PAKISTAN

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Situation

According to the Pakistani legislation, the death penalty can be pronounced against children under 18, and executed, with reference to the Anti-Terrorist Decree, to the Anti-Drug Decree, or for a crime under the Hadd (religious precept). It can be estimated around 800 the number of convicts awaiting execution who were minors at the time of the charges against them.

 

Excerpts from Amnesty International’s 2017 report on the general context: “The law passed in 2016 was used to intimidate, harass and arbitrarily arrest human rights defenders because of comments posted online: enforced disappearances were commonplace, and impunity was widespread. Blasphemy-related violence cost a student his life, and, rare event, the government condemned these actions. Large-scale protests were held to support anti-blasphemy laws that were used to condemn people who expressed their views. Journalists were attacked without knowing who their attackers were. Members of minorities continued to be discriminated against when trying to access economic and social rights. Women continued to be killed ‘in the name of honour’ despite the adoption, in 2016, of a law punishing this practice under criminal law. “

Objectives

During this second year: establish the legal defence of at least ten young people on death row.

Partners:

Redemption association and several independant lawyers

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Achievements

In 2018, a dozen individual cases of juveniles prosecuted or sentenced for crimes committed before the age of 18 years were treated by our partner lawyers in Lahore (Pakistan). Vivere’s action is not to deal with their innocence or guilt, but about the risk – illegal – of a death sentence or life imprisonment, in contradiction with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 37) ratified by the country, but also in contradiction with the new national law on juvenile justice enacted in May 2018, which prohibits the death penalty for minors (Article 16). The testimonies of our partners confirm that the law is largely ignored and is not currently the subject of any training in the region of Punjab. 

In some individual cases, the procedure goes on for several months because of doubt (real or supposed) on the age of minors. Sometimes, minors have been removed, thanks to the lawyers, from the death penalty when the procedure had been started by an “anti-terrorist” court, to be treated by a “regular” court where they still risk the prison for life. Our lawyers were also seized with a particularly unacceptable situation where a minor arrested died at the police station … Another case of minor, Christian, persecuted for blasphemy against Islam, could be released and join his family abroad.

Beyond the strictly legal aspect of this action, the human dimension is very important: almost all minors concerned come from very underprivileged backgrounds, sometimes from rural areas very far from the city: their psychological state is particularly affected when they are incarcerated for long months, without any information about the procedure, without any visit from their family, and sometimes subjected to violence inside the prison.