ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government has forwarded a request to the federal government seeking to halt Shafqat Hussain’s execution, which is scheduled to take place in the early hours of August 4 (tomorrow).
If accepted, Shafqat’s execution will be halted for the fifth time.
The request was sent by the Sindh Home Department to the Ministry of Interior seeking a probe into this case by the Supreme Court.
The Sindh Human Rights Commission, headed by Justice (Retd) Majida Rizvi, sent the request to the home department of Sindh, following which the Home Department forwarded this request to the federal government.
The interior minister is currently looking into the request and will decide whether it should be forwarded to the premier or not by tonight. The prime minister has the ultimate authority to decide Shafqat’s fate.
His execution was previously halted on June 9 for the fourth time – not by the Supreme Court or the federal government or the president, but, in fact, by the superintendent of the Central Jail Karachi, Kazi Nazir Ahmed.
Justifying his decision, Ahmed had said, “Executions can take place anytime. But a man’s life once taken can’t be returned.” His reason for deferring the hanging was in light of a Supreme Court hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning – four hours after Shafqat was to be executed.
On July 7, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) once again issued death warrants for the murder convict for August 4.
This was the fifth time the ATC has issued death warrants for Shafqat.
Shafqat has been a subject on controversy, with his family and many human rights activists calling for his execution to be stayed, arguing that he was a juvenile when convicted.
They insist he was aged 14 when he had allegedly murdered a child in 2001. He had been sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in 2004.
However, an inquiry last month concluded that he was 23-years-old at the time of his sentencing.
United Nations rights experts have said his trial “fell short of international standards” and called on Islamabad to reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty.
Maya Foa of the British anti-death penalty campaign group Reprieve codemned the plan to hang ShafqatHussain as an “absolute disgrace”.
The European Union last week said it was “deeply concerned” by the resumption of hangings and warned that a prized tariff status granted to Pakistan could be threatened unless it stuck to international conventions on fair trials, child rights and preventing torture.
Shafqat’s age has proved difficult to determine with any certainty. His supporters say he was 14 or 15 at the time of the killing but police insist he was over 20.
AJK president asks President Mamnoon Hussain to postpone Shafqat’s execution
Meanwhile, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Yaqoob Khan in a letter has requested President Mamnoon Hussain to postpone the execution of Shafqat Hussain.
He has also ordered an inquiry to asses the age of the condemned prisoner, an AJK citizen, who is being hanged Tuesday morning.