HRCP urges president to halt execution

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) urged the authorities on Thursday to halt the imminent execution of a mentally-challenged death row prisoner who is scheduled to be hanged in Vehari on Nov 2.In a communication, the HRCP brought to President Mamnoon Husain’s attention the disposal by the Supreme Court last week of a plea regarding death row prisoner Imdad Husain, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.The court concluded that simply because schizophrenia was a “recoverable disease”, it did not fall within the definition of “mental disorder” under the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001.The HRCP expressed concerns regarding the reasoning of the court in the matter and stated that the decision raised the question whether judges could decide on their own matters which by their very nature needed to be judged on the basis of expert advice.It said that in reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court had disregarded universally recognised diagnostic tools, including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and jurisprudence under the Pakistani case law on mental health, and instead relied upon Indian case law, in particular on a judgment by the Indian Supreme Court on the Hindu Marriage Act regarding the dissolution of marriage.The HRCP said the court ruling also set a dangerous precedent for the treatment of accused persons with schizophrenia by the criminal justice system. It called upon the president to urgently intervene to ensure that Imdad’s imminent execution is halted and the pursuit of hanging mentally challenged persons is abandoned.