[Deathpenalty] death penalty news---worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Apr 30 10:54:10 CDT 2007
Court rules against death penalty
The Constitutional Court sitting in Blantyre on Friday pronounced
mandatory death sentence as unconstitutional, inhumane and a degradation
to human dignity.
The court was ruling in a case where a murder convict Francis Kanfantayeni
and 5 others were challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty.
"We hold and declare that Section 210 of the Penal Code is invalid to the
extent of mandatory death penalty...The declaration does not outlaw the
death penalty but the mandatory death sentence following a murder
offence," said Justice Elton Singini as he read out a judgement reached at
unanimously with justices Frank Kapanda and Maclean Kamwambi.
Section 210 of the penal code states that "Any person convicted of murder
shall be sentenced to death."
The judges observed that the mandatory death penalty violates an
individual's right that protects one from inhuman treatment or punishment
and denies them a right to fair trial.
"Section 19 sub section 2 provides that in any judicial proceedings or
during penalty enforcement, respect of human dignity shall be guaranteed,"
Her further argued that the provision violates the Constitution which
guarantees fair trial.
"The mandatory death penalty prohibits courts from determining any other
sentence but death. It denies the convict a right to have the sentence
reviewed by a higher tribunal," said Singini, arguing this violates the
constitutional provision of Section 41 sub section 2, which says any
person shall have access to any court of law or any other tribunal with
jurisdiction for final settlement of legal issues.
Speaking after the ruling, one of the lawyers representing the applicants,
Gift Mwakhwawa, said the ruling meant there would no longer be "automatic"
death penalties as has been the case in the past.
"The judges will now have to consider the nature of the offence and the
circumstances under which the offender committed the offence," said
Another lawyer, who represented the applicants, Noel Chalamanda, said the
ruling was a great judgement that would see a change in the way murder
cases are handled in the country.
"It's champagne time! This is a landmark judgement. I am at loss of words.
This ruling will have a huge impact on murder case, especially for poor
people," said a visibly excited Chalamanda. Malawi Human Rights
Commission, which was a friend of the court in the matter, said it was
happy with the ruling.
"This means all prisoners on the death row can be brought back to court
for sentencing again with the court looking at individual circumstances.
The commission will have to decide on how we can move forward," said
Redson Kapindu, the commissions director of legal services.
Kanfantayeni started the case in 2005 about 3 years after he was convicted
and sentenced to death for tying up his 2-year-old son and burying him
alive under what he claimed to be marijuana influence.
5 other murder convictsEdson Khwalala, Faison Maomba Gama, Richard
Chipoka, Tony Thobowa and Aaron Johnjoined the case last year.
The court set aside 6 death penalties imposed on the applicants and
ordered that their cases go to court.
"The applicants should be brought once more before a High Court judge to
pass individual sentence as appropriate with the circumstances surrounding
their murder offences," said Singini.
(source: The Nation)
Tanzanian Govt Mulls Over Abolishing Death Penalty
Tanzania is reportedly considering outlawing the death penalty. The
minister for justice Mary Nagu said a commission has been set up to
collect views of Tanzanian's on the death penalty. Sources say the
government has come under increasing pressure from human right groups to
abolish the death penalty, which dates back to the colonial period. Under
Tanzania laws, murder and high treason are the only offences punishable by
a death sentence.
>From the capital Dodoma, justice minister Mary Nagu told VOA that
Tanzanians are being called upon to participate in the discussion whether
to abolish the death penalty or not.
"As you know, Tanzania is a signatory to various international conventions
and it has ratified some; this includes African Charter on human and
Peoples Rights and the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights. We
believe strongly in human rights, and my country is reputed for that. So
in relation to that we have entrusted our law reform commission to collect
views and opinions from the people and as much as possible with the view
to looking into the death penalty. And you know the death penalty is
against the human rights," he said.
Nagu said the Tanzanian government would not want to abolish the death
penalty without the consent of the ordinary people.
The government would not want to take action by itself. It wants to get
the view and opinions from the people. I do believe Tanzanians do believe
in human rights as well, she pointed out.
