UN urges Pakistan to end death penalty

A group of independent United Nations human rights experts urged Pakistan to reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty and called for investigation in cases where uncertainty regarding age has resulted in children being sentenced to death.

UN experts believe that most of the death row prisoners in Pakistan have been sentenced for crimes they committed as children. The experts said, “once again that by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Pakistan has accepted the legally binding obligation to ensure that death sentences will never be imposed on a defendant who was under 18 at the time of the crime.”

It also criticized the age determination process in place based on visual assessment by police and the refusal to take into account evidence of juvenility, even when provided by the Pakistani authorities themselves.

The experts call came after the execution of Ansar Iqbal who was allegedly arrested and condemned to death for a crime committed when he was 15 years old.

The decision of Pakistan’s use of death penalty after the Peshawar school attack has received condemnation from all around the world. It has also been stressed that Pakistan needs to strengthen protection of children by placing proper age determination procedures and conducting robust investigations into reported cases of children on death row, and adults on death row for offences committed while below the age of 18, and needs to ensure a prompt and impartial investigation into all alleged acts of torture.