Official says Pakistan has executed at least 300 people in past 11 months, think tank reports

(Photo: Courtesy Gatestone Institute)Shama Bibi (left) and Shahzad Masih, a Christian couple and parents of three children, were burned to death by a Muslim lynch mob in Pakistan because of a blasphemy accusation.

An anonymous Pakistan Interior Ministry official has said that the country's total for hangings in 2015 "now stands at 311" eleven months after the country resumed executions 11 months ago.

Setting aside the religious holidays, during which no executions took place, according to Pakistan's own figures they have executed at least one person a day for the last eleven months, the UK church-backed think tank Ekklesia reports.

The figure was revealed Nov. 16 at a time of confusion over the scale of Pakistan's death row, which is believed to be the largest in the world.

Ekklesia said that two weeks ago, the Pakistani government said that some 6,000 people were facing execution in the country; however, this contradicts another government estimate, of 8,000, made by the Interior Ministry at the beginning of the year.

It cited the legal and human rights organisation Reprieve has collated all the publicly available data on the executions that have taken place since the moratorium broke, and has identified 300 individuals.

Among these, Reprieve found just 16 individuals (less than 0.06 per cent of all executed) with known links to a prescribed terrorist organization.

Reuters news agency had reported in July that to date, more than 83 per cent of those executed had no links to militancy.

The think tank said police torture and forced 'confessions' are common in Pakistan, and there are concerns that many of those on the country's death row were sentenced after unfair trials.

Since more than 73 per cent of births are unregistered in Pakistan, there are also fears that many of those who have been executed may have been juveniles when arrested.

Among those killed so far was Aftab Bahadur, who was 15 at the time of his arrest for a crime which all eye witnesses in the case said he was innocent. 

Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: "The Pakistani government has no idea how many people it has on its death row, let alone how many are innocent or were sentenced to death as children.

"It is appalling that the authorities are proceeding with executions at this rate.

"If they continue to execute one person a day, by the end of next year they will have killed nearly a thousand people – among whom there will almost certainly be a large number of juveniles, and innocent people tortured into 'confessing' to crimes they didn't commit.

"This senseless massacre will not make Pakistan any safer, and must be stopped."

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