Pakistan has not been executing the condemned row convict for the past 22 months as the public outcries for an immediate solution to the ever increasing crime rate especially against women and children.
The ambassador of the European Union Androulla Kaminara has lauded Pakistan’s top court’s decisions for prohibiting the execution of the capital punishment to prisoners.
The ambassador was speaking at an event organised jointly by the endeavours of EU delegation and Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) to commemorate the upcoming World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10.
Kaminara reminded that Pakistan had agreed to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2010, well before the existence on GSP+. The ICCPR calls for the death penalty only to be applied to the most heinous crimes. However, Pakistan currently has 33 crimes that can lead to a death penalty.
She said, “This year’s global theme is ‘women and the death penalty’, which focuses on inequalities within the justice system and how this disproportionately affects women as they engage with courts and law enforcement authorities.”
Kaminara added, “This makes access to justice much more difficult for women. While working towards the complete abolition of the death penalty worldwide for all crimes and genders, it is crucial to sound the alarm on the discrimination women face and the consequences it can have on a death sentence.”
Amnesty International opposes death penalty and for almost 40 years, Amnesty has been campaigning to abolish the death penalty around the world. It holds that the death penalty breaches human rights, in particular the right to life and the right to live free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Both rights are protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.
JPP’s campaign for Women
At the event, the JPP launched their latest campaign, titled ‘This Is (Not) A Game’, highlighting systemic issues in the criminal justice system, with a particular focus on the issues that women face while engaging with the system when they seek the access to justice.
The components of the ‘This Is (Not) A Game’ campaign include a digital game, an ongoing interactive street theatre performed in Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad and Karachi with Azad Theatre, an augmented reality (AR) Instagram filter, an interactive radio show with Afzal Sahir, and an ongoing two-week internship programme featuring 60 students from 22 universities across Pakistan.
The founder and executive director of the JPP Sarah Bilal underlined that although Pakistan sentenced very few women to death, the justice system discriminatingly affected women who had to engage with the system in one way or another, whether it was visiting a police station to file a complaint or to attend court hearings.
Sarah added, “We hope that the campaign, ‘This Is (Not) A Game’, will play an important role in bringing the systemic issues in the criminal justice system to the forefront of people’s minds and will remind everyone that justice and the death penalty are not synonymous.
Since the de-facto moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in 2014, the country has executed 516 individuals. Pakistan also has almost 4,000 individuals on death row – around 15% of the world’s death row population.