[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Jun 3 11:00:25 CDT 2005
UN envoy on arbitrary executions to visit Nigeria in June and July
The United Nations expert on summary or arbitrary executions has scheduled
a 13-day fact-finding tour of Nigeria, starting later this month, at the
invitation of the Nigerian Government.
>From 27 June to 9 July, Philip Alston, UN Commission on Human Rights
Special Rapporteur expert dealing with extrajudicial, summary, or
arbitrary executions will visit the capital, Abuja, as well as Kano,
Lagos, Port Harcourt, Yanagoa and Warri.
He will meet Government ministers, senior Government officials and
representatives of the police, the judiciary and the security forces. He
will also talk with private individuals, lawyers and leaders of
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other private organizations.
Mr. Alston is Faculty Director of New York Universitys Center for Human
Rights and Global Justice and chaired the UN Committee on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights from 1991 to 1998.
He is also Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights for
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), targets set in 2000 to address a
spectrum of social and economic ills by 2015.
(source: UN News Centre)
Wife of held HK reporter reveals link with academic
The wife of a Hong Kong-based reporter China has accused of spying said he
had worked with an academic at a government think-tank held on suspicion
of leaking state secrets, but denied her husband had done anything wrong.
The connection was revealed in an open letter to Chinese President and
Communist Party boss Hu Jintao, in which Mary Lau said scholar Lu Jianhua
and her husband, Ching Cheong, were innocent and called for their release.
Lu had often sought Ching's views while researching Hong Kong's political
situation and Taiwan, said Lau's letter, published in several Hong Kong
newspapers on Friday. Ching helped Lu arrange meetings with top government
officials, various politicians and academics.
"Whatever Ching Cheong and Mr Lu Jianhua did, they were resolutely on the
side of Chinese people and they acted for the interests of China," she
Ching, 55, the chief China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times
newspaper, was detained by Chinese security agents in the southern city of
Guangzhou on April 22.
China accused him on Tuesday of spying for unnamed foreign intelligence
agencies, but his wife was adamant he was set up while trying to obtain
sensitive, unpublished interviews with the late Zhao Ziyang, toppled as
Communist Party chief in 1989 for opposing the Tiananmen massacre.
If charged and convicted, Ching could face the death penalty.
Lu, a sociologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the
government's top think-tank, was also taken into custody by security
agents in April on suspicion of leaking state secrets, sources familiar
with the case told Reuters.
Chen Hui, an assistant to the director of the Academy's General Office,
was detained around May, a source said, adding that Chen had had access to
Ching's detention has drawn heavy criticism from the United States and
media groups around the world.
Lau said Beijing's recent moves to reconcile with Taiwan's opposition
parties, culminating in historic visits by 2 key opposition leaders to
mainland China in April and May, were a result of Ching's recommendations.
Beijing regards self-governed Taiwan as a wayward Chinese province to be
brought back to the fold, by force if necessary.
"In order to communicate better, and to secure Ching Cheong's views on
Hong Kong's sovereignty handover and the reunification of China, Mr Lu
Jianhua often related to Ching Cheong the words of Chinese leaders --
including the sayings of yourself and other Chinese leaders," Lau wrote in
her open letter to Hu.
"This should be regarded as a necessity of work, and not the leaking of
secrets," she wrote.
Ching had also helped Lu arrange meetings with top government officials,
various politicians and academics, Lau said.
Hong Kong, a former British colony that reverted to Chinese rule in 1997,
has seen huge pro-democracy demonstrations in recent years.
News of the detentions broke ahead of the sensitive anniversary of June 4,
1989, when Chinese troops crushed pro-democracy protests centerd on
Beijing's Tiananmen Square killing hundreds, perhaps thousands.
5 Indonesians Facing Imminent Execution
The Attorney Generals Office says 5 men convicted of murder could soon be
executed, despite concerns that at least 1 of them was tortured by police
into making a confession.
The 5, all Indonesian citizens, are Sakak bin Jamak (50), Sahran bin Jamak
(52), Sabran bin Jamak (45), Irwan Sadawa Hia (23) and Taroni Hia (26).
Sakak, Sahran and Sabran, all from Riau province in central-eastern
Sumatra, were sentenced to death in May 1995 for the premeditated murder
of a family of 3.
According to London-based human rights group Amnesty International, Sakak,
an illiterate farmer and father of six from South Sulawesi, has claimed
that he is not guilty of the murders, and that his confession was elicited
On one occasion during his interrogation he was reportedly immersed in
water for a period of around 2 hours. He described his treatment to an
"[At the police station] they beat me with sticks and whips to make me
confess. They also burned my feet with matches. I still have the scars.
