[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Mar 25 20:31:35 EST 2006
Kyrgyzstan's forgotten death row prisoners
Soyuzbek Kaldarov, sentenced to death in 1999 for the murder of 2
policemen, is trapped in a legal limbo.
His home country of Kyrgyzstan imposed a moratorium on firing-squad
executions in 1998 so he cannot be put to death, but the courts continue
to hand down death sentences, leaving Kaldarov and others with indefinite
stretches on death row.
Around 200 inmates are stuck in the same legal vacuum, waiting in
crumbling Soviet-era cells where tuberculosis and drug abuse are rife.
A bear-like 29-year-old with unsmiling eyes, Kaldarov says the thought of
death rarely leaves him.
"I wouldn't wish my enemies to die in such suffering," he says slowly,
staring blankly at the floor of his gloomy underground prison cell in the
Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.
A spate of riots in jails last year threatened to trigger a national
crisis when inmates shot a member of parliament who was visiting one
The mutinies in at least 5 prisons -- not including Kaldarov's -- lasted
for 2 weeks in October, causing prison wardens to flee. The violence was
eventually quelled by troops who stormed the jails, killing four inmates.
Although the unrest briefly drew attention to decrepit prisons in the
mountainous state northwest of China, Kyrgyzstan has lurched from crisis
to crisis since its former President Askar Akayev fled violent protests a
year ago, and the subject was soon forgotten.
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who came to power after Akayev was ousted,
has vowed to replace the death penalty with life sentences. But critics
say the new leadership has largely neglected the issue.
"We have to decide on the death penalty once and for all: yes or no," said
Kubatbek Baibolov, a member of parliament. "We can't continue to hang
between heaven and earth."
Terrorism, murder and the rape of minors all still carry theoretical death
penalties that are not carried out.
40 CENTS A DAY
Kaldarov spends most of his day lying on a mat in his damp, windowless
cell in Prison No. 21, watching television on a tiny screen or just
staring at the grimy concrete ceiling.
Once a day, a warden opens the heavy iron door, slaps handcuffs on
Kaldarov's wrists and ushers him away for a half-hour walk in a small
The government allocates the equivalent of 40 cents a day to feed each
Prisons in ex-Soviet countries, including Kyrgyzstan, are notoriously
grim, with conditions cramped and diseases rife. Out of five ex-Soviet
state in Central Asia, only Uzbekistan still carries out the death
International rights groups have long called on Central Asian leaders to
improve conditions for prisoners.
In Kyrgyzstan, tuberculosis has killed more than 70 death row inmates in
the past 7 years. 1 in every 5 of Kyrgyzstan's 20,000 prisoners is
infected with the disease.
"Why are these people treated like cattle?" asked Prime Minister Felix
Kulov, who spent five years in jail on charges he says were politically
motivated before he was released during last year's coup.
He has called for urgent steps to improve prison conditions.
Kyrgyzstan's top human rights official, Tursunbai Bakir uulu, said death
row prisoners were living in "inhuman" conditions, and that failings in
the justice system -- human rights groups say courts are flawed as they
operate in climate of corruption -- complicated the issue.
"Up to 80 % of our people are Muslim and the death penalty does not
contradict Islamic doctrine," he said.
"But the problem is that investigators and courts make mistakes, we are
talking about miscarriages of justice. And there are a lot of cases like
Many say Kyrgyz society, which has seen crime rates spiral higher under
Bakiyev's rule, is not ready to accept the complete abolition of the death
"It's not fair to use tax payers' money to feed serial killers and
maniacs, the money of those very parents who lost their children," said
Tatyana Kuzmicheva, 61, a music teacher in Bishkek, echoing a common
Baibolov, the lawmaker, agreed.
"As long as the law exists it should be implemented. Of course, it's
psychological torture for the death row inmates but those who were killed
by them are long dead and buried."
Physician Says Murder of Disabled Newborns is Widespread, Encouraged by
In the ancient world, execution of disabled newborns was not particularly
uncommon. The Twelve Tables of Roman Law, which functioned as the
constitution of Rome for over 1,000 years, mandated an order of the state
that was probably seen as fairly mundane at the time, chilling though it
is today: "Cito necatus insignis ad deformitatem puer esto." ("A visibly
deformed infant must be put to death.") But in present times, it is a far
less common practice. The only postindustrial society to mandate the
large-scale execution of disabled infants, to my knowledge, was that of
Nazi Germany--which killed some 200,000 people on grounds of disability,
and sterilized many more, as part of its T-4 "Euthanasia" Program.
Now comes news that the North Korean government may be encouraging the
practice as part of a large-scale "purification" effort:
North Korea has no people with physical disabilities because they are
killed almost as soon as they are born, a physician who defected from the
communist state said on Wednesday.
Ri Kwang-chol, who fled to the South last year, told a forum of rights
activists that the practice of killing newborns was widespread but denied
he himself took part in it.
"There are no people with physical defects in North Korea," Ri told
members of the New Right Union, which groups local activists and North
He said babies born with physical disabilities were killed in infancy in
hospitals or in homes and were quickly buried.
The practice is encouraged by the state, Ri said, as a way of purifying
the masses and eliminating people who might be considered "different."
(source: Civil Liberty)
New hope for Afghan Christian convert facing death penalty
An Afghan man facing the death penalty for rejecting Islam and converting
to Christianity "could be released soon", says a spokesman for President
Saturday's statement from the official, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, comes as international pressure on Afghanistan builds over the
case of Abdul Rahman, who was arrested under Islamic Shariah law.
Karzai and several cabinet ministers met in Kabul on Saturday to discuss
the case, but afterwards declined to comment on the outcome of the talks.
Rahman, a former Muslim, reportedly became a Christian 16 years ago. He is
facing possible execution if he fails to revert back to Islam.
A spokesman for Afghanistan's Supreme Court said Rahman may be
psychologically unfit to stand trial in what was interpreted as a face
"For the sake of the national interest of 25 million Afghans, the
president is trying to solve the issue," one Afghan official told the BBC.
(source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
More information about the DeathPenalty