President Mamnoon Hussain has stayed the execution of a disabled convicted murderer who was set to be hanged in a Faislabad jail at dawn on Wednesday.
The president has stayed the execution of 43-year-old Abdul Basit, son of Allah Ditta, for two months due to his ailment, according to a statement issued by the Presidency late Tuesday night. “The president has ordered an inquiry into the health condition of the convict,” it added. “The president said that the basic human rights must be upheld at all costs.”
Death penalty: Execution of disabled convict stayed
The presidential action came hours after the Lahore High Court dismissed a petition seeking suspension of death warrants against Abdul Basit, who is paralysed from the waist down. Basit contracted tubercular meningitis in prison and, according to a medical board report, the illness has left him bedridden.
His counsel submitted before the court that according to the law, it is necessary for a prisoner to be healthy before his hanging. Since Basit is extremely unhealthy he should not be hanged. Pakistan’s prison rules require that a prisoner stand on the gallows in order to be hanged.
After the LHC order, Basit’s sister, Asma Mazhar, said she and her mother had gone to see him on Tuesday for the last time. “We found him helpless and quiet,” she told AFP.
‘Paralysed convict’s hanging is a cruel, peculiar punishment’
She said he told them that authorities had come to measure his body and that it was an ‘awful moment’. “We are praying for a miracle,” she said, adding that she wanted to appeal to the president to spare her brother.
The Human Rights Commission said it has written to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif seeking to stay the execution, adding that prison authorities were still awaiting an answer from the government on how to proceed with the hanging.
In a statement Tuesday, Amnesty said it had recorded 299 executions in Pakistan since the death penalty was controversially reinstated following a Taliban mass killing at a school in Peshawar last December.
How to hang a paralysed prisoner?
“Pakistan will imminently have executed 300 people since it lifted a moratorium on executions, shamefully sealing its place among the world’s worst executioners,” the statement said.
Forty-five people were executed in October alone, Amnesty said, making it the deadliest month since the moratorium was lifted.
No official figures are available. The rights group Reprieve told AFP Tuesday that by its tally the number of executions has just passed 300, while other local activists said the figure was below 260.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2015.
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