[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jan 4 04:04:06 UTC 2007
Federal Supreme Court Upholds Major Melaku Death Sentence
The Federal Supreme Court upholds the death sentence passed earlier on
Major Melaku Tefera who was convicted by the Federal High Court for
committing the crime of genocide during the former military regime.
The convict appealed to the Federal Supreme Court against the verdict
given by the Federal High Court on December 8, 2006.
However, the Federal Supreme Court also upheld the death sentence saying
it found Major Melaku Tefera 'guilty' of committing genocide.
The Federal Supreme Court upheld the verdict stating that Maj. Melaku, who
was administrator of the former Gondar Province, had ordered the unlawful
execution of 971 citizens as well as causing permanent disability on 83
others during his term in office, while he had no authority to give such
The court reiterated in the verdict that the culprit had indeed committed
genocide since he ordered the killing of people who were members of
opposition political parties by abusing his political power and authority
The statement of appeal Maj. Melaku presented to the Federal Supreme Court
claiming to be 'not guilty' was groundless, as his personal involvement in
the unlawful execution of people has been substantiated by evidences, the
Hence, the Federal Supreme Court said, the earlier verdict passed by the
Federal High Court against Maj. Melaku shall be put into effect.
(source: All Africa News)
S.EGIDIO BACKS PRODI GOV'T INITIATIVE
"Necessary and welcome." This was how the Comunit di Sant'egidio described
"the initiative of the Italian government to come up with in the quickest
and best way a resolution for a universal moratorium on capital punishment
to present to the General Assembly of the United Nations."
"There is a need," underscored a note," for a political and democratic
initiative of consolidation to guarantee the success of the resolution.
And a strong, unitary position by the European Union is indispensable."
According to the Comunita' di Sant'Egidio, "firmly convinced, united
support by the entire European Union must accompany an initiative able to
bring in important countries of the south and the rest of the world as
co-sponsors of the initiative: from South Africa to Brazil, from Mexico to
Chile, and from the Philippines to Senegal, for the General Assembly to
perceive the universality of it, and so that it becomes impossible to make
use of reasoning which aims at discrediting the resolution as interference
in domestic problems of poor or undeveloped countries on the part of
"Over half of the countries in the world have abolished this type of
punishment, but this number is not enough," said the Comunita' di
Sant'Egidio, which for years has been involved in a world campaign for a
universal moratorium which has obtained, concluded the note, "the first 5
million signatures from an international moral force which gathers
together representatives from all cultures and religions."
(source: Agenzia Giornalistica Italia (AGI) )
Death Penalty Fading Away in Practice
There has been a prolonged debate in Korea over whether the death penalty
should be abolished. Government officials and lawmakers, however, have
been hesitant to make a decision.
The intensity of the debate has helped human rights advocates keep the
country's reluctant legal authorities from executing the 63 people now on
Since 23 people were executed in December 1997, no Korean citizen has been
Should this trend continue through the end of the year, Korea will become
the 31st country listed by human rights group Amnesty International to
have abolished the death penalty in practice. Countries that have not
carried out an execution in 10 years receive the distinction.
The 63 people sentenced to capital punishment could be executed
immediately on orders from the minister of justice. However, this is not
likely to happen under the current justice minister, Kim Sung-ho, who made
his intentions clear in a recent meeting with reporters.
"There is an ongoing debate over whether or not to abolish the death
penalty. How can I even consider executing anyone right now?" said Kim,
denying reports from a local newspaper that the ministry is considering
executing Yoo Young-chul, a serial murderer arrested in 2004 for the
deaths of 20 people, within the year.
Public opinion on the death penalty remains divided, although the
televised execution of former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein last week seems
to have added to calls for abolishment.
In a survey of 450 Korean adults last September by radio broadcaster CBS,
45.1 % of respondents said the death penalty should exist while 34 %
called for its abolishment.
Last year a draft bill calling for the abolishment of the death penalty
was submitted to the National Assembly and sponsored by 175 lawmakers. The
Assembly, however, has been delaying the review of the bill.
The death penalty has been debated in Korea since the authoritarian
governments in the 1970s and 1980s were accused of using capital
punishment as a political tool.
Many people cite the Inhyokdang incident of 1975, in which 8 dissidents
were executed on orders from the late President Park Chung-hee after being
framed as North Korean collaborators, as an example of the misuse of
Backers of the death penalty, however, tend to focus on the shocking
crimes of Yoo and more recently, Chung Nam-kyu, who was sentenced to death
last year for the murders of 13 people in southern Seoul.
