[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- worldwide
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Thu Apr 7 13:21:02 CDT 2005
death penalty news
April 7, 2005
Amnesty pleads for Yemeni youth
Amnesty International pleaded with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh
Wednesday to commute the death sentence handed down to a juvenile.
The group said in a statement published Wednesday on its Web site Hafez
Ibrahim, 17, was convicted for killing a man when he was 16 and sentenced
The execution was initially set for Wednesday in Taaz in southern Yemen,
but sources said Ibrahim and his family had not yet received written
notification of the action, which indicates implementation of the sentence
has been postponed.
Amnesty International argued Yemeni law bans the execution of minors under
18, which makes Ibrahim's execution illegal.
It said Ibrahim was not allowed to appeal the sentence.
Amnesty International also urged its members and supporters to address
pleas to the Yemeni president, the interior minister and the minister of
human rights to stop the execution.
(source:UPI / expressnewsline.com)
Debate on death penalty
The proposal to end capital punishment has come to the fore again, with the
National Human Rights Commission adopting a resolution against the death
penalty. The resolution, together with a bill pending at the National
Assembly, is certain to renew a heated debate on the issue.
On Wednesday, the commission adopted the resolution with support from eight
of the nine members present. The sole dissenting voice said capital
punishment helps prevent crime, a claim denied by those advocating its repeal.
Those opposed to capital punishment were not unified when it came to
details concerning what should replace it, life with or without parole, and
whether or not to retain it during wartime.
Still, the commission's resolution will boost a bill awaiting action at the
National Assembly, which now has 293 members with six seats vacant. The
bill, initiated by Rep. Yoo Ihn-tae, once an inmate placed on death row for
his fight against a dictatorship, was submitted in December with support
from 174 other lawmakers as well.
But the bill is fiercely contested by law-enforcement agencies. Testifying
recently before the Judiciary-Legislation Committee, Minister of Justice
Kim Seong-kyu cited a public demand for justice and a fight against
terrorism as among reasons he was opposed to the bill.
The justice minister was supported by the new prosecutor general. During
his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly last month, Kim Jong-bin
said the prevalence of heinous crime is terrifying the public and that it
is too early to repeal the death penalty.
The two opposing views reflect the sentiment of the public, which neither
endorses the current legal system administering the death penalty nor
supports its downright repeal.
According to a public survey conducted in July last year, a majority of the
respondents, more precisely 51.4 percent, called for an extremely limited
application of the death penalty. Only one out of every nine respondents
demanded capital punishment be removed with no conditions attached.
A potential breakthrough in the standoff between the lawmakers sponsoring
the bill and the law-enforcement agencies is offered by the appeals court
in Seoul, which recently commuted a lower court's death sentence to life.
In its decision, the high court said, "Capital punishment should be used to
the minimum and as a means of last resort, that is, when it is deemed
impossible for the state to make the culprit penitent if it should use all
The lawmakers sponsoring the bill are urged to think again before pushing
for it. Caution is advised for two reasons.
First, the law-enforcement agencies are not demanding that the death
penalty be permanently maintained. Instead, they say its repeal should wait
until it is favorably received by the public. Second, they should take
notice that no one on death row has been executed since Dec. 31, 1997, a
fait accompli showing that executions can be withheld without revising the
(source: Editorial, The Korea Herald)
EUROPE / GLOBAL:
COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONFERENCE OF MINISTERS OF JUSTICE
Speech by Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for
Justice, Freedom and Security
I would, first of all, like to say how pleased and honoured I am to be here
The Council of Europe is the forerunner in the area of human rights, rule
of law and democracy in Europe. The European Union values highly the work
of the Council of Europe in these key fields.
Our common aims with the Council of Europe have led to a very close and
mutually beneficial cooperation: the Commission attends a range of the
Council of Europe working groups that help shape the legal framework in
these areas. We have many joint country-specific programmes designed to
facilitate and support legal and institutional reform, mostly in the
Balkans, Caucasus, Russia, Moldova, Ukraine and Turkey. There have also
been multilateral thematic joint programmes, regarding, for instance,
national minorities, the fight against organised crime and corruption,
awareness-raising on the abolition of the death penalty, the preparation of
the European conference to fight against racism and intolerance, action to
promote the European Social Charter and a programme to strengthen democracy
and constitutional development in the target countries.
The European Union aims to progressively establish and strengthen an area
of justice, freedom, and security for our citizens; in this framework, the
social aspects of justice are more and more present and important. Our
successful cooperation has led to important accomplishments in this area,
for instance the creation in 2002 of the European Day of civil justice,
whose aim is to reach out to citizens and make Civil justice both more
familiar and more accessible to them. The Directive on legal aid, adopted
the same year, is also a concrete example of the social commitment of the
European Union in an area where the Council of Europe has worked for a long
In the future, the social dimension of justice should receive an increased
attention. Restorative justice, mediation (in criminal and civil matters),
the treatment of offenders, in particular after they have served their
prison sentence, to favour their reintegration into society, are all
aspects to which we could devote our joint efforts.
