PAKISTAN: DEATH PENALTY STATUS QUO
April 18, 2012: As many as 313 people, including six women, were sentenced to death by various courts in 2011, according to the Report âState of Human Rights in 2011,â published in March 2012 by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
Over half of them (161) were convicted of murder. Others faced charges such as drug trafficking, kidnapping for ransom and rape. Three persons were given capital punishment for blasphemy.
For the second year in a row the number of people sentenced to death exceeded 300, to be added to the 8,000-odd population of death penalty convicted in the country, probably the largest death-row population in the world.
The death row prisoners constituted over 10 percent of the prison population in the country. The highest number (6,175) of death penalty convicts from any region in Pakistan was in Punjab, amounting to more than 11 percent of the overall prison population. There were 852 women in the prisons in Punjab, 27 of them were on death row.
The informal moratorium on executions since December 2008 remained in place and none of over 8,000 convicts was executed. However, no headway was made on the promise the federal government had made in 2008 to convert the death penalty for all but the most serious offences into life imprisonment.
The courts briefly started issuing warrants for execution of death penalty convicts in January 2011, and the HRCP urged the government to withdraw the warrants and extend the moratorium. The execution of the convicts was deferred pursuant to the issuance of another notification by President Asif Ali Zardari. The President incrementally extended the stay on executions until December 31, 2011.
The HRCP urged the government to expedite the work to turn the informal moratorium on execution into a permanent one. A petition was moved in Supreme Court calling for abolition of the death penalty, and arguing that it was a violation of the Constitution. (Sources: HRCP, March 2012)