UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Pakistani government to suspend executions of all convicts and re-impose a moratorium on the death penalty which was lifted following the recent Taliban school massacre.
Ban spoke with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday to express condolences over the slaughter in a local Peshawar school last week which left 150 people dead, including 134 children.
The prime minister ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty reinstating the punishment in “terrorism-related” cases, in the wake of the deadliest terror attack in the country’s history.
“While fully recognising the circumstances, the secretary-general urged the government of Pakistan to stop the executions of convicts and re-impose the moratorium on the death penalty,” Ban’s office said in a statement.
The statement also added that Sharif promised that “all legal norms would be respected”.
Earlier this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, condemned Pakistan’s decision, particularly at a time when the international community is increasingly turning away from the use of the death penalty.
In a news release issued on December 22, Al Hussein warned that “no judiciary, anywhere, can be infallible” and stressed that “no justice system, no matter how robust, can guarantee against wrongful convictions.”
Pakistan has carried out a spate of executions since the moratorium was lifted.
One of those executed had been convicted of an attack on the Pakistan army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009, while another had been sentenced for involvement in a 2003 assassination bid on former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
The country’s decision to reinstate executions has been criticised by human rights groups.
Pakistan plans to execute 500 fighters in the coming weeks.