[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jan 10 22:55:40 UTC 2007
RIGHTS:----Italy Leads Campaign Against Death Penalty
The Italian government is leading a new campaign against the death penalty
following the execution of Saddam Hussein.
The centre-left coalition that came to power April last year has faced
fragmentation within and strong criticism from the opposition, but all
parties are backing the decision "to campaign at the United Nations for a
global ban on the death penalty" announced by Prime Minister Romano Prodi.
"No crime can justify one person killing another," Prodi said. "This is a
principle which all civilisations and religions share."
Foreign minister Massimo d'Alema had earlier spoken of the new Italian
move following a meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Incio Lula da
D'Alema said Italy has been unsuccessful so far in lobbying for the United
Nations to call for a moratorium on the death penalty. "But I believe that
this must constitute one of the top commitments of our international
efforts because it is urgent to have an initiative to put an end to the
barbarianism of the death penalty."
Italy joined the United Nations Security Council Jan. 1 for a two-year
term, and plans to use its position to plan a set of activities towards
making the death penalty illegal in all countries.
Italy has already called upon the General Assembly to re-examine a
non-binding declaration against the death penalty. The declaration has
been signed by 85 countries.
Human rights groups have welcomed Prodi's initiative.
Marco Pannella, leader of the leftist Radical Party said he is now
confident that "thanks to the personal engagement of the Italian Prime
Minister, the international community will agree on a global moratorium on
the death penalty in the next weeks."
Italy's decision to present a moratorium is "important, and consistent
with the Italian tradition and its constitution, as well as with the
European commitment," said President Giorgio Napolitano. He said all
European leaders "following the execution of Saddam Hussein reasserted
they are against the death penalty. It's good that Italy represents Europe
in its decision, and that all political sides agree. Italy shouldn't speak
for itself alone."
The task ahead is not easy. Italy presented proposals for a moratorium on
the death penalty at the UN General Assembly in 1994 and again in 1995.
Last July the Italian parliament approved a motion urging the government
to present another moratorium proposal to the UN General Assembly.
The move failed because the government did not obtain approval from all EU
members. Some of the oldest EU members do not want to press the issue with
influential countries like Saudi Arabia. Poland's new Prime Minister
Jaroslaw Kaczynski has said publicly that he wants to re-instate the death
penalty as a means to deter spiralling crime.
Belarus, though not an EU member, carried out 2 executions in 2005 after
it had agreed to a moratorium. A stop on the death penalty is in place in
Russia, but it has not eliminated death penalty laws, as required for its
membership of the Council of Europe.
Human rights experts say that Italy's renewed determination could
nonetheless be crucial.
"Italy must keep up its campaign for a universal moratorium," Antonio
Papisca, director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) chair on human rights, democracy and peace
at the University of Padua in the north of Italy told IPS. "It is a clear
and strong sign of discontinuity in the current barbaric conduct of the
world. The death penalty enriches that already awful cocktail of tortures,
killings and war on terrorism."
Prof. Papisca pointed out that the second protocol to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations adopted in
1989 calls for abolition of the death penalty. "It is optional, but it is
true that 57 countries have ratified it."
Italy's campaign against capital punishment is ultimately a campaign
towards respect for rules, he said. "This initiative has the law on its
side. Italy must obtain Europe's full support and then get the 104
countries ratifying the International Criminal Court based in The Hague
involved too. All together, they must replace the Bush administration's
vision of the global order with a new one, based on the International Bill
of Human Rights." It is uncertain how far the Italian initiative will go.
"I think that the Italian battle in favour of the moratorium on capital
executions doesn't have to be judged on a realistic basis only," Antonio
Cassese, director of the UN International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur
and former president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former
Yugoslavia (ICTY) told IPS.
"This battle pursues, and defends, a highly important objective; it is a
struggle motivated by ethic, thus it is necessary. In order to preserve
this huge value, the respect of human life, it is essential to be
determined but also to be patient with results."
(source: Inter Press Service)
PASOK leader supports abolition of death penalty
Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George
Papandreou had a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Romano
Prodi on Wednesday to whom he conveyed his party's and the Socialist
International's (SI) "full support" to his initiative at the United
Nations for the abolition of the death penalty.
The PASOK leader is also SI president.
According to statements by party spokesman Petros Efthymiou, who made the
announcement, Papandreou will address a letter to the leaders of all SI
member parties proposing the undertaking of concrete actions towards this
Papandreou and Prodi will also jointly organise an international
conference with the participation of international personalities, while he
will contact UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the issue, Efthymiou
(source: Athens News Agency)
NATURAL SELECTIONS----SCIENCE UNMASKS EXECUTIONS; New light cast on
It's not especially pleasing to write about death in the first column of
the New Year, but there's a lot of it about.
