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Pakistan lifts 6-year death penalty moratorium

[JURIST] The Pakistan Ministry of Interior on Tuesday lifted the country's moratorium on the death penalty, permitting hangings for those prisoners who have exhausted all possible appeals. The stay on capital punishment was initially partially lifted [JURIST report] in December in response to a school attack [CNN report] that took 145 lives. Since then, Pakistan has hanged 24 prisoners and has ordered the expedited executions of those prisoners remaining whose mercy petitions were rejected. Human rights advocacy groups such as Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] estimate that Pakistan's death row contains [AI report] more than 8,000 inmates, many of whom have already exhausted their mercy petitions.

The Pakistani government's lifting of the death penalty moratorium is one step in a series of anti-terrorism efforts in recent years. In January Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain signed into law [JURIST report] anti-terrorism legislation that established military courts for the hearing of civilian terrorism related cases. The president's signature came just one day after the Pakistan National Assembly passed the law unopposed [JURIST report], securing the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution. Last July Pakistan passed [JURIST report] a strict anti-terrorism bill that allowed police to use lethal force, to search buildings without a warrant and to detain suspects at secret facilities for up to 60 days without charge "on reasonable apprehension of commission of a scheduled offense."

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