Pakistan’s 300th hanging could be paraplegic wheelchair-user, tomorrow

November 24, 2015

A prisoner who is unable to stand could tomorrow become the 300th person to be executed in Pakistan since the country re-started hangings in December, according to some estimates.

Abdul Basit contracted meningitis while in prison in 2010, and due to medical negligence was left paralysed from the waist down.   The Pakistan Prison Rules do not provide for hanging those unable to stand, leading to concerns that he could suffer a drawn-out, inhumane execution.

Those concerns have seen the execution stayed twice already this year, and the prison has admitted that no guidance has been issued on how the hanging can take place.

Amnesty has estimated that there have so far been 299 executions since Pakistan lifted a moratorium last December, meaning that unless Basit’s is stayed, it could be the 300th. However, a lack of clarity from the Pakistan Government means that the total is uncertain: anonymous sources at the Ministry of Interior said earlier that this month that the total is 311.

Basit contracted meningitis while in prison in 2010, but it took a month for him to be diagnosed and hopsitalised. Due to spinal damage resulting from the disease, he now suffers from paraplegia, and needs to use a wheelchair.

Last weekend, his mother appealed to the authorities to stop his execution from going ahead, saying: “I am unable to understand what the government will get from his execution. My son has already suffered a lot. His death will do nothing to serve justice and country.”

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at international human rights organisation Reprieve said: “Hanging a paralysed man would be a truly shameful way for Pakistan to reach this grisly milestone. It is appalling that the authorities are pushing ahead with this execution, despite the jail’s admission that they have no idea how to carry it out. Basit has already suffered terribly as a result of neglect while in jail – there is no justification for subjecting him to a needlessly cruel exection. It must be stopped.”