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A court in the Pakistani city of Lahore has stayed the execution of a murder convict who was judged last year to be suffering from mental illness.

The Lahore High Court on January 12 ordered the government to provide a new report on the mental health of Khizar Hayat, 55, a spokesman for Justice Project Pakistan told journalists.

Hayat was convicted of murdering a police officer in a land dispute in 2003.

His execution had been scheduled for January 17, but the court ordered a stay until January 30.

Earlier this week, Hayat’s mother, Iqbal Bano, urged President Mamnoon Hussain to pardon her son, saying he "doesn’t know what is going to happen to him and he’s not in a stable state of mind."

"My son needs medical treatment, not execution," she told the Associated Press.

A court medical board in July ruled that Hayat, who is a former police officer, suffers from mental illness.

Pakistan has executed 427 people since 2014, when the authorities reinstated the death penalty after a Taliban attack in Peshawar killed some 150 people, most of them schoolchildren.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP
According to some official estimates, thousands of Russian women die each year as a result of domestic violence (illustrative photo).

MOSCOW -- Russian legislators returned from recess by approving -- with almost unanimous support -- the first reading of a bill that would decriminalize assault in the family home.

The bill, which is in keeping with the conservative values espoused by President Vladimir Putin and has been protested by antidomestic abuse activists, seeks to downgrade assault inside the traditional family unit from a criminal offense to a misdemeanor.

Battery inside the home by family members remained a criminal offense in 2016, while cases of street assault -- say, between two men -- were legally decriminalized to a misdemeanor punishable by fine. The new legislation would remove this distinction.

Addressing the State Duma during the first reading, Olga Batalina, one of the bill's authors, on January 11 said the bill concerns non-serious assaults causing "bruises or grazes."

She recognized the problem of domestic abuse, but said there are better ways to combat it.

"What's important is prevention," she said. "What is important is the chance to help a person who has ended up in this situation. As you understand, help does not consist in bringing one member of the family to administrative or criminal account, but in stopping these things from happening in the future."

Andrei Isayev, first deputy director of the United Russia faction, told the RBK business and politics news organization that domestic assaults would only be a misdemeanor in the first instance; a secondary offense would be deemed criminal.

Already Weak Legislation

The bill has nonetheless prompted concerns that it would land a blow to Russia's already weak legislation on domestic abuse and send the wrong signals to society.

"'The [bill] that the Duma is preparing to examine would only legalize the order of things that have strengthened in the minds of Russians: beating close ones is normal," wrote Olga Bobrova, an editor at Novaya Gazeta.

Two activists picketed the State Duma on January 11 to protest the bill. Alyona Popova, a prominent activist against domestic violence, held a placard with the ironic slogan "I created you, I'll kill you," adding that "in 2015, 11,756 boys and girls suffered from violent crimes in families."

Russian lawmaker Olga Batalina (file photo)
Russian lawmaker Olga Batalina (file photo)

Batalina has said the legislation aims to place minor assaults committed in a domestic context on a par with street assaults decriminalized last summer.

"There was objective bewilderment among people as to why conflicts inside the family, beatings of relatives are a crime, but the same action committed on the street is only an administrative offense," Batalina has said. "Our legislative bill proposes removing this conflict," she said.

In July, President Vladimir Putin signed legislation decriminalizing minor assault for first-time offenders. It is now punishable by a fine of up to 30,000 rubles, 15 days in jail, or up to 120 hours of community service.

Exempt from this legislation were domestic-abuse cases, which remained criminal.

The exemption was explained by a United Russia lawmaker, who wrote at the time: "We must not remove criminal punishment for assault inside the family since they [such assaults] are committed consciously and, consequently, are socially more dangerous than street [assaults]."

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