Amnesty criticises Pakistan’s plans to execute 500 prisoners

22 December 2014 (Last Updated December 22nd, 2014 18:30)

Amnesty International has criticised the Pakistani Government's plans to execute more than 500 people convicted of terrorism-related offences.

Pakistani soldiers

Amnesty International has criticised the Pakistani Government's plans to execute more than 500 people convicted of terrorism-related offences.

Calling the move 'deeply disturbing', the watchdog said it would do nothing to protect civilians from the conflict with the Taliban.

Senior government officials were quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying that 500 convicts had 'exhausted all appeals' and would be executed 'in the coming weeks'.

Pakistan has executed six people in response to the recent Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan attack on an army-run school in Peshawar, which killed 141 people, including 132 children.

The executions were the first since 2012 and were carried out after the government lifted a moratorium on its use of the death penalty for those with terrorism-related charges.

Amnesty International deputy Asia-Pacific director David Griffiths said: "Pakistan suffered an horrific tragedy in Peshawar last week, but resorting to the death penalty and threatening to carry out large numbers of executions masks rather than addresses the underlying problems that need to be tackled by the government, namely that communities living in the north-west of Pakistan are gravely at risk from violence and human rights abuses.

"The planned execution figures being quoted are deeply disturbing."

"The planned execution figures being quoted are deeply disturbing and indicate a huge regression from a government, which until last week maintained a moratorium on executions.

"The speed with which these executions are taking place raises big questions about how meaningful the review of the mercy petitions, the last safeguards in death penalty cases, has been in a country where trials are systemically flawed."

Since last week, the Pakistan Interior Ministry is believed to have forwarded hundreds of mercy petitions related to terror cases to the President Mamnoon Hussain.

Prisoners are at risk of imminent execution once their mercy petitions have been rejected.

According to Amnesty, many death sentences in Pakistan are handed down following trials that do not meet international fair trial standards, which guarantee a right to a fair trial.


Image: Pakistani soldiers keep watch near a jail in Lahore. Photo: ©AFP / Getty Images.