Amnesty International’s death penalty report: Pakistan execution pause termed a success story

Published: March 27, 2014
The country, however, has one of the highest population of death-row prisoners.

The country, however, has one of the highest population of death-row prisoners.


Over 8,500 death-row prisoners are languishing in jails across Pakistan and the number continues to swell as the judiciary hands down one death sentence after another.

An astonishing 226 people were sentenced to death last year, stated Amnesty International’s report titled “Death Sentences and Executions 2013” being released on Thursday (today). Pakistan has the highest number of death sentences issued among the countries featured in the report.

The report covers the judicial use of the death penalty from January to December 2013, using records and figures from all countries that have not abolished capital punishment yet. But the scope of figures is restricted because in many countries, such as North Korea and China, statistics on executions are not available for they are considered ‘state secrets’.

Despite the spiraling number of death sentences, Amnesty International deems Pakistan a success story as no execution was carried out in 2013.

“Pakistan recorded some positive developments and was one of just three countries in the world that executed in 2012 but did not put anyone to death last year,” commented Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International’s death penalty expert.

Then president Asif Ali Zardari had placed a five-year moratorium on executions in June 2008. However, the hiatus was interrupted in November 2012 when the military executed a soldier who was found guilty of murder. Since then, no one has been sent to the gallows after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif once again suspended the use of death penalty even after the moratorium expired in June last year.

“The suspension on executions imposed by the new government in October was very welcome, in particular as for a while it looked like PM Nawaz was moving to resume the executions full scale,” said Sangiorgio. “But there are still challenges remaining. Pakistan has one of the world’s largest death row populations, and you can still face the death penalty for non-lethal crimes like blasphemy or drug trafficking. As long as the death penalty remains on the books, lives of thousands of prisoners are still at risk,” she explained.

“We’re hoping that next year will see more positive moves from the government, and we urge Pakistan to impose a moratorium on the death penalty immediately with a view to full abolition.” The report voices concern about people in Pakistan continuously being sentenced to death for crimes that did not involve intentional killing, thereby not meeting the international standard of ‘most serious crimes’. Apart from intentional murder that includes terrorism, the capital crime that stood out in Pakistan’s case study was blasphemy, followed by drug-related offences.

Of late, the country came under fire for its retention of capital punishment, especially its extremely high death-row population that many organisations have termed ‘alarming’.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • abid
    Mar 27, 2014 - 9:38AM

    Abolishing death penality is like abolishing justice we cant adopt grand motherly approch in our justice system.
    captial punishment is part of justice system
    term ‘rarest of rare’ should be replaced with ‘serious’ cases in universal declaration of human rightsRecommend

  • Awan
    Mar 27, 2014 - 9:44AM

    Now a Rapist, Murderer and the Corrupt know very well that no matter how heinous their crime will be there will be no Death Penalty. Death penalty can act as a Deterrent in a society When the fear of Death will be abolished in the developing societies like ours then fatal crimes will increase manifold in my view.


  • Haider
    Mar 27, 2014 - 9:59AM

    They don’t want us to execute the terrorists, while the terrorists continue to execute us.


  • Voice Of D.I.Khan
    Mar 27, 2014 - 10:12AM

    For the sake of few Dollars . They aren’t following Islamic Laws . Shame on our government ….!!!


  • Ali Zaid
    Mar 27, 2014 - 10:20AM

    Pakistan has become a mockery of Islamic Republic in all possible ways. From ridiculous bills like above to the negotiations with terrorist Taliban and to the slavery of tyrant regimes like US/Saudi, nothing here is Islamic!


  • Asif
    Mar 27, 2014 - 10:38AM

    Why is CII silent on this issue? Isn’t it against Islam when the government is not implementing the death sentence?


  • Cobra Commander
    Mar 27, 2014 - 11:24AM

    So what I extract from the comments is that executing individuals is Islamic. If you are a poor man you will be executed , which in a tainted and maligned judicial system happens a lot. But if you are a rich man you can buy your freedom by paying blood money which is also considered Islamic. In a supposedly perfect US system there are many cases where innocent men were put in death row only to be released late and deemed innocent. I rather have a moratroium on executions then watch an innocent man sent to the gallows.


