[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Feb 14 04:54:27 UTC 2007
Fear of imminent execution/death penalty
Below is disturbing information we received from Iraq. The imminent
execution of 3 Iraqi women: Wassan, Zainab and Liqa, without a fair trial,
is expected to take place on March 3.
The executions of what they call "Terrorists" and "criminals" in their
dozens have been going on over a year now. A public execution took place
in Mosul City, North of Iraq, 2 months ago. however, this is the first
time we hear about sentencing women to death. Amnesty International has
led the way demanding an end to this practise in the "new Iraq".
According to Mohamed Khorshid, head of Human Rights orgs in Iraq in his
statement to Asharq Al Awsat newspaper on 6th April 2006, there are over
2,000 women classified as "security detainees" under the supervision of
both the occupation and the Iraqi puppet regime, in various prisons, camps
and detention centres.
In a recent statement at the Parliament, the Iraqi Minister of Human
Rights, said that there are over 1,000 women security detainees, only to
deny her own statement within a day after a public outcry.
This is the signal of the opening of an era of "legal" executions in Iraq.
It is a horrible proof that the illegal executions of Saddam Hussein and
other Baath leaders were not "isolated" or "exceptional" incidents, but
that they laid the groundwork for employment by the Iraqi ruling clique of
"judicially sanctioned" executions as a legitimate "measure" against those
who oppose their puppet regime and the illegal US occupation.
We believe it is vitally important to protest and take action, to compel
the Iraqi authorities to revoke this sentence. Do appeal to relevant
institutions and ask them to intervene to stop this. Send your protest
letters to Iraqs Justice minister: Hashim al Shilbi;
head-minister at iraqi-justice.org.
Abdul Ilah Al Bayaty, Member BRussells Tribunal advisory committee.
Ayse Berktay, World Tribunal on Iraq organiser.
Dirk Adriaensens, Member BRussells Tribunal executive committee.
Hana Al Bayaty, Member BRussells Tribunal executive committee.
Helped to write this appeal: Haifa Zangana. Additional comments from Abdul
Ilah Al Bayaty in French-, Tahrir Numan and the appeal of Amnesty
The Supreme Iraqi Criminal Court sentenced the death by hanging of 3
women, on charges of complicity in the murder of Iraqi police loyal to the
occupation in Baghdad and participation in what the Court considered
The 3 women are:
- Wassan Talib (31 years old). The charge is killing 5 police officers
through the participation with gunmen in an attack on police.
- Zainab Fadhil (25 years). The charge is attacking a joint patrol of the
Iraqi army and the American army, last September with her husband and her
cousin in Baghdad.
- Liqa Omar Muhammad (26 years old). The charge is the participation with
her husband and her brother in the killing of an official from the Green
Walid Hayali, lawyer and member of The Iraqi Lawyers Union, said the Court
issued a ruling against the 3 women under item 156, without allowing them
to engage counsel from a lawyer.
The lawyer asks the whole world to move to stop the execution of the three
women and to Condemn the Court's ruling.
He points out that Liqa Omar Muhammad gave birth to her daughter in prison
a few months ago and is still nursing the child, and Wassan Talib has a
3-year-old daughter. He explained that the 3 women are now in "Kazimiah
prison" in the Kazimiyah region.
The execution is scheduled for 3 March and the trial was not revised in
appeal as there was no lawyer to ask for this.
It seems such a terrible crime to execute women who have allegedly killed
members of the Iraqi police, when the story of Luana Martiri, a
22-year-old Christian student in Iraq tells us what members of the police
and the army are capable of. 2 months ago she was raped by an Iraqi
soldier following a raid at her home.
(source: a source in the Iraqi Lawyers Union)
Videotape showing executions and destruction of villages played in trial
Prosecutors played a videotape Sunday depicting executions and the
destruction of Kurdish villages in the trial of 6 defendants accused of
crimes against humanity during a crackdown on Kurds in the 1980s.
The videotape was presented by the chief prosecutor, Munqith al-Faroon, to
show the involvement of the Iraqi army in rounding up Kurdish villagers
after destroying their houses in the military campaign, code-named
Operation Anfal. The men, women and children were separated into 2 groups
surrounded by Iraqi soldiers.
''Are those women and children part of the resistance or are they
saboteurs,'' al-Faroon asked rhetorically to counter the defense assertion
the military actions were justified because they were against Kurdish
rebels who were supporting the Iranians during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq
The tape also showed some executions carried out by Iraqi soldiers in the
Kurdish area of northern Iraq. At one point, an officer started to fire a
pistol at those who had been killed, apparently to make sure they were
One of the defendants, former Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai,
said he was only carrying out orders during the military campaign launched
by Saddam Hussein, during which more than 100,000 Kurds were killed.
