Pakistan stays execution of mentally ill prisoner
October 31, 2016
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has stayed the execution of a severely mentally ill man who was due to be hanged this Wednesday (2nd).
Imdad Ali has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Recent prison medical assessments have described Mr Ali as “insane”, and concluded that his is “a treatment-resistant case.” The execution of mentally ill people is illegal under Pakistani and international law, but despite this, the Pakistani authorities had scheduled Mr Ali’s hanging for this week.
This morning, the Supreme Court postponed Mr Ali’s hanging after a fresh petition from his lawyers at the Justice Project Pakistan, and following an intervention in support of Mr Ali from the government of Punjab province, where he is held. In a rare move, the Court has now decided to review its own recent judgment, in which judges dismissed Mr Ali’s appeal and paved the way for his execution. The fresh hearing is set to take place in the second week of November.
The news follows growing calls to save Mr Ali. This weekend, over 60 lawyers from common-law countries around the world – including the USA, UK, India, Singapore, Nigeria, Botswana and Malawi – wrote to Pakistan’s President urging him to halt Mr Ali’s execution. It also emerged that members of the European Parliament have noted that Pakistan’s special trade relationship with the European Union could be under threat from the country’s executions drive, which has seen over 400 people hanged in the last two years.
Commenting, Maya Foa, a director at human rights organization Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Ali, said:
“The Supreme Court’s decision to stay Imdad’s hanging and review its ruling on the execution of the mentally ill is extremely welcome. This exceptional case has drawn attention from around the world, and it’s a great relief that Imdad has been temporarily spared from the gallows. It is now to be hoped that the Court will heed international and Pakistani law and refuse to allow the execution of this severely mentally ill man.”
Notes to Editors
1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org
2. More information about Mr Ali’s case can be seen at the Reprieve website.