LAHORE:(APS) November 23,2015-: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has written to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to stay the execution of Abdul Basit, a paraplegic death row prisoner detained in Faisalabad prison, after warrants were issued for him to be hanged on November 25.
In its letter to the premier, HRCP highlighted that this was the third time that execution warrants had been issued for Abdul Basit. He was first scheduled to be hanged on July 29, but the execution was stayed at the eleventh hour by the Lahore High Court, on a writ petition challenging the legality of his execution. On September 1, that petition was dismissed. A new warrant scheduling Basit’s execution for 22 September was subsequently issued, but execution was again stayed after the Supreme Court issued an order stating that the execution could proceed, but only in accordance with the Pakistan Prison Rules, which set out the procedure for carrying out executions. Unable to conduct the execution in a way that would not be a violation of the Rules, the jail authorities and the magistrate deputed to oversee the hanging, subsequently stayed the execution.
In 2010, whilst in Central Jail, Faisalabad, Abdul Basit had contracted tubercular meningitis which has left him paralysed from the waist down. Despite being unable to stand, and reliant on a wheelchair, he is scheduled to be hanged on Wednesday (November 25).
In the letter to the prime minister, the HRCP chairperson noted that the prison authorities were still awaiting a response after writing to the federal government for guidance on how to proceed in the case.
Abdul Basit’s mercy petition is still pending and on October 15 a letter was forwarded to Basit’s counsel from the Presidency, which requested the Ministry of Interior to consider the pending mercy petition, which it described as “self explanatory”.
The HRCP chairperson said: “It is shocking that orders for Basit’s execution have been issued for a third time, despite the fact that concerns about the legality of his hanging remain as unsatisfied as ever and because he is simply not fit to be hanged.”
She further stated: “HRCP is of the view that the hanging of a wheelchair-bound prisoner simply cannot be conducted in a humane and dignified manner as required by Pakistani and international law. Proceeding with Abdul Basit’s execution in the circumstances will offend against all norms of civilised justice.”
HRCP urged the prime minister to issue orders that Abdul Basit’s execution was stayed and he was granted reprieve.