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AI Terms Executions In Pakistan 'Absolutely Shameful'

Volunteers handover the body of convicted hijacker to relatives in Hyderabad on May 28.
Volunteers handover the body of convicted hijacker to relatives in Hyderabad on May 28.

Amnesty International (AI) says it is 'absolutely shameful' that Pakistan has responded to terrorist attacks with the rapid executions of convicts.

AI has recorded an alarming rate of executions in Pakistan after Islamabad lifted a moratorium amid the national outcry following a Taliban attack on a military school in December. Most of the attack's 150 victims were children.

Sultana Noon, AI's Pakistan researcher in London, said the organization has "serious concerns" about the number of executions in Pakistan.

"It is absolutely shameful that Pakistan has responded to the horrific attack in Peshawar in December 2014 that left 132 children dead by switching on the conveyor belt of killing," she told Radio Mashaal. "We have recorded 140 hangings in Pakistan since the moratorium was lifted."

Noon says many accused of serious crimes do not receive a fair trial and the Pakistani public has been misled to believe that executions are a deterrent against crime and terrorism offenses in the country.

"Trials in Pakistan fall well below the minimum standards according to international law," she said. "A lot of people who are on death row have been tortured. AI is concerned about reports of juveniles on death row."

On May 28, Pakistani authorities hanged seven convicts, including three Baluch plane hijackers who were sentenced to death in 1998.

Shahsawar Baloch, Sabir Rind, and Shabbir Rind were arrested for hijacking a Pakistan International Airlines plane in May 1998.

The group, members of the left-wing Baloch Students Organization, had demanded that Balochistan should not be used for May 1998 nuclear tests.

Soon after boarding the plane on May 24, 1998, they ordered its pilot to fly to India.

But authorities successfully managed to divert the plane in Pakistan and landed it in the southern city of Hyderabad.

Troops waiting there stormed the aircraft and arrested the hijackers.

Noon said the hanging of the Baluch activists was reminiscent of the use of the death penalty to "silence political dissent."

"Human rights violations in [Balochistan] are shrouded in secrecy, which need to be investigated," she said.

Others executed in Pakistan on May 28 were convicted in murder cases over the past decade.

Noon said AI has urged Islamabad to halt executions and review the cases of those who were convicted despite being juveniles at the time of committing their alleged crimes.


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    Pamir Sahill

    Pamir Sahill is a journalist for RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal in Prague. He reports on politics and security in Afghanistan and Pakistan.