[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Feb 3 15:56:58 CST 2005
Mauritanian Court Ends Mass Coup Trial
A court in Mauritania ended a mass coup trial on Thursday, condemning the
alleged mastermind of 3 failed coup attempts and 3 others to life in
prison but passing down no death sentences.
3 main opposition leaders were acquitted, including Mohamed Khouna Ould
Haidalla, a former military dictator who overthrew current President
Maaoya Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya 2 decades ago and lost a presidential race
against him in 2003.
In all, 181 people have been on trial since November in this Sahara desert
nation for involvement in 3 separate coup attempts between 2003 and 2004.
Those condemned to life prison terms with hard labor included ex-military
commander Saleh Ould Hanenna, Capt. Abderahmane Ould Mini, Cmdr. Mohamed
Ould Cheikhna and Capt. Mohammed Ould Salek.
Hanenna, the coups' alleged ringleader, had pleaded guilty at the trial,
saying he wanted to overturn 2 decades of dictatorial and corrupt rule by
the west African nation's leaders.
After the presiding judge read the verdicts, applause rang out in the
courtroom. Others, family or friends of the accused, cried.
Prosecutors had requested death penalties for 17 of the accused.
2 others acquitted Thursday were Ahmed Ould Daddah, a 2-time presidential
candidate considered the most powerful opposition leader in the country,
and Cheikh Ould Horma, president of the Party of Democratic Convergence.
49 people, mostly low-ranking army officers, were ordered to serve
18-month jail terms. Others received sentences ranging from 1 to 15 years
in prison with hard labor.
The suspects went on trial en masse at a heavily guarded military base in
the town of Wad Naga, 30 miles east of the capital, Nouakchott.
The accused were suspected of mounting three coup attempts between June
2003 and September 2004. Only the 2003 coup made it past the planning
stage, sparking brief but deadly street fighting in the capital.
Taya took power in a 1984 military coup and has since won 2 rounds of
elections the opposition either boycotted or labeled rigged. He has allied
his overwhelmingly Muslim Islamic republic with the United States and
other Western allies, and cracked down on opposition figures and Islamist
(source: Associated Press)
UN, Human Rights Groups Call On Tehran To End Executions Of Minors
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Amnesty
International, and the International Federation for Human Rights are
calling on Iranian authorities to stop executing minors. Iran, China,
Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and the United States are among a handful of
countries that impose the death penalty on juveniles convicted of capital
crimes. According to Amnesty International, at least 10 people have been
executed either while they were minors, or for crimes committed while they
Iran is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Child, which
prohibits the execution of people under the age of 18.
To get around this, the Islamic Republic's judiciary often issues death
sentences for minors and executes them once they turn 18 -- although there
have been cases where criminal offenders have been executed while they are
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child urged Iran in a
report on 28 January to take the necessary steps to immediately suspend
death sentences imposed on persons convicted of crimes before the age of
The UN says earlier that month, Iranian officials issued a study saying
such executions had been suspended. But on the same day that study was
issued, a minor was executed in Iran. "International pressure has always
been effective, even though the Islamic Republic denies it."
The International Federation of Human Rights and Amnesty International say
it is time for Iran to bring its law and practice in line with its
Doctor Abdol-Karim Lahidji is the vice president of the Paris-based
International Federation of Human Rights.
"The Islamic Republic, since its establishment 25 or 26 years ago, has
only joined one international convention and that is the Convention on the
Rights of Child, and it should be committed to its obligations under it.
The UN committee made many recommendations to Iran in regard to children's
rights and topping them is the issue of child execution," Lahidji said.
Under the UN convention, any person under the age of 18 is considered a
child. Last year Amnesty International recorded three executions of child
offenders in Iran.
One of them was a 16-year-old girl who was hanged in public for having
what was termed "illegitimate sexual relations."
Lahidji says real figures about the cases of juvenile execution could be
"In light of the fact that there are no official figures from the Islamic
Republic and the figures we get are from the Center of Human Rights
Defenders or other sources in Iran, unfortunately we can't categorically
say if there were other cases during the last year, especially in remote
provinces where such things don't get any coverage even in the few
newspapers that -- under the current conditions of censorship by the
judiciary -- [are able to] publish such news," Lahidji said.
Last October, some 20 Iran-based human-rights groups, including the Center
of Human Rights Defenders, founded by Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi,
called on the head of Iran's judiciary not to sentence minors to death.
Ebadi, who has been fighting for the improvement of women's and children's
rights in Iran, had called for a rally to protest against the practice --
but the demonstration was banned by authorities.
The International Federation for Human Rights say 25 juvenile offenders
currently held in Iranian prisons are facing execution. Iran's judiciary
announced last fall that death penalties for convicted criminals younger
than 18 years will be banned.
Shiva Dolatabadi is the director of the Society for the Rights of Children
in Tehran. She says a bill outlawing juvenile execution has been sent for
review to the parliament.
"As far as we have been able to follow the issue, the bill has been sent
to the parliament, but we haven't heard about it being finalized. It seems
that the good news we heard -- that these things are not going to happen
anymore -- was when the bill was sent to the parliament, but it hasn't
become a law yet," Dolatabadi said.
Experts say that if the bill becomes law it should clearly prohibit
juvenile execution and not give judges the power to choose whether or not
to assign such a sentence.
The UN Committee on the Rights of Child has also called on Iran to suspend
the imposition and execution of all forms of torture and cruel, inhuman,
or degrading treatment, such as flogging and stoning for crimes committed
by underage people.
Dolatabadi says flogging sentences are being issued for boys and girls who
socialize with each other.
"Most of it is connected with relations between girls and boys, which
according to [legal] definitions here can easily become a crime. We hear a
lot about sentences [of flogging] being issued in connection with people
going to parties and such things. However, we don't know to what extent
[the sentences] are being applied. We don't have enough figures,"
In recent months, international pressure has been growing on Iran to end
the execution of minors. In October, the EU parliament condemned Iran for
issuing death sentences for minors.
Lahidji, from the International Federation of Human Rights, believes such
pressure will help convince Tehran to halt the practice.
"International pressure has always been effective, even though the Islamic
Republic denies it. 3 young people accused of hijacking a plane were due
to be executed 2 weeks ago, but because of [international] campaigns their
execution was fortunately halted," Lahidji said.
Iranian officials have not yet reacted to the UN Committee on the Rights
of the Child report.
(source: Radio Free Europe)
More information about the DeathPenalty