[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Nov 29 14:33:32 CST 2005
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL----Public Statement
AI Index: ACT 50/018/2005 (Public)----29 November 2005
Light a city for life
On 30 November 2005 over 300 cities around the world are celebrating
"Cities for Life -- Cities against the Death Penalty." Amnesty
International welcomes the city of Batumi in Georgia as the first city
from the former Soviet Union to join the network of cities celebrating
this day and to become a City for Life.
Amnesty International calls on the citizens of other cities of the former
Soviet Union region to lobby their city authorities to express their
affirmation of the value of life and their opposition to the death penalty
and announce their city as a "City for Life -- City against the Death
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unreservedly in all cases.
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. The risk of error in
applying the death penalty is inescapable, yet it is irrevocable. For
instance, in the USA many convicted persons were executed while serious
doubt remained concerning their guilt -- to date 122 people have been
released from death rows across the country on grounds of wrongful
Amnesty International recognizes the need to address serious crime all
over the world, including murder. However, the organization is convinced
that the death penalty will not provide a solution. There is no clear
evidence that the death penalty acts as a more effective deterrent against
crime than other forms of punishment.
By illuminating a monument or special building such as the Colosseum in
Rome, Italy and the Moneda Palace in Santiago, Spain, whole cities call
for the universal abolition of the death penalty. In Batumi, the municipal
authorities plan to organize a city march and planting of a tree called
"Tree of Life" in the Ninth of April Garden. Over 300 cities celebrating
the "Cities for Life -- Cities against the Death Penalty" event include 29
capital cities, such as Seul in South Korea, Canberra in Australia,
Ljubljana in Slovenia, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Bogota in Colombia and
Cincinnati, Ohio in the USA. Millions of people, including Nobel Peace
Prize winners and internationally famous figures form a united moral front
to stop all executions worldwide.
"Cities for Life -- Cities against the Death Penalty" is an annual event
organized by the Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio, supported by Amnesty
International and other associate members of the World Coalition Against
the Death Penalty. It was first celebrated on 30 November 2002, on the
anniversary of the first abolition of the death penalty in a European
state, the Great Duchy of Tuscany in 1786.
The trend towards abolition of the death penalty continues in the former
Soviet space. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, all
15 newly independent states retained the death penalty in their
legislation. Since then nine newly formed states have abolished it and 4
have moratoria on death sentences and/or executions in place.
Kyrgyzstan and Kazakstan have maintained moratoria on executions since
December 1998 and December 2003 respectively; and Tajikistans moratorium
on death sentences and executions took effect from April 2004. In the
Russian Federation, in 1999, Constitutional Court ruled that all death
sentences would be unconstitutional until there were jury trials
throughout the Federation, in effect introducing a moratorium on new death
sentences being passed. However, Russia has yet to abolish the death
penalty de jure.
The only two states that still execute people in the region are Belarus
and Uzbekistan. Recently, on 1 August 2005 the President of Uzbekistan
signed a decree stipulating the abolition of the death penalty in
Uzbekistan from 1 January 2008. However, the significance of this move is
undermined by the failure to promptly introduce moratoria on passing new
death sentences and carrying out executions and commuting death sentences
of prisoners currently held on death row.
Amnesty International is concerned that scores of people could be
sentenced to death and executed before the designated date of abolition in
Many of those currently on death row in territories that have moratoria on
executions in place without commuting death sentences and without
introducing moratorium on passing new death sentences (such as Kyrgyzstan
and the self-proclaimed entities of Abkhazia and the Dnestr Moldavian
Republic) may have been waiting years in a state of continued uncertainty
as to their ultimate fate, a situation which Amnesty International
believes to amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Amnesty
International is concerned that the conditions on death row in the region
fall far short of international standards. The organization is also
concerned that many countries in the former Soviet Union have deported
people to countries where they were sentenced to death, often following
alleged torture and unfair trials.
For more information about the international events on this day, please
see website of Community of SantEgidio - http://www.santegidio.org
Amnesty International's report, Uzbekistan: Questions of life and death
cannot wait until 2008 (AI Index: EUR 62/020/2005)
Amnesty International's Public Appeal, Deadly Secrets: a heritage from the
Soviet Union (AI Index: EUR 04/011/2004)
Amnesty International's report, Belarus and Uzbekistan: the last
executioners - The trend towards abolition in the former Soviet space (AI
Index: EUR 04/009/2004)
(source: Amnesty International)
Nguyen lawyer savages death penalty
The lead lawyer for condemned trafficker Van Tuong Nguyen today stepped up
the pressure for the Melbourne man to be allowed to hug his mother before
his Friday execution in Singapore.
