Pakistan Supreme Court Bans Capital Punishment of Mentally Ill

In a landmark judgment, the Pakistan Supreme Court has banned the imposition of the death penalty on prisoners suffering from mental illness, on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court’s judgment read, “we hold that if a condemned prisoner, due to mental illness, is found to be unable to comprehend the rationale and reason behind his/her punishment, then carrying out the death sentence will not meet the ends of justice.”

The court passed the decision when it ruled on the appeals of three prisoners with mental illnesses.

The five-member bench led by Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, commuted the sentences of Kanizan Bibi and Imdad Ali to life imprisonment and instructed filing for a mercy petition for Ghulam Abbas.

The prisoners will be transferred to a mental health facility.

Rimmel Mohydin, Pakistan Campaigner at Amnesty International said, “This landmark judgment from Pakistan’s Supreme Court marks an important development not only for the death penalty, but also for mental health.”

Mohydin said that Ali and Bibi should have been removed from the death row upon the diagnosis of their mental disabilities.

“However, ultimately the death penalty itself must be abolished, and we urge Pakistan to re-establish an official moratorium on all executions as a first step in that direction,” Mohydin added.

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