Concerns have been raised that the resumption of executions in Pakistan could result in the deaths of innocents, in light of a report which finds that police used torture in 76% of cases, often to extract bogus 'confessions.'
The report, produced by NGO Justice Project Pakistan, was based on nearly 2000 medico-legal certificates obtained by the organisation for those arrested in the city of Faisalabad between 2006-12.
Faisalabad last night (19 December) was the site of two executions, the first to take place in the country since 2012. Previously, a moratorium on executions had been in place. A change to the law made in the last few days now means that executions can take place with just 24 hours’ notice.
It has since emerged that Shafqat Hussain, who was tortured into ‘confessing’ and sentenced to death when he was 14 years old, could be executed in Karachi as soon as Tuesday.
The JPP report finds that in 1,424 of the 1,867 cases examined, medical evidence supports the claims of abuse made by the victims.
One case detailed in the report, that of 'Wasif' (not his real name), records that the police forced him to 'confess' by torturing him in a number of ways. These included the 'strappado,' a method used by the medieval Inquisition in which the victim is suspended from their arms in such a way that leads to slow dislocation. The torture was "so acute that it caused him to fall unconscious many times during the course of the four days."
Pakistan has the largest death row in the world, estimated at over 8000 people.
Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve, which works with JPP, said:
"It is no exaggeration to say that the torture methods employed by Pakistan's police would be familiar to the Spanish Inquisition. But worse still, they are being used to extract phoney 'confessions' which in many cases lead to death sentences. As a result, many innocents may now be facing the hangman's noose, after the Pakistani Government abandoned its two year moratorium. Pakistan has the largest death row in the world, and the floodgates are now open. The horrific events in Peshawar last week deserve a response, but jettisoning due process and carrying out rushed executions is not the right one."
Source: Reprieve, December 20, 2014
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