Justice Project Pakistan JPP launched an open-source “Death Penalty Database”, featuring comprehensive research on Pakistan’s use of capital punishment on Saturday. The database includes the number of prisoners on death row, executions carried out since 2014, trial details of the prisoners and other relevant information.
The launch ceremony took place in Karachi on Thursday and featured eminent advocacy professionals, human rights defenders and parliamentarians including Advisor to CM Sindh Murtaza Wahab, Special Assistant to CM Sindh Qasim Naveed Qamar, lawyer Saroop Ijaz from Human Rights Watch and renowned journalist Badar Alam.
Developed with technical support from Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International (HURIDOCS), the database aims to make the information on the death penalty publicly available, allowing public and academic institutions to generate their own findings and base their work on verified data.
Speaking at the launch, Advisor to Chief Minister Sindh on Law, Anti-Corruption Establishment, and Information, Murtaza Wahab said, “Data is the start of a new beginning. It is when we have data that we can analyze statistics and come up with strategies to resolve whatever issues we are facing in the criminal justice system. Sindh is the most progressive political party and has been working on laws on human rights, uplift of women, child protection and we will work with Justice Project Pakistan and anyone else to improve access to justice.”
Since the moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in 2014, as many as 511 prisoners have been executed in Pakistan. Every eighth person executed in the world is a Pakistani. People on death row in Pakistan include juveniles, the mentally ill and the physically disabled. There’s a dire need for Pakistan to study data patterns to understand the use of the death penalty and to establish if it is a deterrent to crime or not.
“According to studies, the crime rate in the country has gone up significantly since 2014, making it evident that capital punishment is not a deterrent. This database aims at providing credible information to researchers, lawyers and advocacy professionals across the world to make informed decisions and to drive policy initiatives,” said Isfundyar Kasuri, Board Member of Justice Project Pakistan.
About the database
Data-driven advocacy is far more effective than old school diplomacy as it is based on objective, verifiable facts, while magnifying personal stories. Moreover, the numbers are easier to organize, which identifies solutions, not problems. The JPP database includes details such as the number of prisoners on death row, the number of executions, trial details of the prisoners and other relevant information.
JPP uses a three-step process to obtain and verify data on executions and death row population. The first source for executions is news reports, media releases, families of executed prisoners, fellow inmates and, in some cases, prison officials. Once JPP receives news about execution, it verifies the occurrence with the death row population list available with it. In some cases, however, a prisoner on death row might not be mentioned in the list. As a third step, JPP confirms the execution with the relevant prison official(s) at the jail where the hanging has taken place.
For the death row population too, news stories, media releases, families and inmates serve as JPP’s source of information along with relevant government officials from the Home Department, the Ministry of Interior, and courts.
JPP also gathers qualitative data about the prisoners, such as details about the alleged offense, when they were sentenced and by which court, and the time they have spent on death row. JPP gathers this information through news archives and detailed interviews conducted with family members of the prisoners, prison authorities, and journalists.