[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Feb 14 20:06:35 UTC 2007
Death Penalty Drama, Debate
Last year Saddam Hussein was executed. The video of Saddam being taunted
on the gallows spread on the Internet. A great number of netizens all over
the world watched the video clip. Because of the execution video, disputes
over the abolishment of the death penalty have resurfaced in Korea. In
Korea, there are 63 criminals sentenced to death. Their could be executed
at any time if the minister of justice approves. But for almost 10 years,
there has been no execution.
People who support the abolishment say: "Life is precious." "How can a
human kill another human" "Judgment could be wrong." "If someone is killed
wrongly, how can you compensate the innocent victim?"
They always mention political executions of the past.
It is true that some men of power have used the death penalty as a tool
for eliminating dissidents. Because it was lawful, the death penalty was
an effective means for past presidents to remove dissidents.
But can that be reason for abolishment? Things today are different from in
the past. Do you think political execution is possible these days? Today,
even the smallest threat to a dissident will come under media scrutiny.
Democracy in Korea has developed. The media is active, and the public can
express views freely. Political execution seems impossible now.
Another reason the supporters of abolishment cite is what they call the
"dignity of life." But their arguments are inconsistent. The criminals
sentenced to death are not normal criminals. They have committed very
If the life of the criminal should be respected, so should that of the
victim. Some criminals show no remorse for their deeds. For example, a
serial killer who swung an iron club at victims said in court, "I regret
not having killed more people." Without strong measures, heartless crimes
will not disappear.
Some people say that since judges are humans, they can misjudge.
But we need to focus on the numbers. We know there are 63 criminals who
have been so sentenced and there has been no execution for almost 10
years. That means an average of 6 death sentences have been made per year.
There are hundreds of crimes per year. Among all the crimes, only the most
serious crimes lead to death sentences.
The idea of killing an innocent man seems illogical. Let us go back to
Saddam's case. After the release of the footage, general opinion turned
against the death penalty.
But we should not make a decision based on a sensational video clip.
Instead, we should realize the causes and effects of Hussein's execution.
Hussein was found guilty of committing massacres and torturing people.
Iraqi authorities are responsible for the sentence. It was Iraq's choice.
Saddam was not a dissident, but a ruler. His crimes are obvious, and lots
of Iraqi people supported the judgment. So we cannot say that Saddam's
execution was the killing of an innocent man.
Why did Saddam's execution reignite the death penalty debate? Under the
surface, criticism of Saddam's execution isn't free from anti-Americanism.
Moves to abolish of death penalty are inappropriate if they are affected
by the globally sensational execution.
(source: Jeon Tae-whan is a freshman at Chung Dong High School in Seoul;
The Korea Times)
IRAN DEFIES WORLD OPINION, EXECUTES 3 INNOCENT AHWAZI ARABS
The Iranian regime executed 3 Ahwazi Arabs this morning at a prison in
The killing of Ghasem Salami (Salamat), 41 years old from Ahwaz City and
married with 6 children, Majad Albughbish, 30 years old from Maashur
(Mahshahr) and Abdolreza Sanawati (Zergani), 34 years old and married from
Ahwaz City, will bring the number of executions of Ahwazi Arabs in the
past 2 months to 10.
The Iranian regime has ignored international outcry over the executions.
According to Iranian and international human rights activists, all 10 men
were tried in secret courts with no access to lawyers on dubious charges
and little evidence. This has prompted governments and politicians in
Europe and UN officials to condemn the trials and executions.
2 weeks ago, the Presidency of the European Council - currently held by
the German government - called on the Iranian regime to halt the
executions of the 3 men to allow them a fair trial. It also condemned the
execution of 4 Ahwazi men on 24 January. The statement was backed by all
the governments of the European Union as well as Norway, Switzerland,
Iceland, Ukraine and Moldova .
In the UK, 49 Members of Parliament signed an Early Day Motion condemning
the execution of 10 men. The EDM - backed by a broad spectrum of MPs -
noted the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs and backed complaints by human
rights organisations over the nature of the trials and the use of torture
to extract false confessions.
European condemnation of the Iranian regime follows serious allegations by
three UN independent human rights experts that the trials of 10 Ahwazi men
- including seven who have been executed since early December - were
seriously flawed. Philip Alston (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial,
summary or arbitrary executions), Leandro Despouy (Special Rapporteur on
the independence of judges and lawyers) and Manfred Nowak (Special
Rapporteur on torture) urged the Iranian Government to "stop the imminent
execution of 7 men belonging to the Ahwazi Arab minority and grant them a
fair and public hearing".
