[Deathpenalty] death penalty news------worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Aug 23 04:32:38 UTC 2006
Rwanda to Debate Death Penalty
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania
is offering to extradite genocide suspects to Rwanda for trial if the
nation repeals the death penalty; the ICTR will not extradite criminal
suspects to countries where capital punishment exists. Later this week,
the Rwandan parliament will begin debating a draft law, which would
abolish the death penalty.
Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama of Rwanda said the draft law is
being examined by his office before being forwarded to Parliament. He says
that all concerned parties will debate the law.
President Paul Kagame said he will support abolishing the death penalty
for genocide suspects held by the ICTR if the prisoners are transferred to
Rwanda has expressed concern regarding the slow pace of the ICTR in
prosecuting the approximately 100 suspects who masterminded the massacre
of nearly 1 million Rwandans in 1994. Since its inception in 1997, the
Tribunal has convicted 25 leaders of the genocide; it has also acquitted
three people. The ICTR will disband in 2008.
Tharcisse Karugarama spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter
Clottey about his government's efforts to abolish the death penalty.
"The question of the death penalty has been on the drawing board [and] has
been on the debate for a long, long time. The death penalty is provided
for under the laws existing," he said.
"Rwanda is starting a debate on those specific cases. Those being
transferred from Arusha, those being arrested all over the world, if they
come to Rwanda, Rwanda is going to start debating on whether to scrap the
death penalty in terms of the category of those people that has been
transferred to Rwanda. There is a draft legislation proposal that should
be sent to parliament in due course. Soon after that the government [will
have] a final position on the matter," he noted.
He spoke about Rwanda's general consensus on the death penalty.
"The population has been supportive of the death penalty," he said.
"I may have my own feelings, different people have different feelings. But
when the question was put to the population, in a constitution drawn
exercise, the population overwhelmingly supported the retention of the
death penalty...especially after the genocide that took place in the
country. I think people are thinking that it was too soon to scrap the
death penalty in view of the magnitude of the suffering that genocide has
made in the minds and hearts of most of the Rwandan population. So the
debate has been going on; it is still open."
Karugarama says, "With these cases being transferred from Arusha, all
cases of a similar nature of people who have been apprehended beyond the
jurisdiction of the ICTR, if they are transferred to Rwanda, there is a
general feeling that they should be subjected to the kind of sentence that
they would be subjected to, if they are being tried in the country where
they were arrested or if they are being tried by the ICTR. That seems to
be building some consensus."
"The government is taking that step, first of all, in the preparations of
the draft legislation. It will go to the cabinet for the cabinet to
discuss it, and then they will send it to parliament. And that will be a
1st step to even allowing people to debate the death penalty once again.
If you ask me, I think the population once properly guided, once they
understand what is at stake, and why, the population will move along with
logic," he said.
(source: Voice of America News)
Saddam Hussein faces possible death penalty
The ousted Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, went on trial on Monday for a
second time on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war
crimes. According to the prosecution, all the crimes were committed in the
wake of Hussein's 1987-88 alleged crackdown against ethnic Kurds in
The case against Hussein and six co-defendants is centred on the deaths of
some 180,000 Kurds during this offensive, dubbed Operation Anfal (Arabic
for 'spoils of war') by the Iraqi army.
The operation was allegedly aimed at crushing Kurdish militias and
clearing all Kurds from the northern region along the border with Iran.
Hussein had accused the Kurds of helping Iran in its war with Iraq
[September 1980 to August 1988]. Many Kurdish villages were razed to the
ground and countless young men disappeared, according to the prosecution.
"This case is completely different from the previous one in which there
was just one charge: crimes against humanity," said Tarik Harb, a
Baghdad-based legal expert.
"Today [in this trial], there are three charges [against Hussein and his
co-defendants]: genocide, which is defined as crimes against a group of
people for their ethnic, religious or nationality backgrounds; crimes
against humanity, which are the systematic targeting of civilians; and war
crimes, which include all acts that contravene the Geneva Conventions,"
When asked to enter a plea on the three charges, Hussein, who faces a
possible death penalty, replied by saying, "That would require volumes of
books." The judge then ordered a plea of not-guilty to be recorded on his
Other defendants include Ali Hassan al-Majid, Hussein's cousin, who
allegedly led Operation Anfal as secretary of the then ruling Ba'ath
Party's northern bureau. His role earned him the nickname 'Chemical Ali'
because of the use of poisonous gas in the campaign.
