Pakistan Set to Execute Mentally Unfit Man

A legal charity in Pakistan is pressing authorities to halt the imminent execution of a mentally ill death row prisoner, saying medical experts have already declared him an “insane” person.

Imdad Ali, 50, was sentenced to death in 2002 for murdering a religious teacher and the country’s Supreme Court recently upheld his conviction.

Officials in a jail in Pakistan’s largest province of Punjab have received orders to carry out the execution at dawn Tuesday, according to a legal charity based in Lahore.

The orders were issued despite a medical report commissioned by prison authorities that diagnosed him with schizophrenia, a chronic and disabling mental illness, the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) warned Sunday.

“During his 16 years on death row, his mental illness has worsened. He has spent the last three years in solitary confinement after fellow inmates complained of his manic episodes in which he would speak loudly and uncontrollably,” the charity said.

The organization says that 14 psychiatrists working in different government departments have jointly written an open letter to the president of Pakistan calling for Ali’s imminent execution to be halted, according to JPP.

JPP chief executive, Sarah Bilal, asserted that mounting medical evidence warrants a reopening of the case, not a wrongful execution. Bilal warned hanging Ali would violate the country’s legal obligations to uphold the dignity of the mentally disabled, saying Pakistan has singed international agreements banning the execution of mentally ill prisoners.

But legal experts note Pakistani laws are “silent” on how to handle cases involving mentally unfit death row convicts.

JPP says that around 8,000 prisoners are on death row in Pakistan, including some suffering from mental illness.

The government re-instated the death penalty two years ago to deter terrorism and more than 400 prisoners on death row have since been executed. But only one in 10 executed prisoners had possible links to terrorism, says JPP.

Source: Voice of America