Strategic Litigation

Strategic Litigation

Strategic Litigation can bring significant legislative changes, or impact upon the practice of law in general, and promote public awareness by the pursuit of carefully selected issues.

FFR defends criminal defendants whose crimes call for the Death Penalty under national laws in order to bring about legislative changes, promote awareness of the injustice of the penal system, and to advocate generally for the abolition of the death penalty. While there is currently a moratorium on executions, those who are sentenced to death serve indefinite sentences, and often end up serving double life sentences. Women and minors have frequently been sentenced to death, particularly in drug trafficking cases where they are often manipulated by drug mafias and their own families into acting as mules.

There are over 8000 people on death row in Pakistan,which gives it the ignominious distinction of having one of the largest death row populations in the world. In 2011, as many as 313 people were sentenced to death by various courts, including six women. Over half of them (161) were convicted of murder. Death row prisoners constitute over 10 percent of the prison population in this country. 63 years ago, only 'murder and treason' carried the death penalty in Pakistan. Today,there are 27 crimes for which capital punishment is the maximum sentence. Executions when they took place prior to the moratorium were by hanging, usually after a ten year (life), prison sentence. FFR therefore, includes in its charter, investigating, advocating for,and legally representing undertrial and condemned prisoners on death row on a probono basis .

Similar to Reprieve (UK), which prioritizes the cases of prisoners accused of the most extreme crimes to prevent human rights from being jettisoned or eroded, FFR has a certain criteria for choosing which strategic death penalty cases to work on. This includes:

  • Cases where the defendant has no legal counsel or has had inadequate legal representation
  • Cases where the defendant lacks financial resources
  • Cases where the defendant is of unsound mind and a mental health defense should be raised
  • Cases where the defendant, has undergone torture or faced other corrupt police practices during arrest, imprisonment or detention
  • Cases where the defendant has been accused of a capital offence but incarcerated without trial for a very lengthy period of time thus incurring what is referred to in the case law of the Federal Shariat Court as “double punishment”.

As a legal charity, FFR does not take any legal fees or remuneration from its clients for any of its work.