[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Oct 19 00:43:19 CDT 2005
Stop stoning Soghra in Iran
An Iranian woman named only as Soghra has been sentenced to death by
stoning for adultery, local media reported on Saturday 15 October 2005.
Soghra was found guilty of having an affair with her husband's friend, the
Etemad daily reported. She was also given a separate 15-year jail sentence
for helping her lover kill her husband. While, her lover Alireza was
sentenced to death for the murder and to 100 lashes for adultery.
The International Committee against Stoning strongly condemns stoning and
protests against the execution. In the past, through our intensive work
and international support we have managed to stop stoning in Iran and
Nigeria. Iran has met international criticism for handing out stoning
sentences for adultery. We can do it again.
We have organized an international campaign to disclose such barbarity and
crime against women and put an end to stoning. We urge you all to join us
in our efforts to defend Human rights and save women's lives.
Stoning is execution by torture, an act of sheer barbarism and a hideous
crime against humanity. Stoning is practiced by Islamic governments and
groups imposing the Islamic Sharia law.
Such savagery and barbarism must not be tolerated. Stopping stoning must
be a priority for all humanitarian organizations and individuals
throughout the world. We must put an end to this barbaric act once and
We urge the United Nations, European Union, and other international bodies
to take strong actions against Islamic Republic of Iran for inhumane and
illegal treatment of the Iranian.We demand that:
Immediate abolition of stoning and all other forms of punishment for
extra-marital relations and all other Shari'ah laws.
Immediate release of Soghra and all those imprisoned for extra-marital
We support the efforts of the International Committee against Stoning and
the Organization for Women's Liberation for ending stoning in Iran. We
call upon all to do the same.
For more Information please contact to Farshad Hoseini at 0031613940534 or
farshadhoseini at yahoo.com or Mina Ahadi at MinaAhadi at aol.com
1. sign this petition against stoning of Soghra in Iran:
2. Write to the Iranian President Mohmoud Ahmadi nejad demanding:
* Immediate abolition of stoning and all other forms of punishment for
extra-marital relations and all other Sharia laws;
* Immediate release of Soghra and all those imprisoned for extra-marital
Email: ahmadinejad at president.ir
Fax: 0098 21 649 5880
Please send your letters to us:
Mina Ahadi Email: minaahadi at aol.com
Farshad Hoseini: farshadhoseini at yahoo.com
International Committee against Stoning
17 October 2005
Iran sentences woman to execution
An Iranian woman was sentenced to execution in the Iranian capital on
Monday, a state-run daily reported on Tuesday.
The woman, only identified by her first name Raheleh, was found guilty of
murdering her husband, whom she had accused of having an affair with a
younger woman, the daily Javan wrote.
Raheleh had said that she was threatened by her abusive husband each time
she asked him to end his affair. She said that she had never meant to kill
her husband, but just "teach him a lesson."
Hojjatoleslam Kouh Kamarei, the Islamic cleric who presided over the case,
sentenced Raheleh to execution on Monday.
Iran has stepped up execution sentences for women since the rise to power
of hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
(source: Iran Focus)
Kalam's move boosts campaign against death penalty
President A P J Abdul Kalam's direction to review the cases of some people
on death row might have left the government in a dilemma, but it appears
to have given a new momentum to the campaign against the death penalty.
Advising the government to consider pardon for 20 of the 55 individuals on
death row who have sought presidential clemency, Kalam has reportedly
suggested new benchmarks for reviewing death row cases.
Bikramjit Batra of the People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), the
NGO that has been leading a campaign against capital punishment, said
Kalam's intervention had given a fillip to the movement to abolish the
"We are happy that our campaign has got support from a person like the
president. It has definitely give new life to our campaign against the
death penalty," Batra told IANS.
Voluntary organisations that have been campaigning against the death
sentence have pointed out that there are only 78 countries, including
India, which have retained the death sentence after 2004.
Kalam is said to have asked the government to consider the nature of the
crime and a convict's age, health and family ties apart from his or her
behaviour in prison while reviewing death row cases.
Officials in the home ministry confirmed that a file rejecting pardon for
20 convicts, whom Kalam had found fit for forgiveness, had been returned
by the president to the ministry with the advice to reconsider the
"The file is with the judicial cell and no decision has yet been taken on
it," said a source in the home ministry.
