Pakistan is set to resume the execution of death row prisoners a little over a month after it suspended the practice out of respect for the fasting month of Ramazan.
A district and sessions judge in Lahore issued the first execution orders for two convicts, who are scheduled to be hanged at Kot Lakhpat Jail on July 28 and 29, respectively.
Khyzer Hayat, who was arrested in 2001 and subsequently charged for killing a fellow police officer, is to be hanged on July 28. Another man, Saeed Muhammad, who was hauled by the police in 2003 over murder charges, is to be hanged on July 29.
The executions had been briefly suspended after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif instructed authorities to respect “the sanctity of the holy month”, by observing a moratorium on capital punishment.
Read: Respite: No executions in Ramazan, says official
Over 180 people have been hanged since the ban on death penalty was lifted following the deadly attack by the Taliban on a military school in Peshawar last year, prompting criticism from human rights groups.
Since the resumption of capital punishment in the country, Punjab has taken the lead in the number of executions which stand at 153, followed by Sindh with15, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan at 5 apiece. In addition, there were two executions in Mirpur Central Jail Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
According to details, more than 8,000 convicts, including juveniles, are currently on death row, waiting for their black warrants to be issued. Many of them have been in jail for the past two decades.
As many as 5,472 death row prisoners, including 47 women, are incarcerating in detention facilities across Punjab. Of these, 44 have exhausted all avenues of appeals. Their fate lies in the hands of jail authorities who will decide when to obtain black warrants for them from the respective trial courts.
Read: Islamic State giving away sex slaves to winners of Ramazan competition
Clemency appeals of 392 convicts are pending with the president while one appeal is pending before the General Headquarters (GHQ). Similarly, 875 appeals are pending before the Supreme Court of Pakistan and 4,162 appeals are pending before the Lahore High Court.
Commenting on the executions, activist and lawyer, Nadeem Anthony said that the implementation of the death penalty violates fundamental rights.
Criticising the trial process, he said that the criminal justice system is marred by several anomalies, including police torture and poor legal representation for victims.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2015.