Amnesty slams Pakistan military courts over death penalties

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United Nations, April 13 (IANS) Amnesty International has slammed Pakistan’s military courts for violating UN principles and international fair trial standards in imposing death sentences.

Amnesty International’s report — Death Sentences and Executions 2017 — released here on Thursday, expressed concern that Pakistan’s military courts “were run by military officers subordinate to the military chain of command — and who had no formal legal training — in breach of the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary”.

“The charges against the defendants were not made public and those convicted did not have the right to appeal to civilian courts,” it said.

The report said that Pakistani military courts also sentenced civilians to death and added that its special courts “whose proceedings did not meet international fair trial standards imposed death sentences”.

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Pakistan’s Field General Court Martial (FGCM) in April 2017 sentenced Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to death on charges of espionage and sabotage.

India has denied that Jadhav worked for Indian intelligence agencies or that he has worked in Pakistan. The Amnesty report did not specifically mention Jadhav.

“People continued to be sentenced to death or executed for crimes that did not involve intentional killing and therefore did not meet the threshold of ‘most serious crimes’, as prescribed by Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights,” the report said.

Amnesty said that Pakistan carried out more than 60 executions in 2017, imposed over 200 death sentences and there were more than 7,000 people on death row.

During 2016, Pakistan executed at least 87 people and imposed more than 360 death sentences, according to the report.

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Briefing reporters, Amnesty International Senior Director for Law and Policy Tawanda Mutasah said that death penalties have dropped steeply since a peak in 2015 when 326 people were executed.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])

–IANS

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