Pakistan moratorium renewal welcomed
After the moratorium imposed by the previous government expired in June and the new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, introduced an informal suspension of executions in August, abolitionists worldwide were calling for an official moratorium to be restored.
In a statement, the Commission said: “HRCP welcomes the government’s statement that it would persist with the moratorium on death penalty. The news brings some respite for thousands of death row inmates — especially those whose execution was imminent — and their families.
It is encouraging that the government did not succumb to pressure and acted not only in national interest but also did well by the norms of justice. HRCP is particularly happy to note that the government has cited the country’s international commitments, which cannot possibly exclude human rights, as the ground for the decision.
Complete review of the death penalty needed
Although a good first step, the present decision will have meaning only if we have a complete review of the death penalty regime in Pakistan. And the sooner the better.
It is important now that Pakistan moves beyond the informal moratorium that has been tried in the country in the last few years. For an abnormally high number of offences that carry the death penalty remain on the statute books still, even though research in a number of countries has laid bare the myth that capital punishment serves as a deterrent against crime.
The courts continue to award death penalty, adding to around 8,000 death row prisoners already crammed in overcrowded jails. Nothing has diminished concerns of the people about the miscarriage of justice through the various stages of investigation and adjudication.
HRCP calls upon the government to expeditiously move to address these concerns as well.”