Amnesty International has declared 129 of the world's 190 countries death
penalty free, with 99 countries abolishing capital punishment and another
30 having not carried out an execution for at least 10 years.
(source: The Korea Times)
Execution of Justice: Hussein punishment an important milestone
The Butcher of Baghdad is dead, a just punishment for a man whose rule of
torture and violence terrorized innocent Iraqis for decades.
Indeed, his death is a victory for justice, although evidence from his
execution indicates that the Iraqi government was unable to rise
completely above sectarian divides at this all-important moment.
Captured on a cellphone video are hooded Shiite guards verbally degrading
Saddam Hussein at the gallows, leaving the disturbing imprint that the
government thirsted for revenge more than rule of law.
Yet it's a significant milestone that an Iraqi court convicted and
sentenced Mr. Hussein not an American court or an international court,
where legitimacy might have been called into question. A courageous Iraqi
court heard volumes of emotional testimony against the former Iraqi
dictator and persevered in the face of assassinations of lawyers and
judges. The taunting at the gallows doesn't diminish his guilt or obscure
the fact that Mr. Hussein had his day in court.
Mr. Hussein was not put to death over weapons of mass destruction or
violations of nuclear inspection protocol. He was executed for having
committed brutal crimes against humanity the senseless execution of 148
people in callous retribution for an attack on his motorcade in the Shiite
village of Dujail in 1982. It was an unspeakable crime, for which he
ruthlessly played judge, jury and executioner of innocents. If there is
regret in his death, it is that he will never face accusers in other
villages across Iraq and answer in court for those atrocities.
It's too soon to know whether those vengeful moments leading up to the
execution will worsen the chaos and violence of Baghdad. We certainly hope
that's not the case.
We are certain that Mr. Hussein's execution will not assure Iraq's future.
The window of opportunity for success is closing rapidly as the White
House re-evaluates prosecution of the war.
Iraqis must progress toward a secure post-Hussein nation, in part by
ending the sectarian violence and terrorism that has mired their country
in chaos and despair. Just as Iraqis must find that new way, so too must
(source: Editorial, Dallas Morning News)
Letters: Saddam Hussein's execution
Unseemly cheers for yet another death in Iraq
Having read the enthusiastic coverage and many quotes that expressed
happiness over Saddam Hussein's demise, I can't help but feel a little
Yes, Saddam was a bloodthirsty dictator responsible for great loss of
life, and one cannot blame families of his many victims for feeling some
satisfaction. But for Americans to cheer another death in a debacle that
has claimed far too many lives strikes me as unseemly.
Killing in retaliation for killing has no logical conclusion. Saddam
surely preferred to go out as a defiant martyr, rather than fade away into
irrelevance in some forgotten jail cell.
Jeffrey Monday, Hurst
A just ending, especially foiled against Ford
On Saturday, our country remembered President Gerald R. Ford with highest
honors. On the same day, Iraq hung former dictator Saddam Hussein for
crimes against humanity. There could not be a greater dichotomy.
President Ford was honored and loved. Saddam was reviled and hated. When
Saddam's noose jerked to a halt, cries of joy and jubilation arose
throughout Iraq and around the world that he was gone and could no longer
Steve Stovall, Plano
Don't forget that he told truth about one thing
With Saddam Hussein's execution, the only person who didn't lie about
weapons of mass destruction was hanging from the end of the rope.
John R. Cobarruvias, Houston
(source: Letters to the Editor, Dallas Morning News)
Re: Hussein Execution
The DMN's labeling of Saddam Hussein's execution as "a just punishment"
and "a victory for justice" after he had "his day in court" is
The execution is a failed opportunity to establish the rule of law in
Iraq, and raises concerns that egregious flaws during Hussein's trial
proceedings will now set a strong precedent against a fair and independent
It will doubtless have a devastating impact on other related trials, as
the key witness who could most compellingly shed light on the chain of
command will have been silenced.
Executions represent society's glorification of vengeance and hate. Iraqi
cellphone images of Hussein in his last moments confirm that.
Most people have never heard of Franz Stangl, the former Nazi Commandant
at the Polish death camps of Sobibor and Treblinka. Stangl was tracked
down and finally brought to trial in 1967, was convicted of over 900,000
murders, and was sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 1970.
Hussein clearly was a brutal dictator responsible for a litany of heinous
crimes against many people and groups. But international war crimes
tribunals did and continue to provide a suitable answer for individuals
convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity: life in prison.
