Hanging in public or jails: A senseless controversy

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 04:56 PM, 9 Feb, 2020
Hanging in public or jails: A senseless controversy

A new controversy has started after the National Assembly’s recent resolution calling for the public hanging of convicted child rapists and killers. Some people support the resolution while others are vehemently opposing the idea of executing anyone in public. There is yet another school of thought that is totally against the very concept of the capital punishment. This category mainly comprises human rights organizations.

There is a division in the cabinet.

For example, Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem says hanging in public idea is against Islamic teachings as well as the Constitution.

He recalled that the Supreme Court had declared it unconstitutional back in 1994.

He said in categorical terms that his ministry will not promulgate laws inconsistent with the Constitution and Shariah.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari argued that the resolution had not been sponsored by the government. She said her ministry opposes it. 

Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry is also opposed to hanging in public.

However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister for State Ali Muhammad Khan strongly supports the resolution.

Amnesty International, understandably, voiced its concern over the resolution, while urging Pakistan to focus on better protections against child abuse, including through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.

"Public hangings are acts of unconscionable cruelty and have no place in a rights-respecting society," Amnesty has been quoted as saying in a statement.

In principle, there is no need to make the hanging or hanging in public a subject of controversy.

There is no doubt that it is a matter of shame that in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan child rape/murder cases are on the rise. (Other heinous crimes are also no less)

Had those involved in this abhorrent act been awarded deterrent punishments, the “contagion” would not have spread.

The very fact that the legislature passed a resolution (although a private initiative) on the subject shows the seriousness of the situation. Now the relevant authorities should take the steps required to take the culprits to task.

Those opposing deterrent punishments or execution in public on the touchstone of Islam should first see whether they are leading their lives in accordance with Islam. If not, then there is little justification left for them to oppose this on the pretext of Islam.

Law Minister Farogh Naseem’s reference to the Supreme Court’s judgment against public hanging holds no water as the parliament being the supreme body can frame a new law overruling the apex court’s verdict.

It’s not the question of anybody’s prestige. Public hanging is only a mechanism to send a deterrent message to the would-be culprits.

If somebody feels upset on seeing an execution in public, he should better not witness it. But his personal liking or disliking should not be used as a pretext against a measure the National Assembly resolution suggests against child abusers.

It would not be a bad idea if those involved in other heinous crimes, awarded capital punishment by courts and who have also exhausted all appeal forums, should also be hanged in public for a deterrent impact.

There is little justification to keep spending public money on such people in jails.

If they have not to be executed for any reason, they should be set free so that they are not a burden on the public money.

The high crime in society justifies the idea of hanging in public. According to official statistics, more than 8,200 murder cases were registered in Pakistan during 2018. Of them, 4,017 were registered in Punjab; 1,308 in Sindh; 2,320 in KP and 352 in Balochistan.

The number of murder cases registered in 2017 stood at 8,235.

Of them, 3,914 were registered in Punjab; 1,409 in Sindh; 2,361 in KP and 325 in Balochistan.

The number of kidnappings/abductions (another serious crime) is also quite alarming.

During 2018, 14,981 cases were registered in Punjab; 3,167 in Sindh; 1,188 in KP and 269 in Balochistan.

A year earlier, their numbers were 13,558; 2927; 1,197 and 248, respectively.

Dacoities are also a serious offence. Unluckily their statistics across the country are also disturbing and call for strong measures to discourage those wanting to make easy money by looting innocent people.