The experts state that the 10 men were not allowed to see the defendants
prior to their trial, and were given access to the prosecution case only
hours before the start of the trial. The lawyers were also intimidated by
charges of "threatening national security" being brought against them. The
convictions were reportedly based on confessions extorted under torture.
"The only element of the cases of these men not shrouded in secrecy was
the broadcast on public television of their so-called confessions", Mr.
The Iranian regime has ignored letters sent by the 3 special rapporteurs.
The executions of 3 of the men were staged in December, with no regard for
the strong concerns expressed on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council.
Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and has a legal obligation to respect its provisions, which include
the right to a fair and public hearing, the right not to be compelled to
confess guilt, and the right to "adequate time and facilities for the
preparation of ones defence" with the assistance of a lawyer of ones own
Condemnation inside Iran
Ahwazi Arab activists point out that the executions broke Islamic laws
which forbid killing during the month of Moharam.
Iranian human rights activists, led by prisoners rights activist Emad
Baghi, have also voiced their criticism of the conduct of the trials and
the executions. In an interview this week with the Netherlands-based Radio
Zamaneh, Baghi said the Iranian regime should admit that the executions
were a mistake. He claimed the men "did nothing and did not take part in
any explosion" and therefore the executions were against the law.
"They did not have access to lawyer," Baghi added. "They were kept in
solitary confinement for months. They did not receive a fair trial. Only 4
[out of 40 alleged terrorists] were connected directly to the bombings and
the rest are not connected."
Baghi said the root causes of unrest among Ahwazi Arabs are poverty and
unequal distribution of wealth. He told Radio Zamaneh: "Government
policies are wrong. The Arabs do not have good housing, healthy drinking
water, electricity and live in poverty, although they live on top of oil
reserves. They are also barred from working for the government."
(source: British Ahwazi Friendship Society)
Ki-Moon to Ban Death Penalty
I suppose it's still too early to put new U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon in the same underclass as Kofi Annan. Kofi was as anti-American as
they come, but the new U.N. boss is showing symptoms of AAD -- American
Appreciation Disorder -- which afflicts most of the bureaucracy at Turtle
In his first week on the job, there was a hint of hope that Ban might be
different. When he was asked to comment on the execution of Saddam
Hussein, Ban was supposed to offer an unequivocal denunciation of the
death penalty in all forms and circumstances, for that is what the
catechism of global justice requires. But Ban Ki-moon, who only weeks
before had served as foreign minister of a sovereign state and whose
instincts were to protect national prerogatives, had not yet been fully
indoctrinated into the intricacies of global governance. Thus, he
surprised and angered his powder blue brethren when he said of Saddam's
hanging, that the "issue of capital punishment is for each and every
member state to decide."
International power brokers at the United Nations put Ban into emergency
sensitivity training. In less than a week, U.N. staffers were pleading
with Iraqi officials not to make the same mistake with 2 other officials
of Saddam Hussein's government that had been sentenced to death. When
punishing Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamed al-Bandar for the mass killing of
Shites in 1982, the UN asked the Iraqi government to show "restraint."
Now, only one month on the job, Ban has come full circle. During a recent
trip to Brussels Ban Ki-moon spoke of "a growing tendency to see some
phase-out of the death penalty," and went on to endorse the idea saying,
"I encourage that that trend."
In the United States, capital punishment is one of those issues that
raises the blood pressure of advocates on either side of the debate. We
have, and will continue, to debate its utility as part of our criminal
justice system. At present, Americans want to retain for their prosecutors
and juries the option of death as a just sentence for certain crimes. 3
times as many states in the U.S. (38-12) retain the death penalty than
those that have abolished it. Ban Ki-moon is on the wrong side of the
But the United Nations will try to change that. Last week, the European
Union approved a measure calling for a global moratorium on the death
penalty and they are taking their case to the U.N. General Assembly where
it is likely to be adopted. The full apparatus of the UN will then begin a
global campaign to influence nations to "see the light" and change their
Ban made sure of that when he appointed Asha-Rose Migiro as deputy
secretary-general. Shortly after she took office, Migiro said, "scrapping
of death penalty is not an individual state wish but one of U.N. policies
because it contravenes U.N. principles of humanity, human rights and
equality. I will help my superior ensure that all member states implement
As with other issues, the billions of dollars U.S. taxpayers send to the
UN will be used against them to lobby on an issue on which they have
And Ban Ki-moon has not limited his international law and order lectures
to capital punishment. The Secretary-General recently stated that "the
prison at Guantanamo should be closed," allying himself with left wing
critics like Cindy Sheehan and Congressman Jack Murtha who want to shutter
the terrorist detention facility.
