Pak SC bans execution of mentally ill detainees

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday banned the execution of mentally ill inmates, observing that carrying out the death penalty does not “serve the ends of justice” if a convict is unable to understand the death penalty. justification for the sentence.

A five-member bench headed by Judge Manzoor Ahmad Malik issued the order on the appeals of mentally ill death row inmates – Kanizan Bibi, Imdad Ali and Ghulam Abbas – who served 30, 18 and 14 years respectively in the death corridor.

The applicants, who showed symptoms of mental illness, applied for the commutation of their sentence.

The court commuted the death sentences of Kanizan Bibi and Imdad Ali to life imprisonment and ordered that a new petition for clemency be filed with the Pakistani President on behalf of Ghulam Abbas.

The court observed that the execution of the death sentence does not “serve the purposes of justice” if a convict was unable to understand the justification for the sentence due to mental illness.

He also ordered the Punjab government to transfer the accused from the prison to the Punjab Institute of Mental Health, Lahore, for treatment and rehabilitation.

However, the judgment bench clarified that not all mental illnesses are automatically eligible for exemption from carrying out the death penalty.

“This exemption will only be applicable in the event that a medical board, composed of mental health professionals, certifies after a thorough examination and assessment that the convicted person no longer has higher mental functions to assess the merits of the death sentence imposed on him,” reads the judgment.

The court also ordered authorities to set up high-security forensic facilities at mental health education and training institutions. He also called for laws to be changed to properly define mental illness so that it is not confused with generic terms such as “insane”, “insane” and “insane”.

Reacting to the judgment, Justice Project Pakistan, an advocacy group that campaigns for the release of mentally ill detainees, said in a statement: “This is a landmark judgment that validates our decade-long struggle to get the courts to recognize mental illness as a mitigating factor. circumstance against the imposition of the death penalty”.

“We are grateful to all the honorable judges in the bench for affirming the rights of the most vulnerable prisoners through the explicit recognition of national safeguards and international human rights principles,” said Sarah Belal, Executive Director of Justice Project Pakistan.

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