Ban’s appeal follows Pakistan’s recent decision to lift a six-year moratorium on the use of the death penalty following this month’s terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar which claimed the lives of 150 people, mostly children.
Ban spoke over the phone with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on December 25 and reiterated his condolences to the people, government and communities affected by the school attack, according to a readout of the call provided by Ban’s spokesperson on Friday. “While fully recognising the difficult circumstances, the Secretary-General urged the Government of Pakistan to stop the executions of convicts and re-impose the moratorium on the death penalty,” the readout said.
The Secretary-General and Sharif “noted the importance of democracy, rule of law as well as the need for an independent judiciary and the respect for the sentiments of the people of Pakistan,” it said adding that Ban welcomed Sharif’s assurance that all legal norms would be respected.
Earlier this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein had also condemned Pakistan’s decision, particularly at a time when the international community is increasingly turning away from the use of the death penalty. Zeid warned that “no judiciary, anywhere, can be infallible” and stressed that “no justice system, no matter how robust, can guarantee against wrongful convictions”.