Rights groups call on Pakistan to halt execution

ISLAMABAD: Rights organisations on Thursday called on Pakistan to halt the execution of the first civilian for a non-terror related offence since 2008, saying the move would violate its own official policy.

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Pakistan lifted a six-year moratorium on the death penalty last month in the case of convicted terrorists following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar which killed 150 people.

Since then it has hanged 20 people, with plans to execute up to 500.

But a death warrant issued this week for convicted murderer Shoaib Sarwar has raised the prospect of executions being resumed for the rest of the country’s almost 8,000 death row convicts.

Rights groups have slammed the announcement, which sets the date of his hanging for February 3 in the city of Rawalpindi.

“The government policy on who should be executed is very clear it says only people who are on terrorism,” Kate Higham of British legal charity Reprieve told AFP, adding the judge in this case had misunderstood his role and succumbed to pressure from the victim’s family.

Analysts believe that resuming the executions in non-terror cases could imperil a favourable trade agreement with the European Union which exempts Pakistan from taxes on its textile exports. – AFP

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Rights groups call on Pakistan to halt execution

by Azhar Khan