[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Dec 12 22:42:27 CST 2004
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:
Asian woman gets death penalty for drug peddling
Fujairah Criminal court has awarded death sentence to an Asian woman, Lisa
Tray, in a case considered to be the first of its kind in the Eastern
region. The woman was dealing in narcotics and the police had employed a
decoy agent to pose as a customer for her at a certain meeting spot. Tray
was caught while handing over 149 grams of narcotics to the decoy
Tray, however, said the plastic narcotics parcel was given to her by her
step-father and that she was not aware of its contents at the time of
delivering it. Trays lawyers have appealed against the verdict.
(source: Khaleej Times)
COLISEUM LIT UP AS DEATH PENALTY IN SENAGAL ABOLISHED
Tonight the Coliseum will be lit up to celebrate the abolition of the
death penalty in Senegal. Said the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, as he
made the announcement, "This news comes as a great relief and is the
result of extraordinary civil values". He reminded listeners, "Senegal is
the 4th African country to make such a step. It's a victory for both
humanity and civil rights". He was at the Coliseum last year on November
30 to launch a new appeal for the cruelty of capital punishment to come to
an end throughout the world. With him were the community of Saint Egidio
and many other associations who are fighting for human and civil rights to
be respected. "As a result, today this news will be celebrated", said the
mayor, "and so, this evening, we will light up the Coliseum as is usually
done on extraordinary occasions like this one".
(source: AGI, Dec. 11)
Staring out from Death Row, Benetton's faces now lead the fight for penal
They were the images that haunted the world. The staring faces of Death
Row inmates plastered across buses and billboards with the incongruous aim
of selling brightly coloured knitwear.
The infamous Benetton campaign in America unleashed a torrent of public
protests, ethics debates, lawsuits, compensation payments and - eventually
- a humbled apology.
Benetton may have swapped its hard-hitting ad campaigns for a more
conventional approach since the international furore surrounding the
release of the Death Row images 4 years ago, but, for Oliviero Toscani,
the man formerly behind nearly 2 decades of controversial advertising
campaigns for Benetton, things clearly have not changed.
A series of Toscani's photographs of death row inmates are to be exhibited
in the UK for the first time this week as part of a new campaign fighting
for the abolition of capital punishment.
The photographs, which were taken as part of his research for the ad
campaign but were largely unused, have been donated by Toscani to an
anti-capital punishment pressure group in order to highlight the fate of
an estimated 5,000 people who are put to death every week around the
"The death penalty is not just a problem for those countries which
practise it: this is our problem," said Toscani. "And it is my intention
that every face in this exhibition should personify this."
It was four years ago that Toscani left Benetton in the aftermath of the
outcry surrounding the publication of a series of images of inmates facing
the death penalty.
The photographer, widely credited with revolutionising the advertising
industry, was no stranger to controversy. He was the man behind images of
a black woman breast-feeding a white baby, an Arab kissing a Jew, a nun
embracing a priest, a dying Aids patient and an unwashed newborn baby.
But it was his final venture dealing with the thorny issue of capital
punishment that unexpectedly attracted the greatest controversy of his
It was in 1998 that Toscani set out to capture on camera the faces of 26
death row inmates in nine states across the US as part of a hard-hitting
When it was unveiled two years later, there was an immediate public
outcry. The families of victims of one of the convicted murderers picketed
a store in Manhattan. The state of Missouri then filed a lawsuit against
Benetton, claiming officials were deceived into letting inmates be used
for advertising. Benetton's long-term partners, Sears Roebuck, also
terminated a $100m contract.
Toscani left the company, a public apology was issued and $50,000
compensation paid to a fund for families of crime victims in Missouri.
Toscani yesterday told The Independent how the drama surrounding the
campaign had failed to dampen his campaign to abolish the death penalty.
"Death Row was a campaign I'd always wanted to do. It took years of
planning and difficulties trying to arrange access to these people. It was
a very big lesson for me to meet these people and to see how primitive
society can be - and we're talking about the US here.
"You can imagine how much worse it is in countries like China where
thousands are killed every year and Japan, which refuses to communicate
any details at all."
