Mentally ill man to be hanged in Pakistan’s first post-Ramadan executions

July 23, 2015

Image of a man tying a noose

The Pakistani authorities have handed a death warrant to a mentally ill man, in what will be one of the first executions in the country since hangings were paused for Ramadan.

A so-called ‘Black Warrant’ handed down this morning confirms a new date of next Tuesday (28th) for the hanging of Khizar Hayat, a former police officer sentenced to death for murder in 2003. Khizar has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and has been held in the prison’s hospital since 2012 because of his worsening psychiatric state. In June this year, the Lahore High Court stayed an initial plan to execute Khizar after seeing jail records documenting his severe mental illness, including comments from doctors that “he is suffering from active symptoms of severe psychosis”.

After meeting with Khizar just hours before his planned hanging in June, his mother reported that he had no idea that he was about to be executed, believing instead that he would soon be taken home. Despite this, jail authorities have insisted that he can be executed, claiming that he has “somewhat orientation in time place and person”. Under Pakistani and international law, mentally ill people cannot be executed.

Pakistani authorities have hanged some 180 people since resuming executions in December 2014, but refrained from carrying out further killings and handing down death warrants during Ramadan. If Khizar’s execution goes ahead, it would be one of the first hangings in Pakistan since the end of the Muslim holy month.

Commenting, Maya Foa, a director at international human rights organization Reprieve, said:

“Khizar Hayat is suffering from such severe mental illness that he has had to be confined to a hospital cell, away from other prisoners, for the last three years. Acutely psychotic, with a limited grasp on reality, Khizar has no idea what’s happening to him – or why the Pakistani authorities are so keen to see him hanged. To execute Khizar would be an act of gross inhumanity, as well as a serious violation of Pakistani and international law, which prohibits the execution of the mentally ill. The government must stay the execution without delay.”


Notes to editors

For further information, please contact Reprieve on +44 (0) 207 553 8140 / alice [DOT] gillham [AT]