Execution figures

Updated April 08, 2016

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ACCORDING to troubling details released recently by rights group Amnesty International, there was a 54pc increase in executions globally in 2015.

Pakistan, it turns out, is amongst the top executioners in the world; 326 people were put to death last year in the country.

This means that Pakistan is behind only China and Iran when it comes to the number of people executed by the state each year.

While China does not release figures, Amnesty claims that the People’s Republic executes thousands every year. This grim reality is cause for concern.

As campaigners have pointed out, most of those executed in Pakistan were not convicted for terror-related crimes.

This is significant because it was the APS, Peshawar tragedy in December 2014 that resulted in the lifting of the moratorium on executions. In sending so many convicts to their death, Pakistan has shown it has no plans to follow in the footsteps of the 140 states that have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.

This paper opposes the death penalty on ethical grounds. Besides, it is clear that executions are not deterring the militants.

The Easter Sunday park massacre in Lahore, as well as many other acts of terrorism that have been carried out since the moratorium was lifted, show that militants are least concerned about facing the hangman — this is hardly surprising when they are prepared to kill and be killed for their ‘cause’.

There are serious issues of transparency and due process where Pakistan’s criminal justice system is concerned.

‘Confessions’ are extracted through torture and there is poor legal representation for the accused. The flaws in our investigation and prosecution systems are well known.

Should such a questionable system decide on matters of life and death? There is no doubt that militants and other criminals committing violent deeds must be punished, but a life behind bars should be sufficient penalty.

If the state cannot abolish the death penalty, at least it can restore the moratorium on executions.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2016