Pakistan faces outcry over plans to execute two men - one disabled, the other a juvenile offender

Last week, Pakistan tried to kill wheelchair user Abdul Basit. This Tuesday, it will push ahead with the execution of Ansar Iqbal - who says he was 15 at the time of his arrest

Sunday 27 September 2015 14:41 BST
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Pakistan postpones execution of disabled Abdul Basit because he couldn't stand up at the gallows
Pakistan postpones execution of disabled Abdul Basit because he couldn't stand up at the gallows

Pakistan is facing growing international condemnation over plans to execute two men – one thought to be a juvenile offender, the other severely disabled.

Ansar Iqbal and wheelchair user Abdul Basit both face death by hanging, after their death sentences were upheld by the country’s Supreme Court.

Last week, it was reported that Mr Basit’s death was delayed after his severe paralysis meant he would be unable to walk to the gallows, as is required by the jail’s rules on carrying out executions.

Now, the campaign group Reprieve says that Mr Iqbal’s case involves a fundamental breach of Pakistan’s commitments to international law.

According to Reprieve, courts in Pakistan have refused to consider evidence from a birth certificate which appears to show that Mr Iqbal was 15 at the time of his arrest on murder charges in 1994.

Like many in Pakistan, Mr Iqbal’s birth was not registered at the time. He was issued a certificate earlier this year by Nadra, the National Database and Registration Authority – but court officials say it has come too late to be considered.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: “It is a fundamental principle of Pakistani and international law that children should not be sentenced to death.

“In Ansar’s case, none of the documentary evidence of his juvenility that was presented to court was given proper consideration. Instead, the courts relied solely on an estimation of his age in the police record, and now Ansar faces death by hanging at dawn on Tuesday.

“Pakistan has already executed at least three people convicted as children since December. On Tuesday morning they risk hanging another. The Pakistani authorities must stay this execution and allow a full examination of the evidence.”

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