[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Aug 18 04:05:35 UTC 2006
Reported Execution of Afghan Prompts UN Envoy to Take Stand
The top United Nations envoy in Afghanistan today condemned the death
penalty as reports emerged that Iranian authorities recently executed an
Afghan national living in Iran.
"My position on the death penalty is clear: in all countries and for all
crimes without exception I stand against it. There can be no room in any
modern society for state executions," said Tom Koenigs, the
Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, in a statement
issued in Kabul.
"The United Nations has always and continues to support the abolition of
the death penalty amongst all member states."
(source: United Nations)
Abolition of the death penalty for some crimes symbolic at best; Press
release FIDH----16 August 2006
FIDH Fact-Finding Mission Reveals the Need for Further Reforms
The Jordanian Government's decision to abolish the death penalty for some
crimes is a positive but insufficient step, the International Federation
for Human Rights (FIDH) said today as it released the preliminary findings
of a fact-finding mission that visited the country last month. Jordanian
Parliament will start deliberations over the proposed amendments during
its extraordinary session which started yesterday.
The team, which comprised three human rights lawyers and advocates from
Egypt, Lebanon and France, visited Amman from 4-12 July and met with
government officials, judges, parliamentarians, lawyers, civil society
organizations, journalists, as well as the National Center for Human
Rights. The team also visited the death warden of the Swaqa prison and
interviewed prisoners who were sentenced to death for criminal or
terror-related offences. FIDH is thankful for the authorities openness and
cooperation during the visit of its delegates.
Following the visit of FIDH's mission the Jordanian Government announced
its intention to refer to Parliament a bill that would replace the death
penalty with life imprisonment for some crimes, including the possession
of weapons and explosives and drug-related offences, while retaining the
death penalty for "the most dangerous crimes". If the death penalty is
retained for these crimes it is unlikely that the number of executions
FIDH opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases, as it contradicts
the notion of human dignity and liberty in its essence. The death penalty
has now proven its utter uselessness as a deterrent. Neither principles
nor utilitarian considerations can justify upholding capital punishment.
In the case of Jordan, FIDH remains concerned that the impact of the
governments decision will remain symbolic at best. According to figures
provided to the fact-finding team by Jordanian officials, 41 persons were
executed in Jordan since the beginning of 2000, all of whom were convicted
for murder, terrorism or sexual assault charges.
FIDH is also concerned that the proposed amendments would leave intact the
exceptional State Security Court (SSC), responsible for issuing the
majority of death sentences in the past 3 years. Despite the fact that its
rulings are subject to review by the Court of Cassation, the SSC includes
military judges and its president is an army officer. Moreover, SSC judges
are appointed by an executive order of the Prime Minister in violation of
the principles of judicial independence and the separation of powers. The
SSC is notorious for its failure to investigate torture allegations and
for admitting "confessions" extracted by torture.
Abolition of the SSC was recommended by the UN Committee Against Torture
back in 1995.
Torture and mistreatment in places of detention in Jordan is another
well-documented concern that adds to the necessity of an absolute
abolition of the death penalty. Following a mission to Jordan last month,
the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture concluded that "there is general
impunity for torture and ill-treatment in Jordan" and that "torture is
systematically practiced at both the [General Intelligence Department] and
the [Criminal Investigation Department]." The Special Rapporteur also
noted that "no functioning complaints mechanism exists to report and seek
effective redress for acts of torture."
Also of concern is the fact that rulings by the Court of Cassation to
uphold death sentences do not require unanimity. The fact-finding team
examined final rulings by the Court of Cassation in which 5 judges on the
same panel upheld the death sentence while the other 4 judges dissented.
According to the Jordanian Government, 29 prisoners are currently awaiting
for their death sentences to be implemented or commuted. All of these
prisoners are men and all of them are held at the Swaqa prison visited by
the fact-finding team. The FIDH team was able to interview some of these
prisoners in private. A consistent complaint concerned the solitary
confinement of all prisoners sentenced to death, a requirement under the
2004 Law on Reform and Rehabilitation Centers (Prisons Law). Prisoners are
only allowed one hour in the sun everyday and have to spend the rest of
their time in small prison cells with extremely poor ventilation under
Of the prisoners interviewed by the team, two had been sentenced to death
after summary proceedings before military courts in 1974 and 1976,
respectively. They have therefore been on death row, anticipating
execution for over 30 years. FIDH urges the Jordanian Government to issue
a moratorium on executions as a step towards the abolition of the death
penalty. The Government must take measures to consolidate judicial
independence, ensure the right to fair trial and abolish all exceptional
courts such as the SSC. Immediate steps must be taken to investigate
torture allegations adequately and prosecute the perpetrators.
The findings of the mission and more detailed recommendations will be
included in a report to be published by FIDH before the end of the year.
HREA - http://www.hrea.org
(source: Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is an international
non-governmental organisation that supports human rights learning; the
training of activists and professionals; the development of educational
materials and programming; and community-building through on-line
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