For Immediate Release
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Court to Hear Case of Pakistani Sentenced to Death Aged 14
LONDON - A hearing will be held tomorrow in the case of a Pakistani man who was convicted aged 14. The Ministry of the Interior previously promised to conduct an inquiry into the conviction but has failed to do so and scheduled the execution for Thursday.
Shafqat Hussain was convicted of the kidnap and manslaughter of another child based on one piece of evidence: a forced ‘confession’ extracted after nine days of police torture. A previous warrant was issued scheduling his execution for 14th January 2015 but after serious concerns over his age and the safety of his initial conviction were raised, the execution was stayed on 5th January. The execution of people convicted as juveniles is illegal in Pakistan, as is the use of torture evidence.
In January, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar told the Pakistani National Assembly that he had ordered an inquiry into Shafqat’s conviction. Despite this none of Shafqat’s family or legal team have been contacted about the inquiry and his execution has been scheduled for Thursday.
In an appeal filed by Shafqat’s lawyers at the Justice Project Pakistan today (Monday), which will be heard by the Sindh High Court tomorrow, Shafqat’s lawyers argue that the government’s attempts to execute Shafqat are illegal. This is because of his conviction as a child, the fact his conviction is based on evidence extracted through torture, and that the scheduling of the execution despite the promise of a full inquiry into the facts of the case is illegal and arbitrary.
It is not known how many of the more than 8,000 on Pakistan's death row were convicted as children.
Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “The execution of anyone convicted when they were just a child is illegal, not to mention morally abhorrent. Shafqat’s innocence, and the fact that his ‘confession’ was extracted after nine days of brutal police torture, make the Pakistani government’s attempts to kill this young man even more horrendous. Minister Nisar promised an inquiry into Shafqat’s conviction because he knows that it was wrong to begin with – it is a shocking abuse of office that he has reneged on this commitment. Shafqat’s execution - and all others - must be halted so that the inquiry that was so rightly promised can go ahead. If it does not, it will show exactly how much weight the rule of law now carries in Pakistan."
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.