[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Feb 13 02:59:08 UTC 2007
Call back for the death penalty
In Edmonton, several Calgarians representing a citizen action group are
heading to Edmonton today to call for a return of the death penalty.
Organizer Merle Terlesky and several protesters are expected outside Court
of Queen's Bench during the lunch break at the Nina Courtepatte Trial
calling for changes to the criminal code.
Terlesky says he is not trying to convict the accused but highlight what
he says is the need for capital punishment in certain circumstances.
The Death Penalty in The Islamic Legal Tradition
THIS YEAR THE World Day Against the Death Penalty fell during the Islamic
Holy month of Ramadan. Acknowledging this, Amnesty International USAs
Program to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Government Relations Program
hosted an Iftar and lecture on the death penalty in classical Islamic
legal traditionthe shariah. In his opening remarks Zahir Janmohamed,
advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, described the
event as a "discussion of the death penalty in modern Islamic societies,
focusing on the origins and evolution of the concept of clemency and the
trend of some Muslim nations to pardon prisoners during the month of
Najam Haider, adjunct professor in Islamic Studies in the Theology
Department at Georgetown University, provided an overview of the 3 types
of crimes in Islamic law: huddud crimes committed against the "rights of
God"; qisas crimes against individuals, including homicide or assault; and
taazir crimes committed against public security, with punishment largely
at the discretion of the judge or a legislature. "If a crime is of a type
1 or 2, the evidence burden is high," explained Haider. "However the
evidence burden is not as high for the type 3 crimes, and it is believed
in Islamic classical tradition that those crimes of ta'azir are not
punishable by the death penalty." In Islamic states such as Iran and Saudi
Arabia individuals who commit ta'azir crimes may be sentenced to death,
however. Haider said this is because of the states' own interpretation of
a single Qur'anic verse: "The only reward of those who make war upon Allah
and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that
they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on
alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be
their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an
awful doom" (5:33).
"When Islamic political organizations come to power, the professor said,
"most times the number 1 agenda item is addressing the criminal system.
"Saudi Arabians use their own definition of 'strive after corruption in
the land' to empower themselves to go outside of the definitions of the 3
typologies," Haider noted. "Iran adheres to the same principle to execute
'armed uprising against public peace.' This presents a dilemma in the
modern period with the ways Islamic classical tradition are interpreted."
Haider currently is completing his doctoral dissertation at Princeton
University on the origins of Islamic sectarianism. A Fulbright Scholar in
Damascus, Syria in 1997-'98, he went on to earn a master's degree in
Islamic Historiography from Oxford University in 2001.
(source: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs)
Don't add death penalty to Dujail sentence, Human Rights Watch
urges----Increased Punishment Would Exacerbate Flawed Judicial Process
The Iraqi High Tribunal should not impose the death penalty against former
Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan, especially given the lack of
evidence linking him to the alleged crimes, Human Rights Watch and the
International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) said today. The
Dujail Trial Chamber is expected to hold a hearing today to determine
whether Ramadan's life sentence should be increased to death.
In a 300-page judgment issued on November 5, 2006, the tribunal's Trial
Chamber found Ramadan guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him
to life imprisonment. Defense counsel appealed this decision on December
5. On December 26, the tribunal's Appeals Chamber issued a 17-page
judgment confirming Ramadan's conviction and, without giving any reasons,
returned the case to the Trial Chamber to increase the penalty to a death
"The tribunal found Ramadan guilty without evidence linking him to the
horrific crimes committed in Dujail," said Richard Dicker, director of the
International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. "Ramadan was
convicted in an unfair trial, and increasing his punishment from life
imprisonment to death reeks of vengeance."
In November 2006, Human Rights Watch issued a report, "Judging Dujail: The
First Trial Before the Iraqi High Tribunal", that highlighted a number of
serious flaws in the Dujail trial, including the lack of evidence linking
Ramadan to the underlying criminal acts. That same month, the ICTJ issued
"Dujail: Trial and Error?", in which it also raised concerns about the
fairness of the trial proceedings, including actions by the Iraqi
government that threatened the Iraqi High Tribunal's independence and
impartiality from the outset.
The 2 reports also highlighted the tribunal's failures to disclose key
evidence to the defense, violations of the defendants' right to question
prosecution witnesses, and the presiding judge's demonstrations of bias.
