A Pakistani man who was convicted of killing a cleric in 2002 can be executed [judgment, PDF], according to the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] Friday, despite having been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The court stayed the execution [press release] of Imdad Ali last October as his wife, Safia Bano, appealed the conviction on the grounds that he required treatment in order to be mentally competent and prepare a will before his execution. Relying on precedent from a 1988 ruling [judgment] of the Supreme Court in neighboring India, the Pakistani court determined that schizophrenia “was not a permanent mental disorder.” Four experts from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] urged [statement] Pakistani authorities not to execute Ali, and to retry him “in compliance with international standards” regarding mental illness.
Human rights and mental health activists have followed this case [JURIST report] closely, noting that Ali could be executed by hanging at anytime unless his case is retried. Capital punishment [JURIST op-ed] remains a controversial issue in Pakistan as well as worldwide. In October the US Supreme Court vacated [JURIST report] the death sentence of an Oklahoma man convicted of killing his girlfriend and her two children in a case where the trial judge permitted family members to recommend the sentence to the jury. Earlier that month, a group of UN human rights experts spoke on the subject of the death penalty and terrorism, calling the death penalty ineffective [JURIST report], and often times illegal, in deterring to terrorism.