Officials said it was "almost impossible" for the government to provide
pardon to the 20 people, whom courts had found guilty and convicted. "We
have to consider a lot of issues before taking any decision on clemency,"
said an official.
"A decision might demoralise the investigation officers, who struggled to
punish the guilty, and its social impact also cannot be ignored. We cannot
simply go by emotions in this issue," the official remarked.
He pointed out a similar kind of uncertainty had been there in the case of
Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who was hanged in August last year for raping and
murdering a teenager in Kolkata.
"We were under pressure from civil organisations across the world to
pardon him. Besides the president also wanted to pardon him as he
(Chatterjee) was young and he had a family to support," the official said.
However, the Congress-led government and the home ministry insisted that
Chatterjee be given "due punishment".
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were over 1,140
convicts on death row in Indian prisons till 2003. They included those
convicted by high courts.
Among them, 50 approached Rashtrapati Bhavan for presidential pardon.
The Rome statute, adopted by 120 nations for creating the International
Criminal Court, rejects the death penalty. Till June last year, 118
countries had abolished the death penalty.
"However, the number of countries which actually execute prisoners are
much smaller in number," said Sanjeev Poojary, a member of the national
executive committee of Amnesty International.
Amnesty International Opposes Saddam Husseins Death Penalty
London. The organization for protection of human rights Amnesty
International announced that it planned to send three of its delegates to
attend the case against former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, which
starts tomorrow, AFP reported. Amnesty International stated that it
opposed the death penalty if Saddam Hussein gets convicted.
"The organization is worried of the possibility that Saddam Hussein and
his associates be convicted on the basis of international standards of
fair trial," an official statement of Amnesty International read. Justice
is particularly important in this trial because it could become an example
for future cases against people, accused of mass violation of human
rights, the statement added.
For more than 30 years, Amnesty International have documented many
instances of human rights violations in Iraq and it has called for actions
of the International community on a numerous of occasions. (source: Focus
Worldwide drive to ban death penalty making headway
The drive to abolish the death penalty is making slow but steady progress
around the world even though executions are still carried out in many
major countries, including China, according to a report released here
Tuesday. Last month, Liberia became the 139th country to decide, through
legislation, to abolish the death penalty, according to the study by the
non-governmental organization "Hands off Cain", which champions abolition.
Of those 139 countries, 88 -- including Liberia -- have totally banned
capital punishment; 10 have done so for ordinary crimes; one -- Russia --
has pledged to do so as a member of the Council of Europe; 5 are observing
a moratorium; and 35 are considered de-facto abolitionists since they have
not carried out any executions for at least 10 years.
57 countries retained the death penalty, down from 61 in 2003 and 64 in
Among the 57 countries that have the death penalty in their legal
arsenals, only 25 conducted executions in 2004, compared with 30 in 2003
and 34 in 2002.
As a result, the number of executions dropped to 5,523 last year from
5,607 the previous year.
Asia is responsible for most of the executions, with a total estimated at
5,450 in 2004. China leads with at least 5,000 (90.5 % of the world's
total), followed by Iran with 197, and Vietnam with at least 82, the
The Americas would be virtually death penalty-free were it not for the 59
people put to death in the United States, the only country in the western
hemisphere to execute anyone in 2004.
And even in the United States, the 2004 figure was down compared with the
65 executed in 2003 and 71 in 2002.
Africa also showed a decline last year, with at least 9 executions -- in
only 3 countries, Egypt, Sudan and Somalia -- down from 56 in 2003 and 63
Europe was virtually a death penalty-free zone except for Belarus, where 5
people were put to death last year, according to the study.
(source: Agence France Presse)
Legal Challenges to the Death Penalty in Africa
The question of whether the state can kill has since time immemorial been
debated upon by various scholars from both Legal and moral perspectives.
This debate has never been laid to rest as the forces contending against
each other (Human rights activists on the one hand and State Governments
on the other) are very strong and powerful.
The death penalty is a debate of great controversy.
The death penalty has been accepted for murder and other serious crimes
since the dawn of human civilization. It came to America with the first
settlers and is identified in the Fifth Amendment of the United States
At one time the death penalty was used in almost every part of the globe,
but over the last few decades many countries have abolished it.
