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A last-minute stay has been issued for a Pakistani sentenced to death aged 14 after nine days of police torture, who was due to be executed tomorrow (Thursday 19th).
Following an outcry over the case of Shafqat Hussain, a Pakistani government minister announced this evening that a stay had been issued and that they are going to conduct an inquiry into his age at the time of conviction and the torture he suffered before ‘confessing’ to the crime. The execution of juveniles and the use of torture evidence are both illegal under Pakistani law.
Interior Minister Chaudhry had in January announced that he would conduct an inquiry into Shafqat’s case, but Shafqat’s lawyers were never contacted in relation to any inquiry; had they been they could have provided extensive evidence of his age, including his birth certificate.
The Pakistani government recently announced that 40 executions have been scheduled for the next 7 days. It is not known how many of the more than 8000 currently facing execution in Pakistan were convicted as juveniles but a report released today by human rights charities Reprieve and Justice Project Pakistan suggests that it could be over 800.
Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “This decision to stay the execution of a man tortured into ‘confessing’ to a crime when he was merely a child is hugely welcome. It is, however, a shame that it took an outcry and the weight of civil society to push the Minister into doing the right thing – just hours before Shafqat was due to be led to the gallows. There are likely to be hundreds more Shafqats on Pakistan’s death row but the Interior Ministry has no idea at the moment who they are. Minister Nisar must at last conduct the full and proper inquiry into Shafqat’s case that was initially promised, and stay all other impending executions while he works out how many of those people may have been tortured into ‘confessing’ to crimes when they were children.”
1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8140
2. The full report, ‘Juveniles on Pakistan’s Death Row’, can be found here.