Nearly 400 al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are being detained at Gitmo,
which has come under protest from Kofi Annan and the United Nations in
various forms since it opened in 2002. Last summer the U.N. Human Rights
Commission issued a report condemning allegations of torture of detainees
held there. They did so despite the fact that none of the authors of the
report accepted a U.S. invitation to visit the Guantanamo Bay prison.
When it comes to lecturing the United States on the death penalty and
Gitmo, Ban Ki-moon has adopted much of the rhetoric of his predecessor
Kofi Annan. He has also aligned himself with Annan and John Kerry on the
"global test" and favors expansion of the Security Council which would
dilute American influence. Time will tell, but so far it seems that at the
U.N., the new boss is the same as the old boss.
(source: Mr. Thomas Kilgannon is the president of Freedom Alliance, an
educational foundation dedicated to the preservation of American
sovereignty. He is the author of "Diplomatic Divorce: Why America Should
End Its Love Affair With the United Nations."----HumanEvents.com)
2 youths get death penalty
In New Delhi, the Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced to death 2 friends,
both aged 22, for raping and murdering their 18-year-old neighbour in a
Karnataka village 6 years ago.
While ordering the execution of Shivu and Shiva, the court described them
as 'sexually obsessed' youths, who were emboldened by their earlier escape
after attempting to rape the sisters of the 18-year-old victim.
Both the trial court and Karnataka High Court had found the offence
committed by these young boys to qualify as 'rarest of rare' warranting
the extreme penalty.
Rejecting the appeal of the 2 convicts, a bench of justices comprising
Arijit Pasayat and Lokeshwar Singh Panta observed that "anything less than
a penalty of the greatest severity for any serious crime is thought to be
a measure of toleration that is unwarranted and unwise."
The judgment assumes significance in view of the divergent views expressed
by different benches on capital punishment.
(source: Daily News & Analysis)
New bid to overturn Bali Nine death penalty
Lawyers for the 2 Bali 9 ringleaders have lodged a fresh legal challenge
against the death penalty in Indonesia's Constitutional Court.
When lawyers for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran initially submitted
their challenge to the Constitutional Court on February 1, chief judge
Mukhtie Fadjar said only Indonesian citizens could challenge the country's
However, lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis today lodged a revision of their
petition, adding an argument against the limitation of the law.
"We hope that the judges would be convinced that anyone, regardless of
their nationality, should be able to file judicial review," Lubis told
"And they should be given every legal right to defend themselves," he
"Regardless of their citizenship, they (foreigners) should have a right to
challenge the constitution under any circumstances."
Chan and Sukumaran, both from Sydney, were among nine young Australians
arrested in Bali by Indonesian authorities on drugs charges in April 2005,
following a tip-off from the Australian Federal Police.
Separate Supreme Court appeals by the two men were thrown out in
September, when the court also upgraded the punishment of four other Bali
Nine members from life sentences to death.
Lubis said he was optimistic the pair could defend themselves at this
"We are very optimistic, very upbeat that this ... could be accepted by
the Constitutional Court."
Additional witnesses and arguments have been added to the petition to add
weight to the challenge, he said.
An Indonesian MP involved in a drug law amendment, a professor of
criminology from Oxford University and a death penalty expert will be
presented in the next hearings.
The next hearing date has not been set.
Bali Nine drug mule Scott Rush has followed Chan and Sukumaran's example
and is fighting his death sentence in a separate challenge to the
Lubis said there was a possibility the separate cases would be joined. "If
the judges decided that they have to combine this petition then we will go
ahead with it."
Death penalty:An albatross on a nation's neck
Last month's execution of Nigeria's Tochi Iwuchukwu in far-away Singapore
has raised concerns over Nigeria's continued retention of the death
penalty despite its annulment by the United Nations reports Okey Ndiribe
THE recent execution of a Nigerian over drug offences in Singapore has
sparked off a debate over the necessity for the death sentence in the
countrys laws. The debate had trailed international condemnation of Tochi
Iwuchukwu's hanging last January 26. Few days before the execution,
President Olusegun Obasanjo had written to the government of Singapore to
spare Iwuchukwu's life. Obasanjo had pleaded in the letter that the death
sentence passed on the young man be commuted to life imprisonment.
Prior to President Obasanjo's appeal which was considered belated in human
rights circles, numerous civil society groups within the country and
abroad had appealed for clemency for Iwuchukwu along the same line to the
authorities of Singapore. But all these pleas were ignored by the
authorities of that country which insisted that it had to act in accordace
with the provisions of its internal laws.
Iwuchukwu was on a trip from Pakistan to Singapore when he was arrested at
the Changi Airport 27 November 2004 on allegations of transporting heroin
Nevertheless, the debate over the necessity for the death sentence within
the nation's laws have become more robust since the execution of Iwuchukwu
took place. The debate has raged in human rights and media circles because
Nigeria like Singapore has the death penalty in its statute books.