She said the government would largely base its decision on the response
"The sooner we have collected the views, Im sure we would be in a better
position to make a decision. But Im very optimistic that our decision to
change the death penalty would be in line with these conventions that we
have signedwe are not an island, we live among other countries and we are
part of the world. But I think the most important part of it is for us to
bring this positive change. And we would want our people to participate in
that change, " she said.
Nagu said the challenge the government faces is replacing the death
penalty with an appropriate punitive action.
"The difficulty right now is to have an alternative penalty that is going
to be effective. But I want to assure you that Tanzanians are very
respectful of human rightsit may not take long because our law commission
is already obliged and they are collecting the views. And it wont taker
long before they bring me the results of the opinions that they are
collecting from the country," Nagu noted.
She said although the government would want to emulate examples set by
countries that have repealed the death penalty, conditions differ from
country to country.
"We don't mind following suit, but each country has its own conditions and
environment, and whatever decision that would be taken, will be taken in
cognizant of our own conditions that exist tight now. But I want to assure
you that most Tanzanians are respectful of human rights and we do believe
in good governance," Nagu said.
(source: Men's News Daily)
Death penalty is to deter sane criminals, not crazed individuals
How Mr Karvelas can use one example of a twisted individual to try to
justify his theory that the threat of the death penalty would be largely
ignored by criminals is completely illogical (Letters, April 23).
The Virginia Tech University massacre can hardly be used as a case in
point to demonstrate that the threat of the death penalty if one is caught
and convicted of murder is negligible.
The murderer at Virginia Tech that day had already accepted that he wasn't
going to walk off university property.
Acceptance of that fact made him the most dangerous person in the world at
that point in time.
The possibility of life imprisonment would also have had no bearing on his
decision to murder 32 students.
The Virginia Tech killer aside, most murderers and rapists out there are
cowards by nature who, like their victims, don't want to die and, as a
consequence, do have something to lose should they be caught and
It is to the latter group of people for whom the death penalty will serve
as a significant deterrent prior to the commission of a capital crime.
Mr Karvelas, if you're going to use real-world examples to try to justify
your theory, at least use examples that are reasonable and rational.
(source: Letter to the Editor, The Star)
Death Has No Dominion
The European Union (EU) Parliament President, Hans-Gert Poettering, has
reportedly intervened on behalf of Mohammed Afzal convicted for attacking
Parliament in 2001 with visiting President Abdul Kalam in Strasbourg last
week. It is not only unprecedented for the EU Parliament to ask the head
of State of a sovereign non-EU country to pardon a death row inmate, but
also totally unwarranted. This continental clamour for clemency may have
more to do with the EUs wish to be seen as a standard-bearer for human
rights than any particular concern for the health of the subcontinental
The EU States that have abolished the death penalty under their national
laws have been carrying out demarches of late, raising the issue in many
countries, including the US, Malaysia, Japan, Sri Lanka, China, Pakistan
and Saudi Arabia. It's doubtful though if the EU plea would influence
Indias own debate on capital punishment to any great extent. Which is
unfortunate as the UN recently called on States that retain the death
penalty 'to establish a moratorium on executions, with a view to
completely abolishing the death penalty.' International accords like the
statute for the International Criminal Court reflect this and rule out
capital punishment as an option. Although New Delhi has acknowledged this
global consensus by ratifying human rights treaties like the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it has yet to take the plunge and
do away with the death penalty. As a result, India is becoming isolated in
its continued commitment to the death penalty.
There is little evidence to support the proponents' justification that the
death penalty has a 'deterrent' effect. If anything, the increasing
homicide crime rate proves the futility of capital punishment. Moreover,
there is no scientific basis for the claim that the perceived 'deterrent'
effect is superior to life imprisonment. It is inarguable that criminals
deserve to be punished, and that the severity of the punishment should be
appropriate to their culpability. But any punishment must have its limits
and any government that ignores these limits does so at the risk of using
premeditated, violent homicide as an instrument of social policy.
(source: Hindustan Times)
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