[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Jan 16 01:23:06 UTC 2007
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL----PRESS RELEASE
AI Index: MDE 14/002/2007 (Public)----News Service No: 008 ---- 15 January
Iraq: Execution of Saddam Hussein aides is a further slide into errors of
Amnesty International today condemned the executions of Saddam Hussein's
half-brother and the former head of Iraq's revolutionary court as a brutal
violation of the right to life and a further lost opportunity for Iraqis
to properly hold to account those responsible for the crimes committed
under Saddam Hussein's rule.
Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam Husseins half-brother and former head of
the Iraqi Mukhabarat (Intelligence Service), and Awad Hamad al-Bandar
al-Sadun, former head of the Revolutionary Court, were hanged earlier
today. Along with former president Saddam Hussein, they had been sentenced
to death on 5 November 2006 after an unfair trial before the Supreme Iraqi
Criminal Tribunal (SICT). This verdict was confirmed by the Iraqi Appeals
court on 26 December.
"Saddam Hussein and his aides should certainly have been held to account
for the horrific human rights crimes committed by his government but this
should have been through a fair trial process and without recourse to the
death penalty. Reports that Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti had his head severed
during the hanging only emphasis the brutality of this already cruel,
inhuman and degrading punishment," said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty
International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Amnesty International is also concerned that another former government
official is at risk of execution. Taha Yassin Ramadhan, the former
vice-president, was sentenced to life imprisonment on 5 November 2006.
However, on 26 December the Appeals Chamber of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal
Tribunal referred his case back to the same tribunal requesting a higher
sentence, suggesting that he is at risk of being sentenced to death and
The trial before the SICT failed to satisfy international fair trial
standards. Political interference undermined the independence and
impartiality of the court, causing the first presiding judge to resign and
blocking the appointment of another, and the court failed to take adequate
measures to ensure the protection of witnesses and defence lawyers, 3 of
whom were assassinated during the course of the trial. Saddam Hussain was
also denied access to legal counsel for the first year after his arrest,
and complaints by his lawyers throughout the trial relating to the
proceedings do not appear to have been adequately answered by the
tribunal. The appeal process was obviously conducted in haste and failed
to rectify any of the flaws of the first trial.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases on the
grounds that it is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate form
of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. There has been a sharp rise in
the use of the death penalty since its reintroduction in August 2004 in
Iraq. In 2006 at least 65 people were executed, many of them after unfair
(source: Amnesty International)
Saddam aides hanged, film shows brother beheaded
2 of Saddam Hussein's aides were hanged before dawn on Monday, the Iraqi
But despite its efforts to avoid the uproar that marred the execution of
the former president 2 weeks ago, news that the noose ripped the head from
Saddam's cancer-stricken half-brother as he plunged from the gallows
appalled international critics of the process and fuelled fury among
Saddam's fellow Sunni Arabs.
On the defensive after Shi'ite sectarian taunts were heard in illicit film
of Saddam's execution, a spokesman for the Shi'ite-led government insisted
there was "no violation of procedure" during the executions of his
half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and former judge Awad Hamed
But defence lawyers and politicians from the once dominant Sunni Arab
minority expressed anger at the fate of Barzan, Saddam's once feared
intelligence chief, and there was also scepticism and condemnation of
Iraq's Shi'ite-dominated leadership across the mostly Sunni-ruled Arab
world. Government officials showed journalists film of the two men
standing side by side in orange jumpsuits on the scaffold, looking fearful
before they were hooded and the nooses placed around their necks. There
was no disturbance in the execution chamber -- apparently the same one
where Saddam died on Dec. 30. Bander muttered the prayer: "There is no god
Barzan, 55, a vocal presence during the year-long trial for crimes against
humanity, appeared to tremble quietly. As the bodies plunged through the
traps, Barzan's hooded head flew off and came to rest beside his body in a
pool of blood below the empty noose under the gallows. Bander swung dead
on his rope.
Officials said they would not release the film publicly.
Government adviser Bassam al-Husseini said the damage to the body was "an
act of God". During his trial for crimes against humanity over the
killings of 148 Shi'ites from Dujail, a witness said Barzan's agents put
people in a meat grinder.
Hangmen gauge the length of rope needed to snap the neck of the condemned
but not to create enough force to sever the head.
Saleem al-Jibouri, a senior Sunni Arab lawmaker, said Barzan may have been
weakened by the cancer he was suffering.
Barzan's son-in-law hurled a sectarian insult at the government on
pan-Arab Al Jazeera television: "As for ripping off his head, this is the
grudge of the Safavids," he said -- a historical term referring to Shi'ite
ties to non-Arab Iran.
"They have only came to Iraq for revenge," Azzam Salih Abdullah said from
Yemen. "May God curse this democracy."
The hangings took place at 3 a.m. (0000 GMT) at the same former secret
police base where Saddam was hanged on Dec. 30, an adviser to Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki said. Officials tried to impose a media blackout
for some hours but word leaked out.
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq said the executions were an entirely Iraqi
affair with little U.S. involvement. Asked about the hangings, Zalmay
Khalilzad told reporters: "It was an Iraqi process. It was an Iraqi
decision, an Iraqi execution."
After Saddam was hanged, the United Nations urged Iraq to reconsider death
sentences and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, an opponent of capital
punishment, said last week he thought there should be a delay in executing
the other 2 condemned men. Talabani left the country on Sunday to visit
The video showing Saddam being taunted, angered Sunni Arabs, embarrassed
the government and the U.S. administration and raised sectarian tensions
in a nation on the brink of civil war.