Eighty-three (83) countries still maintained the death penalty in both law
and practice, seventy -seven (77) countries have abolished it completely,
fifteen (15) retained it but only for crimes committed in exceptional
circumstances (such as crimes committed in times of war) twenty (20) other
countries maintain laws permitting the use of death penalty for ordinary
crimes, but have allowed the death penalty to fall into disuse.
The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
It violates the right to life. It is irrevocable and can inflicted on the
innocent and it has never been showed to deter crime more effectively than
A number of international protocols and covenants have called for the
abolition of the death penalty: 1. The second optional protocol to the
international covenant on civil and political rights aiming at the
abolition of the death penalty provides for the total abolition of the
death penalty, but permit states to retain the death penalty in war time
as an exception.
2. The protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to abolish the
death penalty provides for the total abolition of the death penalty but
permit states to retain death penalty in war time as an exception.
3. Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human
Rights and fundamental freedoms concerning the abolition of death penalty
provides for the abolition of death penalty in peacetime.
A number of other convention and covenants has prohibited capital
punishments for offences committed by persons under the age of 18.
1. Article 6 of the international Covenants of Civil and political rights
provides that sentence of death shall not be impose for crimes committed
by persons below 18 years of age, and shall not be carried out on pregnant
2. Article 37 of the convention of the rights of the Child provides that,
child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment of punishment, neither capital punishment nor life imprison
without possibility of release shall be impose for offenses committed by
persons below 18 years of age.
3. Article 4 of the American convention on human rights provides that,
capital punishment shall not be impose upon persons who at the time a the
crime was committed were under 18 years of age or over 70 years of age,
nor shall it be applied to pregnant women.
The death penalty is not an effective deterrent because all judicial
systems make mistakes and because it is an irrevocable nature, the death
penalty kills innocent individuals who are wrongly convicted.
It brutalize society and breeds contempt for human life.
THE DEATH PENALTY IN SOUTH AFRICA- THE CASE OF STATE V MAKWANYANE AND
MCHUNU Eminent Courts around the world have reached divergent decision on
the compatibility of capital punishment with constitutionally guaranteed
rights particularly in regard to the provision proscribing cruel and
unusual punishment found in them. In McCleskey v Kemp 1987), the United
States Supreme Court by a single vote rejected McCleskey claim that the
state of Georgia's sentencing process with respect to capital punishment
involved a racial bias not withstanding that black defendants such as
McCleskey have the greatest likely of receiving the death penalty. The
Court held that the statistical probabilities were insufficient to prove
racial discrimination, and that the legislature rather than the courts was
the more appropriate branch of government for determining such policies.
As a consequence, the moratorium on the implementation of capital
punishment, which had ensued after Furman v Georgia, came to an end.
THE MAKWANYANE JUDGEMENT In 1995 the Constitutional Court of South Africa
outlawed the Death Penalty in the Oft-quoted case of Makwanyane V Mchunu .
the Court conceded that the constitution does not outlaw capital
punishment per se. it however reasoned that the death penalty is
inconsistent with one of the constitution most sacrosanct provision- the
right to life.
And that it is undoubtedly inhuman and degrading punishment.
It proceeded and stated that the constitutionally of capital punished is
not a matter for refrendum borrowing from Justice Jackson in the
celebrated case of West Virginia state Board of Education v Barnette, the
Constitutional Court stated " the Very purpose of the Bill of Rights was
to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political
controversy and to place them beyond the reach of majorities.
The fact of the case are quit clear and not in dispute . The two accused
in this matter were convicted in the Witwatersrand Local Division of the
Supreme Court on fourt counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and
one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances. They were sentenced
to death on each of the counts of murder and to long terms of imprisonment
on the other counts. They appealed to the Appellate Division of the
Supreme Court against the convictions and sentences. The Appellate
Division dismissed the appeals against the convictions and came to the
conclusion that the circumstances of the murders were such that the
accused should receive the heaviest sentence permissible according to law.
Section 27 (1) (a of the Criminal Procedure Act. No.
