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UN experts urge Pakistan to halt execution of person with disability

GENEVA (13 January 2019) – UN human rights experts* have urged the authorities in Pakistan to halt the execution of Mr. Khizar Hayat, a man with psychosocial disabilities. His execution is scheduled for 15 January 2019. 

“The imposition of capital punishment on individuals with psychosocial disabilities is a clear violation of Pakistan’s international obligations,” the UN experts said. They urged the Government to stop the execution. 

Mr. Hayat, a former police officer, was sentenced to death in 2003 for the alleged murder of a fellow officer. During his trial no evidence or witnesses were called in his defense and no questions were asked regarding his mental health, although he was later diagnosed with a mental health condition and has been receiving treatment for the past 10 years.

He has now spent over 15 years in custody.  He faced several attacks by other inmates because of his disability and has been kept in solitary confinement since 2012. 

On 18 December 2018, the National Commission for Human Rights Pakistan issued an order directing a stay of the execution on humanitarian grounds. Despite this, on 10 January 2018 the District and Sessions Judge in Lahore issued an imminent execution warrant. 

“It is shocking that an execution warrant has been issued in this case just weeks after Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission ordered a stay,” the experts said.  

“Implementing the death penalty under these conditions is unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution, as well as a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

“We are also concerned at Mr. Hayat’s lack of access to appropriate health care and psychosocial support in detention,” the experts noted, highlighting that the lack of access to health care and adequate support services in detention can be considered as a form of discrimination, as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

A petition to move Mr. Hayat to a mental health facility was dismissed on 6 December 2018.

The experts wrote to the Government of Pakistan to express their concerns but have yet to receive a response. They also sent a letter to the government on the same case in 2015.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan is currently considering whether prisoners with psychosocial disabilities are eligible for execution in Mst. Safia Bano vs. Home Department.

In its 2017 concluding observations, the Human Rights Committee called on Pakistan as a priority to ensure no one with a severe psychosocial or intellectual disability is executed or sentenced to death.

ENDS

(*) The experts: Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Ms. Catalina Devandas, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities and Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

UN Human Rights, country page – Pakistan 

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