World Bulletin / News Desk
Pakistan hanged 12 convicts on Tuesday, an Interior Ministry spokesman said, amid a growing uproar over plans to execute a man whose lawyers say was 14 when he was tortured into a confession of killing a child.
Tuesday's hangings, including one man who was arrested when he was 16, were the largest number of people executed on the same day since an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in December. Officials said they expected the pace to increase dramatically.
The death sentence cannot be used against a defendant convicted under the age of 18 and testimony obtained by torture is inadmissible.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the moratorium on Dec. 17, a day after Pakistani Taliban gunmen attacked a school and killed 134 students and 19 adults. The slaughter pressured the government to do more to tackle the Islamist insurgency.
Last week it emerged that officials had quietly widened the policy to include all prisoners on death row, not just convicted terrorists, whose appeals had been rejected.
"They were not only terrorists, they included the other crimes, some of them were murderers and some did other heinous crimes," the ministry spokesman said of the 12 executed at various jails.
So far, 39 people have been hanged since Dec. 17. More than 40 more are scheduled to hang in the next week, the spokesman said, and the Interior Ministry is also reviewing the cases of hundreds whose appeals have been exhausted.
Shafqat Hussain is among those due to be executed this week, prompting outrage from rights groups. His lawyers say he was 14 when he was arrested a decade ago for the kidnap and killing of a child, and that his conviction was based on a confession extracted after nine days of torture.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had promised an investigation into his age, but Hussain's lawyers say neither they nor the family have been contacted.
Hussain is due to hang on Thursday.
The moratorium on executions had been in place since a democratic government took power from a military ruler in 2008.
Human rights groups say convictions in Pakistan are highly unreliable. Its antiquated criminal justice system barely functions, suspects are often tortured and most police are untrained in investigation, rights officials say.
There are more than 8,000 Pakistanis on death row.Last Mod: 17 Mart 2015, 15:09