2005, and at least 31 were executed – the fifth highest number in the world. Pakistan ranked fifth (total cases – not per capita) after the People's Republic of China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.[4] The moratorium expired on 30 June 2013 and the government announced it had no plan to extend it. The government stated there will be no general amnesty for the convicts waiting for execution.[5] As of 4 July 2013, Amnesty International estimated there are more than 8,000 prisoners on death row.[6] The European Union (EU) has sharply reacted over lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty in Pakistan, and has demanded its immediate restoration, which had been in place since 2008.[7]

Amnesty International recorded 13 executions in 1999, while the moratorium was intact.[8] and it reports these execution were carried out by the lower courts. However it is not at all apparent what the report means by "lower courts" as only one Trial Court, the Court of Sessions, has the power to award capital punishment (Section 31(2) Code of Criminal Procedure and that Court generally tries only the most serious crimes. All death sentences have to be confirmed by the High Court (Sections 31(25), 374 and 376 Code of Criminal Procedure.[9]

Controversially Pakistan was one of only eight countries in the world (China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United States and Yemen), that since 1990 executed prisoners who were under 18 years old at the time of committing a crime. Pakistan along with the United States and Yemen have now raised the minimum age to 18 in law to be eligible for execution.[10]

Hanging is the only legal method of execution (Section 368 Code of Criminal Procedure).

2008 moratorium[edit]

The Constitution of Pakistan empowers the President to pardon or remit convictions. Pakistan Peoples Party government whose former chairperson Benazir Bhutto was a well known opponent of death penalty came to the power in March 2008 and installed its President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari on 9 September 2008. Who upon taking charge of the office issued an indefinite moratorium of prisoners on death row. Pakistan's moratorium ended on 14 November 2014 when Mr. Muhammed Hussain, a soldier was hanged for murder at Central Jail Mianwali.[11]

On 17 December 2014, after the Peshawar school attack, in which the Pakistani Taliban murdered 132 children and at least nine others, the authorities announced the moratorium would be lifted for terrorism cases.[12] Executions immediately resumed, with dozens more following.[13]

Finally on March 10, 2015, Pakistan lifted the moratorium on the use of capital punishment in the country entirely.[14]

As of 28th April 2015, according to Amnesty International, Pakistan carried out its 100th execution since the moratorium on the death penalty in December 2014.

On 14th June, the Pakistan government announced a temporary reprieve for death row prisoners during the month of Ramadan. So far the government has executed about 180 convicts in 6 months since the Peshawar school attack. Executions are to be resumed after Ramadan.

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