Update 9/22/15: There was a last minute stay of execution this morning. Please share this update to help ensure that the stay will not be lifted, and Abdul Basit will be treated at least as well as Kaavan, the elephant. Thank you.
Reprieve +44 (0) 207 553 8161
For immediate release: Fri Sept 18, 2015
Pakistan plans to hang paralysed man on Tuesday
The Pakistani authorities have set Tuesday 22 September as the date on which they will hang a paraplegic prisoner.
Abdul Basit (43) contracted tubercular meningitis while in prison, which has left him “bed-bound,” according to a medical board report.
Basit’s lawyers at Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) have filed a petition with the Supreme Court, arguing that to carry out the hanging would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. They are also calling on Pakistan’s President to consider a mercy petition filed on 22 July, on which no decision has yet been made.
Pakistan’s prison guidelines require that a prisoner stands on the gallows in order to be hanged, and the authorities have not made clear how they intend to hang a prisoner who requires the use of a wheelchair.
The Pakistan Prison Rules state that the rope for hanging must be the correct length, in order to avoid prisoners facing protracted strangulation (if it is too long) or decapitation (if it is too short). The rules state that the rope’s length is determined by measuring it from “the lower jaw of the condemned prisoner as he stands on the scaffold.” This and other procedures set out in the rules cannot be followed in Basit’s case, leaving open the possibility of a botched hanging. [emphasis added]
The Lahore High Court (LHC) initially stayed Basit’s case, but ruled earlier this month that it could go ahead, despite the prison’s failure to make clear how the execution would be carried out. The Court added that Pakistan’s obligations under international law “should be kept aside.”
Commenting, Maya Foa said: “It may now just be days before we see the horrific spectacle of Pakistan hanging a parlaysed man – something which is likely to break Pakistan’s own rules against cruel and unusual punishment. Worse still, Pakistan’s Government has effectively ignored Basit’s mercy petition, and seems prepared to push ahead with this execution even though the jail has no clear idea of how they will do it. Pakistan’s President has the power to stay this execution – he must do so, without delay.”
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I love animals. Truly. I participate in anti-cruelty action campaigns all the time, and have for decades.
Sometimes – and not rarely – participation in those anti-cruelty campaigns turns into a self-inflicted sucker-punch, and – again not rarely – the timing of a sucker punch makes it seem like it’s timed for maximum impact.
This is one of those not-rare times. After finishing posting Reprieve’s press release, I opened an email that informed me that courtesy of activism .25M+ individuals strong, a poorly treated elephant named Kaavan is getting the direct attention of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif:
Thanks to your voices, Kaavan’s case is getting the attention it deserves. On Friday, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif himself addressed Murghazar Zoo and it’s cruelty and neglect of Kaavan. Prime Minister Sharif directed the zoo’s authorities to adhere to World Wildlife Fund’s guidelines. Because of his intervention, Kaavan has finally been unchained from his shed! While it is great his chains have been removed, Kaavan still remains in solitary confinement in his tiny pen in Murghazar zoo.
If you’re of the opinion that we ought be as concerned about cruelty to people as we are to animals, please share this post. Thank you.