PAKISTAN: HRCP urges halting execution of mentally challenged prisoner

A Press Releasefrom Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has urged the authorities to halt the imminent execution of a mentally challenged death row prisoner who is scheduled to be hanged in Vehari on November 2.

In a communication sent on Thursday, HRCP brought to President Mamnoon Hussain’s attention the disposal by the Supreme Court last week of a plea regarding the death row prisoner, Imdad Hussain, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The court concluded that simply because schizophrenia was a “recoverable disease”, it did not fall within the definition of “mental disorder” under the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001.

HRCP expressed serious concerns regarding the reasoning of the SC in the matter and stated that the decision raised the question whether judges could decide on their own matters which by their very nature needed to be judged on the basis of expert advice.

It said that in reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court had disregarded universally recognised diagnostic tools, including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and jurisprudence under Pakistani case law on mental health, and instead relied upon Indian case law, in particular on a judgment by the Indian Supreme Court on the Hindu Marriage Act regarding dissolution of marriage.

HRCP said the court ruling also sets a dangerous precedent for the treatment of accused persons with schizophrenia by the criminal justice system.

It called upon the president to urgently intervene to ensure that Imdad’s imminent execution is halted and the pursuit of hanging mentally challenged persons is abandoned.

Zohra Yusuf, Chairperson

Document Type : Forwarded Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-FPR-034-2016
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Death penalty, Human rights defenders, Right to life, Rule of law,