The Government of Pakistan should renew the official moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to definitively abolishing the practice in law, says the ICJ.
The Government signaled its intention to resume executions on Thursday, 4 July 2013 when it failed to renew a 2008 Presidential order imposing a moratorium on executions. It is estimated that approximately 8000 people are currently on death row in Pakistan.
“Resuming executions would be a major step backwards for Pakistan in protecting human rights,” says Sheila Varadan, ICJ Legal Advisor for South Asia. “The prospect of lifting the moratorium is all the more alarming given the extraordinarily high number of people on death row.”
The announcement apparently comes as part of the newly elected Government’s strategy to tackle high levels of crime and insecurity in Pakistan.
The ICJ condemns the death penalty as a violation of the right to life and a form of cruel and inhuman punishment. Moreover, it is widely accepted that the practice cannot serve as a deterrent to crime or be administrated without error or discrimination.
More than 150 of the 192 United Nations members States have either abolished the death penalty or imposed a moratorium on its practice.
In December 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted its fourth resolution calling on all States retaining the death to place a moratorium on the practice with a view towards abolition.
Of the 186 member States present, 111 member States voting in favour and only 41 member States against, an increase from the previous three resolutions.
“Pakistan is part of a dwindling minority of States who continue to retain the death penalty and carry out executions,” Varadan. “The ICJ urges the newly elected Government of Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to upholding human rights and to desist from licensing the State deliberately to take the life any person in its custody.”
Sheila Varadan, ICJ Legal Advisor, South Asia Programme (Bangkok), t: +66 857200723; email: sheila.varadan(a)icj.org