The exhibition, entitled We, On Death Row, is to be based at the Boiler
House in Brick Lane, east London, and features 26 images measuring an
imposing 1.5m by 2m.
For Toscani, who once stated "there's no such thing as going too far",
there was an element of satisfaction that his work was being used with a
clear message that was completely disassociated from Benetton.
"In the beginning, Benetton was right behind the campaign, but then they
became afraid of the reactions," he said.
"At the end of the day, a company only wants to make money. Benetton could
have gone down in history as the 1st company to fight for human rights.
But sadly managers prefer profits to human rights."
The project has been organised by the Brussels anti-capital punishment
group Hands Off Cain. Itwill coincide with a conference debating the key
issues as well as the launch of an online petition for a UN moratorium on
the death penalty.
(source: The Independent)
Filipino saved from execution in Saudi
A Filipino man was spared from execution when his embassy paid
compensation to the family of the man he was convicted of killing.
The Philippines Embassy in Riyadh said the convicted man was pardoned and
released from a Saudi Arabian prison last week when it paid $15,000 to the
family of a Nepalese man the Filipino was convicted of stabbing to death
An embassy spokesman Sunday said the freed man, who was sentenced to death
by beheading, was expected to return to his country before the end of this
year after he reportedly embraced Islam during his six-year detention.
Approximately 500,000 Filipinos reside in the oil-rich Arab kingdom, which
holds public ceremonies to execute convicted murderers, rapists, armed
robbers and repeat drug traffickers.
About 24 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia this year, compared
with 52 during 2003.
(source: United Press International)
Human rights group wants death penalty abolished
Human rights and legal advocacy groups yesterday urged the abolition of
the death penalty and judicial reform to incorporate more humane
perspectives into the judicial system.
In a panel discussion held by the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death
Penalty, human rights lawyers and Su Chien-ho, a member of the Hsichih
Trio, testified that the flawed legal system can lead to wrongful
convictions and executions.
"The bureaucratic culture among judges leaves no room for [professional]
self-reflection about the possibility of wrongful convictions. Some judges
tend to overlook the importance of human rights. In their eyes, all they
see are cases to be processed, not human beings put on the stands," said
Joseph Lin, chairman of Legal Aid Foundation's Taipei branch.
Lin, a top-notch human rights lawyer who has provided legal assistance to
numerous death-row inmates, said that due to a lack of legal regulations
governing criminal evidence, criminal courts may declare defendants guilty
without an investigation or evidence of a weapon. Another flaw exists in
the police interrogation system, said Lin, in which police statements can
be easily manipulated by the interrogation task force.
"The sad truth is that many judges and prosecutors have no idea how some
statements are produced and how some suspects are mistreated until they
review interrogation recordings. They simply can't believe their eyes,"
Su, who was imprisoned for over a decade, stated that many judges were not
meticulous in making their decisions and held preconceived judgments about
a defendant's guilt, without even carrying out proper investigations.
"One time in court, I was trying to defend myself on a murder charge, and
there was the associate judge dozing off in his seat," Su said.
Not until last year's judicial reform did the legal system abide by the
principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Su said he was
glad to see the change since during his personal legal battle he had to
prove his innocence under the presumption that he was guilty.
Yeh Chih-hsiang, the editor-in-chief of Taiwan Church News who worked
alongside Su's father for many years, considered the death penalty a form
of retribution and a crime prevention tactic.
"Our society needs more room for tolerance and forgiveness. Victims'
families may not necessarily want to see offenders punished, but the truth
about what really happened [to the victims]," Yeh said.
Yeh said many death row inmates come from poor families. Su was a classic
example; his father was an uneducated man who ran a cafeteria. In order to
prove his son's innocence, he read the Major Laws and devoted all his
effort and time to getting his son out of prison. Strained and exhausted,
Su's father died of cancer a few days after Su was released from prison.
"A study shows that the majority of death row inmates in the US are blacks
who come from poor families. Until our judicial system can be entirely
error-proof, the death penalty should not exist," said Jerry Cheng, the
Legal Aid Foundation's general secretary.
In January last year, after the Taiwan High Court overturned the trio's
murder convictions, Su and 2 others were released from prison.
(source: Taipei Times)
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