Friday, 4 September 2015

Abdul Basit: Death row delay for Pakistan paraplegic

Source: BBC News (2 September 2015)

Pakistani prison officials have missed Tuesday's court deadline to explain how they would hang a paraplegic man.

Abdul Basit is paralysed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair after an illness he contracted while in prison.

He was convicted six years ago of murder but maintains his innocence. He was to be hanged in Lahore last month but this was postponed. A petition for his pardon was dismissed.

Hanging him would constitute cruel and degrading treatment, his lawyers say.

They add that this is prohibited under Pakistani and international law.

Pakistan has executed more than 200 people since reintroducing the death penalty in December 2014.

At the time the government said it was a measure to combat terrorism after the Taliban massacred more than 150 people, most of them children, in a Peshawar school.

Pakistan's jail manual gives no instructions on how to execute disabled prisoners.

A high court judge had told prison officials they had until 1 September to come up with specific steps if they were to be allowed to proceed with the execution of Mr Basit.

The BBC's Shaimaa Khalil says Mr Basit remains on death row but his sentence has effectively been stayed until the jail authorities come up with a clear plan for how they will execute him.

Executions around the world

Pakistan has executed more than 200 people since December 2014, almost all of them this year

Figures for executions in other countries in 2015 are as yet largely unavailable

In August, Amnesty International said Saudi Arabia had executed 102 people in the first six months of 2015, compared with 90 in the whole of 2014

By the end of last year, the other countries with the highest number of reported executions were Iran: 289, Iraq: 61, USA: 35, and Sudan: 23

In 2013 the numbers were: Iran: 369, Iraq: 169, Saudi Arabia: 79, Somalia: 68, USA: 39

China and North Korea refuse to divulge information on the number of executions that take place within their borders

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