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LAHORE: A district and sessions judge has scheduled execution of Khizar Hayat — a mentally-ill prisoner on death row — for January 15 at the central jail in Kot Lakhpat.

Mr Hayat was sentenced to death in 2003 over the shooting of a fellow police officer. He has spent nearly 15 years on death row. Mr Hayat was first diagnosed as a schizophrenic in 2008 by jail medical authorities.

In 2010, the jail medical officer recommended that Mr Hayat needed specialised treatment and should be shifted to the psychiatric facility. However, this was never done.

In 2017, the Lahore High Court had stayed the execution of Mr Hayat.

The Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), which has been contesting the case, stated that the death warrant stood in blatant violation of the orders of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) that had categorically abstained the authorities from issuing Khizar Hayat’s death warrant until the Supreme Court decided the matter of mentally-ill death-row prisoners pending before a larger bench.

A statement by the JPP said that the NCHR had held an urgent hearing on Dec 18, 2018, after a division bench of the LHC dismissed a petition filed by the JPP on behalf of Mr Hayat’s mother. The petition had sought shifting of the prisoner from the jail to a mental health facility. It said the deputy superintendent of the jail was also present at the NCHR hearing.

The JPP said that the issuance of Mr Hayat’s execution warrant in the face of the NCHR orders was particularly alarming considering that previously on multiple occasions the central jail had deliberately misled the courts to obtain the warrants.

It said a court-sanctioned examination at the Punjab Institute of Mental Health in July 2016 concluded unanimously that Khizar Hayat suffered from psychosis and schizophrenia.

The JPP statement explained that Pakistan had signed international treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which prohibited the execution of mentally-ill prisoners. The country’s compliance with its human rights obligations came into question especially in light of the recommendations by the Human Rights Committee, it added.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2019