UN Demands Death Penalty Moratorium in Pakistan

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan. UN Photo/Cia Pak
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan. UN Photo/Cia Pak

The top United Nations (UN) human rights official has urged the Government of Pakistan to reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty amid a sharp uptick in the number of executions in the country, the Organization’s human rights office reported.

The Asian country cancelled its moratorium on the death penalty in the aftermath of the deadly Peshawar school attack in December 2014 which left over 100 people dead, the majority of whom were schoolchildren.

“Pakistan has gone from zero to 154 executions in just six months, making it the third most prolific executioner in the world,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stated in a press release.

“I share Pakistan’s outrage and grief at the senseless killing of 145 people, including 132 schoolchildren, by the Pakistani Taliban in December last year, but I am very disturbed that the response of the Pakistani authorities has been to execute just as many people in the six months that have passed since the massacre,” he added.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner (OHCHR), more than 8,000 people remain on death row in Pakistan, of whom approximately 800 were reportedly juveniles at the time of the offense. The Government initially lifted the moratorium only for terrorism-related crimes but in March 2015 ended the moratorium for all capital offences.

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Rakesh Raman