''I was a military officer receiving orders from superiors and carrying
them out with dedication and precision and now I am punished for this. I
did not harm any person,'' he said.
Al-Tai, who was head of the Iraqi army 1st Corps during the Anfal
campaign, told the chief prosecutor ''if you want to distort my image then
it is fine. But, do not distort the image of the Iraqi army.''
He also claimed the Kurdish villagers were compensated for their destroyed
houses, which he said were within a restricted area near the Iranian
Saddam was a defendant in the Anfal trial but was sentenced to death after
his conviction for the killing of 148 Shiite Muslims after a 1982
assassination attempt against him in Dujail. He was hanged Dec. 30, even
though the Anfal trial had begun.
(source: Associated Press)
'Nigeria Sacrificed Tochi On Altar of Diplomatic Relations'
The execution of the Nigerian youth, Tochi Amara Iwuchukwu by the
Singaporean authorities two weeks ago for drug trafficking should prick
the conscience of many, especially the Nigerian authorities says the
Nigerian lawyer who was there. Despite strident pleas for clemency from
the United Nations and the entire world community, Singapore known to
operate one of the harshest drug laws in world adamantly went ahead to
execute the helpless Nigerian boy in his prime. The Civil Liberties
Organisation, the only Nigerian NGO which committed its human and material
resources to the cause of Tochi, sent one of its counsel to Singapore to
battle for the release of Tochi, though without success. Princewill
Apkapkan narrated to JUDE IGBANOI in near tears, his experiences in
Singapore and why Tochi had to die
You've just returned from Singapore where you tried to seek reprieve for
the Nigerian boy Tochi Amara Iwuchukwu who was executed last week by
Singaporean authorities for a drug related offence. What precisely was the
purpose of your mission?
My mission, from the angle of Civil Liberties Organisation, was to get to
Singapore and find out what happened exactly and see what could be done to
secure the release of Tochi Amara Iwuchukwu. The CLO singularly took on
that campaign as the only Non-Governmental Organisation in Nigeria to draw
attention to the case of the young chap whose life was at stake. My
mandate was also to find out what the true position of the government of
Singapore was on the issue and what efforts the Nigerian Consulate had
made towards letting the young man off the hook.
I was instructed and mandated to get access to Tochi and find out from
him, one-on-one what really transpired. I was also to find out the state
of the detention where he was kept in Changi Prison in Singapore. Mr.
Ravi, the Singaporean lawyer who had been on the matter was there to work
with me and indeed, he really helped throughout my stay in Singapore.
Whilest you were there, we learnt that you faced a lot of challenges and
frustrations in trying to get access to Tochi and in your efforts to
secure his release. What were those specific challenges?
The challenges were quite enormous. Though Singapore as country has what I
might call a very good peripheral economic sophistication, it is lagging
behind in so many fundamental areas. There is this peripheral and
ephemeral economic sophistication about Singapore that is oftentimes
embellished; but deep down in Singapore there are a lot of problems.
Singapore as a country is not in tune with human rights developments with
the rest of the world and this is regrettable.
Here was an inmate who had been condemned to death and he was in prison.
Under the United Nations Minimum Standard Rules for the treatment of
prisoners which every civilized country has subscribed to a person on
death row is entitled to have access to visitors, relations, friends or
counsel. Now, the Singaporean government was aware that we in the CLO had
been briefed by Uzoma and Collins, Tochi's older brothers, to come into
that matter. They were aware of our coming to Singapore and yet they
refused me access to see Tochi in Changi Prison.
We then came through the Nigerian High Commission and Ambassador Ali Moli,
I wrote letters stating my Passport number and the fact that everybody was
aware of CLO's mandate on the matter. When Mr. Ravi came to Nigeria, CLO
worked with him, and the whole world was aware that we were on that matter
and yet the Singaporean government blatantly refused us access to Tochi.
This was a breach of the UN Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The
lackluster attitude of the Nigerian High Commission did not help matters.
They were not proactive on the issue. Even when I asked Ambassador Ali
Moli about the UN Vienna Convention and whether Tochi really had access to
a counsel of his choice provided by the Nigerian High Commission, those
questions were swept under the carpet. The Embassy was snobbish and they
were not really prepared to defend its citizens. They were apparently too
concerned about the diplomatic relations between Singapore and Nigeria.
