[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Feb 15 11:39:34 CST 2005
Activists laud death penalty abolition
Rights activists have welcomed the abolition of capital punishment in
Tajikistan, the 2nd country in the Central Asian region to abolish the
death penalty for all crimes.
"It is a very important event for us because up to recently Tajikistan was
considered one of the countries where capital punishment was used quite
often," Nigina Bakhrieva, a programme coordinator with the National Bureau
of Human Rights and Rule of Law, a local rights group, told IRIN from the
Tajik capital, Dushanbe, on Tuesday.
"It is a very positive development and one can have only a positive
reaction to it," Bakhrieva added. "It was quite a surprise for us when the
moratorium on the death penalty was adopted last year and when parliament
quite speedily abolished the death penalty itself."
Dushanbe declared a moratorium on executions in April 2004.
"Abolition of the death penalty is major progress in the country," Kanat
Khamidova, head of the League of Female Lawyers of Tajikistan, another
anti-death penalty NGO, told IRIN from Dushanbe.
"We welcome the abolition of the death penalty in Tajikistan and we favour
its complete abolition [elsewhere in the world]," Sahiba Shaykenova, an
information analyst with Penal Reform International (PRI), an
international group seeking to achieve penal reform by promoting the
abolition of the death penalty, told IRIN from the Kazakh commercial
Their comments followed Friday's decision by the Tajik parliament to amend
the criminal code of the former Soviet republic and replace the death
penalty with life imprisonment. The amendment must be signed by President
Imomali Rahmonov to become effective.
Dushanbe has drawn international criticism over its death row policy over
the past few years. "From 2000 there was much discussion about Tajikistan
and how big the problem of the death penalty in the country was,"
In July 2004, Tajik legislators approved a draft law, proposed by
Rahmonov, which abolished the death penalty for all women and for males
aged under 18. Also, the number of articles in the criminal code carrying
a possible death sentence was reduced from 15 to 5.
However, the Tajik authorities continued to treat information on death
sentences and executions enacted as a state secret, global rights watchdog
Amnesty International (AI) said in its latest report on the death penalty
in the country, adding that there were no executions in 2004.
According to AI, 162 people have been arrested, convicted and sentenced to
death since 1998, including 14 in the first 3 months of 2003. "10 people
are known to have been pardoned over the past 5 years and 38 executed. AI
believes that in all probability the others are also dead," the watchdog
group said in its 2003 report, conceding, however, that the actual figure
of sentences and executions was likely to be much higher.
Some estimates by local rights groups suggested that there could have been
up to 100 death sentences annually before the moratorium was introduced.
Of the 5 Central Asian nations, only Uzbekistan still retains the death
penalty and reportedly carries out executions. Turkmenistan abolished the
death sentence in 1999, while Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan earlier introduced
a moratorium on executions.
Of the 55 members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE), only Uzbekistan, Belarus and the US continue to carry out
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