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Pakistan must reform or abolish death penalty: HRW letter to PM

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on the government of Pakistan [JURIST news archive] to abolish the country's death penalty in a letter [text; HRW press release] sent Tuesday to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani [BBC profile]. In the letter, HRW expresses concern over the number of executions in the country, the high number of executable offenses in Pakistan's penal code, and the availability of adequate defense counsel for those accused of capital crimes. According to HRW, the number of people sentenced to death and executed every year in Pakistan is "among the highest in the world." HRW asks Prime Minister Gillani to ensure that defendants facing the death penalty receive fair trials, that police do not use torture to obtain confessions or evidence, and that the death penalty is only imposed for the "most serious crimes." The Hindu has more.

In October 2006, South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) [advocacy website] pressed India and Pakistan to abolish the death penalty [JURIST report], calling it a "violation of the right to life." In November 2006, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] overturned a ruling by the country's Sharia court and commuted [JURIST report] the death sentence of a British national convicted of killing a taxi driver.

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