(source: Rick Halperin; Amnesty International and Texas Coalition to
Abolish the Death Penalty.... submitted to Letters, Dallas Morning News)
Guard accused of recording hanging
The person suspected of illicitly recording Saddam Hussein's execution was
arrested Wednesday, an adviser to Iraq's prime minister said.
Mariam al-Rayes, a Shiite lawmaker with close ties to Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki's office, said a security guard had been arrested and accused of
shooting video at the execution at dawn Saturday. The guard was not
The clandestine footage, which was widely available around the world,
showed an unruly scene in which the former Iraqi dictator was taunted and
cursed in the moments before his death. The video sparked protests among
Saddam's fellow Sunni Arabs and some international condemnation.
Britain's Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott described the manner of
Saddam's hanging as "deplorable" and the leaking of the mobile phone
recoding as "totally unacceptable."
Al-Rayes called the recording and subsequent replay by Iraqi TV stations
"an act by those working against the Iraqi government." She said the
government had appointed a 3-man commission to determine who shouted
taunts at Saddam as he stood on the gallows.
There were conflicting reports about how many people have been targeted in
the government investigation into the execution.
"The investigation has already had an arrest warrant against one person
and two to follow," Iraqi national security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie
told CNN. He said the guard force at the execution was infiltrated by an
Arab television station or another outsider.
The United States distanced itself from the way in which Saddam, who was
convicted for the killings of 148 Shiites in 1982, was executed.
"We had absolutely nothing to do with the facility where the execution
took place," said Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman.
"We did not dictate any requirements."
MORE:U.N. chief appeals to Iraqi president
Caldwell said the United States would have handled the execution
differently. "That was not our decision. That was the government of Iraq's
decision. This is a sovereign nation, and they're going to learn from each
thing they do," he said.
Caldwell said the military had no alternative but to release Saddam into
the custody of the Iraqi government once his final appeal of the death
sentence was denied. He said Saddam had been courteous to his American
captors and thanked the guards and medical personnel who had cared for
The official video of the hanging, which never showed Saddam's actual
death, was muted and gave the impression of a dignified execution.
The illicit video, apparently shot on a cellphone camera, showed Shiite
officials mocking Saddam. The video inflamed sectarian passions in a
country already on the brink of civil war.
Some of the last words Saddam heard, according to the video, were a chant
of "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada," a reference to Muqtada al-Sadr, the
radical anti-American Shiite cleric whose Mahdi Army militia is believed
responsible for killings that have targeted Sunnis and driven many from
(source: Associated Press)
A different view of Hussein's hanging-----Grainy cellphone video offers a
dark portrait of Iraq
The Iraqi government recorded that the deposed dictator Saddam Hussein was
given a fair trial, sentenced to death for the mass murder of innocent
Shiite civilians and duly executed by hanging on Dec. 30, 2006. A tragic
era was brought to an end, according to the official history, opening the
way for a brighter tomorrow.
But the dark cellphone video of the execution that quickly surfaced on the
Internet tells an alternate history, one that is neither tidy nor hopeful
and that demonstrates, not just by its content but by its very existence,
that forces other than the beleaguered government intend to be the final
authors of Iraqi history. That's because they intend to be the ones in
charge.The grainy footage was apparently captured surreptitiously by
someone whose vantage point was near the foot of the gallows. Anyone
thinking of watching it should be warned that the camera does not shirk
from the inevitable "money shot" the grotesque moment when the trap door
opens and Saddam's life is terminated. It's history as snuff film.
The most revelatory moment comes when the condemned tyrant unhooded,
unbowed, still acting as if he expects the deference owed to a legitimate
head of state, especially one who rules by terror gives a religious
exhortation. A voice responds by speaking a name that is also a taunt:
"Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada."
The reference is to the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who leads what is
generally described as the biggest, best-equipped and most powerful of
Iraq's many sectarian militias and whose father, a widely revered cleric,
was ordered killed by Mr. Hussein. The message is clear: Hear this, Sunni
dog. Iraq is a Shiite country now, and payback is sweet.
In the dictator's curses against "the Americans" and "the Persians," it is
impossible not to hear echoes of the time when Mr. Hussein was the one who
wrote Iraq's history. For years, the Reagan administration gave him
military and intelligence support to keep the hated Persians from
defeating his outnumbered forces in the Iran-Iraq war. In 1983, Donald
Rumsfeld was dispatched to visit Baghdad as a special envoy; he smiled
broadly as he shook the tyrant's hand.
