Pakistani court reverses decision on death sentence for differently abled inmates

Reuters
Lahore, Pakistan Published: Feb 10, 2021, 04:34 PM(IST)

Pakistan Supreme Court Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The ruling reverses a 2016 decision in which the court sentenced to death a man, Imdad Ali, suffering from schizophrenia

Pakistan's Supreme Court commuted on Wednesday death sentences for two differently abled inmates and sent them to health facilities and it directed the government to seek a pardon for a third mentally ill person on death row.

The ruling reverses a 2016 decision in which the court sentenced to death a man, Imdad Ali, suffering from schizophrenia. That sentence was never carried out and Ali was one of the two who had their sentence commuted.

Human rights groups welcomed the ruling.

"This is a historic judgment that validates our decade-long struggle to get the courts to recognise mental illness as a mitigating circumstance," Sarah Belal, founder and executive director of Justice Project Pakistan, told Reuters.

Some 518 people have been executed in Pakistan since 2014 when the government lifted a moratorium on capital punishment, and 4,225 people are on death row.

Ali was sentenced to death for murder in 2001 and government doctors later diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia.

In a 2016 ruling, the Supreme Court said schizophrenia was "not a permanent mental disorder", and his execution could go ahead despite an outcry from human rights groups.

The other person to have the sentence commuted was Kanizan Bibi, who spent 30 years on death row for killing six people when she was a teenager.

In their ruling, the judges said she should be moved to a mental health facility and treated for her illness.

A cousin of Bibi's, Munawar Hussain, 28, welcomed the ruling saying she was only 15 or 16 when she was arrested and had been subjected to abuse.

The judges said the government should seek a pardon for a third man, Ghulam Abbas, who was convicted of murder in 2006.

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