Pakistan set to execute mentally ill man despite medical evidence

September 17, 2016

A severely mentally ill man faces hanging on Tuesday in Pakistan despite a medical report that diagnosed him as “insane”. Pakistan has signed international agreements banning the execution of mentally ill prisoners.

Former electrician Imdad Ali was sentence to death in 2002 over a shooting. Last year his sentence was upheld by Pakistan’s supreme court which claimed Mr Ali was mentally sound because he had fled the scene of the crime.

However, the judge did not consider a medical report, commissioned by the prison governor, which had diagnosed Mr Ali with paranoid schizophrenia.

The doctor’s report said that, “This illness significantly impairs the person’s rational thinking and decision making capabilities. Hence, in my opinion he is an insane person.”

This crucial evidence was not submitted at Mr Ali’s appeal hearing, meaning the Supreme Court ruled that “There is not one iota of evidence to suggest that the appellant was suffering from any type of lunacy.”

Mr Ali comes from a poor family with a history of hereditary mental illnesses. At his original trial, Mr Ali’s wife stated that she had tried to get her husband sectioned in the years before the shooting. The judge refused to accept this evidence as the doctor who saw him at the hospital was not produced as a witness. During his 14 years on Pakistan’s death row, Mr Ali’s mental illness has worsened. He has spent the last three years in solitary confinement after fellow inmates complained of his manic episodes in which he would speak loudly and uncontrollably.

A ‘black warrant’ was issued for Mr Ali’s execution earlier this year but his execution was stopped at the last minute.

Pakistani prison authorities have in the past advised against the execution of mentally ill prisoners, including a woman called Kanizan Ahktar, reportedly telling journalists that, “The only obstacle to her hanging is her mental condition, otherwise, she would have been executed already”.

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said:

“Imdad Ali is a severely mentally ill man who is set to be executed at dawn on Tuesday. There is an abundance of evidence that Imdad was mentally ill at the time of his arrest which should have saved him from death row years ago. Instead he was left to languish in appalling prison conditions for over 14 years. The Government has just days to consider the evidence and stop the execution – otherwise it will be a miscarriage of justice that can never be reversed”.

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. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org