LAHORE: A district and sessions judge in Lahore on Tuesday issued execution warrants for a 55-year-old prisoner on death row with a debilitating mental illness.

Khizar Hayat, who was sentenced to death in 2003 for shooting a fellow police officer, is scheduled to be executed on Jan 17, even as a petition to stay his execution is pending before the Lahore High Court and a reply on it from the Punjab prisons department, sought on Oct 31, 2016, is yet to be filed.

A black warrant was issued for Hayat on June 10, 2015 but the LHC had granted him reprieve at the last minute. On Tuesday, the judge issued another black warrant on an application moved by the Kot Lakhpat central jail deputy superintendent.


####A petition to stay his execution has been pending in the LHC

Hayat’s mother Iqbal Bano had filed a plea stating that her son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by jail authorities in 2008.

According to the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), an NGO working with prisoners on death row, since his diagnosis, the jail medical officer has consistently referred to Hayat’s delusions, his psychosis, and his mental illness, while ordering powerful anti-psychotic medication for him.

By 2012, Hayat had become so delusional that it was no longer possible to house him among the rest of the jail population and he was moved to the jail hospital, where he has spent the last three years.

Ms Bano contended through her counsel that the LHC had previously stayed her son’s execution after a medical board confirmed that her son was mentally ill and not fit to be executed.

However, jail authorities had been approaching the sessions court for Hayat’s death warrants even though the matter of Hayat’s death penalty was pending before the LHC. She had asked the court to suspend the death penalty for her son and direct the jail authorities to shift him to a hospital.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, the JPP said this was alarming, considering that the case of Imdad Ali, another schizophrenic on death row, was pending before the Supreme Court. During previous proceedings, the judges had observed that it would be “inappropriate” to hang a mentally ill prisoner.

JPP director Sarah Belal says it was disappointing to see that jail authorities were bent on executing a man with severe mentally health problems. Knowingly hanging a mentally-ill person would signal to the world that Pakistan did not uphold fundamental rights of its citizens or abided by its international obligations, she says.

Published in Dawn January 11th, 2017

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