Disabled death row convict set to be hanged

Published August 21, 2015
A disabled Pakistani man convicted of murder, faces being hanged in his wheelchair. ─ Photo courtesy Reprieve
A disabled Pakistani man convicted of murder, faces being hanged in his wheelchair. ─ Photo courtesy Reprieve

After a death row convict lost the use of his legs because of tuberculosis, he faces the prospect of being hanged in his wheelchair, said a report published in The Independent.

Abdul Basit was a 43-year-old man, was convicted of murder in 2009. On top of that, in 2010, while he was still in prison, he developed tuberculosis, a potentially deadly disease.

Human rights campaigning group called Reprieve, referred to this conviction as "cruel and violent spectacle."

Basit received unsuitable care after he caught the illness which damaged his condition further and led to him becoming paralysed from the waist down.

His condition was a "complication of tuberculous meningitis," said a medical report, seen by The Daily Telegraph.

A report that was signed by two doctors, says that patients who usually contract tuberculosis are "usually permanently disabled and there is almost no chance of any recovery." And also claimed that, "he is likely to remain bed bound for the rest of his life."

His execution was about to take place after the court ordered a warrant on July 29, but his execution got temporarily suspended.

The counsel for Basit had pointed out that Pakistan’s law had provisions for mercy to be granted in cases where prisoners were suffering from severe “ill-health”.

The government’s failure to acknowledge this and commute Basit’s sentence appeared to form part of a worrying trend involving the blanket dismissal of all mercy petitions considered since executions resumed in 2014, he said before the court.

The bench headed by Justice Alia Neelum halted the execution and sought a reply from the prisons department by Aug 17.

However, a final hearing will take place on the August 25 ─ which is when he will be notified of the final verdict on whether he will be getting the death penalty or not.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Puras, has also voiced concern over the medical condition of the death row inmate Basit.

“We call on the authorities of Pakistan to protect the right to health of Abdul Basit and Khizar Hayat, and other inmates in death row with severe psychosocial disabilities,” he said.

His lawyer, from the Justice Project Pakistan, said that hanging a man of his condition is against the law and since they won't be able to determine the correct length of rope which is needed to hang him, hanging him with a rope of an inaccurate length would give him an "appalling death".

His lawyer also claimed that his execution "would amount to a cruel and unusual punishment, breaching Pakistani and international law".

Telegraph reports show that Faisalabad Central Jail's handbook specifies rules and regulations which include that a prisoner must be able to stand on his own before he could be hanged.

Maya Foa, who is the head of Reprieve, expressed her revulsion by saying that hanging a disabled man would show "a new low for Pakistani justice system."

Kate Higham, a caseworker at Reprieve, referred to the Pakistan wave of executions as "nothing but a cruel and pointless spectacle, and must be halted immediately."

Also read: Shafqat Hussain executed at Karachi Central Jail

Earlier this month, death-row prisoner Shafqat Hussain was hanged to death at the Karachi Central Prison, after his hanging was postponed on four previous occasions this year.

Shafqat was arrested and sentenced to death in 2004 for the kidnapping and involuntary murder of a seven-year-old boy who lived in a Karachi apartment building where Shafqat worked as a security guard.

All courts in the land had turned down his appeals and the Supreme Court threw out a review petition that was the first to raise the matter of Shafqat’s juvenility at the time of arrest, maintaining that this line of defence should have been introduced at the trial court level.

Opinion

Moral visions

Moral visions

In Pakistan’s current space-time configuration, the language of politics has changed dramatically.

Editorial

Prime minister’s challenge
Updated 04 Mar, 2024

Prime minister’s challenge

Shehbaz should remember that his govt will be walking a tightrope: policy confusion can quickly snowball into a national disaster.
Close to midnight
04 Mar, 2024

Close to midnight

THE Ukraine war has entered its third year, with no signs of a peaceful resolution. If anything, the principal...
Losing history
04 Mar, 2024

Losing history

WHILE we have history strewn all over, the debate around pro-preservation development is not loud enough. Last week,...
Little respite
03 Mar, 2024

Little respite

IS inflation on its way out? The Consumer Price Index showed that inflation dropped to 23.1pc in February from ...
More slaughter
Updated 03 Mar, 2024

More slaughter

Israel’s extremist leaders are on an apocalyptic mission to ethnically cleanse Gaza.
Without VCs
03 Mar, 2024

Without VCs

THE delay in appointing vice chancellors across Pakistan’s universities has mushroomed into a crisis, with one...