Abolition of Death Penalty with Special Reference to Pakistan Part 2
17 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2010 Last revised: 6 May 2013
Date Written: November 22, 2010
Death penalty has been used since time immemorial with an aspect of harsh punishment for taking others life or committing serious crimes. It had a retributive as well as deterrent element for protecting lives and property of others and securing peace of the society. In the contemporary human rights regime efforts are afoot at international level to completely abolish the death penalty with an aim to protect and respect human rights and dignity of individuals.
After massive killings and disasters of 2nd World War with the growing concern of Human Rights victorious allied forces established United Nations. Fifty one states adopted its charter as initial members. Subsequently United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) 1948, International Covenant on Civil and Political Right (ICCPR) 1966, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) 1966 came forward to preserve and protect human rights from multiple focuses. Various provisions of these basic documents in combination with subsequent documents prohibited any treatment or punishment which was torturous, degrading or inhuman. Article 6 of ICCPR advocated the inherent right to life and required state parties to abolish death penalty as capital punishment and limit it to only serious crimes. The second Optional Protocol of ICCPR, was adopted in 1989 by UN, which aimed at complete abolition of death penalty with the only possible exception to war crimes.
Death penalty exercised in major parts of the world as capital punishment was then started to be considered against the dignity, respect and honor of human beings and in violation of fundamental human rights. This discourse leads to on going debate on the issue of death penalty as a capital punishment. States propagating the abolition of death penalty are called abolitionists where as those which are in favor of retaining the death penalty in their domestic legislation systems, are called retentionists. These countries are further divided into: retentionists for all crimes, and retentionists for major crimes.
UN based organs and international specialized agencies are propagating the signing and ratification for 2nd Optional protocol to ICCPR, as well as monitoring its implementation Presently 72 countries are "stat party" to this protocol, where as 35 states are signatory to it subject to ratification. It is said that more than two third of the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
United States of America has not signed the document yet; though its 15 states have abolished Death Penalty where as 35 still retain it. European Union has completely abolished Death Penalty in its member countries. Islamic countries in general except Djibouti, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Uzbekistan, And Turkmenistan have not signed the 2nd optional protocol to ICCPR 1989.
In consequent with International debate and efforts for the abolition of death penalty the issue is raised and discussed in Pakistan also, depicting both external and internal pressures. In Pakistan’s legislative system death penalty is enforced in around 27 crimes of various nature embodied in Constitution of Pakistan, High Treason Act, Pakistan Criminal Code (PPC), Army Act of Pakistan, Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Huddod), Pakistan Arms Ordinance, Railways (Amendment) Act, Control of Narcotics Substances Act, Anti Terrorism Act and prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance.
The present study aims to comprehend the contemporary debate regarding Death Penalty at global level and its constituent effect on conditions in Pakistan. Importance of retaining death Penalty or its limitation to serious crimes, obligatory by Islamic Law or necessary for ensuring a just society are explored by: providing historical references; Islamic provisions of crimes and their punishments; and by collecting expert opinion of legal fraternity, both teaching and practicing. A questionnaire has been formulated focusing the issue, to solicit the expert opinion of lawyers, Judges and Islamic Scholars, which will be included in the research paper.
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