Lex Lasry QC also launched a blistering attack on city-state's use of the
mandatory death penalty regime as he arrived for a final meeting with
"It shouldn't require a legal loophole for Nguyen to allowed to touch his
mother before he goes to the gallows," Mr Lasry said after flying in at
10.30pm local time, (1am AEDT).
"It should simply be a matter of ordinary humanity that Singapore
authorities surely must see that they have to be allowed to touch each
other," he said.
Mr Lasry was speaking at Changi Airport, the same hub where Nguyen was
arrested in December 2002 carrying almost 400 grams of heroin.
After all appeals for clemency from Canberra have failed, Nguyen faces the
gallows at dawn on Friday.
Nguyen, 25, has received a stream of visitors from close family and
friends over the past 2 weeks.
Those visits will continue today and tomorrow.
But the condemned man and his mother Kim Nguyen and others have been
separated by a thick pane of glass in the visiting room, allowing no
There has been no word yet from the Singapore authorities whether the
restriction will be relaxed in the remaining time before the dawn hanging
The Australian Government has through the Singapore High Commission made
an urgent formal request for what is known as a contact visit.
No response has yet been received.
For supporters of clemency for Nguyen, the issue of whether he is allowed
to touch his mother before he is put to death has been an extra reason for
"It's an inhumane thing to bar contact," Mr Lasry said.
In stark and forceful language, Mr Lasry also bitterly criticised
Singapore's use of the mandatory death penalty, suggesting that it would
stir controversy beyond Nguyen's death.
"It's time (for Singapore) to change. You can't hang people under a
mandatory death regime," Mr Lasry said.
"Singapore is going to have to change this regime. It simply is not
acceptable for a first-world country," he said.
"This argument will not end with our client's death, if that is what
happens," he said.
And in comments that could rile the Singapore authorities, the QC said:
"It is not easy for disagreement to occur in this country."
"What dissent on capital punishment there is locally doesn't get a lot of
publicity," Mr Lasry said.
Singapore's main print and broadcast media is firmly tied to the ruling
People's Action Party government, which has run the country for 40 years.
The local media is not free in the mainstream western sense, but supports
what officials call nation-building.
While there have been immense media interest in Australia in Nguyen's
fate, local papers here have been restrained in their coverage.
Some reports have been either late or extremely cursory.
As the furore over Nguyen's imminent hanging has mounted, Singapore
ministers have stuck to the line that Nguyen's punishment fits his crime.
They also argue that the use of mandatory capital punishment helps to keep
illegal drugs out of the country.
Mr Lasry held out little hope for his client, who appears to have
reconciled himself to his imminent death.
"It's got to be something out of the box, for sure," Mr Lasry said, when
asked if it would take a miracle to save Nguyen now.
Mr Lasry is expected to visit Changi Prison later today although he said
that his appointment had not yet been confirmed.
One of Nguyen's friends who visited yesterday, Kelly Ng, said he was in
good spirits and has even made plans for his funeral, in part to save his
friends the trouble.
"He just mentioned the songs he wants played (at the funeral)," said Ms
Singapore hangman Darshan Singh suggested Nguyen could still be spared.
"Maybe they may say at the eleventh hour ... they may give him a life
sentence; it's still possible," the 74-year-old said.
Mr Singh has carried out hundreds of executions in a career spanning 48
years and said if he was called on to hang Nguyen, he would be efficient.
A Sikh who converted to Islam, Mr Singh said execution was a means of
"I'm changing their character to a different one because I believe in
rebirth and they will be better men next time."
Death penalty: Govt rejects President's suggestion
The government has virtually rejected President APJ Abdul Kalam's
suggestion for a comprehensive review of the death penalty.
The government has made it clear that there is no proposal to amend the
comprehensive policy on the issue.
This was clarified in a written answer to a question in Parliament on
The President wanted a review and a discussion in Parliament, suggesting
that this should be abolished altogether.
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