The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8160

Over 500 at Imminent Risk as Pakistan Fully Lifts Executions Moratorium


Over 500 prisoners could now be in line for execution in Pakistan within days, after the government lifted its moratorium on the death penalty, new research reveals.

Pakistani government sources have confirmed that a decision has been made to fully lift its moratorium on the death penalty. Figures obtained by international human rights organization Reprieve and Justice Project Pakistan show that 536 prisoners in the country are at the final stages of potential appeals, and could be executed within days if their 'mercy petitions' are rejected. Late last year, the government is understood to have rejected 55 such requests within just five days.

The decision to lift the moratorium for all crimes potentially puts at risk all 8,261 prisoners on the country's death row - the largest in the world. Many of the prisoners, including foreign citizens, received death sentences for non-violent crimes such as adultery, blasphemy, apostasy, sabotage of railways, and drugs offences.

Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: "With this dangerous, sweeping decision, the Pakistani government has put thousands of people at risk - including those who received death sentences for such 'crimes' as apostasy and adultery. The international community must urgently call on Pakistan to change course, before moves are made to execute these 536 prisoners - and potentially thousands more."

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