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Event Title: Senator Walid Iqbal, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights Presiding over a Meeting of The Committee at Parliament House Islamabad

Event Date: 2023-12-29

Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights Opposes Public Executions for Capital Offences

A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights, chaired by Senator Walid Iqbal, was convened at Parliament House today to take up the pressing issue of public executions for capital offenses, as addressed in existing statutory enactments, the Constitution of Pakistan, and judicial decisions of our Superior Courts, along with any relevant empirical data and information.
After detailed deliberation, the Committee, by a majority of the members present, opposed any statutory amendments that call for public execution for capital offences.
In this regard, the Committee resolved, by a majority vote, that, in view of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution – as interpreted by Pakistan’s Superior Courts – and all of Pakistan’s applicable laws, any statutory amendments calling for public executions involving capital offences be opposed, and also appealed to the House to reject any such proposed amendments should they come up on its legislative agenda.
Two of the Senators present, Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani and Dr. Humayun Mohmand, expressed their disagreement by asserting that the Committee had decided upon the matter in haste without accessing any proper research and information on the possible deterrent effects of public executions.

During the session, the Committee received detailed briefings on the subject of public executions from the Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights, and the Secretary, National Commission for Human Rights.  The briefings highlighted a judgment passed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1994 that had declared public executions to be contrary to the inviolability of human dignity as guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan, a position that was followed by the Lahore High Court in 2018 while disallowing the public execution of the rapist and murderer convicted in the infamous Zainab Case. The Committee was also apprised of a decision of the Federal Shariat Court where the matter of upholding human dignity was endorsed in the light of Quranic teachings.  
The briefings additionally underscored the various international conventions that Pakistan had ratified and made part of domestic law, most notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibit public executions as cruel and inhuman, and also emphasized that according to global research and empirical evidence, public executions serve to brutalize society as opposed to having a deterrent effect, pointing out, in the case of Pakistan, that in the year immediately following the execution of Zainab’s murderer, there was a 33% increase in rape cases.    
The Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights, also briefed the Committee on various aspects of the “Bangkok Rules”, stressing on gender sensitivities involved as far as under-trial and convicted prisoners are concerned, but explained that the rules are non-binding in nature due the manner and circumstances in which they were issued.  The Committee deferred discussion on the state of implementation of these rules in Pakistan to a subsequent meeting where Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women would be in attendance, and also directed representatives of the Commission to collect and bring with them some additional data and information on the subject from all of Pakistan’s provinces.

In a subsequent unanimous decision, the Committee condemned the ill-treatment meted out to Baloch protestors in the Federal Capital in clear violation of their human rights. The Secretary, National Commission on Human Rights, urged the Committee to visit the Press Club in Islamabad, where protestors led by Dr. Maharang Baloch have gathered for a sit-in, and to hear out their grievances. The Chairman Committee directed that the matter be put up before the Chairman Senate for his approval as there were security and other arrangements involved, and if such approval faces delay or is not granted, then Committee members could always visit the Press Club in their individual capacities as Senator Mushahid Hussain and Senator Mushtaq Ahmed had recently done.

The meeting was attended by Senators Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Dr. Mohammad Humayun Mohmand, Kamran Micheal, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, and Syed Waqar Mehdi. Senior officials from attached departments were also present.