WASHINGTON: Amnesty International, a leading campaigner for human rights, said on Tuesday that Pakistan’s judgement against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf proved that no one was above the law but strongly opposed the death sentence.
Earlier in the day, Gen Musharraf was convicted of ‘high treason’ and sentenced to death for suspending the Constitution when he imposed a state of emergency in November 2007.
Responding to the conviction Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director, Omar Waraich, said: “No one is above the law, and it is encouraging to see Pakistan break with a history of impunity for powerful generals. At the same time, it is crucial that he receives a fair trial without recourse to the death penalty.”
Amnesty has been campaigning for decades for the abolition of death penalty.
“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment; it metes out vengeance, not justice,” said Mr Waraich while explaining the group’s position on this issue.
Amnesty, however, demanded that Gen Musharraf and the government he led must be held to account for all human rights violations committed during their time in office, not just a select few.
The statement also listed the violations that the Musharraf government committed while in power. “It includes extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detentions, deaths in custody, unlawful killings and other serious human rights violations committed against the political opposition, human rights defenders, members of civil society and suspected members of armed groups,” the group said.
During Gen Musharraf’s nearly nine-year rule, Amnesty International documented widespread human rights violations conducted by his government, including the killing, enforced disappearances and torture of members of armed groups, political activists and human rights defenders.
Rimmel Mohydin, a campaigner for Amnesty International, said that while Gen Musharraf “deserve(d) punishment” and has “committed many, many crimes”, awarding of a death penalty was “wrong”.
Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2019