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Pakistan executes 10 death-row prisoners: officials

world Updated: Mar 17, 2015 12:20 IST

Pakistan on Tuesday hanged 10 convicted murderers, the highest number in a single day, after the government lifted a six-year-old moratorium on capital punishment, officials said.

Eight of the convicts were hanged in the Punjab province, while two others were hanged in the southern metropolis of Karachi, according to prison officials.

The latest hangings bring to 37 the number of convicts hanged since Pakistan resumed executions in December after Taliban militants gunned down 154 people, most of them children, at a school in the restive northwest.

The partial lifting of the moratorium, which began in 2008, earlier only applied to those convicted of terrorism offences, but was last week extended to all capital offences.

Only one person was executed during the period of the moratorium -- a soldier convicted by a court martial and hanged in 2012.

Human rights group Amnesty International estimates that Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process.

Supporters of the death penalty in Pakistan argue that it is the only effective way to the deal with the scourge of militancy.

But rights campaigners have been highly critical, citing problematic convictions in Pakistan's criminal justice system which they say is replete with rampant police torture and unfair trials.

European Union diplomats have also raised the issue of capital punishment -- and the case of one man who was condemned to death as a teenager in particular -- in meetings with Pakistani officials focused on trade and human rights.

The EU granted Pakistan the much coveted "GSP+" status in 2014, giving the country access to highly favourable trade tariffs, conditional on Pakistan enacting certain commitments on human rights.