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An Estimated 800 Facing Hanging in Pakistan Were Sentenced to Death as Children

LONDON - An estimated 800 of those facing execution in Pakistan may have been sentenced to death when they were children, a report released today has revealed.

Justice Project Pakistan and Reprieve conducted a study of 30 prisoners close to execution and discovered that 10% were arrested and sentenced to death while still children. Should this figure hold true across the entire death row population, there could be over 800 people convicted as children among the more than 8000 prisoners currently sentenced to death.

Among those profiled in the report is Shafqat Hussain, who was sentenced to death aged 14 following nine days of police torture, and is scheduled for execution tomorrow (Thursday 19th) along with five others.

The execution of child offenders is prohibited under Pakistani and international law and the Minister of the Interior Chaudhry Nisar had previously promised an inquiry into Shafqat’s case. However, he has since failed to conduct one or to issue a stay of execution despite an international outcry over Shafqat’s conviction.

Pakistan’s moratorium on executions was lifted on December 17th. 49 people have been executed since then; 21 of those in the past 36 hours alone.

Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “The prospect of Shafqat's execution is bad enough, but the fact that there could be hundreds more people facing the hangman’s noose, who were convicted when they were merely children, is truly shocking. Killing child offenders flies in the face of international law and basic humanity. Minister Nisar must put a halt to all executions, including Shafqat’s, while he conducts an inquiry into the number of child offenders on Pakistan’s enormous death row.”

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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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