Pakistan has 7,400 people to execute

Pakistan expanded the range of offenses that carry capital punishment, but the move failed to deter crime, and there are now 7,400 people on death row, a rights group said Thursday.

Asma Jehangir, head of the nongovernment Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, urged the abolition of the death penalty, saying that the country's legal system was corrupt and couldn't guarantee fair trials for those sentenced.

She made the comments at the launch of a new report on the death penalty in Pakistan, co-authored by the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights.

Over the years, governments in Pakistan resorted to expanding the number of offenses punishable by death instead of addressing the root causes of violence and crime, Jehangir said.

"When the law and order deteriorates, the government or the state, instead of actually fixing the problems, their only slogan (becomes) that every punishment should be the death penalty," she told a news conference in Islamabad. "This is not a deterrent for crime."

The report said that stripping a woman's clothes and damaging railway property were among the offenses that can be punished with death. Others include murder, insulting Islam or its holy book, the Quran, narcotics and arms trafficking, treason and kidnapping, the AP reports.

Pakistan is among the countries with the most convicts on death row, with 7,400. the report said. Some 80 people were executed in 2006, compared to 54 in 2005, it said.

Executions are by hanging. Most convicts awaiting execution remain on death row for years.

Jehangir said the state was committing "murder" if it executed anyone without ensuring justice and the due process of law in trials that deliver the death penalty.

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