ISLAMABAD: To narrow down the scope of the death penalty, Pakistan has begun to review the 27 crimes currently carrying a punishment of death sentence, media reports have confirmed.
The decision to review the death penalty has come amid growing concerns raised by the UN Human Rights Mechanisms, Western countries, and NGOs with global outreach over excessive use of the penalty.
A report by the Pakistan’s permanent representative to UN in Geneva to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in November 2016 highlighted the excessive use of death penalty as a punishment. Following a review of reports on human rights conventions at the UN level and concerns of the international community, the Foreign Affairs Ministry submitted a summary to the premier to review the 27 crimes that carry a death sentence.
The summary proposal details that the international community has objected to the excessive grant of the death penalty after a ban on the death penalty was lifted in December 2014. It also stated that under the international humanitarian conventions ratified by Pakistan, the death sentence must be reserved for very serious instances.
“Like other countries, a longer life sentence may be introduced for some of these crimes. A high-level committee may be constituted to look into the recommendations,” the summary proposed to the prime minister.
Moreover, a proposal to review the current legal framework of the National Action Plan approved by the prime minister has already been presented to bring it in accordance with the national and international laws governing human rights.
The summary further calls upon Pakistan to clear its stance with regards to cases pertaining to persons with disabilities (physical or mental) or juveniles.
In view of the summary presented, the Human Rights Ministry is mulling a consultative meeting to review the 27 crimes which carry capital punishment.
As per reports, a high-level meeting of the Law and Justice Ministry was held on September 15 to discuss the possible review of the 27 crimes.
According to sources, the recommendations of the Foreign Affairs Ministry on the death penalty, keeping in view Pakistan’s international commitments, are fully backed by the Human Rights Ministry. Human Rights Ministry, however, is of the view that the Law Reforms Committee should take up this matter instead of drafting a new committee as suggested by the Foreign Office, to review the existing legal framework following consultations with all stakeholders.
The matter will come under consideration during the next meeting of the stakeholders.
In 2008, the government had imposed a five-year moratorium on executing prisoners on death row which expired in 2013.