Pakistan: Stop execution of death row prisoner with mental disability

Pakistan’s authorities must not execute Imdad Ali, a death row prisoner with a history of mental illness, Amnesty International said today.

With this warrant to execute Imdad Ali, Pakistan is clearly in breach of international human rights standards that protect people with mental illnesses and ensure that they are never subject to this cruel and irreversible punishment
Champa Patel, Amnesty International's South Asia director

Imdad Ali was convicted of the murder of a religious teacher in 2002. In 2012, he was diagnosed a suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia,” a condition the doctor who examined him described as “a chronic and disabling psychiatric illness.”

Dr. Naeemullah Leghari, the head of psychiatry at Nishtar Hospital in the central Pakistani city of Multan, added that Imdad Ali’s illness “impairs the person’s rational thinking and decision-making capabilities.”

The latest execution was scheduled for Tuesday, 20th September 2016, but he was given a stay at the last minute so the Supreme Court could consider whether his execution warrant should be suspended on grounds of his mental illness.

On Tuesday 27 September, the Supreme Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to suspend Imdad Ali’s execution warrant.

Imdad Ali remains at risk of execution. If the Supreme Court rejects the petition to suspend the execution warrant, a new date for execution can be set immediately.

This is the second execution warrant that has been issued in Imdad Ali’s case. In 2015, the Pakistani Supreme Court rejected his appeal, ruling that there was no evidence of his mental disability.

However, the Supreme Court’s judgment shows that Imdad Ali’s lawyer had not included the 2012 medical report diagnosing him with paranoid schizophrenia as evidence. This oversight raises fair trial concerns.

“The minority of the world’s countries that still resort to the death penalty can only do so in line with international human rights standards. This includes the prohibition against executing against people with mental illness. Imdad Ali should not be subjected to this cruel punishment,” said Champa Patel.

Background

Pakistan is the world’s third most prolific executioner after China and Iran. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, regardless of the crime or the method of execution. It is the ultimate, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Pakistan has executed more than 400 people since a moratorium on executions was lifted in December 2014. Some of the prisoners executed were juveniles at the time of the offence they were convicted for or had a mental disability.

Amnesty International is also concerned that in Pakistan many death sentences are handed down after trials that do not meet international fair trial standards and violate Article 10(A) of Pakistan’s constitution, which calls for a fair trial and due process for the determination of a person’s civil rights and obligations in any criminal charge.