Peshawar School Attack: Pakistan Lifts Moratorium on Death Penalty

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's prime minister lifted a moratorium on the death penalty on Wednesday, a day after Taliban gunmen attacked a school, killing more 140 children and teachers. The bloodshed has shocked the nation and put pressure on the government to do more to tackle the Pakistani Taliban insurgency.

"It was decided that this moratorium should be lifted. The prime minister approved," said government spokesman Mohiuddin Wan, referring to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's approval of the decision by a ministerial committee. "Black warrants will be issued within a day or two," he said, referring to execution orders. He did not give any details about who might be executed under such orders. A moratorium on the death penalty was imposed in 2008 and only one execution has taken place since then.

There are believed to be more than 8,000 prisoners on death row in Pakistan, about 10 percent convicted of offenses labeled "terrorism," according to legal-aid group Justice Project Pakistan. "Terrorism" has a very broad definition under Pakistani law. About 17,000 cases of "terrorism" are pending in special courts.


- Reuters