Resuming executions not answer to Peshawar tragedy: Amnesty International

LONDON, Dec 18: The Pakistan government must resist giving in to fear and anger in the wake of the Peshawar school tragedy and maintain its moratorium on executions, Amnesty International has said after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to resume death penalty in terror-related cases.

“Tuesday’s attack was utterly reprehensible, and it is imperative that those responsible for this unimaginable tragedy are brought to justice. However, resorting to the death penalty is not the answer – it is never the answer,”said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Asia-Pacific.

Sharif’s announcement came the day after at least 148 people – including 132 children – were killed by Taliban militants at an army-run school in the north-western city.

“Pakistan is understandably gripped by fear and anger in the wake of the attacks. However, lifting the moratorium on executions appears to be a knee-jerk reaction which does not get at the heart of the problem – namely the lack of effective protection for civilians in north-west Pakistan,” said Griffiths.

“This is where the government should focus its energies, rather than perpetuating the cycle of violence with the resumption of executions,” he said.

Amnesty International calls for those responsible for indiscriminate attacks and attacks against civilians, including the Peshawar attack, to face investigation and prosecution in proceedings that comply with international fair trial standards, but without resort to the death penalty.

“Capital punishment is not the answer to Pakistan’s law and order situation and would do nothing to tackle crime or militancy in the country,” the London-based rights body said.

Pakistan re-imposed a moratorium on executions in October 2013 and has not executed since the hanging of a soldier in November 2012, while the last civilian hanging was in late 2008.

There are currently dozens of people sentenced to death for terrorism-related offences in the country.

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