Family of paralyzed death-row Pakistani plead for mercy

September 20, 2015

Image of a shadow of a noose hanging on a cracked wall

The family of a paraplegic death row prisoner in Pakistan have begged the authorities to cancel plans to execute him this Tuesday (22nd).

Abdul Basit, 43, is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of an illness he contracted in prison that was left untreated. A recent jail medical report confirmed that he is “bed-bound” with “almost no chance of recovery.” Pakistan’s Jail Manual gives no instructions on how to execute disabled prisoners, and Basit’s lawyers have petitioned the government to grant him mercy, on the basis that his execution would constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment – prohibited under Pakistani and international law.

At a recent hearing at the Lahore High Court, the judge ruled that Basit could legally be hanged, and commented that “international laws should be kept aside” when considering whether prisoners on Pakistan’s 8000-strong death row should be executed.

Speaking yesterday to lawyers at Justice Project Pakistan, Basit’s family begged the government to grant mercy. His mother said: “My son has already suffered a lot. He is half dead. It was all because of the jail authorities that he is disabled today. I appeal to Pakistan’s President for mercy.

“I am not educated but I know and I am sure this is not what Islam teaches – this is not what the law tells. Can’t they see that he has suffered for years? Who says that this is justice? How can they do this to a paralyzed man? Please have mercy on my son.”

Pakistan has executed nearly 250 people since resuming executions in December 2014. Recent reports have suggested that the vast majority of those killed have had no links to terrorism, despite a claim by the authorities to be hanging ‘terrorists.’ Among the prisoners hanged so far have been juveniles, mentally ill prisoners, and people with strong claims of innocence.

Commenting, Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at human rights organization Reprieve, said:

“It is outrageous that the authorities are pushing ahead with their plans to hang Basit, and that the courts are now accepting the government’s argument that Pakistan’s international obligations can be openly flouted. This execution will be a grotesque spectacle, and – like the hundreds of hangings before it – will bring neither justice nor security to Pakistan. The international community must call on Pakistan to respect international law and halt this execution without delay. ”


Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8140

2. Pakistan’s execution protocols can be found in its jail manual, here, while a recent report by the Pakistani medical board into Abdul Basit’s condition can be found here.

3. Further details on Abdul Basit’s case can be found in a petition for mercy submitted by his lawyers to the President of Pakistan, here.

4. A recent Reuters report on those prisoners already executed can be found here.