Naturally, that's not an episode from Iraq's recent history that the
current government will care to highlight. Nor is this Iraqi regime's
official history of the tyrant's execution likely to dwell on the fact
that it was the Americans who captured him in the first place.
And since the government doesn't like to acknowledge how little of the
country it controls and how utterly unreliable its security forces are,
not much emphasis will be given to how the Americans had to hold the
tyrant in custody all this time to guarantee against lynching or escape.
I wonder if future historians of the Shiite ascendancy will so easily
forget the U.S. "tilt" toward Mr. Hussein during the war, or America's
nonchalant acceptance of the way his Sunni regime oppressed, persecuted
and massacred majority Shiites all those years, or the way America
encouraged Shiites to rise up against Mr. Hussein after the Persian Gulf
War and then just watched as he sent helicopter gunships to slaughter
And I wonder about the person who filmed Mr. Hussein's execution and
showed it to the world. I wonder how he got past what had to be
super-tight security, and I wonder what his motivation was.
Is it possible he was working for the government, which wanted to send a
message of solidarity to Mr. al-Sadr, who needs to be kept inside the tent
if the government is to survive? Was this jittery, spooky, haunting video
a promise to militant Shiites that they will remain large and in charge?
Or is that too wheels-within-wheels even for the nest of vipers that is
One alternative is that the anonymous videographer wanted to show Sunni
insurgents and the rest of the Muslim world, in which Sunnis far
outnumber Shiites just how much is at stake in the civil war, and why
Sunnis view the insurgency as a matter of survival. His message might have
been this: If they can hang the fearsome Saddam Hussein like a dog, they
can do the same to any of us.
(source: Column, Eugene Robinson is a Washington Post columnist; (this
item appeared in the) Dallas Morning News)
Iraq hands death sentence to three 'foreign fighters'
An Iraqi court has sentenced a Saudi, a Syrian and a Sudanese to death
after finding them guilty of Al-Qaeda related terrorist offences, the
US-led coalition in Iraq said on Wednesday.
The alleged foreign fighters were among 48 detainees convicted by the
Central Criminal Court of Iraq between December 8 and 28 last year.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in March 2003, hundreds of
Muslim volunteers have flooded into Iraq to fight against US forces and,
increasingly, the Shiite-led government.
The Syrian and the Saudi "were captured on June 19 in a targeted raid on
Al-Qaeda members," the statement said.
"The defendants were found guarding a house containing a hostage and both
admitted they were responsible... On December 26 the trial panel
considered all the evidence and sentenced the men to death," it said.
Iraqi army soldiers pulled the Sudanese off a bus on July 7.
"The defendant is a media leader for Al-Qaeda and produced videos and
flyers for the organisation. The defendant confessed to being a member of
Al-Qaeda multiple times to both Iraqi and multinational forces," the
He was sentenced to death on December 12. The statement did not say if or
when the sentences were carried out.
8 Iraqis were sentenced to life imprisonment during the same period,
including one who was convicted of murder after taking part in a clash
that left two soldiers from the US-led coalition.
(source: Daily News & Analysis)
Japan death sentences were most in 26 years
Japanese courts sentenced 44 people to death in 2006, the largest number
in at least 26 years, amid a toughening of sentences for violent crimes, a
news report said Sunday.
The 44 death sentences were the most since at least 1980 - the earliest
year for which statistics were available - and brought the total number of
people on Japan's death row to 94, the Nihon Keizai newspaper said.
It said it compiled the numbers from the nation's Supreme Court, regional
high courts and district courts, as well as Ministry of Justice
The higher number of capital sentences appeared to be due to a push to
toughen sentences out of consideration for the victims of violent crimes
and their families, the paper said. A spate of such crimes from 2000 to
2004 also appeared to be a factor, it said.
Violent crime is relatively rare in Japan, which has one of the lowest
crime rates among industrialized nations.
(source: Associated Press)
DEATH PENALTY: ANTI-EXECUTION NGO SET UP IN TEHRAN
Journalist and writer Emadeddin Baghi has announced the creation of a
group campaigning against the death penalty in Iran. "In Iran we have the
death penalty and the ghisas (law of retribution)," Baghi told Adnkronos
International (AKI). "The first is a secular invention and it can
therefore be abolished while as far as the law of retribution is
concerned, our objective is to convince judges to use the capital
punishment less." The activist said the fact that his association was
granted by authorities the status of a non-governmental organisation bodes
Emadeddin Baghi was arrested in 2001 and sentenced to 7 1/2 years in jail
for publishing on the daily Fath an article against the death penalty.
