IHEU’s International Director Babu Gogineni has written to President Musharraf asking him to review the case of British Muslim Mirza Taher Hussain. Mirza Hussain has been in detention for 18 years and on the death row for 16 years on murder charges which Pakistani courts too have rejected. Mirza Hussain is scheduled to be executed next month.
IHEU has also asked President Musharraf to revoke the Qisas and Diyat Ordinances, which allow justly-convicted murderers to escape punishment by payment of ‘blood money’ to the victim’s families.
Please write to President Musharraf at http://www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/WTPresidentMessage.aspx
International Humanist and Ethical Union
1 Gower Street, London WC1E 6HD
Tel 44 207 6313170
7 June 2006
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan
I am writing you to plead for justice in the case of Mirza Tahir Hussain, twice absolved by the Lahore High Courts of the murder charges against him. Despite the Lahore High Court judgements, Mr. Hussain has been sentenced to death by the federal Islamic Shariat Court.
Your Excellency, Mr. Hussain has been under detention for the past 18 years since the young age of 18. He has lived on death row for nearly 16 years. He has not been allowed regular contact with his family members during this period and the conditions of detention that he has endured so far are unacceptable by any international standard.
We are distressed that his mercy petition has recently been rejected by you.
We implore you to reconsider the matter in the light of the dismay expressed by governments and people around the world at the miscarriage of justice in this case. The death penalty is considered in today’s world as a cruel and degrading form of punishment, incompatible with Pakistan’s sovereign commitment to upholding Human Rights. It is an irrevocable punishment which assumes that the conviction is safe – it has not been, as is witnessed by the contradictory judgements of Pakistan’s own courts and the dissenting judge’s clear statement to this effect. The conviction by the Islamic Court is unsafe as it does not meet the standards of evidence: there were neither eye witnesses nor was there any confession by the accused.
Further, the provisions of the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance that allow heirs of murder victims to accept compensation and pardon the offender mean that even justly convicted criminals do not all receive equal punishment. We hope that under your enlightened leadership these laws can be reformed.
The IHEU, and its UK-based member organisation the National Secular Society have previously vigorously defended the rights of the Pakistani Dr. Younis Shaikh who was wrongly accused and convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan. We are glad that a Pakistan Court had pronounced Dr. Shaikh not guilty and that Dr. Shaikh is free now.
We now are approaching you to exercise your powers of clemency, or to commute the death sentence to a term of imprisonment that Mr. Hussain has already undergone.
IHEU International Representative