Eventually, after 10 days, I couldnt take any more and told them I did it.
I was in so much pain and knew I shouldnt have confessed but there was no
alternative. I would have died and as it turns out, I am to be executed
anyway. I should have let the police finish me off. I didnt have a lawyer
in the courts as I didnt have any money and I dont understand things like
In a statement issued last week, Amnesty said Sakak did not have access to
legal representation during the police investigation or prior to his
trial. He was given legal representation by the state only when the trial
started, denying him the right to legal advice during questioning and to
adequately prepare a defense.
In an investigation conducted in September 2000, The National Commission
on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) expressed concern that Sakak was not informed
of his right to appeal the sentence, and there is concern that he may not
have understood his right to do so.
Amnesty said it does not have information on the trials of Sahran and
Irwan and Taroni, who are brothers, were sentenced to death in March 2002
by a court in West Sumatra, for the premeditated murder of three members
of a family in North Sumatra province in December 2001. Their appeals for
clemency were rejected by ex-president Megawati Sukarnoputri on July 9,
According to information from the Attorney Generals Office, the two are to
be executed imminently by firing squad in Jakarta. They reportedly
murdered 3 people after Irwan lost his job at a local hotel and asked
Taroni to help him rob the family of Thamrin, a fish supplier living in
Dayur village in Maninjau, West Sumatra.
Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin is reportedly to issue a
letter authorizing the transfer of the 2 men to Jakarta, for execution by
firing squad. Amnesty said these were the 1st executions to be ordered in
West Sumatra provinces history.
5 Executions Since August 2004
Indonesia has already carried out 2 executions this year, while 3 were
carried out last year.
Astini, a 49-year-old mother of 3 from East Java, was executed on March
20, 2005, for multiple murders and mutilating her victims. She was
sentenced to death in October 1996 after being found guilty of murdering 3
women between August 1993 and January 1996 and of dismembering their
bodies. Her appeal for clemency was rejected by Megawati in July 2004. In
October, the Supreme Court rejected her application for a judicial review.
In a letter sent to the Attorney Generals Office in October, Astinis
lawyers argued that during her time in Malang womens prison, she had
behaved well and participated in rehabilitation programs. The lawyers
noted that the point of Indonesias prison system was to reform prisoners
to become socially functional people. According to the letter, Astinis
value systems have changed significantly during her time in prison. Her
lawyers questioned the purpose of rehabilitation if, after Astini had
become a good person, she was still to be executed.
Astinis son Ty said his mother was genuinely remorseful for her crimes,
which were a consequence of the familys poverty.
Turmudi bin Kasturi (40) from Jambi province in Sumatra was executed on
May 13, 2005, for killing his 16-year-old fiancee and 3 members of her
family. He was sentenced to death in October 1997, 7 months after he
slaughtered his fiancee Suwarni, her mother, elder sister and a 6-year-old
He had reportedly confessed to the murders, saying he was angry with
Suwarni after discovering a letter she had allegedly written to another
Indian national Ayodhya Prasad Chaubey was executed in August 2004, and
Thai nationals Namsong Sirilak and Saelow Prasert were executed in October
2004. All three had sentenced to death in North Sumatra for trafficking
12.29 kilograms if heroin in 1994.
Prior to these executions, there had not been executions in Indonesia
since 2001, and before that there had been no executions in the country
for six years.
At least 62 people are on death row in Indonesia, convicted for offenses
such as murder, drug trafficking and terrorism. Many of those sentenced
for drug offenses are from Africa.
Komnas HAM is opposed to the death penalty, noting that "aside from being
internationally recognized as a human rights violation in itself" the
death penalty administered by a corrupt judiciary is extremely dangerous".
Following his visit to Indonesia in July 2002, the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers expressed concern
regarding corruption within the Indonesian judiciary.
Supreme Court chief justice Bagir Manan in April 2005 proposed that the
death sentence should be changed into a life sentence if a prisoner has
been jailed for more than 5 years.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unreservedly in all cases,
saying every death sentence is an affront to human dignity, every
execution a symptom of a culture of violence, rather than a solution to
it. Today, 120 countries are abolitionist in law or practice, while about
another 80 countries continue to implement the death penalty.
Amnesty says there is no clear evidence that the death penalty acts as a
more effective deterrent against crime than other forms of punishment.
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