Death row inmates suffering from schizophrenia, medical board tells SC
December 15, 2020 09:56 PM
A medical board constituted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday submitted its reports on two mentally ill prisoners on death row, declaring that both inmates are suffering from schizophrenia.
A five-member bench headed by Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik was hearing the clubbed petitions of Kanizan Bibi, Imdad Ali and Ghulam Abbas who have respectively spent 30, 18 and 14 years on death row while exhibiting acute symptoms of mental illness. In September this year, the court ordered for a fresh medical examination of Kanizan and Abbas while appointing Professor Dr Mowadat Hussain Rana and Advocate Supreme Court Haider Rasul Mirza as amici curiae.
“Imdad was not given counsel of his choice, but rather a lawyer appointed by the state. The lawyer never met the client and was not even given time to prepare. This is all extremely unfair, and in Imdad’s case it is a matter of life and death,” said Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik. Imdad had already been declared to be suffering from schizophrenia during an earlier medical review.
Justice Malik later asked the amici curiae to submit their recommendations at the next date of hearing set for January 4, 2020.
In March last year, another severely ill death row prisoner died in a hospital due to multiple ailments. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by jail authorities in 2008, Khizar Hayat, 56, had become severely anaemic and hypotensive. After spending 16 long years on death row, he died at Jinnah Hospital Lahore where he was admitted after he stopped taking food and medication.
Kanizan Bibi, a middle-aged woman diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was sentenced to death in 1991. According to her family, she was arrested when she was just 16 years old, tortured, and then forced into confessing her involvement in the murder. Due to the trauma she has endured, she hasn’t spoken a word in several years.
Ghulam Abbas was arrested in 2004 and has since been prescribed powerful anti-psychotic medication requiring prompt medical attention. Imdad Ali, 52, was earlier termed a ‘treatment-resistant case’ and has spent many years in solitary confinement.
Pakistan is a signatory to international treaties and conventions prohibiting the execution of mentally ill prisoners, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention Against Torture (CAT).