Gallows in Pakistan (Image BBC)
Pakistan this morning reportedly executed Saqi Shah, who was arrested and convicted when he was 16 years old.
Shah, who was sentenced to death in June 1992, had already spent 23 years in prison – 20 of which have been on death row. According to the Asian Commission for Human Rights, Shah’s birth certificate shows he was born in April 1975, making him 16 at the time of his conviction. The execution of juveniles is illegal under Pakistani and international law.
Executions in Pakistan resumed a year ago on Saturday (December 19th), after a moratorium had long been in place. Since then more than 300 people have been executed, including 5 juveniles, according to international human rights NGO Reprieve which has been tracking the executions.
Among those juveniles is Aftab Bahadur, who was 15 at the time of his arrest for a crime of which all eyewitnesses in the case said he was innocent. Faisal Mahmood, another juvenile, was also executed earlier this year, despite the fact that not even the Government’s own lawyers disputed his age.
Saqi Shah’s execution is at least the fifth documented execution of a juvenile prisoner executed in Pakistan this year, although given problems with birth registration in the country it is likely that the real number is far higher.
Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty team, said: “It is shocking that the Pakistani government is continuing wilfully on their course of executing person after person, day after day. It is all the more horrific that untold numbers of those being executed were convicted when they were just children – just like Saqi Shah reportedly was. The Pakistani government must put a halt to all executions so that they can fully investigate who exactly they are trying to kill.”
“Reprieve: Death penalty”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. (She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”)