Pakistan is considering abolishing the capital punishment on two offences as Sunday was the 19th World Day against Death Penalty.
The country currently has 33 crimes that can lead to a death penalty.
The law ministry in its Criminal Law Reforms has proposed two amendments. The first is to the Control of Narcotics Substance Act, 1997, and the second to the Railways Act, 1890.
Presently, in offence 9C of the Control of Narcotics Substance Act, the punishment is death or imprisonment for life or for a term which may extend to 14 years. Besides, it is also liable to a fine, which may be up to Rs1 million if the controlled substance exceeds the limits specified in clause (b).
Now the law ministry has proposed that the word “death” be substituted with “remainder of life”.
imilarly, the ministry has suggested an amendment to Section 127 of the Railways Act.
The existing section says that maliciously hurting or attempting to hurt persons traveling by train or damaging property belonging to the railways shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life and liable to forfeiture of property and fine which may extend to Rs20,000.
This includes unlawfully throwing or causing to “fall or strike at against, into or upon any property belonging to the railways, including rolling stock forming part of a train an explosive substance, wood, stone or other matter or thing with intent, or with knowledge that they are likely, to endanger the safety of any person being in or upon such property”.
Now the law ministry has proposed that in section 127 the word “death” be substituted with “remainder of life”.
Last week, Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara said Pakistan had not executed any death row convict in the past 22 months.
She also appreciated the country’s top court’s decision to prohibit meting out the capital punishment to prisoners who were severely mentally ill.
She reminded that Pakistan had signed the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2010 – well before the existence on GSP+. The ICCPR calls for the death penalty only to be applied to the “most serious crimes”.
Since the de-facto moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in 2014, the country has executed 516 individuals. Pakistan also has almost 4,000 individuals on death row – around 15% of the world’s death row population.