Manual for Capital Defence Lawyers in Pakistan

In March 2021, the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) and Reprieve UK launched a Manual for Capital Defence Lawyers in Pakistan, which is available online here:

This website is the culmination of years of research conducted by FFR and Reprieve and emanates from their report, The Pakistan Capital Punishment Study, published in 2019, which analyses 310 judgments of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in capital cases between the years 2010 and 2018. The manual, therefore, seeks to distil the report’s main findings into a document that is useful for legal practitioners by identifying common shortcomings in the conduct of capital investigations and trials. Additionally, this practice manual seeks to convey the latest trends in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence and arm defense attorneys with relevant jurisprudence that they may use in their cases.

The manual provides a step-by-step guide to capital defence and is divided into four (4) chapters and a case index. The chapters have been formulated in the following manner:

  1. Effective Representation

This chapter discusses an accused’s right to fair trial and a lawyer’s ensuing duties and responsibilities as legal counsel for the accused. The principles discussed are fundamental to providing effective legal representation and lay the foundation for the entire manual.

  1. Defence-led Investigation

This chapter addresses the crucial role of investigation in capital defence cases and the factors which may prevent an accused from being sentenced to death or executed. It discusses typical forms of mitigating evidence that the Supreme Court of Pakistan considers relevant to capital sentencing and provides guidance on how lawyers may investigate such factors and produce evidence of them during trial and appeal proceedings for their client’s best interests.

  1. Trial

This chapter focuses on proceedings at the trial stage of an accused’s case. Drawing on the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, this chapter outlines the arguments lawyers can incorporate into their defense strategy at trial in a capital case.

  1. Appeals

This chapter explores the appellate stage of a capital case and provides guidance on challenging a death sentence handed down by a trial court.

This manual is the first of its kind in the country. In the coming months, the manual will also be available in Urdu on the website.

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