Pakistan court sets execution date for another mentally ill man

Islamabad: A Pakistani judge has issued a death warrant for a schizophrenic man, his lawyers said, months after the country’s top court halted the execution of another mentally ill prisoner.

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.

Hayat was diagnosed by government doctors in 2008, when a de facto moratorium on the death penalty was in place.

But Lahore jail authorities pressed ahead with seeking the death warrant, which was granted by a sessions court, and the execution has been set for January 17.

Another mentally-ill man, Imdad Ali, was given a last-minute reprieve from execution by the Supreme Court in October, which said it was “inappropriate” to hang someone in his condition. A final decision on his fate remains pending.

Sarah Belal, executive director of JPP, said: “Expert medical opinion and Pakistan’s international obligations makes Khizar’s execution not only unlawful but also inhumane.

“Knowingly hanging a mentally ill man would signal to the world that Pakistan does not uphold the fundamental rights of its citizens or abides by its international obligations.”

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.