Pakistan Sets Execution Date for ‘Insane’ Prisoner

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Pakistan Sets Execution Date for ‘Insane’ Prisoner

Authorities in Pakistan have handed down an execution warrant to a death-row prisoner who is severely mentally ill.      
 
Pakistan's interior ministry today handed down a so-called ‘black warrant’ confirming that it plans to hang Imdad Ali, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, next Wednesday (2nd). Mr Ali was sentenced to death in 2008 over a shooting, following several years in which his family struggled to pay for medical treatment. Since then, a series of medical assessments have confirmed his illness, with one doctor describing him as “insane”, and saying that his condition is “chronic and disabling.”
 
Despite this, last week saw Pakistan’s Supreme Court dismiss an appeal by Mr Ali’s lawyers, commenting that schizophrenia is “not a mental disorder.” This afternoon, authorities at the jail where Mr Ali is held confirmed that a warrant has been issued for his execution on November 2nd.   
 
The execution of mentally ill people is prohibited under Pakistani and international law, and today’s development comes amid mounting criticism of plans to hang Mr Ali. UN human rights experts have called on the government to halt Mr Ali’s execution, while the UK's Foreign Office has said it is “very concerned” about the case. A group of Pakistani psychiatrists has also urged the authorities to commute Mr Ali’s sentence. Over 20,000 people have signed a petition calling on Pakistan’s President, Mamnoon Hussain, to grant mercy to Mr Ali.

Under international law, the President has a duty to review death penalty cases. Article 45 of Pakistan’s Constitution grants the President powers to “grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute” death sentences.
 
Commenting, Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve, said: “It’s appalling that the Pakistani authorities are pushing ahead with their plans to execute Imdad. Experts agree that Imdad is severely mentally ill – meaning his hanging would be a grave breach of Pakistani and international law, and an indelible stain on Pakistan’s reputation. It is the President of Pakistan’s constitutional duty to review death penalty cases and to use his power to grant mercy in cases such as Imdad’s  – where not to do so would result in a gross, irreparable miscarriage of justice. The President must use his power to pardon Imdad, and prevent this outrage from going ahead.”

Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

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