In the backdrop of the hanging of Mumbai terror attack accused Ajmal Kasab and Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, the Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international human rights organisation, has urged the Manmohan Singh government to “end this distressing use of executions as a way to satisfy some public opinion.”

Instead “India should join the nations that have chosen to abolish capital punishment.”

HRW South-Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly said in a statement that Guru’s hanging “makes it more urgent for India to reinstate its previous informal moratorium on executions as a step towards abolishing the death penalty.”

“No one argues that those who engage in serious crimes should not be punished. But the death penalty is brutal and irreversible, and there is no convincing evidence to suggest it serves as a deterrent.”

HRW was opposed to death penalty in all circumstances as an inherently irreversible, inhuman punishment.

In July 2012, fourteen retired Supreme Court and High Court judges asked the President to commute the death sentences of 13 inmates as they were erroneously upheld by the Supreme Court over the past nine years. This followed the court’s admission that some of these death sentences were rendered per incuriam (out of error or ignorance).

In another statement, a group of human rights activists said they “condemn strongly and unequivocally, both the unjust, shameful and unconscionable hanging of Afzal Guru as well as the unlawful detention of [Hurriyat leader] S.A.R. Geelani and harassment of his family.”

The activists, who signed the joint statement, include B.D. Sharma, Sumit Chakravarty, Subrat Kumar Sahu, Shyamla Mustafa Muhammad, Nandita Narain, Karen Gabriel, and P.K. Vijayan.

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