Earlier this week, Shafqat Hussain, who was on death row since 2004 for the kidnapping and accidental death of a seven-year-old boy, was hanged at Karachi Central Prison. This happened after his hanging was postponed on four previous occasions this year. Hussain was the security guard of the building where the boy lived, and was said to be only 14 when convicted of his crime.
Interestingly, Pakistan had stopped executions in 2008. However, this was lifted in December 2014 after the Taliban’s deadly terror attack at a school in Peshawar that left 150 dead, mostly children. There was then a one-month moratorium on capital punishment again, during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan, following which executions have resumed. Pakistan’s death penalty, initially reserved only for terror convicts, was extended to all capital crimes in March 2015. Other than murder, crimes that can invite capital punishment include hijacking, rape, stripping a woman of her clothes, drug smuggling, adultery and blasphemy.
Critics of capital punishment claim that Pakistan’s criminal justice system is marred by police torture and poor legal representation, complicating fair trials for those on death row. Restoration of the moratorium has been demanded internationally. By the latest data available with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, since December the country has executed 195 people.