Pakistan plans to execute a disabled man this week, as Amnesty Internationalsaid the country was nearing 300 hangings in less than a year.
The execution of Abdul Basit, a paraplegic man who was convicted of murder in 2009, has been postponed several times after rights groups raised concerns about how a man in a wheelchair would mount the scaffold.
Amnesty said the hanging had been scheduled for Wednesday and accused the country of “shamefully sealing its place among the world’s worst executioners”.
Pakistan’s human rights commission said it had written to the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, seeking to delay the execution, and that prison authorities were awaiting an answer from the government on how to proceed with the hanging.
Some local activists estimated there had been fewer than 260 executions in the country this year. No official figures are available.
“Pakistan’s ongoing zeal for executions is an affront to human rights and the global trend against the death penalty. Even if the authorities stay the execution of Abdul Basit, a man with paraplegia, Pakistan is still executing people at a rate of almost one a day,” Amnesty said.
There was no evidence that the “relentless” executions had done anything to counter extremism in the country, it added.
The rights group also alleged that many of the executions had come after court proceedings that “do not meet international fair trial standards”.
a six-year moratorium on the death penalty last year as part of a crackdown after militants gunned down more than 150 people, most of them children, at an army-run school in the restive north-west.
Hangings were initially reinstated only for those convicted of terrorism, but they were extended in March to all capital offences.
Supporters argue that executions are the only effective way to deal with the scourge of militancy in the country. But critics say the legal system is unjust, with rampant police torture and poor representation for victims, while the majority of those who are hanged are not convicted of terror charges.
The human rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir said: “The state is hanging petty criminals while known terrorists are still in prisons.”
The Amnesty figures suggest Pakistan is on track to become one of the world’s top executioners this year. In 2014, 607 people were put to death in 22 countries, according to Amnesty, though that figure does not include China, where the number of executions is believed to be in the hundreds, but is considered by authorities to be a state secret.