London: A leading rights group has termed "deeply disturbing" the planned execution of 500 militants by Pakistan, saying the "huge regression" from government after the Peshawar school massacre could ratchet up the already very high level of violence in the country.
"The planned execution figures being quoted are deeply disturbing and indicate a huge regression from a government which until last week maintained a moratorium on executions," said David Griffiths, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.
"Pakistan suffered an horrific tragedy in Peshawar last week, but resorting to the death penalty and threatening to carry out large numbers of executions masks rather than addresses the underlying problems that need to be tackled by the government – “namely that communities living in the north-west of Pakistan are gravely at risk from violence and human rights abuses," Griffiths said yesterday.
Pakistan has said it is preparing to execute at least 55 more death-row militants among the 500 condemned militants after their mercy appeals were rejected and a 2008 moratorium on death penalty was lifted.
"The speed with which these executions are taking place raises big questions about how meaningful the review of the mercy petitions – “the last safeguards in death penalty cases” - has been in a country where trials are systemically flawed," Griffiths said.
"Not only would executing death row prisoners do nothing to protect civilians caught up in this conflict, it could ratchet up the already very high level of violence in Pakistan," he added.
On Friday, Pakistan carried out its first executions since 2012 when two men convicted over their role in two separate Taliban attacks were hanged.
Four death-row terrorists were executed on Sunday for attacking former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf 11 years ago, taking the number of those hanged to six.
Pakistan's Interior Ministry yesterday said more than 500 militants who have been given death sentences were in the line for executions after the government lifted the ban on the death penalty following the Peshawar school massacre in which 148 people, mostly children, were killed.
In Pakistan, death sentences are handed down after trials that do not meet international fair trial standards, said Amnesty.
The rights group added it opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime or other characteristics of the individual or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.