In Iraq, Saddam Hussein has been executed. In Libya, 5 Bulgarian nurses
and a Palestinian doctor have been sentenced to death on charges of
infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV. In the United States, many
death-row inmates are wondering if they will escape execution, as courts
agonize over whether or not execution by lethal injection is humane. And
in Japan, 21 people -- including Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara --
have had their death sentences finalized for this year.
Execution is a personal matter. If you believe in it, or not, depends on
your own feelings about crime and punishment. Given that it is a personal
matter, you may be wondering what place a discussion of execution has in a
science column. The answer is that, in one way or another, science impacts
on the death penalty in all four of the cases mentioned above.
In Iraq, technology has dramatically changed the way news of an execution
is transmitted. Without cellphones or YouTube, Saddam's execution,
exceptional though it was, being that of a deposed head of state, would
not have had the same worldwide impact. With ghoulish curiosity -- and, I
told myself, journalistic investigative duty -- I watched the cellphone
footage, saw the former dictator led to the platform, saw the noose placed
over his head, and listened uncomprehendingly to the Arabic taunts of the
In the clip, Saddam wears no hood. He mumbles words of his own, words I
later read were prayers. You know what's coming, the tension is immediate
and horrific, even in a little YouTube clip. Mid-sentence, the trapdoor
opens and Saddam plummets down. It's obvious why it is so horrific: It's a
Some American newspapers saw it differently. The headline on the
Philadelphia Daily News was: "Yo, Saddam! Say Hi to Hitler."
Once the gung-ho reaction had died down, many politicians, and even many
newspapers, realized the YouTube clip marked a watershed moment in
journalism -- namely that the news had been made without newspapers or
As always, the English biologist Richard Dawkins had an interesting
perspective. In the Los Angeles Times, he wrote that Saddam should have
been kept alive so that scientists could study him. Was it something in
his childhood that turned him into a murderous dictator, he asked. "Could
the danger have been nipped in the bud by an alert psychiatrist? How would
Hitler or Hussein have responded to a different style of education? We
don't have a clear answer to these questions. We need to do the research."
If science and technology has been instrumental in bringing the death
penalty up close and personal, then so too has science been critical in
the Libyan death-penalty case that has made the news recently. But there,
with potentially tragic consequences, the science has been ignored.
The Libyan government's charge is that, in 1998, 6 health professionals
deliberately infected more than 400 children with HIV.
Court ignored evidence
However, the court ignored scientific evidence demonstrating that the
infections occurred because contaminated material was used in the hospital
in Benghazi before the accused even started working there. Scientists all
over the world have protested at the judgment, though sadly, the Libyan
government has resisted the pressure.
In the United States, concerns about the death penalty are being raised
more vocally than in many a year. The reason is because of claims that the
most common method of execution used, lethal injection using a three-drug
cocktail, violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual
Lethal injection is used in 37 of the 38 states with capital punishment.
It is popular precisely because it is the least uncomfortable for the
public. It is almost medical in procedure, with the inmate being gently
"put to sleep" with one drug before his (it is usually a he) heart is
stopped with another.
The public tend to like this method, in contrast to, say, electrocution,
which has had some unfortunate publicity in recent years. (Sometimes the
conducting sponge under the electrocution helmet is improperly placed, and
inmates' heads catch fire so that they literally fry to death. Nebraska is
the only state to use electrocution as the sole means of execution).
Gas-chamber execution also makes the viewing public uncomfortable, because
they have to see the inmate gasping for air as he dies. Execution by
firing squad -- used twice in the United States since the death penalty
was reinstated in 1976 -- is obviously messy.
But now, many states have suspended executions by lethal injection,
because medical opinion suggests that inmates do in fact suffer when the
drugs are administered. This violates the U.S. Constitution. This was
forcefully shown in a lethal-injection case last month in Miami, when
murderer Angel Nieves Diaz took more than twice the usual length of time
to die. The needles carrying the toxic cocktail were pushed into the
tissue in the man's arms, rather than his veins.
It is horribly ironic, by the way, that the American Veterinary Medical
Association does not allow the drug cocktail used to execute humans to be
used when putting down injured or sick animals. The reason? It says the
cocktail is inhumane -- as it may mask pain felt by the animals.