I also ask myself whether we should organise, together a European Day
against the death penalty: the absolute value of human life, common
heritage of the states and peoples of Europe, could be a theme of great
importance on which to create a common awareness.
The last European conference of Justice Ministers in 2003 in Sofia
concentrated on the fight against terrorism and since then tremendous
efforts have been made to develop co-operation to combat terrorism, in the
Council of Europe and in the European Union, with the United Nations also
playing a key role.
Yet, despite the enormous international effort put into the fight against
terrorism, the risk of attack remains real, which is why we need to extend
our level of preparedness. An important element of the approach adopted in
the 2001 Action Plan on Terrorism is the need to strengthen the
international coalition against terrorism, including through bilateral and
regional co-operation. The European Council reaffirmed in its Declaration
of 25 March 2004 the EUs commitment to fighting terrorism. The Declaration
and associated Revised Action Plan of June 2004 set out a number of key
areas for action by the EU.
However, international co-operation in the fight against terrorism is
equally important, given the global nature of the terrorist threat. I am
thinking about the suppressing of terrorist financing, combating money
laundering, fighting organized crime and illegal immigration and protecting
victims of criminality, particularly women and children.
A comprehensive and co-ordinated multilateral approach to combating
terrorism is absolutely essential. The EU is committed to supporting the
development of multilateral and regional responses to combating terrorism,
through active involvement in counter-terrorism initiatives and
co-operation in such bodies as the UN, OSCE, Baltic Sea Task Force, and of
course the Council of Europe.
The European Union has supported the Council of Europe initiatives in the
fight against terrorism, particularly your valuable work in creating a
regional Convention on the prevention of terrorism that covers areas such
as terrorist roots, public provocation to commit an act of terrorism,
recruitment, training and many other relevant points. Thats why Ill
present, before the end of June, a Commission initiative on the
international dimension of security.
We particularly appreciate and highlight the work of the Council of Europe
in their mission to fight terrorism while respecting the basic principles
of human rights. The Council of Europe Guidelines on Human Rights and the
Fight against Terrorism are an essential tool to guarantee that the fight
against terrorism is carried out respecting human rights and democracy
the main values we aim to protect through our fight. There is no
contradiction between granting people more security and respecting the
fundamental rights of persons. This appropriate balance is and will be the
EU added value, given to the international coalition against violence,
criminality and terrorism.
I look forward to our discussions in the panels today and tomorrow.
Thank you very much for your attention.
(source: EUROPA Press Releases)
Top court dismisses AUM member's appeal against death sentence
The Supreme Court on Thursday turned down an appeal by a former AUM
Shinrikyo cult member, finalizing his death sentence for murdering a
lawyer's family and a fellow cult member.
The top court said Kazuaki Okazaki, 44, committed "anti-social, cruel
crimes" in murdering the family of a lawyer who acted legitimately.
In the late 1980s lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto regularly criticized AUM
Shinrikyo and this infuriated the group. Okazaki and other cult members
stormed into the apartment of Sakamoto in Yokohama in November 1989 and
murdered the 33-year-old lawyer, his wife, 29, and their 1-year-old son.
Okazaki also strangled AUM member Shuji Taguchi, 21, who was trying to
leave the group, at a cult facility in Shizuoka Prefecture in February
1989, according to lower court rulings.
Lawyers for Okazaki had said that his admission in 1995 to involvement in
the murder of the lawyer's family was equivalent to turning himself in, a
condition for a lenient ruling.
But three judges at the Supreme Court's first petty branch agreed that
Okazaki should not be spared capital punishment even after considering his
admission to the murder and the fact that he is now regretting his actions.
As reasons for dismissing the appeal, the judges cited that Okazaki
committed his crimes to protect AUM, that he tried to cover up the murder
of the lawyer's family by burying the victims' bodies, and that he was
directly involved in the murders.
"Considering the sentiments of the bereaved families and the shock the
crimes caused society, his criminal responsibility is very grave," the
After being adopted by a Zen Buddhist in June 2004, Okazaki changed his
surname to Miyamae. He reportedly chants Buddhist sutras several times a
day before the posthumous Buddhist nameplates of the lawyer's family he
placed on the wall of his cell.
Okazaki expressed his regret in letters he sent to the Mainichi and other
But bereaved family members are pessimistic about Okazaki's remorse.
"I think he only expresses words of remorse because he is cunning," said
Tomoyuki Oyama, father of the lawyer's wife. "The entire picture (of the
lawyer's case) has not yet been clarified in the trial so I have been
AUM Shinrikyo was founded by Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo
Matsumoto. AUM now calls itself Aleph.
(source: Mainichi Daily News)
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