He was freed after serving almost half of his jail term and founded in
2004 the Association for the rights of inmates which he still chairs.
"With this new movement we want to stop the violence which leads every
year to dozens of executions in Iran," Baghi told AKI. "Our first move
will be to ask for the abolition of the capital punishment for drug
smugglers given that murderers are sentenced to death under the law of
Emadeddin Baghi said the next step will be to give the law of retribution
a different interpretation.
"We believe that the ghisas must be based on the concept of forgiveness
and not of revenge and therefore judges should try to convince the
victims' relatives not to demand the death penalty as compensation for
The activist told AKI he is confident he will not be jailed again over his
campaign against the death penalty.
"The fact that this new association was recognized as a non-governmental
organisation shows that today the number of people who are against the
death penalty as a means to solve the problems of our society is on the
rise," he said.
(source: AdnKronos International)
DEATH PENALTY: ABOLITION DEBATE REMAINS A MURMUR IN MUCH OF ASIA
Italian prime minister Romano Prodi's initiative this week to campaign at
the United Nations for a global ban on the death penalty following the
execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, has been welcomed by
human rights activists. However Italy's task ahead is a hard one
particularly in Asia, which is among the 3 regions in the world with the
highest number of executions, together with Middle Eastern countries and
the United States.
"It's still a long, long way till a universal moratarium on the death
penalty," said Michel Taube, spokesman with the Paris-based Ensemble
Contre la Peine de Mort (Together Against the Death Penalty) in an
interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).
"But the initiative by Italy is an excellent one as it make a connection
between a horrible execution under barbaric conditions of Saddam Hussein,
with an excellent idea to gather support to abolish the practise," said
Taube whose group brings together non-governmental organisations, unions,
local governments and groups from around the world who campaign against
According to Taube the "unfortunate reality" is that executions, such as
the high profile one of Saddam Hussein, tend to create a greater division
and more passion between the groups that are for and against the death
penalty. "To get better results, we need more moderate, rational debate to
counter the strong images and emotions of the last few days," said Taube
referring to the recent images that have appeared on the Internet and on
television channels showing the last moments of Saddam's life as he was
led to the gallows.
"The death penalty is not an intellectual idea, but a horrible reality,
whether it is of this man (Saddam Hussein) or of any other," Taube told
"It is difficult to say if it [the Italian initiative] will have concrete
consequences, but that the fact that it was taken, is a good thing," he
said adding that despite the fact that many countries reacted strongly
against it, Prodi's statement was the only concrete intiative. Italy took
one of the 10 non-permanent Security Council seats this week.
Of the many countries in the UN that Italy will have to campaign, many of
them are in Asia. The region has the highest number of executions,
particularly because of the large number in China. According to
London-based human rights group, Amnesty International, an estimated 1,770
people were executed in China in 2005, based on media reports. The group
says however that the true figures are believed to be much higher.
Very few countries in the region have abolished the death penalty. Among
them are Australia, Cambodia, Bhutan, Macau, Samoa, East Timor and the
Philippines which ended capital punishment in June 2006.
"Most of the countries in Asia have the death penalty in their laws and
very few have debates on its abolition," said Taube. Vietnam for example
has more than 20 executions a year, although these are based on reports as
there are no official statistics. 4 people were executed in Japan 2 weeks
ago after a 15-year absence of the penalty being carried out.
In the tiny city state of Singapore, more than 400 prisoners have been
hanged since 1991, which according to Amnesty International,gives the
country possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to its
population of just over 4 million people.
As for South Asia, many of the countries in the region such as Pakistan,
Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka carry out the death penalty. While
Indian law does allow for capital punishment, very few excutions are
actually carried out. The last one was in August 2005 but Taube told AKI
it was carried out because of a mistake in the legal process of that case.
"For a violent country that does have a lot of crime, India is also a big
democracy and there is a big tradition of law in that country," Taube told
AKI. So eventhough the death penalty has not been abolished in India, the
country is a "good example", he said.
Taube is however hopeful for the region as a coalition of groups from all
around Asia has been formed for the abolishment of the death penalty.
Under Amnesty International, 30 Asian organisations against the death
penalty have come together and will participate in their first official
meeting in February 2007 at the World Congress Against the Death Penalty
to be held in Paris.
"We are proud to see such a large participation," said Taube whose group
is organising the event. "It is the beginning of an Asian network, a push
forward," he said.
