VIDEO: Hours before his execution, world appeals to #SaveShafqat

Shafqat was sentenced to death in 2004 for the kidnapping and murder of a seven-year-old boy

Web Desk March 18, 2015
Jibran Nasir

Just hours before 'underage' convict Shafqat Hussain is to be executed, civil society activists and human rights organisations make an impassioned plea to 'Save Shafqat'.

In Pakistan, activists - including Jibran Nasir - made a video to raise awareness on the possibility that an innocent boy may be wrongfully hanged.

Shafqat was sentenced to death in 2004 for the kidnapping and murder of a seven-year-old boy. He was 14 at the time.

Titled “What were you like when you were 14”, the video features young individuals narrating their experiences when they were teenagers.



Posted on Nasir’s official Facebook page, the video goes on to explain how him and his friends were naïve at the age of 14.

They described themselves as insecure, fat, introverted and how they liked playing sports.


The video produced by Tazeen Bari aims to draw a comparison of how clueless a 14-year-old can be and sentencing a 14-year-old to death after being physically and mentally tortured by the police is obstruction of justice.

Shafqat's mother has filed a mercy petition, seeking President Mamnoon Hussain’s help to intervene to commute her son’s death sentence to life imprisonment.

While talking to The Express Tribune, Jibran Nasir said protests calling for a stay on Shafqat's execution will be held in Karachi and Lahore today (March 18) at Teen Talwar and Train Crossing respectively. A protest will also be held at the Islamabad Press Club.

In an article that appeared in the New York Times on Tuesday, Fatima Bhutto - daughter of slain PPP leader Murtaza Bhutto - goes on to explain how Shafqat was mercilessly tortured.

“The boy was held in solitary confinement, his genitals were electrocuted and he was burned with cigarette butts. The policemen interrogating him removed three of his fingernails,” she wrote.

Fatima said it is unfortunate that Shafqat was not tried as a juvenile and was not given access to a lawyer either when he was charged with murder. "His mother hasn’t seen him in 10 years as she can’t afford to travel to Karachi from Kashmir," she said.

In Fatima's article, she explains that the only reason why Shafqat was convicted was because he confessed. And the reason why he confessed was to escape the brutal police torture.

Recently, after a seven-year hiatus, the government reinstated the death penalty. The decision was taken in the wake militant attack on Army Public School in Peshawar which left over 130 children dead.

Following the hanging of 16-year-old Muhammad Afzal on Tuesday, Amnesty International also released a statement.

"International law clearly prohibits the use of the death penalty against people who were below 18 years old when the crime was committed," the group said.

Many influential Pakistani personalities have taken to Twitter to raise awareness on the matter and are urging people to sign a petition to save Shafqat.

In his Facebook and Twitter posts, Nasir has tagged many leading politicians, trying to divert their attention to the matter.

At the end of the video, Nasir makes a plea to save humanity by saving Shafqat, stating that our criminal justice system is extremely flawed.

Watch the video here:


International organizations appeal

The European Union (EU) called on Pakistan to reinstitute the moratorium and to respect fully all its international obligations, in particular the principle of fair trial.

The EU is against capital punishment in all cases and without exception, and has consistently called for its universal abolition.

The Union also recalled that Article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Pakistan is a party, specifically prohibits the use of the death sentence for crimes committed by persons below 18 years of age.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, human rights group, Amnesty International said the 12 convicts executed that day included Muhammad Afzal, who was 16 years old when he was sentenced to death.

"International law clearly prohibits the use of the death penalty against people who were below 18 years old when the crime was committed," the group said.
Same, the group said, applies for Shafqat who is set to be executed tomorrow.

Amnesty International estimates that Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process.


Muhammad Junaid | 9 years ago | Reply when i was 14 , i didnt kill a 7 year old
Mohammed Shuaib Sheikh | 9 years ago | Reply When I was 14 I did not know right from wrong????????????????? when the 7 year old child raised alarm,Shafqat choked him to death,he was arrested by police when he went to collect ransom money. Courts don't accept confessions before police. Was in this case no other evidence produced? Why the defence did not inform the court that the accused was only 14 year old? I am against death sentence only because of possibility of miscarriage of justice. But as, we are entitled to protection from killers the convicted killer should be given life sentence and no less.
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