Doctors warn Pakistan’s Supreme Court over executing mentally ill

January 27, 2017

The World Psychiatric Association has warned Pakistan not to execute a severely mentally ill man.

Khizar Hayat, a former policeman, could be hanged as early as next week. A stay preventing his execution expires on Monday (30th) unless judges agree to lengthen it.

In a statement issued today, the Association of over 200,000 psychiatrists worldwide said it was “extremely concerned” by plans to execute Hayat. It added that his “execution would be an irreversible miscarriage of justice.”

Hayat was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia in 2008. After eight years of treatment with powerful anti-psychotic medications, his symptoms remain as serious as ever, leading to a diagnosis that his schizophrenia is treatment resistant.

His case has close parallels with Imdad Ali, another mentally ill prisoner who was set to be executed at the end of last year.

In Ali’s case, Pakistan’s Supreme Court commented that schizophrenia is a “recoverable disease” and it does not fall within the meaning of “mental disorder”.

However, the World Psychiatric Association reiterated today “the validity of schizophrenia as a diagnosis”, saying that it is accepted by “mental health professionals the world over”.

Ali’s case is still before the Supreme Court. On Monday (30th), high court judges in Lahore will decide if Hayat’s stay of execution should be extended until the Supreme Court has decided Ali’s case.

Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said: “Pakistan’s authorities must listen to this warning from psychiatrists around the world and confirm once and for all that it is wrong to execute mentally ill prisoners such as Khizar Hayat and Imdad Ali. It would be outrageous for judges not to extend Khizar’s stay of execution on Monday while the Supreme Court is still deciding how to deal with mentally ill death row inmates.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk, or +44 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org