Pakistan regions call for halt to juvenile hanging

August 3, 2015

The governments of two major Pakistani regions – Sindh and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) – have called on the Federal Government to halt and review the case of Shafqat Hussain, who was sentenced to death as a juvenile and faces execution tonight.

This afternoon, the President of AJK – Shafqat’s home state – wrote to the Pakistani President calling on him to stay the execution, which is set to take place in the early hours of Tuesday 4 August. The letter raises concerns over Shafqat’s claims of juvenility and torture at the time of his conviction. It adds that, given widespread concerns over the federal government’s own investigation, the AJK government intended to launch its own review into Shafqat’s case.

The Government of Sindh province – where Shafqat is being held and is set to be executed – made a similar call earlier today, according to Senator Sherry Rehman, a senior figure in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which currently controls the province. Sen. Rehman, a former Ambassador to the US, tweeted this morning that “Sindh has advised federal ministry…to review penalty.”

The two interventions come with just hours left before Shafqat is set to be executed. His sentence has drawn widespread criticism, most recently from the statutory Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC), which raised concerns over his age and his having been convicted primarily on the basis of a ‘confession’ which he says was extracted under torture.

A report by Pakistan’s Express Tribune today confirmed that the Sindh Government had forwarded the SHRC’s request to the Federal Government of Pakistan.

Commenting, Maya Foa, head of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said:

“The Government of AJK has joined the Sindh Govt, the Sindh Human Rights Commission and the UN in highlighting the many serious concerns in Shafqat’s case – concerns that cannot simply be ignored. If this hanging were to proceed without their recommendations being implemented it would be a travesty. Shafqat’s execution must immediately be stayed and his case reviewed.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

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

2. Sen. Sherry Rehman’s tweet can be read here.

3. The Express Tribune report on the Sindh Government’s intervention can be read here.