The UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, is disappointed and sad over the news that Pakistan carried out its first execution in four years on Thursday and renewed her call for a moratorium on such practices to be made permanent, according to her spokesperson.
“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) opposes the death penalty in any circumstances and has been greatly encouraged by the lengthening moratorium on executions in Pakistan,” the spokesperson, Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva today.
The death sentence was handed down in 2008 by a military court against a soldier who had killed his superior, the spokesperson noted. According to media reports, Pakistani soldier Muhammed Hussain was hanged at a jail in Punjab province early on Thursday morning, after all of his appeals for mercy were rejected.
Pakistan reportedly has some 8,000 people on death row in Pakistan – one of the largest numbers of prisoners on death row in the world.
Mr. Colville said that when High Commissioner Pillay visited Pakistan in May this year, she urged the Government to translate the moratorium into a more permanent ban and commute the sentences of several thousand prisoners on death row.
“She hopes the moratorium will remain in place for the regular criminal system but stressed it should be honoured in all spheres,” he added.
In late August, OHCHR voiced concern over a sudden spate of executions in countries around the world, following the use of capital punishment in Gambia, Iraq, and South Sudan.