[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Apr 17 02:43:26 UTC 2007
Clemency commitment for all Australians facing death penalty
Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine said Attorneys-General from across
Australia unanimously agreed to the resolution he moved on the death
penalty at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting in
The Queensland Government has secured the Australian Government?s
commitment to seek clemency for any Australian facing the death penalty
overseas, including members of the so-called "Bali Nine." Queensland
Attorney-General Kerry Shine said Attorneys-General from across Australia
unanimously agreed to the resolution he moved on the death penalty at the
Standing Committee of Attorneys-General ( SCAG ) meeting in Canberra.
"Australia has abolished the death penalty. Indeed, Queensland was the
first to do so in 1922," Mr Shine said.
"Australia is a signatory to the Second Optional Protocol to the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the
abolition of the death penalty."
Mr Shine said it had been argued, and SCAG agreed, that countries like
Australia which had abolished the death penalty there was an "obligation
not to expose a person to the risk of its application."
"Australia has abolished the death penalty. Our responsibilities extend
beyond our borders. We should ensure our citizens are not exposed to death
penalty overseas, and we should encourage other countries to abolish the
death penalty," Mr Shine said.
Mr Shine said he took the issue to the SCAG meeting after meeting with Lee
and Christine Rush, the parents of young Brisbane man Scott Rush who has
been convicted for trafficking illicit drugs and is now under the sentence
The Rush family maintains the Australian Federal Police ( AFP ) were
informed prior to their son traveling to Bali, and they were of the
understanding the AFP would prevent him from leaving Australia.
"The Queensland Government deplores drug trafficking and those who profit
from it. The Queensland Government also respects the sovereignty of other
nations," Mr Shine said.
Mr Shine said SCAG agreed to:
( a ) REAFFIRM Australia's opposition to the death penalty as a signatory
to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty;
( b ) REAFFIRM Australia should comply with the United Nations Human
Rights Committee?s conclusion that "for countries that have abolished the
death penalty, there is an obligation not to expose a person to the real
risk of its application"; and
( c ) REAFFIRM the Australian Government should, on behalf of all
jurisdictions, seek clemency for all Australian citizens under the
sentence for death, whether as a result of agencies working on our
country's behalf failing to observe ( b ) or not.
(source: Media Newswire)
Hope Held Out for Death Row Inmates
"You see the fear in their eyes. When someone has been on death row for 10
to 20 years and a strange face comes closer, he thinks the hangman is
probably coming to take him to the gallows."
John Oziegbe, a legal officer with the Legal Resource Consortium in Lagos,
was describing the ever-present dread of execution that haunts Nigeria's
estimated 700 death row prisoners.
But visitors from the outside world stepping through the gates of Kirikiri
maximum security prison in Lagos, where he often visits to give legal aid
to inmates, were also likely to quake in their shoes even before setting
eyes on a prisoner, he suggested in an interview with IPS.
"Nobody would think that human beings are kept in such places," Oziegbe
said. At Kirikiri there was a separate building for the condemned. It was
falling apart. "The structure is very bad, almost collapsing," he added.
Prison officials agree that nearly all of Nigeria's 227 prisons are like
"It is sad that the conditions in most of our prisons, even to the most
casual observer, are dehumanising," Gabriel Oloyede, deputy comptroller
general of prisons, said candidly at last year's opening of a new prison
hospital at Kuje, in Nigeria's capital of Abuja. "Most of the prisons are
still brutal and squalid."
But he assured those attending the inauguration of 1 of the 5 new
show-case prison hospitals that measures were being taken "to improve
services". His example was how the mortality rate in Nigerian prisons had
been reduced from 1,500 to less than 400 a year.
Nigeria's minister of internal affairs, Magaji Muhammed, also chose this
opportunity to note that the "monster" issue of prison overcrowding was
recognised by officials. "This is why the president set up various
committees to look into problems confronting the administration of justice
and prison reforms in general," he said.
IPS has obtained a document from the key presidential commission on the
reform of the administration of justice, which reports that more than half
the country's 40,000 prison inmates have not even been tried or sentenced.