51 of 1977 prescribes that the death penalty is a competent sentence for
murder. Counsel for the accused was invited by the Appellate Division to
consider whether this provision was consistent with the Republic of South
Africa's Constitution, 1993, which had come into force subsequent to the
conviction and sentence by the trial court. He argued that it was not,
contending that it was in conflict with the provisions of sections 9 and
11 (2) of the Constitution.
The Appellate Division dismissed the appeals against the sentences on the
counts of attempted murder and robbery, but postponed the further hearing
of the appeals against the death sentence until the constitutional issues
are decided by the Constitutional Court: see: Chapter 3 of the 1993
Constitution of South Africa sets out the fundamental rights to which
every persons in entitled under the Constitution and also contains
provisions dealing with the way in which the chapter is to be interpreted
in court, it does not deal specifically with the death penalty, but in
section 11 (2) it prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
The President of the Constitutional Court, Justice Chaskalson held that
the provision of section 277 (1) (a) of the Criminal procedure Act which
sanctioned capital punishment were in consistence with the prohibition of
cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment contained in section 11 (2) of the
Furthermore the Court held that the state had failed to discharged the
onus placed on it by the limitation clause, encapsulated in section 33 of
the interim constitution that the death penalty would be materially more
effective to deter or prevent murder than the alternative sentence of life
imprisonment would be, thereby justifying the state's taking life. It was
also held by the court that retribution smacks too much of vengeance to be
a justification for taking life in an enlightened constitutional
democracy, established by the interim constitution.
Chaskalson stated that for the purposes of this judgment, it was
unnecessary to decide whether section 27 (1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure
Act was inconsistent with section 8 (equality), 9 (life), or a (human
dignity) of the interim constitution, whereas all the other 10 judges of
the constitutional court concurred with the judgment of Chaskalson P there
is nevertheless a measure of divergence of opinion as to which fundamental
rights where indeed violated.
Certain judges held that in addition, the right to life was violated while
others included the violations of the right to dignity in their judgment.
Mohamed J and Akermann J went further in their analysis and assessment.
The further was of the opinion that in addition, capital punishment
violated the right to equality.
Ackermann J found that the fight to life of necessity includes the right
not to be put to death by the state in a way, which is arbitrary and
unequal. This sentiment was further developed by Chaskalson P who
commented that it can not be gainsaid that poverty, race and chance play
roles in outcome of capital cases in the final decision as to who should
live and who should die. If this indeed the case, it is serious violation
of the right to equality encapsulated in section 9 of the 1996
THE DEATH PENALTY IN SIERRA LEONE In Sierra Leone at the moment we have
the Domestic courts and the Special Court for Sierra Leone both dispensing
justice. The 2 courts have different policies with regards to the
imposition of the death for offences committed within the territory of
The Domestic Court applies the Death Penalty whereas the Special Court
does not. Within the domestic court, the death penalty is handed down on
persons convicted of treason, murder and armed robbery.
Similar to section 11 (2) of the 1993 Constitution of South Africa,
section 21 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone prohibits cruel,
inhuman and degrading punishment.
Article 19 of the Agreement between the United Nation and the Government
of Sierra Leone on the establishment of the Special Court of Sierra Leone,
provides for the imposition of terms of imprisonment as opposed to the
Death Penalty as punishment for the conviction of an office.
Thus while the bad boys convicted by the Special Court will be sentenced
to terms of imprisonment, the not so bad boys convicted by our national
courts for similar offences shall face the death penalty. I see a breach
of the fundamental right to equality here.
In the same jurisdiction, the same crime (murder for example) carries
different penalties. I therefore suggest that we bring a constitutional
test case before the Supreme Court arguing that the death penalty is
unconstitutional since it violates the prohibition of cruel, inhuman and
degrading punishment in Section 21 (a) of the 1991 Constitution Recently,
the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established by the Government of
Sierra Leone has recommended the abolition of the Death Penalty, in its
report submitted to the Government.
THE WAY FORWARD Like in South Africa the Death Penalty in Sierra Leone can
be abolished by Legal means. A test case should be brought before the
Supreme Court of Sierra Leone alleging that the death penalty is
unconstitutional. Alternatively the Government should abide by the
recommendation of the Truth Commission and abolish the Death Penalty.
Melron C. Nicol Wilson is the Director of the Lawyers Centre for Legal
(source: The Concord Times (Sierra Leone) )
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