[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Apr 6 18:18:13 UTC 2007
Italy Keeps Up Pressure for U.N. Moratorium
Italian diplomats at the U.N. are working hard to win over more support
for their proposed resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on
executions -- but are still short of the necessary pledges to be certain
that an eventual General Assembly vote would be decisive enough to give a
historic boost to the abolitionist cause.
Some 88 countries have so far signed a declaration of association with
Italy's death penalty moratorium proposal, according to an official from
Amnesty International. "But the Italians need at least 100 signatures,"
one source here told IPS. This was the minimum number for Italy to be
confident that the moratorium would win a majority vote in the 192-member
"There certainly is momentum for a U.N. moratorium," Louise Arbor, the
U.N. high commissioner for human rights, confirmed to IPS. "I sense that
there is a growing will for a moratorium," she said, adding confidently,
"and also for, in the end, abolishing the death penalty."
A U.N. General Assembly call for a universal halt on state executions
would not be binding for U.N. members. But rights activists believe a
strongly-backed call for a moratorium would hasten the day when the death
penalty as punishment would be consigned to history.
Over the past two decades there has been a steady increase in the number
of countries abolishing the death penalty. Death sentences and executions
are still carried out in some 69 countries, according to Amnesty
International. But only a handful of these countries -- China, Iran, Saudi
Arabia and the U.S -- accounted for most of the 4,000 or more state
executions carried out worldwide annually. Some 25,000 people are believed
to be waiting on death rows worldwide, according to human rights
researcher Mark Warren.
China and the United States are likely to oppose the Italian death penalty
moratorium when it comes before the General Assembly. But neither country
is expected to openly campaign against the Italian resolution, according
to a diplomat whose country was opposed to the moratorium.
This did not mean the road ahead for a moratorium resolution was free of
potential obstacles. "The death penalty is a sensitive subject which
divides the U.N.," Yvonne Terlingen of Amnesty International told IPS.
There were "political pitfalls" ahead.
Terlingen said she expected Italy to issue soon a statement on the
moratorium issue in the General Assembly. Finland, a firm supporter of
Italy on this issue, already prepared the ground for doing this last
December. This called on all countries which had not yet abolished the
death penalty "to abolish it completely and, in the meantime, to establish
a moratorium on executions".
"The abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of
human dignity and the progressive development of human rights," Kirsti
Lintonen, Finland's ambassador to the U.N., said at the time. "The right
to life was universally affirmed by article 3 of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights."
The death penalty was not an effective deterrent and once carried out
could never be reversed because of a judicial mistake. Finland's statement
was backed by 85 countries.
Italy's statement could be expected to express the same principles and
abolitionist arguments. But it would be more influential if it had more
countries supporting it. Italy, currently a rotating member of the U.N.
Security Council, should be able to use this influential position to
Just what could be expected in the General Assembly when Italy seeks to
table its moratorium resolution is difficult to predict. Diplomats here
recall the difficulties faced by the European Union when it tried to do
this in the past.
In 2001, Singapore -- cited by Amnesty International as having the highest
execution rate per capita in the world -- objected. It argued that it was
for each individual country to decide for itself whether to apply the
death penalty. This view won enough support to become one of the main
reasons that the resolution did not go into voting procedure.
The more pragmatic members of the EU are not likely to risk provoking such
opposition again. But the EU is clearly anxious to demonstrate full
support for Italy's moratorium initiative. Last December it issued a
strong statement stressing that the abolition of the death penalty was a
"fundamental value" of the 27-nation body and a prerequisite for
The European Parliament clearly believes that it is high time for the EU
to flex its diplomatic muscles and come to Italy's aid. In February it
called for a sense of "urgency" in supporting the Italian moratorium
initiative. Every political and diplomatic effort should be made "to
ensure the success of this resolution," a statement said.
The Italian government has given itself until the end of the current
General Assembly session in September to table its moratorium proposal.
But this has not reassured critics at home.
Last month, Marco Pannella, a member of the European Parliament and
president of the rights group Hands off Cain, accused the government of
"delay and errors" in bringing the moratorium proposal before the U.N. On
Mar. 21, Pannella announced he was going on a hunger strike to put
pressure on the government to move faster.
A week later, the spokesman for the Italian ministry of foreign affairs,
Pasquale Ferrara, assured the public that Italy was working "intensely" on
the moratorium issue. This would be on the agenda when the EU foreign
ministers met in Luxembourg on Apr. 23.
"The Italian government is losing time," Elisabetta Zamparutti of Hands
off Cain, told IPS. "The U.N. moratorium resolution should be presented
She added that the organisation would be holding an Easter march through
Rome to exert pressure on the Italian government to act more swiftly.
(source: Inter Press Service)
Italian government leaders join march against death penalty
Italian opponents of the death penalty, including several government
ministers, will demonstrate in Rome on Easter Sunday, calling for a
worldwide moratorium on executions.
The march, beginning at Rome's city hall and passing by the Italian
parliament, will end in St. Peter's Square. Organized by the Radical Party
with assistance from lay Catholic groups, the demonstration will urge
Italian government officials to press for a UN resolution to end capital
Prime Minister Romano Prodi has already announced that he will press for
UN action on a moratorium. Several ministers of his coalition government
will join in the Easter Sunday demonstration, led by justice minister
(source: Catholic World News)
2 get death sentence for Bhopal court shootout
The Madhya Pradesh High Court today sentenced to death 2 persons and
awarded life imprisonment to nine others for a shootout in a Bhopal
courtroom that led to the death of 3 persons in 1996.
A division bench of Justices S.S. Jha and Sushma Shrivastava sentenced to
death Mukhtar Mallik and Asif Mamu, who along with co-accused Munna
Painter escaped after they were convicted during the last hearing on March
Mallik and his accomplices Asif, Rajeullah and Sheru Nepali had engaged in
an exchange of fire with the rival group of Muzaffar Hussain comprising
Painter, Mazhar Hussain, Badshah, Guddu Jadugar, Mohsin, Sadiq and Salim
Kela during a court hearing in Bhopal 11 years ago.
The government had moved the High Court against a lower court's verdict
acquitting the accused. Sheru Nepali died while the case was being tried.
The High Court observed that Mallik and Asif were a danger to society as
they had opened fire in "a temple of justice" and awarded them capital
The rest were given life sentences.
Police are conducting searches in several cities, including state capital
Bhopal and Jabalpur, to trace the 3 escaped convicts, officials said.
The trio left the courtroom minutes after the High Court framed charges
against them on March 30 and ordered that they be sent to judicial
(source: Sahara Samay)
Court upholds 3 death sentences in drug trial
An appeals court in Da Nang Friday upheld death sentences against 3 drug
dealers busted trafficking 70 kg of heroin from Thailand and Laos in 2001.
(source: Thanh Nien Daily)
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