[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Mar 25 02:20:40 EST 2006
China Executes Woman for Trafficking 31 Baby Boys
A Chinese woman was executed on Friday for trafficking 31 children, the
Supreme Court said, after another two men were sentenced to death earlier
this week for kidnapping and selling baby boys.
The sale of children and women is rampant in China, where a stringent "1
child" policy has bolstered a traditional bias for male offspring.
Lin Yudi, 49, was executed by gunshot in the southeastern province of
Fujian after the provincial high court rejected her appeal, the Supreme
Court Web site (www.chinacourt.org) said.
Lin was part of a 5-member gang involved in trafficking 31 baby boys, one
of whom died in the gang's custody, it said.
The boys were bought in the southwestern, border province of Yunnan.
On Monday, a Yunnan court sentenced Pan Mingquan and Wu Daping to death
for kidnapping and selling 12 boys aged 2 to 3 in the province between
2004 and 2005, the court said.
Another 6 members from Wu's family, who bought the children from Pan at
4,260 yuan ($530) each and sold them to couples in north China, received
jail terms from 4 years to life, the court said.
China has resorted to harsh punishment to try to deter human trafficking
of which the U.N. Children's Fund says 250,000 Chinese women and children
were victims in 2003.
Kabul Judge Rejects Calls to End Trial of Christian Convert
The judge presiding over the prosecution of an Afghan man facing death for
converting from Islam to Christianity said Thursday that he would resist
any interference, despite mounting international condemnation.
A day after President Bush mentioned the case, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice called President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan to discuss
it "in the strongest possible terms," said the State Department spokesman,
"She called specifically on this topic," Mr. McCormack said, "and she
urged President Karzai's government to seek a favorable resolution to this
case at the earliest possible moment."
But Ansarullah Maulavi Zada, the judge who heads the public security
tribunal in Kabul, said, "There is no direct pressure on our court so far,
but if it happens we will consider it interference."
He added that he expected to rule in the case in the next several days.
The case involves Abdul Rahman, 41, whose family opposed his attempt to
regain custody of his two daughters and apparently told authorities last
month that he had converted about 15 years ago. The resulting furor has
exposed the unresolved tensions in the Bush administration's effort to
meld democracy and conservative Islam in Afghanistan.
It also threatens to become a political liability for both the American
and Afghan presidents.
For Mr. Bush, who finds support for his war effort in Iraq waning, the
case could further alienate his political base among those in the
Christian right, who have already accused the administration of putting
too little pressure on Afghan officials.
For Mr. Karzai, the case traps him squarely between his Western backers
and Afghanistan's conservative religious council, the Ulema, an important
source of domestic support.
"The international community is saying you must stop this," said Barnett
R. Rubin, a New York University professor and expert on Afghanistan. "The
Ulema is saying, 'Are you an Islamic ruler?'"
The case illustrates a central contradiction of the compromise
Constitution that Afghanistan adopted in 2004, which has been cited as an
example for other Islamic countries. One passage declares Islam
Afghanistan's supreme law, while another states that the country grants
its citizens religious freedom.
In an intentional effort to avoid a standoff, the Constitution leaves
certain crimes to be handled by religious judges, according to J.
Alexander Thier of the Hoover Institution, who was an adviser on the
Constitution. One such crime is converting from Islam to another religion.
Under conservative interpretations, a convert can be sentenced to death.
Many moderate Muslims reject that interpretation as too severe.
Afghanistan's laws are silent on the matter, and the country's criminal
code does not specifically declare converting from Islam to Christianity a
After meeting with Afghanistan's foreign minister, Abdullah, earlier this
week, Ms. Rice called the minister into a second meeting on Thursday,
according to Mr. McCormack, the department spokesman. In a 15-minute
meeting, she told Mr. Abdullah (who uses only one name) that the
prosecution was "contrary to universal democratic values," which include
freedom of religion, Mr. McCormack said.
