Hearing to decide fate of paraplegic Pakistani death row prisoner

By agency reporter
August 30, 2015

A court hearing in Pakistan tomorrow (31 August) could decide whether the government should be allowed to execute a severely disabled man.

Abdul Basit was convicted and sentenced to death for murder in 2009. In 2010, he contracted tubercular meningitis in prison, which left him paralysed from the waist down. A Government-appointed medical board recently confirmed that Basit has no use of his lower limbs and is “bed bound with urinary and fecal incontinence.” Despite being unable to stand, and reliant on a wheelchair, the Pakistani authorities have issued a ‘Black Warrant’ for his execution – part of a wave of hangings in Pakistan that has seen over 200 prisoners killed since December 2014. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22003)

At a hearing in July, the Lahore High Court ordered a stay of execution for Basit, after his lawyers argued that his execution would constitute cruel and unusual punishment – violating the fundamental right to human dignity enshrined in Pakistan’s Constitution. Tomorrow’s hearing will decide whether the stay should be extended, or whether the Pakistani authorities should be permitted to execute Basit. There are no provisions for the execution of disabled prisoners in Pakistan’s execution protocol.

Pakistan has the largest death row in the world, at over 8,000 prisoners. The government has claimed that the hangings are necessary to deter ‘terrorists’, but recent reports have revealed that the vast majority of those already executed had no links to terrorism.

Commenting, Kate Higham, Pakistan caseworker at the legal charity Reprieve, said: “There has, quite rightly, been an outcry at the Pakistani authorities’ insistence on hanging a severely disabled man. It is appalling that the government is trying to push through its plans to kill Basit, when the only result would be a grotesque, cruel spectacle – and the pointless loss of yet another life. It’s to be hoped that the court puts a halt to these grisly plans – but the international community must also step in and urge Pakistan to end this terrible wave of executions.”

* The report of the Pakistani medical board into Abdul Basit's condition can be read here: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2015_08_10_PRIV_Me...

* Reprieve http://www.reprieve.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

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