Call for a national rational debate on death penalty

Islamabad: Senator Farhatullah Babar today called for a wider, rational national debate on death penalty involving all strata of society.He said this while speaking at the launch of book “Death Penalty in Pakistan” by the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) at a local hotel in Islamabad today.

While the world was moving towards abolishing death penalty in Pakistan the number of crimes carrying death penalty increased.Death penalty did not exist for militants and for the rich and powerful and only poor were hanged. Suicide bombers were not deterred and the rich got away by the misapplication of Qisas and Diyat law, he said.

A former CJP set out to build dams and used suo moto powers to enlarge his own power base instead of

protecting the rights of the convicts on death rows, he said.Little relevance to deterrence, miscarriage of justice, irreversibility of capital punishment and brutalization of society called for revisiting death penalty.

He said that Quran stressed mercy and forgiveness instead of retribution.He recalled that at a conference in Amman about two years ago an Egyptian scholar remarked that the Quranic injunction “in just retribution there is life for you” was a subtle suggestion that ‘ qisas’ was protection and advancement of life of society and not revenge.

He also called for protecting basic rights in death penalty cases including right to proper defence, protection against torture, sparing juveniles and mentally challenged people from execution and simplifying procedure for mercy petitions.

The book launch was also addressed by Ambassador Cautain of EU, Maleeha Bokhari MNA Parliamentarysecretary for law and justice and Valerie Khan child rights activist and Arshad a former death row prisoner.