Aftab Bahadur was sentenced to death as a child. Despite clear evidence of his innocence, and in violation of international and Pakistani law, Aftab was executed on Wednesday 10th June 2015 in the early hours of the morning.
At the age of 15, Aftab was arrested and sentenced to death by hanging even though he was a child, in violation of both Pakistani and international law. His conviction was largely based on testimony from two witnesses, who later recanted their statements which had also been extracted through torture.
During his time on death row, Aftab turned to poetry and art, and spent much of his time painting signs for the Kot Lakhpat Jail that held him. The large workload that this provided allowed Aftab a means of expression, and a way to take his mind of the horror of his situation. As Aftab explained, ‘Nothing in this world can give me more happiness than the feeling when I paint some idea, or feeling on the canvas.’
Reprieve worked tirelessly to save Aftab, right up until the last minute. However, our request for a stay of execution was rejected, and the Pankistani government denied us access to vital evidence that may have proved his innocence. After spending nearly 23 years on death row, Aftab was executed on 10th June 2015 at 4.30am.
Aftab’s case caused international outrage, and people from around the world sent over 18,000 messages in support of Aftab, but Pakistan’s President refused to grant mercy.
It is a truly shameful day for Pakistan’s justice system. Aftab was subjected to almost every injustice conceivable. Just 15 years old when he was arrested, tortured and sentenced to death, he spent 23 years languishing on death row for a crime he didn’t commit before being executed in the early hours of this morning. To the last, Pakistan refused even to grant his lawyers the few days needed to present evidence which would have proved his innocence. This is a travesty of justice, and tragedy for all those who knew Aftab.”
Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team
Aftab’s execution shows why Reprieve’s work is so vital. Pakistan has executed 150 people since December 2014 – like Aftab, many have been tortured and many sentenced to death as children.