[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Feb 14 16:57:01 CST 2005
URGENT ACTION APPEAL UPDATE
14 February 2005
Further Information on UA 34/05 issued 11 February 2005
BARBADOS: Fredrick Atkins (m), aged 36
Fredrick Atkins, who was scheduled to be
executed early in the morning of 14 February, has
received a stay of execution from the Barbados
The High Court ruled that Atkins could not be
executed until the Court of Appeal in Barbados
resolves the case of Lennox Boyce and Jeffrey
Joseph (UA 268/04 issued 20 September 2004).
Boyce and Joseph have, like Atkins, lodged an
appeal against their death sentences with the Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights.
Frederick Atkins was sentenced to death in 2000
for the murder of 20-year-old Sharmaine Hurley.
He had been due to become the first person to be
executed in Barbados since 1984, even though his
appeal has not yet been heard by the Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights. Philip
Alston, the Special Rapporteur of the United
Nations Commission on Human Rights dealing
with extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions, called on the Barbados authorities to
halt the execution. He said, ''The Government of
Barbados has affirmed in the past its commitment
to respect the right of those sentenced to death to
petition the Commission. It is thus essential to
await the outcome of that process''.
Many thanks to all who sent appeals. No
further appeals are required at present.
Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that
promotes and defends human rights.
This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including
contact information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank
you for your help with this appeal.
Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
PO Box 1270
Nederland CO 80466-1270
Email: uan at aiusa.org
Phone: 303 258 1170
Fax: 303 258 7881
END OF URGENT ACTION APPEAL
The Death Penalty is Self-Defeating
The death penalty has of recent been a major topic in the papers, once
again. This time it was being challenged by the very persons on the death
row who were being defended by a strong team of 14 lawyers. They are not
asking for forgiveness but for an alternative punishment. This penalty is
also called a capital punishment. The word capital (caput) refers to a
head. It is punishment by beheading the convicted.
By whatever method it is carried out, the death penalty is being
challenged by quite a number of bodies, including faith-based and human
rights organisations. It has been totally abolished in countries like
I want to submit this contribution from a faith or moral angle. Life is a
precious gift from God. The right to life is the most fundamental and
wellspring of all human rights. This is reflected very prominently in one
of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shall not kill."
The story of Cain and Abel is a very clear manifestation of the
seriousness of this commandment. After Cain had murdered his brother Abel,
God punished him, not by death, but by banishing him from the land whereby
Cain became a wonderer. But, God also went ahead to "put mark on him to
prevent him from being killed by anyone who would meet him" (Genesis 4:1-
By his own example, God denounces justice based on vengeance and violence.
"We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing," says Pope John Paul
II. The death penalty perpetuates the very evil it is trying to terminate.
The practice and promotion of the death penalty is a reflection of the
'culture of death' of our times. The act of killing a person is
intrinsically an evil, whether lawfully or unlawfully, by a murderer or by
the state. It is the reasons that make it appear different.
At the first World Congress on the Death Penalty in Strasbourg, France, in
June 2001, the Vatican described the practice as "a sign of desperation"
and pursued the abolition of capital punishment as "an integral part of
the defense of human life at every stage of its development".
Capital punishment is in the same category as abortion and euthanasia.
They are a premeditated taking away of human life, and are, therefore,
immoral. It is bad enough for society to lose one person, but worse to
lose yet another, for whatever reason. The end does not justify the means.
Whether the death penalty is legal is no reason for resorting to it or to
"The law is for man not man for the law," says Jesus. In a very practical
and dramatic manner Jesus defended the right to life of a woman caught in
adultery and who would otherwise have been killed as per the law of the
land. "Let any man among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone
at her" (John 8:7).
The death penalty has an inherent weakness of injustice, since the weak
and poor are more easily proven guilty than the rich and more powerful.
That people continue to kill inspite of the application of capital
punishment as a deterrent is an indicator that we are only tackling a
problem at the level of symptoms than of the root-cause. Killing by the
state sets a bad precedence and promotes mob justice. The modern state is
better placed to curb crime than the old state.
Instead of applying the old mentality "an eye for an eye" we would do well
to invest in internalising the law of love and of social justice. This is
how we shall also prevent mass killings in rebel and terrorist activities.
The innocent Jesus hangs on the cross as both in protest against death
penalty and also in redemption of human life.
Life imprisonment makes more sense. The culprit can repent and even earn a
living for the aggrieved family. Says Bishop David B. Thomson: "Capital
punishment feeds the cycle of violence in society by pandering to a lust
for revenge. It brutalizes us and deadens our sensitivities to the
precious nature of every single human life."
(source: John W. Katende, The Monitor)
NEW ZEALAND: Christian Heritage NZ "Parks" Capital Punishment
Christian Heritage NZ announced today that it was putting to one side its
previous policy of capital punishment for murder. CHNZ leader Ewen McQueen
said the policy was being "parked" because there was not widespread
agreement on the issue within the Christian / family values constituency.
It was also a policy that tended to be controversial, and had the
potential to be a distraction from the key family values issues that the
party wanted to focus on at the next election.
"The new leadership team is not afraid of being controversial. However
capital punishment is not a hill we are willing to die on. We want to
fight for positive policies to affirm marriage, rebuild family life, and
protect the lives of unborn children. Those are the sorts of issues and
policies that are going to unite our core constituency. Those are also the
issues and policies that New Zealand needs to address, rather than having
an unfruitful debate about one particular type of punishment."
The CHNZ leader went on to say that the party still believed the justice
system needed to be tougher and supported longer sentences for violent
crime and progressive sentencing to deter repeat offending. CHNZ also
wanted families of murder victims to be allowed to make personal impact
statements to sentencing judges and to be given direct representation at
Parole Board hearings.
However Mr McQueen said the root of much crime was family breakdown and
there was an urgent need for policies that addressed this issue. He
"The rising numbers of fatherless families in New Zealand over the last 30
years has helped to create a generation of alienated and angry young men.
It has been one of the key drivers of increasing levels of violent crime.
In light of this the best crime prevention programme we can implement is
to take steps to rebuild family life. CHNZ's primary commitment is to
doing just that."
The decision to "park" the capital punishment policy has the strong
support of CHNZ members. Over 80% of those who participated in a recent
membership vote on the issue were in favour of the change. Mr McQueen said
this reflected a genuine desire on the part of the party to avoid
unnecessarily divisive issues, and instead focus on the key pro-marriage
and pro-life areas that would have strong support in the wider Christian
(source: Ewen McQueen, Leader, Christian Heritage NZ / Scoop)
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