The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) also condemned the execution of Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani national, who was hanged in Yerwada prison, in Pune City on 21 November. Kasab was sentenced to death in May 2010. He was convicted of 80 charges including committing acts of terrorism and criminal conspiracy to commit murder. His final appeal for mercy was reportedly rejected by the President Pranab Mukherjee on November 5.
This execution also ends an eight-year-long unofficial moratorium on executions in India; the last execution took place in August 2004. Yug Chaudhry a lawyer, who has been outspoken on Ajmal Kasab’s case, said, “Executing Kasab in the name of the Indian people will only feed a base instinct for retribution that will make our society more vengeful and violent. It will not contribute to our safety or well-being in any way”.
There are currently over 300 people on death row in India and this latest execution is now a concern for 16 persons on death row whose appeals are awaiting clemency before the President.
ADPAN, whose members in India includes MASUM, Lawyers for Human Rights International, The Peoples Union for Civil Liberty and Amnesty International India, oppose the death penalty in all cases, and called upon the Indian government to place an immediate moratorium on all executions, to commute all death sentences and to work toward full abolition of the death penalty for all crimes.
"This means India has taken a significant step backwards and joined that minority of countries that are still executing," said V K Shashi Kumar, Programmes Head at Amnesty International India.
Prior to Kasab’s filing of his petition, eleven mercy petitions from persons on death row were pending before the President. Kasab’s lawyer and family in Pakistan were not informed of the imminent execution, in violation of international standards on the use of the death penalty.
“We recognize the gravity of the crimes for which Ajmal Kasab was convicted, and sympathise with the victims of these acts and their families, but the death penalty is the ultimate cruel and inhuman form of punishment,” said kumar. “We are also deeply disconcerted both by the unusual speed with which his mercy petition was rejected, as well as the secrecy that surrounded his execution”, he added.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty as it violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Organization opposes capital punishment in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.
The Indian authorities should immediately establish an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, in line with UN General Assembly resolutions adopted since 2007.