The same message came from the White House, where President Bush's chief
spokesman, Scott McClellan, said the case "clearly violates the universal
freedoms that democracies around the world hold dear."
"And we are watching it very closely," he added.
On Wednesday, President Bush said Washington expected Afghan officials to
"honor the universal principle of freedom." Germany, Italy, Canada and
other countries that have deployed troops in Afghanistan have also issued
statements of concern.
To Afghan prosecutors, the case appears equally clear cut. One described
Mr. Rahman as a "microbe," said conversion is illegal under Islamic law,
and requested the death penalty.
Mr. Rubin, of N.Y.U., said he believed most Afghans did not support
putting Mr. Rahman to death.
A friend of Mr. Rahman, who did not want his name published, could only
speculate on why Mr. Rahman had converted. The 2 men worked together at a
government radio station during the war against the Moscow-backed
Communist government in Afghanistan in the 1990's.
"Abdul Rahman was living in neighboring Pakistan when Afghanistan was
governed by a Communist regime," the friend said. "He was working for a
foreign aid organization and converted to Christianity in Pakistan, and
over this issue his wife got divorced, as she was not happy to follow her
Mr. Rahman recently returned to Afghanistan after failing to gain asylum
in Belgium, the friend said. He is a poorly educated laborer, and
questions have been raised about his mental competency.
In images broadcast on Afghan television, Mr. Rahman told reporters: "I am
not an infidel. I am Christian. I believe in Jesus." Islam considers Jesus
one in a line of prophets culminating in Muhammad.
Mr. Rahman's case is only the most prominent of recent years to show how
religious conservatives try to exert their influence through Afghanistan's
decrepit and corrupt judicial system. Conservative judges, who dominate
many courts, have threatened to close Afghan television stations that
broadcast material they deemed indecent and have charged journalists with
publishing material they declared blasphemous.
This week, Mr. Karzai introduced a new slate of ministers and Supreme
Court justices, a step intended to produce a more effective government and
less conservative judiciary. The nominations require approval by
Parliament, the first in 30 years.
Critics of Mr. Karzai have long accused him of appeasing religious
conservatives and warlords. In the past, he has defused clashes with
conservative judges by failing to implement their rulings or striking
closed-door compromises with them.
But Mr. Rahman's case has attracted far more attention, and comes at a
time when Afghans have grown increasingly critical of the international
presence in their country, which they say has brought too few benefits and
spawned enormous corruption.
"The people feel that they are so weak that they need all these foreigners
there," Mr. Rubin said. "They hope they will help them, but they are
establishing brothels in Kabul, they are drinking."
In the United States this week, Christian talk shows and advocacy groups
rallied their supporters, who flooded the White House and the Afghanistan
Embassy with complaints.
At the State Department briefing, Mr. McCormack denied that the
administration had been slow to respond to the Rahman case. As soon as the
department learned about it, "we stated our concerns immediately with the
foreign minister," he said. "After our initial conversation with the
Afghan government, we thought it was important that we spoke in the
strongest possible terms in public on this issue."
Maulavi Muhaiuddin Baloch, Mr. Karzai's adviser on religious affairs, said
that the case belonged in the court and that Afghanistan's judiciary was
Fazil Ahmad Manawi, a former deputy chief justice, said: "It is a dilemma
for Afghan courts. The international community's presence in Afghanistan,
with military and financial support on one hand and the prestige of Afghan
courts and religious people of Afghanistan on another hand, makes the
issue very difficult."
If he is convicted, Mr. Rahman will be able to appeal his sentence to two
higher courts. Maulavi Zada, the judge overseeing the case, said Thursday
that the next court session would be held in several days. It was unclear
whether Mr. Rahman would present any defense. To date, no lawyer in Kabul
has been willing to represent him.
Moderate Afghan officials are eager to quietly dispose of the case, but
the vocal criticism from American and Western officials makes that more
difficult, according to Mr. Rubin. One possible compromise would involve
the court's declaring Mr. Rahman mentally ill and allowing him to leave
(source: New York Times)
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