The findings of the two reports were based on 10 months of observation,
dozens of interviews with judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers, and an
analysis of the evidence presented in the case, conducted by Human Rights
Watch and the ICTJ.
The Ba'ath Party's "Popular Army" militia was alleged to have arrested
suspects and delivered them to the custody of the General Intelligence
Directorate and the General Security Directorate following the
assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein in Dujail in 1982. Ramadan
was the national commander of the Popular Army, yet no evidence was
presented at trial concerning the army's command structure, the actual and
legal authority of Ramadan as army commander, his relationship to the
army's operational commander on the ground in Dujail, and the reporting
lines between Ramadan and his subordinates. Instead, the judgment relies
heavily on broad inferences drawn from Ramadan's superior position and
proximity to Saddam Hussein, who was convicted and swiftly hanged for his
role in the Dujail killings.
"The Appeals Chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal acted too hastily and did
not conduct a serious review of the evidentiary and fairness shortcomings
in the Dujail trial," said Miranda Sissons, head of the ICTJ's Iraq
Program. "Instead of a sound verdict, the victims were dealt a flawed
process. Executing Taha Yassin Ramadan will further deprive them of the
chance to see him face justice for other egregious crimes."
Human Rights Watch has spent nearly 2 decades documenting the widespread
human rights violations committed by the former Iraqi government of Saddam
Hussein and campaigning for those responsible to be brought to justice.
These violations include the killing of more than 100,000 Iraqi Kurds in
northern Iraq as part of the 1998 Anfal campaign . The victims, including
women, children and the elderly, were selected because they were Kurds who
remained on their traditional lands in zones outside of areas controlled
The ICTJ worked in Iraq prior to the beginning of the Dujail trial and
since then has played a crucial role in monitoring the trial, evaluating
the trial dossiers, and corresponding with tribunal staff.
Both organizations are opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances,
as it is an inherently cruel and inhuman punishment.
(source: Human Rights Watch Press release)
Messrs Smith and Golding poles apart on death penalty
Mr Derrick Smith, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) spokesman on security,
has advised us that his party will not be afraid to apply the death
penalty if or when it forms the Government. Indeed, Mr Smith was very
forceful in his comments to a Generation 2000 forum in Montego Bay this
month, saying that a JLP administration would speed up the court system to
ensure that persons sentenced to death would be able to make all their
appeals at the various levels in the allotted five-year period.
"Our position is that the law must take its course," Mr Smith said as he
chided the Government for failing to apply capital punishment and labelled
the current administration as cowards.
Capital punishment will always be an emotive issue as there are equally
strong views for and against it. Opponents maintain that it is cruel and
really does not serve as a deterrent to murder, while those in support of
its application maintain that it is just punishment for those who place no
value on human life.
Opinion polls have consistently shown that Jamaicans favour the death
penalty, and this is understandable, given the high number of murders
being committed in the country and the gruesome nature of some of these
killings. The issue, therefore, presents a tempting platform for
politicians and we suspect that Mr Smith yielded to that temptation. For
while he made it clear that he was outlining his party's position, we are
not convinced that capital punishment is an issue on which the JLP has
made a firm decision.
Of course, we await the party's long-promised manifesto which, we expect,
will speak clearly to this issue. However, until then,we can only be
guided by the statements of the officials who make up the leadership of
In that regard, Mr Smith, based on his comments at the Generation 2000
forum, is poles apart from his leader, Mr Bruce Golding, who, in September
2002 made it clear that he was not in support of the death penalty.
At the time, Mr Golding, speaking at a Jamaicans For Justice meeting at
Stella Maris, said hanging would not reduce the number of crimes and
murders. Capital punishment, he said, would provide little more than "some
kind of therapy" for a crime battered country.
To be fair to Mr Golding, he spoke on the issue shortly before returning
to the JLP. However, we believe that his position still stands, as we have
not heard him say anything to the contrary since taking over the
leadership of the party.
It seems to us, therefore, that Mr Golding, unless he has had a change of
heart, needs to discuss this issue with his party and arrive at a
consensus. For as it now stands, we cannot help but believe that Mr
Smith's statement was one of politicial expedience, given the rampant
crime in the country.
It would also be interesting to hear Amnesty International's reaction to
Mr Smith's declaration. For we remember well how that organisation wasted
no time in labelling the Government's stated support for the death penalty
in its 2002 election manifesto as an offer to "kill for votes".
(source: Editorial, Jamaica Observer)
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