Some have been waiting for their trials for over ten years. The
overcrowding this caused was "not conducive to the efficient application
of rehabilitation and reintegration programmes" it said.
The situation showed that the entire criminal justice system in Nigeria
was in a state of "dislocation", the report suggested. Last year a U.N.
special rapporteur also found that the situation was so chaotic that some
3.7 percent of all case files of inmates had been lost.
Chronic but preventable diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, influenza and
pneumonia were also present in the prisons, the report said, adding that
the principal cause of these was the decaying buildings and poor prison
diet. "In most prisons inmates are being provided with meals that fall
short of the minimum dietary requirements," the report observed.
The official daily prison food allowance now stands at about 83 U.S.
cents. In the days of the military regimes before the return to civilian
government in 1999, it was less than half of this. More than 70 percent of
Nigeria's 140 million people live on less than 1 dollar a day, according
to the United Nations Development Programme.
The report put much of the blame for the situation on the long years of
neglect by successive military regimes. But it also said that "several
years of neglect by successive governments" had left the prisons "at the
The commission, which has already submitted its report to President
Olusegun Obasanjo, has made a string of bold proposals that could
transform the penal system in Nigeria overnight - and the lives of those
living in daily fear of execution.
Everyone on death row for more than 15 years should be released, it
recommended. All on death row for more than 10 years and the sick or
mentally ill should have their cases reviewed. And, all others condemned
to death the number is put at 111, but is steadily increasing should
have their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
The commission has also recommended that all inmates jailed for more than
5 years whose case files have been lost should be set free.
"We need an official (death penalty) moratorium," Olawale Fapohunda,
secretary of the commission, told IPS. "Officially the constitution allows
the death penalty but we are trying to see how the constitution can be
changed for the commuting of all those sentences to life imprisonment as
it is done in South Africa," he said.
The last known official execution in Nigeria was carried out under the
late General Sani Abacha when environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8
Ogoni activists were executed in 1995.
While the commission has been at work, Nigeria's law-makers have been
discussing a bill to enlarge and modernise the country's entire penal
system. This is still being debated.
Just when the bill will be adopted, no one can say, but Fapohunda said the
commission was working hard to see it was adopted during the term of the
present assembly. ''The bill has passed a second reading," he said.
"It was first presented to the house in 1999, but because it was not
adopted in the first four years it started all over again. We want to
ensure that it is adopted now, otherwise the next parliament will start it
all over again.''
He said more than 200 of Nigeria's death row prisoners could benefit from
a presidential pardon to mark the country's Democracy Day on May 29, when
a new government is expected to be inaugurated.
(source: InterPress Service)
Death penalty not an option: Mbeki
Any hope that the government would bring back the death penalty were
dashed when President Thabo Mbeki yesterday said this was not considered
an option to bring down the country's crime rate.
Mbeki, on a presidential imbizo in Soweto, was responding to the pleas of
a resident who asked for the death penalty to be implemented because of
the high crime rate in the area, but the president reminded her of the
ugly historical legacy of capital punishment.
The resident said at the imbizo - attended by Mbeki, some of his ministers
and Gauteng and Johannesburg leadership - that crime was a serious problem
and that she believed the death penalty would solve the matter. The
president said the problem with the death penalty was that it was mostly
black people who were being hanged in the past.
He reminded her that crime was not a new phenomenon and that residents of
Soweto and Alexander lived with this scourge for many years under
Mbeki told residents that criminals lived in their midst and some of them
even buy stolen goods from thieves. "But you turn around and say Mr
President what about crime . . . while you are (part of the problem)," he
said, urging residents to co-operate with the police.
Meanwhile, Mbeki said on Sunday that bigger metros in Gauteng, Cape Town
and eThekwini should take into account immigration pressures when they do
their budgeting as they are likely to grow bigger than expected.
"It is clear that the metropolitan areas of Gauteng will attract people
from elsewhere in the country, in Africa and the rest of the world, and
that it will hold for a lesser extent to Cape Town and eThekwini.
"We did discuss this to say even in terms of the budgeting for housing,
it's clear that for areas like that you have to budget at rates that are
higher than normal." Mbeki was responding to a question from the media
after he completed his 2-day imbizo.
(source: Independent Online)
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