[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Nov 30 23:59:28 CST 2005
Palestinian Authority: Amnesty International calls for halt to death
penalty as 4 executed in Gaza
As the Palestinian Authority (PA) carried out its 1st executions since
August 2002, Amnesty International today condemned the use of the death
penalty by the PA, saying that it will in no way solve the problem of
increasing crime and lawlessness in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
and represents a step backwards for human rights in the Palestinian
"The PA has the right and responsibility to bring to justice those
suspected of criminal offences, but the death penalty is no solution,"
said Abdelsalam Sidahmed, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East
Program. "There is no evidence to suggest that it effectively deters crime
-- rather, it simply brutalizes society, causes anguish for the relatives
of those who are executed, and reinforces a cycle of violence."
4 men were executed yesterday, 3 by hanging and 1 by firing squad. Three
-- Wa'el Sha'ban al-Shoubaki, Salah Khalil Musallam, and 'Oda Muhammad Abu
'Azab -- were sentenced to death for murder in 1995 and 1996. The fourth,
Muhammad Daoud al-Khawaja, was convicted of murder in 2000 after a trial
before the notoriously unfair State Security Court, which has since been
PA President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly ordered the resumption of executions
as a response to increased crime and lawlessness in areas of the Occupied
Territories which fall under PA jurisdiction.
"To suggest that executions are a solution to increased lawlessness is a
dangerous misconception," said Abdelsalam Sidahmed. "In order to fight
crime effectively the PA must take concrete measures to ensure that its
institutions, notably the security forces and the justice system, attain
the requisite levels of competence and independence so that there is no
need to resort to such a cruel and inhuman punishment, which constitutes
the ultimate violation of the right to life."
Amnesty International called on President Abbas to impose a moratorium on
executions. All prisoners sentenced to death by the State Security Court
or by other courts in unfair trials should receive new trials that conform
to international standards.
Since the establishment of the PA in 1994, Amnesty International has
frequently expressed concern about trial proceedings that did not comply
with international fair trial standards, arbitrary detentions and torture
by PA security forces, and other abuses. The PA has also systematically
afforded impunity to those responsible for killing Palestinians accused of
collaborating with both Israeli intelligence services and security forces
to assassinate other Palestinians.
"There is much that the PA can and should do to establish the rule of law
and to end impunity for those responsible for killings and other abuses.
Executions, including of people who were not granted a fair trial, is not
the answer," said Abdelsalam Sidahmed.
(source: Amnesty International-Ireland)
Court overturns death sentence in insurance murder
The Akita High Court on Tuesday sentenced a man to life in prison for
killing his wife and her mother to obtain insurance money, overturning a
lower court's death sentence on the grounds that the crime had not been a
carefully worked out plan.
Toshio Hosoya, 67, drove his car into the sea in Konoura, Akita Prefecture
on Oct 13, 2002, drowning his wife Kazumi, 59, and her mother Haruko, 84,
who were in the back seat. He escaped from the submerged car. He killed
the two in order to repay some 18 million yen in debt to a consumer loan
firm by obtaining life insurance money, it said.
(source: Kyodo News)
Australia divided over death penalty----Amnesty International says Nguyen
should be spared
The looming execution of a young Australian drug smuggler in Singapore on
Friday appears to have polarised Australians, many of whom still support
Those pleading for clemency for 25-year-old Nguyen Tuong Van planned to
hold a mass and prayer vigil in Sydney's St Mary's Catholic Cathedral on
Nguyen is scheduled to be hanged on Friday after he was caught with 396g
of heroin - enough for 26,000 doses, officials say - strapped to his back
at Singapore's Changi Airport.
Father John Usher, the chancellor of the Sydney Archdiocese, said: "Two
wrongs don't make a right. Taking a human life is not a way of solving a
The powerful Australian Transport Workers Union, which represents airport
refuellers and baggage handlers, is threatening to boycott Singapore
Airlines if the execution is not cancelled.
A petition for clemency with more than 50,000 signatures was to be
presented to the Singaporean High Commission on Wednesday in Canberra,
where a 3000-candle night vigil was planned.
Australia's Greens party has called for a minute's silence at 9am Sydney
time on Friday, (2200 GMT Thursday), the time when Nguyen is to be hanged
in Singapore's Changi Prison.
Supporting death penalty
But while Australia outlawed the death penalty decades ago, opinion polls
indicate that many people still support capital punishment.
A headline of a letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday
read: "Friday is the time to remember heroin's victims."
G Ward wrote in the letter: "My heart goes out to Nguyen's parents ... But
get real Australia. This man, like all drug dealers, was prepared to trade
the lives and future of a thousand of our children for a few miserable
A cartoon in Sydney's Daily Telegraph on Wednesday depicted a heroin
addict, on the street in front of scores of needles, saying "What a shame
he's being executed".
The Daily Telegraph said in an editorial on Wednesday that "the suggestion
that the nation should observe a minute's silence is both morbid and
offensive", while South Australian state premier Mike Rann said a minute's
silence would be offensive to war veterans.
"People know what the laws are [in Singapore] and they take the risks,
they choose to play a form of Russian roulette," Rann said.
Opinion polls have shown Australians do not support boycotts against
Singapore to protest over Nguyen's execution or possible government court
action to fight for his life.
Singapore practises "long-drop hanging", an execution method inherited
from British colonial days.
Convicts drop several feet and die when the spinal cord snaps, instead of
by asphyxiation as is the case with "short-drop hanging".
Cities light up monuments against death penalty
Over 380 towns around the world joined forces on Wednesday to condemn the
death penalty, as the United States prepared to carry out its 1,000th
execution since reinstating capital punishment 30 years ago.
Rome's Colosseum, Brussels' Atomium, Madrid's Santa Ana Square, Buenos
Aires' Obelisk and the Moneda Palace in Santiago were being lit up as part
of the "Cities for Life" initiative, according to the organizer, the
Catholic Sant' Egidio Community in Rome.
Many of the other towns and cities that have signed up to the initiative
-- around half of them in Italy -- were hosting vigils or rallies to mark
"Capital punishment supports a culture of death instead of fighting it,
and puts the state on the same level as those who kill," said Sant'Egidio
spokesman Mario Marazziti.
The date of November 30 was chosen to commemorate the abolition of the
death penalty in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1786.
This year it looked set to coincide with the scheduled execution in
Virginia of Robin Lovitt, who would have been the 1,000th person put to
death in the United States since 1976.
The execution was stopped by Virginia's governor because DNA evidence in
Lovitt's trial had been illegally destroyed -- but the milestone is almost
certain to be reached on Friday, when 2 other death row inmates are
scheduled to be executed.
"This is not a record that we are proud of. It's an 'eye for an eye' kind
of mentality," said Dave Atwood of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty, in Rome.
About 100 people demonstrated outside the U.S. embassy in the Italian
capital on Wednesday, holding candles and anti-death penalty banners.
Opponents say that support for capital punishment is weakening around the
world. According to Amnesty International, 5 countries abolished the death
penalty last year, bringing the total to 120.
Even so, the death penalty ended more lives in 2004 than at nearly any
time in the last 25 years, Amnesty said.
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