ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior on Thursday passed a bill which will help the state collect evidence against suspects from countries that refuse to hand over such evidence or suspects due to the death penalty in Pakistan.

Under the “Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill (Section 3) 2019”, courts would not be allowed to award death penalty in cases in which evidence or suspects are extradited from abroad.According to the draft of the bill tabled by Federal Minister for Interior retired Brig Ijaz Ahmad Shah it was essential to wage war against terrorism and translational organised crimes.

The committee was informed that many crimes had their origin, basis or linkages in other countries. At times requests made by Pakistan are not entertained on the basis that the material required should not be used in criminal proceeding to apply for a sentence of death for any person charged in the matter.

Because of this, evidence received cannot be used in the trial of offence wherein punishment of death can be awarded. Pakistan faces opposition from some countries on the ground that if convicted such person may be awarded the death penalty.

Draft states that courts would not be allowed to award death penalty in cases in which evidence or suspects are extradited from abroad

According to the draft, there is an ongoing debate on elimination of death penalty with lots of human rights stakeholders propagating for it. Elimination of death penalty has religious contours as well. It can not be done away with in Hudood cases but there is no such compulsion in Tazeer cases, it added.

“In view of getting benefit from abundant evidence available in other countries, it is imperative that Pakistan Penal Code 1860 may be amended to the effect that when conviction is based upon the evidence obtained from foreign country or where extradition is requested for, death penalty shall not be awarded by the court,” it stated.

After deliberation, the committee chaired by Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz passed the bill.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019