Man in line for execution today not a terrorist, admit Pakistan authorities

By agency reporter
December 23, 2014

The Pakistani authorities have admitted that a man set to be hanged today is not connected to the Peshawar school attack, but said they have no plans to stay his execution.

Shafqat Hussain, from the province of Sindh, was arrested in 2004 at the age of 14. Tortured into a confession, he was eventually convicted of ‘involuntary manslaughter’ in Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Courts, and sentenced to death.

Last week, after the collapse of the country’s six-year moratorium on the death penalty, Mr Hussain’s family were informed he would be executed on Tuesday 23 December.

On Sunday, a senior Pakistani prison official was quoted as saying that Mr Hussain and another man due to be hanged “both […] don’t have affiliations with any banned outfit.” Despite this, the Pakistani authorities have indicated to Mr Hussain’s family that he could still be executed – while Pakistan’s interior minister has said that the Government plans to execute 500 more people in the coming week.

International human rights organisation Reprieve, together with Justice Project Pakistan, has submitted an urgent request to the UN’s human rights body, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, asking for it to intervene to prevent the execution from going ahead.

Pakistan has the largest death row in the world, estimated at over 8000 people.

Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith said: “Killing a man who was arrested as a juvenile and tortured into a ‘confession’ will not bring justice – it will merely add to the tragedy of the Peshawar school attack. This resumption of executions is putting more innocent lives at risk, and gravely threatening Pakistan’s commitment to the rule of law. Even Government officials are now admitting that Shafqat, among others, has nothing to do with terrorism – the authorities must then change course, before it is too late.”


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