Death-row Pakistani makes plea for impartial investigation

April 15, 2015

Lawyers for a Pakistani who was sentenced to death as a juvenile have asked the country’s human rights body to take over an investigation into his case, citing concerns over the current Government-ordered inquiry.

Shafqat Hussain was arrested in 2004 as a minor, and sentenced to death for kidnap and murder on the basis of a ‘confession’ extracted after nine days of torture. Last month, after Mr Hussain’s legal team at Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) produced evidence suggesting he was under 18 at the time of the arrest, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar announced that the execution would be stayed, and an investigation conducted into the case. The stay of execution appears to be due to expire this weekend, and there are fears that a so-called ‘Black Warrant’ for Mr Hussain’s execution could be handed down in the coming days.

However, since then concerns have been raised about the neutrality of the probe by Pakistan’s Federal Investigations Authority (FIA), a body that lacks jurisdiction to look into human rights violations such as torture. Yesterday, it was revealed that the government investigators have confiscated and tampered with important evidence relating to the case; meanwhile, apparent leaks to the press by the FIA following the stay of execution suggested that it had already hastily concluded that Mr Hussain was not a child at the time of his arrest.

The urgent petition to Pakistan’s National Commission for Human Rights asks the body to conduct an immediate independent investigation into Mr Hussain’s young age at the time of his arrest, and his forced confession.

Commenting, Sarah Belal, Mr Hussain’s lawyer and director of Justice Project Pakistan, said:

“The Government’s ‘investigation’ has already been exposed as a whitewash – we’ve seen how the FIA, a body that lacks jurisdiction to look into human rights violations, has so far tampered with evidence and made premature announcements without the full facts. With a new execution date looming for Shafqat, there is an urgent need for a truly impartial inquiry – only then can we know the truth about this terrible injustice.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

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