Human Rights Club © Amnesty International

Pakistan: Executions not the answer to combating terrorism

Resuming the death penalty is not the answer to combating terrorism in Pakistan and only perpetuates a cycle of violence, Amnesty International said as two people were executed in the country today for the first time since 2012. 

Two people who had been convicted over their role in two separate Taliban attacks were hanged in Pakistan today. They were the first executions since the government lifted a moratorium on executions for those tried of terrorism-related charges this week in response to the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that killed at least 142 people. 

“It is extremely disappointing that the government has given into fear and anger by executing two people today. As horrific as the attack on the Peshawar school was, more killings – this time by the government – is never the answer to combating terrorism and crime,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director. 

“This is a cynical reaction from the government. It masks a failure to deal with the core issue highlighted by the Peshawar attack, namely the lack of effective protection for civilians in north-west Pakistan.” 

Four more prisoners are believed to be at risk of execution within the next 24 hours, following new amendments to the legislation of the state of Punjab approved by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif today. 

“The death penalty violates the right to life and we are deeply concerned at the multiple violations of international law the authorities are about to commit by going ahead with their executions plan,” said David Griffiths. 

In Pakistan many death sentences are handed down after trials that do not meet international fair trial standards. 

Hundreds more prisoners are at risk of imminent execution as the Ministry of Interior is currently forwarding 547 mercy petitions to the President thought to relate to terrorism cases; 120 were forwarded to the President on 18 December. 

Among those at risk of execution is Shafqat Hussein, who was 15 years old when the crimes of kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter – for which he was found guilty – were committed.   

“The sheer number of people whose lives are at risk and the current atmosphere in Pakistan makes the situation even more alarming. The government must immediately halt any plans to carry out further executions and reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty,” said David Griffiths.