And so to Asahara, and Japan. The former Aum guru will probably be sent to
the gallows this year, though in common with all death-row inmates in
Japan, he won't know when. It could be tomorrow, it could be at the end of
the year. This, say Japan's prison service, is to reduce the stress of the
inmate. How considerate. I'll stick my neck out and hazard a supposition
that trying to sleep knowing that the next morning might be your last is
undoubtedly rather stressful.
A scientific assessment of inmate stress would probably come to the same
conclusion. So, also, I'd suppose that a proper understanding of the way
execution by lethal injection works would show that it can sometimes cause
serious suffering to the condemned.
Video and YouTube
In the Libyan case, moreover, science has already shown that it would be
making a mistake if it executed the medics it has erroneously found
And science and technology -- in the form of cellphone video and YouTube
-- has recently, and dramatically, shown the world the inhuman nature of
execution. You can't make a scientific decision on whether it is right or
wrong to execute people, but my conclusion -- based on how science
illuminates the issue of capital punishment -- is that it is utterly
(source: Rowan Hooper, Japan Times)
Ahwazi: UNPO Appeals for Halt to Executions
UNPO remains deeply concerned about the fate of 7 Ahwazi Arab activists
recently sentenced to death by Iranian Courts.
On Monday 8 January 2007 the families of 7 Ahwazi Arab men were informed
by Iranian authorities that their men are to be executed within the next
few days. The names of these men are:
1. Ghasem Salami, 41, married with 6 children
2. Mohammad Lazem Kaabpour, 28, married with 1 child, student at Shushtar
3. Abdolamir Farjolah Kaab, 26, married, student at Shushtar University
4. Alireza Asakereh, 24, from Maashur (Mahshahr)
5. Majad Albughbish, 30, from Maashur (Mahshahr)
6. Abdolreza Sanawati, 34, married, from Ahwaz City
7. Khalaf Dohrab Khanafereh, 34, married with 1 child, from Falahieh
This latest announcement is further evidence that a long, distressing, and
brutal campaign, conducted by the Iranian regime against Ahwazi Arab
activists, is continuing despite widespread international condemnation.
On Tuesday 19 December, 2006, the Khuzestan branch of the Iranian Students
News Agency (ISNA) reported that Malek Banitamim, Alireza Asakreh, and Ali
Matorizadeh had been executed for "waging war on God" in Ahwaz City.
On 13 November, 2006, the forced "confessions" of 11 Ahwazi Arabs were
broadcast on Khuzestan TV. The men were sentenced to death following 1-day
secret trails. The international outrage that followed, including
resolutions by the European Parliament and several national European
Parliaments, was however successful in delaying their executions.
On 8 June, 2006, the Khuzestan Revolutionary Court announced that 35
Ahwazi Arabs were sentenced to death following a one-day trial conducted
in the absence of both lawyers and witnesses. 2 of the men sentenced to
death, Nazem Bureihi and Abdolreza Nawaseri, were already serving prison
sentences during the time of the attacks they were tried and sentenced for
In March of 2006, 2 Ahwazi Arabs, Ali Afrawi (17) and Mehdi Nawaseri (20),
were publicly hanged in Ahwaz City, also on charges relating to their "War
on God." Their forced "confessions" were also broadcast a day earlier on
Although the Ahwazi Arab homeland in Iran's Khuzestan Province is one of
the most oil-rich regions in the world, it continues to endure extreme
levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. The trials and executions
Ahwazi Arab activists are subjected to clearly qualify as arbitrary, and
are intended to discourage any peaceful opposition to the discriminatory
system under which they suffer.
Irans campaign against its religious minorities, as well as the nature of
its political trials and extensive use of public executions as a weapon of
fear, have been repeatedly condemned by the international community,
including; the European Parliament, the United Nations General Assembly,
and a large number of European Parliamentarians.
UNPO remains deeply concerned by the routine execution of Irans
dissidents, strongly condemns the use of public hangings, and has
repeatedly called for international action to address the deteriorating
human rights situation faced by the Ahwazi Arab population of Iran.
