Pakistan should reinstate death penalty moratorium
22 November, 2012
LAHORE: The Human Rights Watch has asked the Pakistani government to reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty following what it termed its troubling return to the dwindling ranks of countries imposing capital punishment.
On November 15, 2012, military authorities hanged Muhammad Hussain, an army soldier convicted of murder, at Mianwali jail. The hanging ended Pakistan's widely hailed unofficial moratorium on the death penalty that had been in place since 2008, Human Rights Watch said. According to official figures, Pakistan has more than 7,000 prisoners on death row, one of the largest populations of prisoners facing execution in the world.
Commenting on the recent execution, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch, Ali Dayan Hasan, said, "After a four-year unofficial moratorium, Pakistan has reverted to the odious practice of sending people to the gallows."
He argued, "Instead, the government should declare an official moratorium, commute all existing death sentences, and then abolish the death penalty for all crimes once and for all."
On February 12, 2009, a court martial in Okara Cantonment sentenced Hussain to death for murdering his superior, Havaldar Khadim Hussain, in 2008. He subsequently filed mercy petitions to the army's General Headquarters and the chief of army staff, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, but they were rejected.
Hussain's final mercy petition to President Asif Ali Zardari was rejected on December 30, 2011.