Also on trial is Sabir al-Douri, a former director of military
intelligence; Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai, who was head of the Iraqi army's
1st Corps, which was responsible for the Anfal military operation; and
Taher Tawfiq al-Ani, then the Mosul governor.
The two other defendants are Hussein Rashid Mohammed, who was deputy
director of operations for the Iraqi military, and Farhan Mutlaq Saleh,
then head of military intelligence's eastern regional office.
The trial began as Hussein and 6 other co-defendants await verdicts, due
on 16 October, from an earlier trial for their alleged involvement in the
killings of more than 148 Shi'ite Muslims from Dujail, a small village
60km north of Baghdad. This was revenge for an alleged assassination
attempt on Hussein in the town in 1982.
It's not HIM who should be on trial
The trial of Saddam Hussein entered its 2nd phase this week and human
rights activists are very excited.
They are convinced that having Saddam in the dock will set new standards
in international law by showing that dictators can be brought to justice
(with a little help from American bombs).
They are particularly pleased because the trial is now dealing with one of
their causes clbres, the Anfal campaign in 1988, when it is alleged that
Saddam committed the supreme international crime, genocide, by gassing the
Kurds with the help of his cousin, 'Chemical Ali'.
Not everyone shares their enthusiasm. The trial is an increasingly chaotic
and farcical disgrace. Its 1st part, concerning an obscure event in 1982,
dragged on for months though it was supposed to last only a few weeks.
The 'hearings' consisted mainly of televised slanging matches between
Saddam and the judges, in which Saddam shouted that he was still the
president of Iraq and that the Iraqi Special Tribunal was a kangaroo
These exchanges were particularly telling because like Slobodan Milosevic
who died in March during his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal
in The Hague Saddam Hussein has a degree in law (from Cairo University)
and so knows how to argue his case.
Saddam's florid speeches were interrupted only by a string of anonymous
witnesses who came in to denounce their former leader.
On one occasion one of Saddam's co-defendants was told to 'shut up' during
a row with the judge, after which he appeared to fall asleep in the dock.
Saddam himself has been on hunger strike and has alleged that the American
are torturing him.
3 defence lawyers and an investigating judge have been gunned down in the
streets of Baghdad during the hearings. The trial is Alice In Wonderland
and Franz Kafka rolled into one.
The longer this continues, the more Saddam will appear as a martyr bravely
resisting the Americans. The West has got itself into a mess by trying to
preach moral lessons to the Iraqis while running a violent occupation of
The new charge of 'genocide' is especially risky, since the prosecutor
will have to prove that Saddam was trying to exterminate the Kurds as a
racial group: it will not be sufficient to show that he committed
atrocities at the same time as waging war against guerillas who were
fighting for Iran.
Saddam's daughter has already said that her father is fighting like a
lion, and it is likely that many Iraqis will agree: when Milosevic's trial
was shown on Yugoslav television, his opinion poll ratings soared at home.
Saddam's trial is therefore deeply counter-productive and is encouraging
the very violence it seeks to prevent. The more people see it as a
hypocritical attempt by the Americans to produce a moral justification for
their 2003 invasion, the more the insurgency will strengthen.
The U.S. government pretends that the trial is being conducted by an
independent tribunal in an independent state, but in fact the statute of
the tribunal was promulgated in 2003 by the Coalition Provisional
Authority i.e., by the Americans themselves, long before Iraq regained
its so-called 'sovereignty'.
Moreover, the court itself, and the Iraqi government which supposedly runs
it, can only function because they are housed under American protection in
the Green Zone in the middle of Baghdad.
Worse, the tribunal's statute reads like a Bill of Attainder written to
prosecute Saddam. (Bills of Attainder are legislative acts which provide
for the arrest of an individual person.)
According to the great English constitutional lawyer AV Dicey, the most
basic principle of the rule of law is that a defendant can be tried only
by ordinary courts and under the ordinary laws of the land.
This principle is clearly violated by setting up a self-styled 'special'
court whose jurisdiction covers precisely and exclusively the period from
July 17, 1968 to May 1, 2003 when Saddam's Ba'ath party was in power in
Far from allowing the Iraqis to run their own affairs, indeed, the
Americans have carefully covered their own backsides in the trial. Article
14 of the tribunal's statute says that defendants may be prosecuted for
'the use of the armed forces of Iraq against an Arab country'.
This means that Saddam can be tried for invading Kuwait in 1990 the
invasion which led to the first Gulf War in 1991 but not for his war with
Iran, which lasted for ten years and which caused an estimated 1 million
deaths. Iran is not an Arab country it is Persian.
