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Pakistan

    March 16, 2016

    The Pakistani authorities must promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate this morning’s bomb attack on a bus which killed at least 15 people and severely injured 25 in Peshawar, and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible in fair trials, said Amnesty International.

    “There can be no justification for intentionally targeting civilians or carrying out indiscriminate attacks. Those responsible for the bombing have shown contempt for the right to life and fundamental principles of humanity,” said Champa Patel, Director of Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Office.

    Media reports indicate that explosive material was packed into a toolbox and detonated remotely inside the privately hired bus, which was carrying government employees from Mardan to the provincial capital. No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.

    March 09, 2016

    Digital rights activist Nighat Dad blogs on how women in Pakistan are being attacked online, and what they’re doing to stop it. 

    There’s a stereotype in some parts of rural Pakistan that the internet isn’t for women. It’s where people watch bad stuff or make illegitimate relationships. In a conservative Muslim society, women are not supposed to be online. Many women choose to use the internet in secret, so their family members – especially men – don’t know about it. 

    And that’s one of the reasons why women in some areas don’t feel safe online. They feel threatened in the same way they do offline. I’ve seen blackmail, photoshopped pictures, hacking of personal accounts and rape threats. Women activists and feminists are trolled and targeted as “unethical western agents”. Nearly half of reported cyber crimes are connected to the harassment of women on social media.

    Shame and blackmail

    February 29, 2016

    The taking of another life is no way to ensure justice for the murder of Salman Taseer and Pakistan must immediately impose a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty, Amnesty International said today.

    Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard of ex-Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was hanged today in Islamabad’s Adiala Prison, after he had been convicted of murder. Mumtaz Qadri admitted that he killed Salman Taseer in January 2011 over the governor’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

    “Salman Taseer was a brave voice for religious tolerance in Pakistan and his murderer should be brought to justice, but carrying out more killings is a deplorable way to honour Salman Taseer’s life and message. The death penalty is always a human rights violation, regardless of the circumstances or nature of the crime,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Office Director.

    January 14, 2016

    The grenade attack on the offices of ARY TV in Islamabad represents yet another strike against freedom of expression in Pakistan, underscoring the growing peril faced by media workers in the course of their work, Amnesty International said today.

    Two attackers riding a motorcycle threw a grenade and reportedly fired gunshots at the ARY TV offices late on Wednesday. A video editor at the station was injured by shrapnel from the blast.

    “This is the latest, depressing addition to a series of brazen attacks in which media workers in Pakistan have been targeted for doing their jobs,” said Champa Patel, Director of Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Office.

    Pamphlets left at the scene said the attack had been carried out by Islamic State Wilayah Khurasan, an armed group that claims allegiance to the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS), in retaliation for ARY TV’s reporting of Pakistani military offensives.

    December 17, 2015

    Released 17 December 2015 at 00.01 GMT 

    The devastating response of the Pakistani government in the wake of the sickening Peshawar school massacre has set the country on a relentless and reprehensible course of executions, said Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
           
    In an open letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today, the organizations urge the Pakistani government to immediately establish an official moratorium on all executions with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty. Over the past 12 months, more than 300 people have been put to death in the country.

    “In the space of one year, Pakistan has become one of the world’s top three executioners – a dark and shameful development. The authorities must ensure that the relentless push to send death row prisoners to the gallows ends now before more lives are lost,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s South Asia Research Director.

    November 23, 2015

    Released 00.01 GMT, 24 November 2015

    Pakistan will imminently have executed 300 people since it lifted a moratorium on executions, shamefully sealing its place among the world’s worst executioners, Amnesty International said today.

    On 25 November, Pakistani authorities are set to execute Abdul Basit, a man with paraplegia who developed tubercular (TB) meningitis while on death row. His execution has been postponed several times, since the prison has no rules on how to hang someone who cannot stand on the scaffold.

    Amnesty International said the executions are a serious stain on Pakistan’s human rights record, compounding repeated violations of fair trial standards and other safeguards that must be observed in all death-penalty cases.

    “Pakistan’s ongoing zeal for executions is an affront to human rights and the global trend against the death penalty. Even if the authorities stay the execution of Abdul Basit, a man with paraplegia, Pakistan is still executing people at a rate of almost one a day,” said David Griffiths, South Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    September 21, 2015

    Pakistan must halt tomorrow’s scheduled hanging of a paraplegic man who developed tubercular (TB) meningitis while on death row, and immediately impose a moratorium on all executions, Amnesty International said.

    Abdul Basit, who is paralysed from the waist down, was convicted of murder six years ago but has always maintained his innocence.

    His execution was originally due to be carried out on 29 July 2015, but the Lahore High Court stayed his execution at the 11th hour after a petition was filed by his lawyers arguing his hanging would constitute cruel and inhuman punishment. The Court rejected the petition and gave the prison authorities a green light for the hanging to go ahead on 22 September.

    “Instead of debating the logistics of how to put a man in a wheelchair to death, the authorities in Pakistan should grant reprieve to Abdul Basit,” said Sultana Noon, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher.

    August 04, 2015

    Pakistan must immediately impose a moratorium on the death penalty after the execution of a man who was below 18 years old at the time of the crime, according to his lawyers, and who was tortured into a “confession” by police, Amnesty International said.

    Shafqat Hussain, who was sentenced to death for kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter in 2004, was this morning hanged in Karachi Central Jail. He was convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Act of Pakistan despite no known links to any terrorist organisation. His execution had been stayed four times since Pakistan lifted the moratorium on executions in December 2014.

