Executions in Pakistan resumed on Monday following a one-month break during Ramzan, with the hangings of two murder convicts.
The hangings, which took place in Multan early in the morning, brought to 176 the total number of people executed since December when the country ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
“Two prisoners, Farooq alias Farooqa and Karim Nawaz, who had been awarded capital punishment, have been hanged in central jail in Multan today,” said Chaudhry Arshad Saeed, a senior government adviser for prisons in Punjab. “Both of these convicts were awaiting the death penalty for murdering people in separate cases. They have been executed today after resumption of hangings following a temporary moratorium because of Ramzan,” he said.
Another senior official of the prisons department who is responsible for all operations confirmed the hangings.
Pakistan ended its 2008-2013 moratorium on the death penalty following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people—mostly children—in the country’s deadliest ever terror attack. The death penalty was initially reserved for terror convicts but was extended to all capital crimes in March.
Critics say the country’s criminal justice system is marred by police torture and poor legal representation, meaning many of those now facing the gallows have not had a fair trial. Among those currently on death row are murder convict Shafqat Hussain, whose case has drawn international criticism because his family and lawyers claim he was under 18 at the time of the killing and was tortured into confessing.
The European Union, the United Nations and human rights campaigners have all urged Pakistan to reinstate the moratorium. Amnesty International estimates that Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted their appeals.