UNPO has therefore appealed to; Dr. Javier Solana, the
Secretary-General/High Representative of the Council of the European
Union; Mr. Pierre de Boissieu, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Council
of the European Union; and Mr. Robert Cooper, Director-General of External
Economic Relations and Politico-Military Affairs at the Council of the
European Union, to:
- urge Iran to immediately halt the executions of the latest 7 Ahwazi Arab
activists sentenced to death;
- urge Iran to afford all Ahwazi Arab activists presently detained; free,
fair, and open trails, in a manner consistent with international standards
- call upon the Iranian Government to cease in its use of public
executions as a weapon of free and oppression
URGENT ACTION APPEAL
10 January 2007
UA 10/07 Death Penalty
Paul John Kaw (m)
Fathi Adam Mohammed Ahmad Dahab (m)
Idris Adam Alyas (m)
Nasr-al-Din Ahmad Ali (m)
Sulayman Jum'a Timbal (m)
Badawi Hasan Ibrahim (m)
Abd-al-Rahim Ali (m)
The seven men named above were sentenced to death on 23
November 2006 for the murder of 13 police officers who were
killed during riots which took place in May 2005 at a camp
for internally displaced people. The men were allegedly
tortured to force them to confess. They were sentenced to
death after the relatives of the dead police officers
refused to spare their lives in return for payment of diya
On 18 May 2005 there were riots at the Soba Aradi camp, 30km
south of Khartoum, when the inhabitants resisted the
authorities' attempt to forcibly evict all of them. The
Government claimed the eviction was part of its overall
''replanning'' process which aims to resettle the city's
internally displaced in legal settlements. There were
violent clashes, and 13 policemen and about 30 residents,
including children, were killed. On 24 May the security
forces threw a cordon round the area, not allowing anyone to
enter or leave while they raided the residents' houses and
shacks, arresting some 640 people. They were held in various
police stations and most were severely beaten in the
following weeks. At least one died in custody in
circumstances where torture appears to have caused his death.
All seven of those sentenced to death were tortured to force
them to confess. This included severe beatings. They had no
access to legal counsel until October 2005, when they had
been in custody for five months. Three members of the family
of Fathi Adam Mohammed Ahmad Adam, including his 70-year-old
mother and 15-year-old brother, were arrested and held for
three days to force him to give himself up.
Most of those arrested were released in June 2005, but
around 250 were taken to prison. A total of 59 were charged
with rioting in July 2005; 31 were convicted, including six
children, and each was sentenced to 20 lashes. Another 137
residents of Soba Aradi were brought to trial on 9 March
2006 before the South Khartoum Criminal Court on charges
including murder. They were defended by a team of 23
lawyers. In June and July, 62 detainees were acquitted for
lack of evidence, and in August all but 16 were released on
Most of the inhabitants of Soba Aradi are southern Sudanese,
with many displaced from other parts of Sudan, including
Darfur, who have fled conflict and economic deprivation in
their home areas. The UN has frequently criticized the state
government's policy of relocating such people around
Khartoum without full consultation, often by force and
without offering adequate alternatives for shelter and basic
The Khartoum municipality has long practiced a policy of
''relocation'', forcibly evicting the displaced who have
settled in informal sites in or around Khartoum. The
displaced are constantly pushed further and further out of
Khartoum, so it is almost impossible for them to work within
the city. The land thus cleared is used for building,
industrial development or agricultural projects.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly
- expressing concern that the seven men (naming them) have
been sentenced to death;
- expressing concern at allegations that they were tortured
and detained incommunicado for five months, without access
to lawyers, and asking the authorities to investigate and
bring those responsible to justice;
- acknowledging that all states have a right and
responsibility to bring to justice all those accused of
murder and other crimes, but pointing out that the death
penalty is the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading
- asking the government to commute the men's death sentences
if they are upheld on appeal;
- calling on the authorities to end the practice of forced
evictions of displaced persons, which often take place
without warning and often involve police violence, as at
APPEALS TO: (Fax numbers can be difficult to get through to.
Please keep trying.)
His Excellency Lieutenant General Omar Hassan al-Bashir
President of the Republic of Sudan
President' s Palace
PO Box 281
Fax: 011 249 183 771651
011 249 183 787676
011 249 183 783223
Salutation: Your Excellency
Mr. Ali Mohammed Ali al-Mardi
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 302
Fax: 011 249 183 770883
Mr. Abdel Halim Mut'afi
Governor of Khartoum State
Khartoum State, Sudan
Fax: 011 249 183 770143
Salutation: Dear Governor
Dr. Abdel Moneim Osman Taha
Rapporteur, Advisory Council for Human Rights
Email: human_rights_sudan at hotmail.com
Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 667 2406
Email: kahmed at sudanembassy.org
Please send appeals immediately. Check with the AIUSA Urgent
Action office if sending appeals after 21 February 2007.
Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement
that promotes and defends human rights.
This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including
contact information and stop action date (if applicable).
Thank you for your help with this appeal.
Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave SE 5th fl
Washington DC 20003
Email: uan at aiusa.org
END OF URGENT ACTION APPEAL
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