  • Zain
    Mar 27, 2014 - 11:49AM

    And we should be proud of this? What message we are sending across the nation; murderers won’t be sentenced to death, rapist will cruise around and terrorist have right to kill anyone.
    How people are living in this country, we have lost are sense of rationality. Oh yes, we believe in the bubble of democracy, and we leverage from it by electing corrupt and incompetent politicians.


  • Syed
    Mar 27, 2014 - 12:02PM

    Goverments or countries for that matter, shouldnt be subdued by so called Amnesty International who fail to account western countries for executions, wars and other crimes yet they love to get a piece of 3rd world country. The world will be a better place without UN, Amensty Int, or human rights organization.


  • Insafian
    Mar 27, 2014 - 12:16PM

    Shame on the Government of PMLN and PPP for not punishing the criminals according to Islamic law.Recommend

  • Truther
    Mar 27, 2014 - 1:01PM

    That success story is amply reflected in growing number of killings especially of women and children. Congratulations to all amnesty, Eu, corrupt Pakistani ruling class and the pseudo liberals.


  • Tani
    Mar 27, 2014 - 2:17PM

    Amnesty should focus more on countries inflicting war on others countries in the name of fake secret nuclear weapons,killing innocents to contain their oil assets.

    “No death penalty, human right violation”
    Such weak justice systems can only work in western countries where even a Mosquito bite creates an uproar and hoopla, sends them into death paranoia.
    It will never work in South Asian countries where people are adaptable and resilient to any environment. Most crime doers are anyway street people. No death penalty and life term sentence means they get a free room,roommates to chat,food,cloths,books,opportunity to earn a educational degree if they want.. This sort of life is luxury and anyway better than what they experienced on roads without these amenities.

    If they are so interested in abolishing death penalty, its better to force all country govt to introduce setup to reform sub human jailed individual, coach them on spiritual teaching pluralistic values of love,forgiveness,non violence,respect,religious tolerance, make them forget past life misdeeds and lead future as a new person with good deed and intention.
    Only such setup can reform an individual as well as justify abolishing death penalty. Or you are just releasing the criminal back into the wild amongst normal people while his mind is still evil and vicious.. In such case you are only encouraging more crimes and sending a message no bad actions are culpable.


  • Rumormonger
    Mar 27, 2014 - 3:49PM

    If the convicted are not punished by death, the innocent die… If in doubt, visit Karachi.


  • poleturtle
    Mar 27, 2014 - 5:53PM

    Stupid man made laws to be applied to Muslim nations to turn them from their Religion.
    They themselves kill, murder, slaughter, bomb, anihilate men women and children accross the globe without as much as a Trial.

    Justice and Human Rights ?? My foot !!


  • Aslam Butt
    Mar 27, 2014 - 5:57PM

    Amnesty International, Please correct your facts. There has been 50,000+ executions and beheading in Pakistan all of them of innocents.


  • FN
    Mar 27, 2014 - 6:33PM

    Today they want us to get rid of the death penalty, which we have in all but name.

    Tomorrow they will force us to accept same sex marriages.

    They don’t want us to submit to Allah’s laws but to their faithless world order.


  • comment
    Mar 27, 2014 - 6:57PM

    I made a comment against capital punishment and it did not appear. Maybe the editors reasoning was really soundly challenged. Why was the comment sensored? Because it went against the views of the moderator?


  • NP
    Mar 27, 2014 - 7:00PM

    There is absolutely NO evidence that the death penalty crime. The most peaceful, crime free countries in the world have NO death penalty. In the US sates that don’t have the death penalty have a LOWER murder rate than those which do.


  • kk
    Mar 27, 2014 - 7:36PM

    rules r for the fools
    wise men make them ,wise men break themRecommend

  • goggi (Lahore)
    Mar 27, 2014 - 8:50PM

    We all shall die soon so why the hurry?

    Killing a human or a living being is not an art, protecting life surely is even how difficult it is!


  • Don R
    Mar 28, 2014 - 8:35AM

    Death penalty is obviously not a serious deterrent since most of these crimes are committed out of passion.


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