Small favors

Pakistan had a big hanging party today.

Pakistan has hanged 12 convicts, the largest number of people executed on the same day since the country overturned a ban on executions.

The men were terrorists, murderers or guilty of “heinous crimes”, an interior ministry spokesman said.

At least 27 convicts have been executed since the moratorium was lifted, most of them militants, Reuters reported.

It is estimated there are more than 8,000 Pakistanis on death row. Rights groups say many convictions are unsafe.

Human rights groups say that prisoners often do not receive a fair trial within Pakistan’s outdated criminal justice system and that poorly-trained police often use torture to force confessions.

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported that the latest executions took place in Multan, Karachi, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Jhang.

I’d like to be able to say that US death penalty cases at least got fair trials with no forcing of confessions, but I can’t. The Innocence Project has helped to make it unpleasantly clear that many convictions are not safe at all, including capital cases. Last December Ricky Dale Wyatt became the 325th person whose conviction was overturned via DNA testing. Douglas Starr’s 2013 New Yorker article Do police interrogation techniques produce false confessions? explained how behind other developed countries the US is in the way it trains cops to interrogate suspects. There’s a long ugly history of using arrest and conviction as a substitute for slavery.

But I guess we can be glad we don’t execute 15 people in one day.


  1. Cassidy McJones says

    But I guess we can be glad we don’t execute 15 people in one day.

    Texas would if they could.

    Utah and Wyoming are trying to bring back firing squads because of the increasing difficulty with acquiring and administering the drugs used in lethal injections:

    Why is all of this happening? Because of a nationwide shortage of lethal injection drugs. A European Union embargo on Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck’s export of pentobarbital and Illinois-based Hospira’s refusal to sell sodium thiopental to corrections facilities have helped create a nationwide shortage of the most common drugs used in lethal injection.

    It’s a disgrace.

  2. lorn says

    I have profound doubts as the justice and practicability of the death penalty. Claiming it is a deterrent is a contradiction of known psychology which tells us that it is the perceived chance of being caught and punished, not the severity of the punishment that deters.

    That said, if the society is determined to kill , given a choice, I would prefer a bullet to the base of the skull, or a visit to the guillotine, over lethal injection or electrocution. I would prefer quick and decisively deadly over the chance of having a mess made of it.

    My misgivings about death by firing squad might have been best summed up by the famous scene in Breaker Morant, I guess it isn’t really a spoiler: “Shoot straight you bastards, don’t make a mess of it”.

    A very good movie, a fine study in the raw realities of military force, the dynamics of empire, and the expiation of sin by groups. The last scene:

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