Khizar Hayat’s execution deferred until Jan. 30 to allow Supreme Court time to rule on Imdad Ali’s case.
The Lahore High Court on Thursday stayed the execution of a schizophrenic man, his lawyers said, days before he was set to face the gallows.
Khizar Hayat, a 55-year-old former police officer, was sentenced to death in 2003 for shooting a colleague. The United Nations has previously called on Pakistan to protect mentally ill inmates, singling out Hayat as having “psychosocial disabilities.”
The Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), which is managing his case, said Hayat’s lawyer in September 2015 had challenged the execution in light of his mental illness. However, Lahore jail authorities pressed ahead with seeking the death warrant, which was granted by a sessions court earlier this week. His execution had been set for Jan. 17 but on Thursday the Lahore High Court temporarily stayed the execution until Jan. 30, a JPP statement said.
According the JPP, judge Shahid Hameed Dar said it would be “unjust” to proceed on Hayat’s case without waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision in Imdad Ali’s case, another mentally ill man, who was given a last-minute reprieve from execution by the high court in October.
A final decision on his fate remains pending.
JPP spokesman Waseem Waheed hailed the reprieve, but urged the Supreme Court to set standards for mentally ill prisoners. “We are relieved to hear that Khizar has been granted a temporary reprieve by the Honorable Court,” Waheed said. “However… until the Supreme Court sets the standard for the way the law handles [mentally ill prisoners], we will continue to litter our death row with many Imdads and Khizars.”
Since lifting its moratorium on executions in December 2014, Pakistan has hanged some 420 prisoners, overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world’s third largest executioner nation after China and Iran. But according to a report by British charity Reprieve, 94 percent of Pakistan’s executions have been for non-terrorism offences, despite the government’s claim that capital punishment was reinstated to combat Islamist militancy.