The reason for this restriction is that the Americans supported Iraq's
attack against Iran in 1979 and supplied Saddam with weapons, including
chemical and biological ones, to fight the mullahs.
Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush's Secretary of Defence, made 2 visits to
Baghdad, in 1983 and 1984, as President Reagan's special envoy to the
Middle East, where he was filmed shaking hands with Saddam. If the
Americans had not stitched up Saddam's trial in advance, they would be in
the dock themselves.
Not content with this, the Americans have inserted into the tribunal's
statute a provision (Article 24) which allows the tribunal to apply law
from other parts of the world, and retrospectively, if existing Iraqi law
turns out to be inadequate to convict Saddam.
However, it is contrary to one of the most fundamental principles of the
rule of law to allow a tribunal to cherry-pick laws if those laws were not
on the statute book at the time the alleged acts were committed.
When the time comes for Saddam's conviction and sentence, the dilemma
faced by the occupying authorities will be only greater than it is now.
The Iraqi Special Tribunal can administer the death penalty, but the
prospect that Saddam might be removed from the court room and shot, in the
same way as people were dealt with by Iraqi courts when he was president,
will be too rich an irony for most people.
Of course, Saddam was a violent dictator, but every government in that
region is some sort of dictatorship.
Moreover, the violence inflicted on Iraq by the British and the Americans
in 2003 to overthrow Saddam has been of a similar magnitude to that which
he inflicted on Iraqis to keep his power before then. Many Iraqis will ask
where is the difference.
Ordinary Iraqis have suffered bitterly for the last 3 years. On the 1st
night of bombing alone, in March 2003, the Americans dropped the
equivalent of seven Hiroshima nuclear bombs on Baghdad.
There has been fighting and civil war ever since, and Iraq is now a river
of blood. The torture committed by the Americans in the main Baghdad
prison at Abu Ghraib has come to symbolise the brutality of the whole
Other horrific crimes, such as the recently discovered murder of an Iraqi
family by a team of U.S. soldiers who raped the daughter and then burned
her body with kerosene, have only inflamed the hatred ordinary Iraqis feel
for the Americans.
Under these terrible circumstances, the American pretence to be
administering justice will only enrage and humiliate the people further,
thereby fuelling the insurgency and ensuring that the cycle of revenge
becomes even bloodier than before.
(source: The Daily Mail)
Bali bombers to file final appeal; executions delayed
This week's planned execution of 3 militants convicted over the 2002 Bali
bombings will be delayed as the men will file a final appeal, Indonesias
attorney generals office said yeterday.
Amrozi, Ali Ghufron alias Mukhlas and Imam Samudra were to be shot by
police firing squad today for their key roles in the attacks which killed
202 people and were blamed on the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah
"It is better to delay the execution because we have to respect the legal
rights of the defendants to file a judicial review appeal, and the process
itself is already in motion," attorney generals spokesman I Wayan Pasek
Their lawyer Qadhar Faisal has said that court officials were present at a
meeting with the prisoners last week when they decided to file the appeal,
meaning the procedure was in progress and the execution could not go
The appeal is based on a constitutional court ruling that the anti-terror
laws introduced soon after the bombings and which were used to convict the
three could not be applied retroactively.
The constitutional court ruling was issued in 2004, after their
The men are being held at the island jail of Nusakambangan, off the south
coast of Central Java in Cilacap district.
Faisal said yesterday that the request for the review the trio's last
avenue of appeal would be submitted to the Cilacap district court
Prosecutors had already sent a letter to the families of the convicts
notifying them of the execution date provided they opted to waive their
right to request a case review.
An official with the prosecutors' office on the resort island of Bali
confirmed that the execution had been postponed.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his office would
"wait and see" whether the appeal was truly lodged tomorrow.
More than 30 Indonesians were convicted over the 2002 attacks, which
targeted western holidaymakers and opened a Southeast Asian front in the
so-called "war on terror" by the United States and its allies. It was the
bloodiest attack since September 11, 2001.
None of the 3 death convicts have expressed remorse over the attacks on
nightspots, in which they played crucial roles.
Samudra, 36, attended planning meetings, selected the blast targets in
Bali and assigned tasks to the bombers as part of what he saw as a holy
war against the United States and its allies.
Amrozi, 43, purchased a tonne of explosive chemicals and a van to carry
the bomb which shattered the Sari Club, and attended planning meetings.
(source: The Peninsula)
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