Lahore (AsiaNews) - Criticism of the Pakistani government over the law providing for the death penalty in cyber terrorism crimes. The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church, together with the independent group Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), disapproves of the order signed on November 6 by President Zardari.
The secretary of the NCJP, Peter Jacob (in the photo), tells AsiaNews: "We are surprised and shocked that the government has added death penalty in cyber crimes ordinance. This is not the right way to stop the crimes. Severe punishments can not correct or mend our society. So, NCJP demands that death penalty should be immediately excluded from the list of punishments."
"We are unable to understand the mentality and strategy of the government that what it wants to do. First they condemn death penalty and sign UN human rights instruments and then they impose death penalty without consulting the parliament." For the secretary of the NCJP, the imposition of the ordinance without discussion in the assembly is "illogical" and contradicts "the statements of the government about the supremacy of parliament."
An historical fact is also perplexing the NCJP. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of Zardari lost its founder because of the death penalty. Zulfigar Ali Bhutto was hanged in 1979 under the accusation, never proven, that he had assassinated a political adversary. This fact, according to Jacob, should make the PPP reflect on how this extreme punishment "can be used for political purposes and to serve dishonest interests."
"The NCJP," says the secretary, "demands that no law should be promulgated with the punishment of death penalty and already condemned to death prisoners’ punishments should be commuted to other punishments."
In a statement released on November 7, the HRCP recalls how "the prime minister has, on numerous occasions, promised to discourage the imposition of capital punishment and execution of death penalty convicts."
The statement from the HRCP reminds the government that according to international law, the death penalty is accepted only in extremely rare cases, and that there are numerous guarantees to protect life against the death penalty.
The HRCP is afraid that the ordinance on cyber terrorism may be enacted as an oppressive law in which the punishments are disproportionate to the crimes. Pakistan's justice system is rife with cases of discrimination and manipulation, realized in part through the use of the law. There are about 7,000 prisoners awaiting execution in the country. According to the HRCP, the government's decision to include capital punishment in the ordinance can do nothing but increase the sense of distrust that the population already feels toward Pakistan's judicial system.