Pakistan reinstates the death penalty


A gurney used for executions at the Virginia Department of Corrections.


Virginia Department of Corrections

The government of Pakistan has decided to bring back the death penalty in the wake of an uptick in militant violence, ending a 2008 moratorium that expired on June 20th that was widely praised by human rights groups. 

"The present government does not plan to extend it," said Omar Hamid Khan, an interior ministry spokesman of the moratorium, according to Reuters, noting that current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government intends to execute all death row prisoners, barring those who have been given an exception for human rights reasons. 

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“We will examine every single case on merit and send five to ten cases to the presidency every day… there will be no general amnesty for convicts waiting for executions,” said a government spokesperson, according to AFP, adding that the government would show sympathy to "women, children, and the elderly" as they made these choices. 

A soldier who had been convicted by court martial was put to death in November 2012, but the moratorium did not officially end until late June. Up to 450 people are currently awaiting execution. 

The former moratorium was largely held up by the Pakistan People's Party, which was defeated in the May elections by the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, which is headed by Prime Minister Sharif. 

"Any government green light to resume executions in Pakistan would be a shocking and retrograde step, putting thousands of people’s lives at risk,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director, in a statement. 

“The sheer number of people at risk makes the new government policy of turning back to the death penalty even more horrendous,” added Truscott.

Amnesty says that Pakistan currently has over 8,000 prisoners on death row awaiting execution, and many have already exhausted the appeals process.