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Pakistan government ends moratorium on executions

Pakistan's new government on Thursday lifted the country's moratorium on executions. The Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), a center-right party, took power during elections in May, defeating the incumbent Pakistan People's Party (PPP) [official websites]. PML-N Interior Ministry spokesman Umer Hameed declared [AFP report] that the government will begin to impose the death penalty on a case-by-case basis. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] sharply criticized [press release] Pakistan's reinstatement of the death penalty as an unjust and ineffective response to crime and violence:

"At a time when Pakistan’s justice system is struggling to cope with the law and order situation, it can be all too easy for governments to see the death penalty as a quick fix solution. But the death penalty is not the answer to Pakistan’s justice problems. Resuming executions would do nothing to tackle crime or militancy, but instead just perpetuate a cycle of violence."
Hameed said there are more than 450 convicts who could possibly be executed when the moratorium is lifted.

The death penalty [JURIST news archive] has been the subject of great political, legal and moral controversy recently. Last week the US Supreme Court agreed to consider jury instructions in a death penalty case [JURIST report] in its next term. Also last week, the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) [official website] ordered Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan to be tried in absentia [JURIST report] for the murders of 19 intellectuals and 11 crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 independence war and both men could face the death penalty. Two weeks ago, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that a death row inmate cannot reject a reprieve by the governor.

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