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Medical Board Confirms “Bed Bound” Prisoner Faces Execution in Pakistan

PAKISTAN -

A Government-appointed medical board in Pakistan has confirmed that a prisoner facing execution in the coming weeks has no use of his lower limbs and is “bed bound with urinary and fecal incontinence.”

Abdul Basit was due to be hanged on 28 July, but his execution was stayed by the Lahore High Court (LHC) after his lawyers argued that it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment and violate the fundamental right to human dignity enshrined in Pakistan’s Constitution. A hearing on Abdul Basit’s case is scheduled for Tuesday 25 August.

The medical board report, which has been disclosed to Basit’s lawyers at Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), confirms that he “developed paraplegia as a complication of tuberculous meningitis” while in prison in 2010.  As a result, it says he has “0/5 power in lower limbs,” and “there is almost no chance of recovery.”

At Basit’s July hearing, his lawyer, Azam Nazeer Tarar, argued that Pakistan’s law has provisions for mercy to be granted in similar cases.  However, since resuming executions in 2014 the Government has carried out a blanket dismissal of all mercy petitions, and appears to have overlooked Basit’s case as a result.  It is also unclear whether the jail authorities submitted Basit’s medical records – which clearly showed that he was paraplegic – to the President along with his mercy petition.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at international human rights organisation Reprieve said:

“Hanging a man who is unable even to stand would be a new low for Pakistan’s death penalty system, and a clear violation of the country’s constitution.  It is deeply worrying that the authorities appear to have ignored the severe disabilities from which Abdul Basit clearly suffers.  Hopefully this report will bring them to their senses, and put a stop to these cruel and indefensible plans.”

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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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