Schizophrenia ‘not a mental illness’, says Pakistan Supreme Court

Pakistan (Reprieve) – Pakistan’s Supreme Court has today ruled that schizophrenia does not qualify as mental disorder, paving the way for the execution of Imdad Ali who suffers from severe mental illness.

In an unprecedented judgement, they claim that schizophrenia is not a permanent condition and varied according to the “level of stress”.

2016-22-10-01-01-45They claimed that “it is, therefore, a recoverable disease, which, in all the cases, does not fall within the definition of “mental disorder” as defined in the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001.”

In seeking to justify their case, the judges made reference to an outdated Indian case from the 1980s, which said that “‘schizophrenia’ is what Schizophrenia does.”

Mr Ali has been previously diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and a 2013 medical report stated him to be “insane.” Sentenced to death in 2008 over a shooting, Imdad lost his final appeal last year.

He came within hours of being hanged last month, before his wife filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. A medical assessment conducted at the jail last month by Dr Tahir Feroze Khan noted that Mr Ali was suffering from “active psychosis” and that his illness appeared to be “treatment resistant”.

The latest ruling means Mr Ali could face the gallows as early as Wednesday 26th October.

Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said:

“It is outrageous for Pakistan’s Supreme Court to claim that schizophrenia is not a mental illness, and flies in the face of accepted medical knowledge, including Pakistan’s own mental health laws. It is terrifying to think that a mentally ill man like Imdad Ali could now hang because judges are pretending that schizophrenia is not a serious condition. Pakistan’s President needs to urgently intervene to stop this sickening attempt to hang Imdad.”

 

This report prepared by Reprieve.