Juvenile among 12 prisoners executed in Pakistan

The mass execution of 12 people in Pakistan today highlights the horrific consequences of the government’s decision to resume executions for all death row prisoners, Amnesty International said.

The 12 men were hanged in prisons across the country this morning and had been convicted of crimes including “terrorism” and murder. Since a moratorium on executions was lifted in December 2014, Pakistan has put 39 people to death. Amongst those executed was Muhammad Afzal, who was 16 years old when he was sentenced to death.

Last week, Pakistan’s government confirmed a change in its policy on the death penalty by announcing that executions would resume for all capital crimes, not just for prisoners convicted on “terrorism”-related offenses.

“The news that 12 more people were executed in Pakistan this morning is dismaying. The government is apparently intent on making good on promises to send everyone, including children, sentenced to death to the gallows,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

“At this rate, Pakistan is turning itself into one of the world’s top executioners – a shameful club no country should aspire to join. The government must immediately re-impose the moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition.”

“International law clearly prohibits the use of the death penalty against people who were below 18 years old when the crime was committed.”

Another person convicted under the age of 18, Shafqat Hussain, is set to be executed on 19 March – Amnesty International has raised serious fair trial concerns around his case.

“Today’s hangings sadly show the horrific consequences of the government’s decision to resume executions to include all death row prisoners. With thousands of people on death row and most having exhausted their appeals process, the number of lives at risk is staggering,” said David Griffiths.

“The death penalty is always a human rights violation, but the serious fair trial concerns that riddle Pakistan’s justice system makes its use there even more troubling.”