Criminal law barrister at Doughty Street Chambers Timothy Moloney QC and UK-based non-governmental organisation ‘Reprieve’ Director Maya Foa met Federal Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Dr Muhammad Farogh Naseem on Friday and presented a report on death penalty cases overturned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The report revealed that 78 percent of death penalty cases out of 310 reported capital punishment judgements between 2010 and 2018 had been overturned by the Supreme Court, acquitting the accused, commuting the sentence, or ordering a review.The study also revealed that the Supreme Court frequently cited unreliable witness testimonies, involuntary or retracted confessions, insufficient or manipulated evidence and lack of motive of the accused as the primary reasons for overturning death sentences.Additionally, the Supreme Court, in exercising its capital jurisdiction, raised serious doubts over the reliability of police investigation, particularly where there was an unexplained delay in registration of the first information report (FIR) and where the evidence appeared to be planted, manipulated or otherwise doubtful, it argued. The report said that the Supreme Court had upheld death sentences for lethal offences only – every judgement of a non-lethal offence ended with the Supreme Court overturning the conviction or commuting the death sentence.It regretted that despite this, the lower courts continued to regularly award death sentences for non-lethal offences. “The Supreme Court now recognises a growing number of mitigating factors, which counsel against a death sentence,” it stated. These include: type and gravity of the offence, lesser participation by the accused, lack of premeditation, provocation, social and familial circumstances, partial compromise with the victim’s family, age of the accused, whether the accused was acting under the influence of an elder, mental state of the accused, capacity for reform and time spent on death row. The report stated that the court had recognised that even a “single mitigating instance, available in a particular case, would be sufficient to put on guard the judge not to award the penalty of death but life imprisonment”.The delegation also presented recommendations to the law minister based on the study to limit death penalty in Pakistan. The minister thanked the delegates for presenting him the report on their findings and for their recommendations.