(source: AdnKronos International)
Japan, South Korea Maintain Death Penalty ----- U.S. only other democratic
nation with capital punishment
Many people in the world take the opportunity of the end of the year to
pay off their debts and make amends to those they have hurt in an effort
to start with a clean slate for the New Year. For several people in Japan,
however, paying off their debts to society at the end of the year did not
earn them the right to start afresh.
In Japan 4 men were executed for the crimes they committed against
Japanese society. Ironically they were executed on Christmas, a day that
many Christians honor as a day of hope and salvation, and yet for 4 men,
Yoshimitsu Akiyama, 77, Yoshio Fujinami, 75, Michio Fukuoka, 64, and
Hiroaki Hidaka, 44, it was the day of reckoning. All 4 men had been found
guilty of theft and murder; in some cases 3 or 4 murders.
Japan, South Korea Maintain Death Penalty
In Japan, the condemned, who are no longer classified as prisoners once
their death sentences have been handed down, are given little advance
notice that they will be executed. The prisoners are only informed a
couple of hours before their date with the executioner, usually in the
morning. They are given their choice of their last meal and provided with
the opportunity to write a final message before they are blindfolded and
subsequently hung. Their families are notified after their execution.
Kindness has been cited for the reason of the short notification of the
prisoners' impending execuions. Japan Times' reporter Setsuko Kamiya
quoted a Japanese criminal justice department official's explanation on
why the prisoners are not informed in advance the date of their execution.
"If they know, they will think things like 'it's my turn next' and suffer,
and so will their families," the official said.
Members of Japan's Social Democratic Party were angered and surprised that
Justice Minister Jinen Nagase ordered the executions, making 2006 the 14th
year in a row that at least one Japanese execution has been carried. The
date for the executions, Christmas, has also drawn criticism.
"It's Christmas, a special day even for those who are not Christians. I
can't understand why they chose to carry out the executions," said Nobuto
Hosaka, an SDP legislator. Some reasoned that the Justice Ministry had
chosen the day because the Diet was not in session.
But there may be reason behind the decision to choose Christmas. According
to the regulation of penal code section 71, clause 2, "the execution
cannot take place on a national holiday, Saturday, Sunday, or between Dec.
Japan is not the only established democracy that conduct executions -- the
United States is foremost with 54 executions in 2006 alone. The other
democracy that still has the death penalty is South Korea. However, South
Korea has not executed a prisoner since Dec. 30, 1997, when 23 were sent
to the gallows, two months before Kim Dae-jung, a former death row inmate
himself, took office.
Similar to the Japanese system, Korean prisoners are notified 24-hours in
advance. John Larkin, in his article, "Death, be not proud," described one
death row inmate's eight-year wait "agonizing over" when he would receive
his 24-hour notification of his impending execution. Probably like in the
Japanese case, the ambiguity of the execution date is supposed to keep the
prisoners from dwelling upon their approaching execution. However, many
people disagree and feel that if anything, it is cruel and contributes to
the deterioration of the inmate's mental health.
Korea has just over 100 crimes that are punishable by death. Most of these
crimes are for murder, theft of national treasures, and espionage,
including violations of the National Security Law.
In recent years this ultimate sentence has been handed down primarily upon
those who have murdered several people, such as the serial killer Yoo
Young-cheol. While his trial was taking place there was a movement in the
National Assembly to abolish capital punishment. Yoo was sentenced to
death, and his sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court. A few days after
his sentencing the Korean Justice Ministry sent an official message to the
National Assembly chiding them and warning, "If brutal murderers are not
condemned to capital punishment, then it will go against the public's
feeling of justice and victims' grudges, and their feeling of private
revenge will increase."
Amnesty International dismisses the idea that "some crimes are so heinous
that society must show its revulsion by executing the perpetrator" and
insists that "[t]he international community has recognized that no crime
can be deserving of the death penalty." It has called upon South Korea to
"provide the region [Asia] with much needed human rights leadership" and
abolish capital punishment.
Amnesty International also claims that there is no proof that capital
punishment prevents serious crime but merely "give[s] society the illusion
of control over the threat posed to public safety by serious crimes. In
the immediate period around an execution there is a feeling that a blow
has somehow been dealt against criminality."
While opposition to capital punishment is growing in Japan, so too are the
numbers on death row. In 2006 Japan sentenced 46 people to death, bringing
the present death-row population to 96. South Korea (up to June) had only
sentenced one prisoner to death in 2006, bringing its total to 63
prisoners on death row.
It appears that "the illusion of control" is still a feeling that many in
South Korea, Japan and the United States can appreciate and find
(source: Ohmy News)
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