Islamabad, Pakistan (Reprieve) – In a rare admission, an anonymous Interior Ministry official said yesterday that Pakistan’s total for hangings “now stands at 311” since the country resumed executions 11 months ago today. Setting aside the religious holidays, during which no executions took place, according to Pakistan’s own figures they have executed at least one person a day for the last eleven months.
The figure was revealed amid confusion over the scale of Pakistan’s death row, believed to be the largest in the world. Two weeks ago, the Pakistani government said that some 6,000 people were facing execution in the country; however, this contradicts another government estimate, of 8,000, made by the Interior Ministry at the beginning of the year.
Reprieve has collated all of the publicly available data on the executions that have taken place since the moratorium broke, and has identified 300 individuals. Among these, Reprieve has found just 16 individuals (less than 0.06% of all executed) with known links to a prescribed terrorist organisation. Reuters revealed in July that to date, more than 83% of those executed had no links to militancy.
Police torture and forced ‘confessions’ are common in Pakistan, and there are concerns that many of those on the country’s death row were sentenced after unfair trials. Since more than 73% of births are unregistered in Pakistan, there are also fears that many of those who have been executed may have been juveniles when arrested. Among those killed so far was Aftab Bahadur, who was 15 at the time of his arrest for a crime which all eye witnesses in the case said he was innocent.
Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: “The Pakistani government has no idea how many people it has on its death row, let alone how many are innocent or were sentenced to death as children. It is appalling that the authorities are proceeding with executions at this rate. If they continue to execute one person a day, by the end of next year they will have killed nearly a thousand people – among whom there will almost certainly be a large number of juveniles, and innocent people tortured into ‘confessing’ to crimes they didn’t commit. This senseless massacre will not make Pakistan any safer, and must be stopped.”
This report prepared by Reprieve.