    “This is another deeply sad day for Pakistan. A man whose age remains disputed and whose conviction was built around torture has now paid with his life – and for a crime for which the death penalty cannot be imposed under international law,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s South Asia Research Director.

    June 10, 2015

    The shameful execution in Pakistan of a man who was just 15 years old at the time of the crime for which he was convicted highlights the many serious concerns around the country’s use of the death penalty, Amnesty International said.

    Aftab Bahadur was hanged in a Lahore jail this morning. In September 1992, aged 15, he was arrested and charged with the murder earlier that same month of a woman and her two sons.

    Aftab Bahadur was implicated in the crime by his co-accused Ghulam Mustafa, who later maintained that he was tortured into “confessing” their involvement in the crime while in police custody. Ghulam Mustafa’s execution was also scheduled for today but it was halted at the last minute.

    “This is a desperately sad day – Aftab Bahadur has spent more than two decades languishing on death row even as evidence of his apparent innocence emerged, and has now faced the gallows. He has always maintained his innocence and that he was tortured into a ‘confession’,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    June 08, 2015

    Pakistan must immediately halt the imminent execution of a man whose lawyers maintain was a juvenile at the time of his alleged crime and who claims to have been tortured into a “confession”, Amnesty International said.

    The case of Shafqat Hussain, who was convicted of and sentenced to death for kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter in 2014, has caused enormous controversy in Pakistan. His execution has been stayed three times, and on the last occasion on 6 May was stopped at the 11th hour after a public outcry, pending an investigation into his age at the time of the crime and allegations that he had been subjected to torture.

    But despite serious questions about the fairness of this investigation, Shafqat Hussain is now set to be sent to the gallows on Tuesday 9 June.

    May 13, 2015

    The killing of more than 40 Ismaili Shi’a Muslims in Karachi marks a new low in a campaign of sectarian violence that has left Pakistan’s religious minorities fearing for their lives while extremists in the country operate with impunity, said Amnesty International.

    The attack on a bus carrying the Ismailis, claimed by the Jundullah group, highlights both the ever-present threat of violence and the authorities’ persistent failure to prosecute the perpetrators and to protect religious minorities.

    “We deplore this unprovoked assault and the tragic loss of life,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Asia Pacific.

    “While attacks on the Ismailis are rare, attacks by the Jundullah group are not. The extremists have claimed responsibility for many killings, including a 2013 attack on a church in Peshawar in which more than 80 Christians were killed. None of these attacks have been investigated or prosecuted in a thorough and transparent manner.”

    April 28, 2015

    Pakistan has today reached a “shameful milestone” with the 100th execution since a moratorium on executions was lifted in December 2014, said Amnesty International. The country is gaining a reputation as one of the leading executioners in the world.
     
    Amnesty International recorded the 100th execution in Pakistan today, since a moratorium was lifted on 17 December 2014 in the wake of the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar. Munir Hussain, sentenced to death for murder, was hanged in Punjab province this morning.

    “In reaching this shameful milestone of 100 executions in just over four months, the Pakistani authorities are showing total disregard for human life. Our concerns are heightened by manifestly unfair trials in many cases that fall well below minimum standards set by international law. This conveyor belt of killing will do nothing to address the root causes of crime and terrorism, and must end immediately,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    April 16, 2015

    The Pakistan Supreme Court’s decision to suspend death sentences passed by military courts is an important recognition of serious questions about the lawfulness of the country’s new military tribunal system, Amnesty International said.

    The Supreme Court today suspended death sentences imposed by military courts, after the Supreme Court Bar Association challenged a constitutional amendment passed in January that sped up the prosecution of terror cases and moved them from civilian to military courts.

    There are more than 8,000 prisoners on death row in Pakistan. Since a moratorium on the execution of civilians was lifted in December, at least 76 people have been executed.

    “This ruling by the Supreme Court is a step in the right direction, which points to something being very wrong in the government’s relentless rush to execute death row prisoners since December,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    March 17, 2015

    The mass execution of 12 people in Pakistan today highlights the horrific consequences of the government’s decision to resume executions for all death row prisoners, Amnesty International said.

    The 12 men were hanged in prisons across the country this morning and had been convicted of crimes including “terrorism” and murder. Since a moratorium on executions was lifted in December 2014, Pakistan has put 39 people to death. Amongst those executed was Muhammad Afzal, who was 16 years old when he was sentenced to death.

    Last week, Pakistan’s government confirmed a change in its policy on the death penalty by announcing that executions would resume for all capital crimes, not just for prisoners convicted on “terrorism”-related offenses.

    “The news that 12 more people were executed in Pakistan this morning is dismaying. The government is apparently intent on making good on promises to send everyone, including children, sentenced to death to the gallows,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    March 10, 2015

    Thousands of death row prisoners in Pakistan have been brought a step closer to the gallows today as Pakistan’s government confirmed a change in its policy on the death penalty by announcing that executions would resume for all capital crimes, Amnesty International said.

    “This shameful retreat to the gallows is no way to resolve Pakistan’s pressing security and law and order problems,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    “Three people have already been executed this year for non-terrorism-related offences. Today’s announcement is a chilling confirmation of the extent of the government’s execution plans.”

    Last December, authorities in Pakistan partially lifted a moratorium on the death penalty which had been in place since 2008. Coming in the wake of a massacre of mostly schoolchildren in Peshawar, this relaxation of the ban allowed the death penalty to be used only in terrorism cases.

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