Speaking on the situation, a human rights lawyer who works with the Civil
Liberties Organisation ( CLO) Mr. Charles Okoli said that Nigeria and
other countries that have capital punishment in their law books may have
subscribed to the retributive system of justice. He explained that the
retributive justice system is based on the ancient law of Moses. Okoli
further explained that other systems of justice in criminal justice
administration include the deterrent and the reformatory systems.
He further asserted that the reformatory system had become more popular
and acceptable to the modern world adding that both the retributive and
deterrent systems had been found to have more flaws. He pointed out that
the major flaw that is been identified with the retributive criminal
justice system is that it is anchored on the belief of an eye- for- an-
eye. Okoli maintained that this belief would leave the whole world blind
if it is strictly applied. He also asserted that the retributive and
deterrent systems have actually provoked more violence in societies where
they are applicable. Okoli said the reformatory system is anchored on the
belief that a criminal should be reformed in such a way that he could
still become useful and re-integrated into the society.
Speaking in the same vein, the Head of the CLO Legal Department Mr.
Princewill Akpakpan who incidentally handled the case of the late
Iwuchukwu said capital punishment does not serve as a deterrent against
Said he: "Capital pinishment degrades humanity and makes life short. It
negates the fundamentality of the right to life."
Akpakpan said that the continued existence of capital punishment within
the nation's legal system inculcates in the younger generation a sense of
Said he: "When the State kills, it makes the younger generation to believe
that killing is right. For instance, children born during the era of
military rule when there was so much violence in the country, are those
who are predominantly involved in violent cult activities."
Akpakpan also pointed out that capital punishment does not leave room for
judicial review or correction because the lives of those affected would
have been wasted.
He narrated a case which was handled by Justice Edet Robert Nkop in 1987
while he was the Chairman of the Armed Robbery and Firearms Tribunal. A
condemned armed robber had admitted before the tribunal that he was
guilty. He had also gone ahead to caution the tribunal against sentencing
innocent persons to death. He had told the tribunal that several persons
who had earlier been sentenced to death and executed were innocent of the
robberies for which they were convicted adding that he was responsible for
some of those robberies. The armed robber had later said he was ready to
Another dimension to the death sentence and subsequent execution of
Iwuchukwu was the revelation made by M. Ravi, a human rights lawyer in
Singapore who defended the Nigerian.
He revealed that during Iwuchukwu's trial, the Judge Mr. Kan Tin Chiu made
the following findings at paragraph 42 of the jdgement. The Singaporean
judge had said:
"There was no direct evidence that he (Iwuchukwu) knew the capsules
contained diamorphine. There was nothing to suggest that Smith had told
him they contained diamorphine, or he had found that out on his own."
Ravi had told the court his client did not know the pills he had with him
contained heroin. He said he thought he was bringing in medicines.
>From the position of the law as enunciated by Mr. Ravi, the law on the
possession of drugs in Singapore is heavily weighted against the accused
as evident in Iwuchukwu's case.
Ravi also stated that an accused person in a drug offence in Singapore,
must discharge the heavy burden of invalidating the presumption that he
had the drug in his possession and must establish his innocence. Where he
cannot establish his innocence, he is convicted, no matter the
circumstance. In a protest letter Ravi wrote to the international
community, he stated that "The laws (in Singapore) have been applied
inconsistently in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner leading to
unwarranted executions of persons charged with drug offences.
"Usually, an accused can be convicted on uncorroborated evidence of a
co-accused based on confession alone sometimes obtained under a
questionable situation. Most unfortunate is the fact that the courts have
openly declared that they have no jurisdiction or powers to reopen a case
even when fresh evidence showing the accused to be innocent is adduced
before the execution. Once the accused is in possession of 15 grams of
heroin, death sentence is mandatory."
Ravi also complained that the executions are sometimes discriminatory
based on political and racial considerations.
According to him: "It is instructive that when the 20-year-old German
girl, Julia Bohl, found herself in Iwuchukwu's shoes, her government rose
to the occasion and showed example of what a sovereign nation should do
for its national. The German girl was sentenced to death in 2002 for
possessing 700grams of cannabis, but owing to intense pressures from the
German Government, the Singaporean authorities commuted her death sentence
to 5 years imprisonment. She was later released on July 15, 2005 on
grounds of good behaviour. There is no reason the case of Iwuchukwu's case
should be different."
It would be recalled that the United Nations in 1989 passed a resolution
against the death penalty. The UN General Assembly had in 1989 by a
resolution guaranteed the right of persons not to be executed and
obligated state parties to take all necessary measures to abolish the
(source: Viewpoint, The Vanguard)
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