For Immediate Release
Jail to Explain Tomorrow How it will Hang Disabled Prisoner
LONDON - Jail authorities in Lahore have been given 24 hours to explain how they will physically hang a disabled prisoner.
At a hearing at the Lahore High Court today, lawyers for Abdul Basit, 43, argued that his execution would constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, prohibited under Pakistani and international law. Basit is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair as a result of an illness he contracted while in prison, for which he did not receive adequate treatment. Basit’s lawyers contend that he has already suffered unusual punishment, and to try to execute him now would be a form of “double punishment”, and a breach of Pakistani law. His execution was scheduled for last month, but has been postponed by the court.
Pakistan’s Jail Manual gives no instructions on how to execute disabled prisoners, and at today’s hearing, it emerged the jail had given no thought to how they would practically carry out Basit’s hanging. The judge told jail officials today that they would have to come up with a detailed plan within the next 24 hours if they were to be allowed to proceed with the execution.
Pakistan has executed over 200 people since resuming executions in December 2014. Recent reports have suggested that the vast majority of those killed have had no links to terrorism, despite a claim by the authorities to be hanging ‘terrorists.’ Among the prisoners hanged so far have been juveniles, mentally ill prisoners, and people with strong innocence claims.
Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at human rights organization Reprieve, said: “It is astonishing that the jail authorities continue to push for the hanging of Abdul Basit, whose terrible treatment in prison has already left him paralyzed from the waist down. Basit’s hanging would be a grotesque spectacle and cruel injustice. We must hope that the court puts a stop to this inhumanity and saves his life.”
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.