Their attitude was 'oh I don't want any diplomatic problems with
Singapore.' So, clearly their position was that it was better to sacrifice
Tochi and maintain good diplomatic relations with Singapore! At a point
the Nigerian High Commission became very unfriendly, because as a human
rights lawyer I understood that a human life was involved and I was
It got to a point that the Singaporean Democratic Party had to come out in
our support. The leader of the party, Dr. Chi was in detention and yet he
was speaking from the prison and criticizing the Singaporean government on
Tochi's case. It was very sad and very frustrating. Those were some of the
How would you score the human rights record of Singapore, given your
experiences and observations on the mission?
Oh, less than 10%! Their human rights record is nothing to write home
about. Even freedom of religion is not there. Look at the case of Falong
Dong, a religion whose adherents have been denied freedom of worship, even
in the face of UN condemnations. In Singapore you cannot embark on
ordinary peaceful possession. 4 people cannot assemble in Singapore to be
addressed for any purpose. You just cannot do it!
You have done quite a lot of litigation here in Nigeria as a human rights
lawyer. You were there in Singapore and have read the judgment by the
Singaporean High Court and that of the Court of Appeal. Some people have
pointed out irregularities in the judgments; would you say, in the
circumstances that justice was done in Tochi's case?
Of course there was no justice. In criminal adjudication we have the
doctrine of actus reus and mens rea. These are the criminal element and
the criminal act. It is where you have a convergence of criminal mind and
the criminal act, that is where a crime is said to have been consummated.
In Tochi's case, when you look at the evaluation of evidence by the trial
judge, you'll discover that Tochi did not know that he was carrying
Now, ignorance of the law is different from ignorance of the fact.
Ignorance of the law is not excusable, but ignorance of the fact is
excusable. Tochi did not know of the fact that the parcel contained
diamorphine. There was no indication that Mr. Smith who gave him the
parcel told him. The court made evaluation of this evidence. In the
Nigerian legal system and international legal norms, giving such a
judgment against the weight of evidence would be a miscarriage of justice
and an error of law which an appellate court would easily set aside. But
unfortunately, the Singaporean Court of Appeal, which is the highest court
in Singapore, was not ready set it aside. Even the evidence of the second
accused Malachi, that was supposed to be tied to that of Tochi, there were
lots of discrepancies which were supposed to be resolved in Tochi's
favour, but they decided otherwise.
The Singaporean Misuse of Drugs Act seems to be one of strict liability.
It appears to be such that once you are caught with drugs in your
possession, whether you are aware they're drugs or not, you are liable.
Apparently, the judges both at the trial court and the appellate court
followed the law strictly. Did you see Tochi's case from that perspective?
On matters of economic crimes, it shouldn't be so. If it were homicide,
murder, armed robbery and other such crimes it would be understood. But
for offences relating to property and you are now raising the presumption
that the accused person is guilty, it's absurd. In Singapore, it's a
different thing. An accused person is presumed guilty until he proves his
innocence. That is where I disagree with the Singaporean legal system and
that is where international pressure and outcry is against Singapore, that
'you cant do this to a foreign national!'
Before and after the execution of Tochi, the Nigerian government, the
Nigerian Bar Association and the Attorney-General of the Federation had
received very serious criticisms from every section of the Nigerian
society. There is a preponderance of opinion that they did not act early
enough and even when they did, they were not serious enough. Do you
subscribe to that view?
I subscribe to the view totally. When Mr. Ravi came to Nigeria in August,
we moved to the National Assembly, we moved to different Committees of the
Senate. We met with the Senate Committee on Judicial and Human Rights. We
met with the House Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights. We went to the
Ministry of External Affairs. We sought audience with the Attorney-General
of the Federation and after scheduling various appointments he simply
refused to see us. We wrote series of letters to the President and the
Attorney-General of the Federation and they refused to see us or even
respond to any of the letters. We wrote to the Nigerian Bar Association,
they did not say or do anything.
One sad moment was when Hon. Abdul Oroh, a former Executive Director of
CLO moved a motion on the floor of the House on Tochi's matter.
Incidentally, because of the third term stance of Abdul Oroh, the House of
Reps threw away the baby with the bath water. At the end of it the motion
I returned from Singapore and filed an action at the Federal High Court to
see if the Attorney-General of the Federation could be compelled by
Mandamus to file an action at the International Court of Justice to ask
for a stay of the execution of Tochi. Incidentally, before the action
could come up, Tochi's execution was announced. So, it would have been a
matter of locking the stable door when the horse had bolted.
