Reprieve calls on the UK government to end the ‘inhuman’ suffering of Naheem Hussain and Rehan Zaman

June 22, 2009

Image of Naheem Hussain and Rehan Zaman

Reprieve calls on the UK government to end the ‘inhuman’ suffering of Naheem Hussain and Rehan Zaman, tortured British nationals facing the death penalty in Pakistan, on the fifth anniversary of their imprisonment.

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the arrest of Naheem Hussain and Rehan Zaman in Pakistan.

Naheem and Rehan have spent the last five years waiting for trial, knowing that if convicted they are likely to be sentenced to death.  Five years of such waiting, according to the UK courts, constitutes “cruel or degrading punishment”.

British citizens Naheem, 23, and Rehan, 25, were arrested whilst on holiday in their home village of Ratta, Pakistan, suspected of two murders.

They were tortured mercilessly by the police in order to force a confession. The abuse lasted for two weeks; amongst other techniques, the police beat them with sticks, attempted to break their legs, rubbed red chillies in their eyes and abused Naheem’s father in front of him.

Naheem and Rehan were forced to sign confessions and to lead the police to the ‘murder weapons’ – guns which ballistics analyses have conclusively proved could not have been used in the crime.

In the case of Pratt and Morgan v Attorney General for Jamaica [1993] 4 All ER 769 the Privy Council held that a delay of five years in a capital case would cause “an agony of suspense … [that] would be inhuman punishment” and ruled that any death penalty case that had been delayed for 5 years or more would constitute cruel and degrading punishment, and the individual should have his death sentence overthrown.

The mental anguish that the Privy Council discuss in Pratt and Morgan is very much the reality of Naheem and Rehan’s life in Mirpur prison. Rehan in particular is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression, which has led him to admitting that he is contemplating suicide.

Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve said: “It is impossible to imagine what it must be like to sit in prison, watching days become months and years, not knowing whether you are going to live or die. Yet Naheem and Rehan have lived through this, in their prison cells in Pakistan, for the past 5 years. The Privy Council quite rightly ruled that this was cruelty; I am not sure I can imagine anything crueller than making them live through this endless torture – and they have not even been convicted. Gordon Brown must do everything in his power to stop the untold suffering that these boys are living through daily.”

Fazal Hussain, father of Naheem, said: “It has been five years since my son was arrested. Our family is not complete without him. Every day, when we eat, when we talk, we are always reminded that he is sitting in a prison cell in Pakistan. It breaks our hearts everyday not to have him around, as part of the family. I would ask the British government to do everything they can to help my son. Please Mr Brown, stop my son’s suffering.”

-ENDS-

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives.  Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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