Every 8th person executed in the world is Pakistani: report

Pakistan accounts for 13% of all global executions despite a shrinking death row population.
Published October 4, 2018
Pakistan sentences people to death eight times more than the world average, Justice Project Pakistan finds
Pakistan sentences people to death eight times more than the world average, Justice Project Pakistan finds

Since December 2014 the Supreme Court of Pakistan has overturned a whopping 85 percent of death sentences.

However, despite a significant drop in the death row population, Pakistan still accounts for 13 percent of all global executions since December 2014.

In their latest report named Counting the Condemned, Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), a non-governmental organisation working for prisoner's rights, analyses Pakistan's use of the death penalty and underscores the need for reforms.

Here are some key takeaways:

1. Pakistan is one of the most prolific users of the death penalty

2. Every fourth person on death row in the world is a Pakistani

Since 2009, at least 19, 767 people have been sentenced to death globally. In that time, Pakistan's courts have sentenced 2, 705 people to death which accounts for 14 percent of death sentences worldwide.

From 2015 to 2017, 3,659 executions were carried out globally, Pakistan accounted for 13 percent of those, with 479 executions. In 2015 alone, Pakistan executed 20 percent of the global executions.

3. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has overturned 85 percent of death sentences

On the basis of faulty investigations and evidence, 467 condemned inmates were acquitted or had their death sentences commuted, out of the 546 murder cases heard by a Supreme Court bench since 2014.

While a majority of Pakistan's death row comprises people accused of murder and related crimes, Pakistan continues to sentence and execute people for crimes that do not cause death.

Read: The Sadiqbad brothers who were wrongfully hanged

4. Despite a 35 percent reduction, Pakistan accounts for 26 percent of the world's death row population

According to official government figures of 2012, Pakistan's death row stood at 7,164, Since 2013, Pakistan has sentenced at least 1,692 people to death while 496 people have been executed since 2014.

This means Pakistan's death row should have had a net increase of almost 1,200 to total about 8,400.

However, the federal ombudsperson submitted before the Supreme Court that Pakistan's death row population now stands at 4,688. This indicates a drop of 2,476 prisoners.

Despite this surprising reduction in the official number of Pakistan's condemned prisoners, it is worth noting that Pakistan continues to add prisoners to its death row; the second largest in the world at an average of 351 death sentence annually since 2004.

5. Punjab accounts for 81% of the 496 executions since 2014

Despite a decrease in the death row population from 6,604 to 3,890, Punjab accounts for 81 percent of executions and 89 percent of death sentences awarded countrywide.

Other provinces have seen their death row increase at a steady pace.

6. Civil disputes dominate murder cases

An analysis of 150 executions from 2015 indicates that civil disputes are a dominant factor leading to homicides in Pakistan. Th extraordinary delays (often lasting decades) in resolving such conflicts in the civil courts of Pakistan means that the likelihood of violence as a means of extralegal settlement among contesting parties is very high.

7. There's a strong correlation between economic inequality, political violence and murder rates

An overview of the past two decades of per-capita GDP growth, terrorism and homicide rates demonstrate a strong correlations between economic and political factors .

In years where the growth rate of the per-capita GDP is less than 2 percent, the homicide rates tends to be 7.5 murders per 100,000 or above while it is generally lower in years with a higher percentage growth.

It also indicates that the years marred with political violence and instability also had a higher murder rate.

8. Recommendations by JPP report

  • Reduce the scope of the death penalty by excluding non-lethal crimes.

  • Judicial academies must train newly appointed trial court Judges on use and application of the death penalty in line with "the most serious" offenses standard.

  • Trial and sentencing proceedings must be bifurcated to determine a) whether the defendant has committed the crime b) what is the appropriate punishment.

  • Reform the method of adjudicating civil disputes to decrease the length of time it takes to resolve them.

  • Constitute a committee to review mercy petitions comprising representatives from respective ministries to reduce the number of wrongful executions.

Compiled by Shahbano Ali Khan