The media did a very good job on the issue and they must be commended.
Even when I was in Singapore I sent many faxes to the Attorney-General of
the Federation. I sent faxes to the Minister of External Affairs and I did
everything to get the Nigerian High Commissioner in Singapore to act, but
all these fell on the deaf ears of the Nigerian authorities. You see, it
is all because Tochi is not the son of a President, a Minister or a
Senator. Maybe because he was a mere, obscure village boy just like
myself. If he were the son of a high government functionary, the Nigerian
government would have woken up to its responsibilities.
Remember the case of Julian Bowl, a German national. The grammage of the
drugs was reduced. Singapore understood that, 'Look, this is a German.'
They reduced the grammage of the drugs and at the end the young man was
set free. If Nigeria had taken serious steps, the issue would have been
resolved at the diplomatic level and Tochi would have been alive today.
In my opinion, patriotism should not be only when the citizens can rise to
defend the country. It should also be when the country can rise to defend
its citizens. That is where America is different. Look at American
soldiers in Iraq. They would commit all sorts of atrocities and America
would defend them. But for Nigeria it's a different thing. That is why we
as Nigerians are treated with so much disrespect and indignity abroad.
Having been to Singapore and having experienced first hand their legal
system, how would you compare the Singaporean legal system with that of
I would say the Singaporean legal system is fraught with arid legal
positivism. That is when you believe that law is law without humanity. I
don't believe in that kind of law. Dr. Martin Luther King when he was in
prison in his days as a civil rights activist said, 'Unjust law is no law
and I have no moral compulsion to obey an unjust law, a law that has no
humanity, a law that is discriminatory is no law.'
The Singaporean legal system simply did not take into consideration the
fact that Tochi was 18 years or that he was a first offender. Even when
there was a doubt, the doubt was not resolved in his favour. I simply
abhor such legal systems. You see, in the issue of death sentence, when
there is an error, it is irreversible and a life is wasted. The
Singaporean legal system is too harsh.
Would you consider your trip to Singapore vis--vis the mandate of CLO a
Well, I would look at it from two perspectives. It was a mission
unaccomplished to the extent that Tochi is gone. But then, the point has
been made. The CLO as an NGO has been able to step up its campaign to
defend a Nigerian citizen outside the shores of Nigeria! This is something
the Nigerian government should have done. But the CLO at the risk of its
resources and at the risk of its staff, to send an attorney to go to
Singapore and make a case for human rights and human dignity, is point
that must not be lost.
How did you feel on the day Tochi was executed?
I wept! I was downcast! I monitored the execution on the international
media. Mr. Ravi, the Singaporean lawyer who handled the case kept me
informed throughout. Mr. Ravi was on hunger strike and he was at the
Changi Prisons. I wept. It was at 11.00pm Nigerian time on January 5,
2007, which was around 5.00am Singaporean time. The deed had been done and
when I got the call from Singapore I wept.
It was in the news that Mr. Ravi was sanctioned by the Singaporean Bar,
their Law Society for defending Tochi.
This is what happened. Mr. Ravi has been the only human rights activist in
the entire Singapore. The Bar in Singapore is so complacent. There is no
independence of the Judiciary in Singapore. The Law Society of Singapore
is tied to the apron strings of the government. Therefore for Mr. Ravi to
be the only person to stand up against the Bar and against the
conservatism of the Judges in Singapore, he is seen to be a strange
fellow. At some point they sent him for compulsory medical rehabilitation,
believing that he is abnormal for challenging the status quo. People live
in absolute fear in Singapore. It is quite unfortunate that Mr. Ravi has
been suspended for handling the case of a Nigerian citizen. He expended
more than 20,000 US$ of his personal money on that case. He campaigned all
over Europe and even came to Nigeria. Now he has lost Tochi and has
equally lost his profession. It is sad!
What lessons are there to be learnt by the Nigerian Government, the
Nigerian Bar Association and Nigerians from this Tochi's execution?
The lessons to be learnt are that Nigerians should be very careful,
especially when they travel abroad. Now, the Nigerian government must be
responsible and responsive. The Nigerian Bar Association must go beyond
protecting the interest of lawyers. They must also protect the interest of
the citizens. A lawyer is a minister in the temple of justice; he must
defend and safeguard the rights of citizens. Life is very precious and we
must take the lives of Nigerians very seriously.
(source: This Day)
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