Latest round brings to 48 the total number of convicts executed since December.
Pakistan on Wednesday hanged nine more jailed murderers, officials said, taking the number of convicts executed over the past two days to 21, as the European Union condemned the executions.
The latest round in Punjab brings to 48 the total number of convicts hanged since Pakistan resumed capital punishment in December. The partial lifting of the moratorium, which began in 2008, only applied to those convicted of terrorism offences, but was last week extended to all capital offences.
“The European Union is opposed to capital punishment in all cases and without exception, and has consistently called for its universal abolition,” the E.U. said late Tuesday. The E.U. granted Pakistan the much-coveted “GSP+” status in 2014, giving it access to highly favorable trade tariffs, conditional on Pakistan enacting certain commitments on human rights. But the agreement is not due for renewal until 2016.
Human rights group Amnesty International estimates that Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process. In a statement issued late Tuesday, the group said those executed that day included Muhammad Afzal, who was 16 years old when he was sentenced to death.
“International law clearly prohibits the use of the death penalty against people who were below 18 years old when the crime was committed,” the group said. Another person convicted under the age of 18, Shafqat Hussain, is set to be executed on Thursday.
Supporters of the death penalty in Pakistan argue that it is the only effective way to deal with the scourge of militancy. Critics meanwhile say that Pakistan’s courts are largely unjust forums for decided cases, with rampant police torture, poor legal representation for victims, and unfair trials.