UN rights experts urge Pak to halt execution of man with disability

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept 28 (APP): Four United Nations human rights experts have urged Pakistani authorities to halt the execution of Imdad Ali, a man with a psychosocial disability, and to re-try him in compliance with international standards.

“It is a violation of death penalty safeguards to impose capital punishment on individuals with a psychosocial disability,” the UN experts said in a joint statement issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“We urge the authorities to annul the death sentence against Mr. Ali and to ensure a fair re-trial which takes into consideration all evidence relevant to the case including medical reports on his mental health status”, they added
The 50-year-old Pakistani was sentenced to death in 2002 for the alleged murder of a religious scholar.

A year before the killing, Imdad Ali had been examined by a doctor and referred to a mental health facility for treatment.

His psychosocial disability was raised at his first trial, but his condition was not mentioned in the court ruling sentencing him to death, the experts said.

While medical reports commissioned in prison in 2004 and 2012 diagnosed him with psychosis and paranoid schizophrenia, in 2015 the Supreme Court dismissed the defendant’s appeal, claiming lack of medical evidence proving his psychosocial disability, according to the experts.

They noted that an appeal had been filed against the decision, but was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, and now Mr. Ali could be executed within a week.

“The courts have disregarded medical reports asserting that the defendant has a psychosocial disability and have not conducted an independent evaluation of his mental health status,” stressed the experts.

“Implementing the death penalty under these conditions is unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution, as well as a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.”

The UN human rights experts recalled that persons with psychosocial disabilities frequently face the risk of being sentenced to death and executed in breach of international standards.

“States must do their utmost to address this risk, including by providing accommodation during all phases of legal proceedings, and by granting adequate protection from any form of discrimination against them because of their mental health condition,” they said.

“We are concerned at Mr. Ali’s deteriorating psychosocial condition, among other things, due to lack of appropriate treatment and reasonable accommodation in detention,” the experts noted, highlighting that the denial of reasonable accommodation in detention can be considered a form of discrimination.

The experts include Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Juan E.

M’ndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Monica Pinto, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; and Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.