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December 13 2009 | PAKISTAN


Human Rights Commission urges Government to restrict use of death penalty

printable version

Daily Times

HRCP urges govt to curtail death penalty

LAHORE: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Secretary General IA Rehman urged the government on Friday to restrict the death penalty for the “most serious crimes only” and refrain from adopting new crimes entailing capital punishment in conformity with international human rights standards.

Speaking at an HRCP-organised debate on “Abolishing the Death Penalty in Pakistan”, he said the capital punishment, if necessary, should only be implemented in the “rarest of cases”, adding that it should only be a last resort. He said it would be difficult to deal with the death penalty’s supporters, as “the punishment was endorsed by Islam”. “The government must formally announce a moratorium on executions and simultaneously withdraw the death penalty for crimes that are not punishable by death in shariah,” he said.

Specific: Rehman said the Council of Islamic Ideology had already explained that sharia only allowed the death penalty for a few specific offences. “The laws relating to these offences should be amended after a fair debate and consensus,” he said. “The Pakistani authorities should find the theme for this year’s Day against the Death Penalty — Teaching Abolition — useful in mobilising public support for its abolitionist policy,” Rehman said, adding that the idea was to instruct students aged 14 to 18 years in the need to abolish the death penalty.

Tolerance: “Authorities could add lessons designed to promote tolerance to the courses suggested for the abolitionist campaign,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, human rights activist Hina Jillani rejected the argument that the systematic and generalised application of the death penalty had led to an improvement in the law and order situation in the country.

”Studies undertaken in a number of countries have rejected the notion that death penalty contributes to a reduction in crime rate. The situation in Pakistan bears ample evidence of that, as the law and order situation is alarmingly dismal despite the country having one of the highest rates of death sentences in the world,” she said.


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