Shi'ites again celebrated in the streets of Baghdad's Sadr City slum, a
bastion of the cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr. His name was
heard being chanted at Saddam on the gallows. An unnamed guard faces legal
proceedings following a government inquiry into the circumstances of
After Barzan's hanging, Moussa Jabor in Sadr City said: "This is the least
he should get. He should have been handed over to the people. Execution is
a blessing for him."
Barzan was a feared figure in Iraq at the head of the intelligence service
in the 1980s, at a time when the Shi'ite majority was harshly oppressed,
some like those from Dujail due to suspected links to Shi'ite Iran, then
at war with Iraq.
Bander presided over the Revolutionary Court which sentenced 148 Shi'ite
men and youths to death after an assassination attempt on Saddam in the
town in 1982. With Saddam, they were convicted on Nov. 5 and their appeals
rejected on Dec. 26.
Both are to be buried in the village of Awja, near the northern city of
Tikrit, where Saddam was born and where he was buried two weeks ago, the
provincial governor told Reuters.
Muslim tradition dictates he be interred within a day.
They would lie close to Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay, who were killed by
U.S. troops in 2003, not in the building that has become Saddam's
mausoleum, visited by thousands of mourners.
How hanging is supposed to work
2 of Saddam Hussein's aides were hanged before dawn Monday, the Iraqi
government said, and the head of his half-brother Barzan Hassan was pulled
from his body during the execution.
Here are some details on how the process should work.
Hanging is the suspension of a person by a cord wrapped around the neck,
causing death. Throughout history it has been used as a form of capital
punishment in various forms. The method used in Iraq is modeled on the
19th-century method of execution used in Britain, which formed the Iraqi
state after World War I.
4 types of drop have been used in hanging: the short drop, suspension,
standard and long drop. In all but the last, subjects can remain conscious
for minutes and eventually die of strangulation and/or loss of blood to
The 19th-century long drop through a trap door is intended to be more
humane, generating enough force from the tightening of the rope and the
twisting of the noose knot under the jaw to break the neck. A calculation
is made based on the convict's weight, height and build of the drop needed
to break the neck. The distance is typically 1.5-2.5 metres (5-9 feet).
When the neck breaks and severs the spine, the subject immediately loses
consciousness. Brain death follows in minutes. But if the drop is too
short, the subject can be strangled. If it is too long, the subject can be
(source for both: Reuters)
Saddam's half brother loses head in botched execution
SADDAM HUSSEIN'S half brother and former chief judge have been hanged in a
gruesome execution before dawn today.
The Iraqi government said Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, the former head of
the country's feared secret police, was decapitated during the hanging.
The executions follow worldwide criticism of the former dictator's chaotic
death just over two weeks ago.
Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, was
also put to death this morning.
The 2 men had been found guilty along with Saddam of the killing of 148
Shia Muslims in 1982.
Officials were quick to stress that "no violations" were reported during
the executions, which were carried out in front of a prosecutor, a judge
and a physician.
However, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said al-Tikriti, also known
as al-Hassan, the former head of Iraq's feared secret police, had been
"In a rare incident, the head of the accused Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan was
separated from his body during the execution," Mr al-Dabbagh said.
Another government official described the decapitation as "normal",
although rare, and as "an act of God".
The incident is set to spark further
condemnation of the way the Iraqi government has handled the executions.
Historically, decapitations during hangings have occurred when too long a
rope has been used and the prisoner's weight has been underestimated.
No footage has been released from today's executions, although it is
understood they were filmed.
Saleem al-Jibouri, a senior Sunni member of parliament, said al-Tikriti
was suffering from cancer, which may have weakened his body.
However, defence lawyer Issam al-Ghazzawi predicted anger on the streets.
"When a man is hanged, he does not lose his head. The way Barzan was
executed is shameful," he said.
In Saddam's clan's northern Sunni stronghold of Tikrit a black banner was
raised on the city's main mosque, which is named after Saddam, saying:
"The people of Tikrit mourn the 2 martyrs killed by sectarian hands."
However, Shia Muslims in the Sadr City district of Baghdad were
The executions, which took place shortly before 6am local time, were
officially announced at a news conference this morning. They took place in
the same military intelligence HQ in north Baghdad where the former
dictator was hanged on December 30.
Al-Tikriti, who was aged around 54, was head of the feared Mukhabarat
intelligence service from 1979 to 1983. Witnesses in the trial said he
personally oversaw torture, eating grapes as he watched on one occasion,
and had a meat grinder for human flesh at his interrogation facility.
He was Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva from 1988 to
1997, where he was dubbed "Saddam's banker in the West".
Al-Bander, aged around 61, was a former chief judge in Saddam's
Revolutionary Court, which was accused of running show trials that often
led to summary executions.
He was the judge in charge of trying many of the 148 Shia men killed after
a failed assassination bid on Saddam in 1982.
Defence lawyer Mr al-Ghazzawi said recently that they were taken from
their cells and told they were going to be hanged on the same day Saddam
He said Barzan told him: "The Americans took me and al-Bandar from our
cells on the day of Saddam's execution. They asked us to collect our
belongings because they intend to execute us at dawn."
Mr al-Ghazzawi said the men were taken back to their prison cells nearly 9
Last week, Iraqi president Jalal Talabani urged the government to delay
Saddam's execution became an unruly scene that brought worldwide criticism
of the Iraqi government. Video of the execution, recorded on a mobile
phone camera, showed the former dictator being taunted on the gallows.
After Saddam's execution, Human Rights Watch released a report calling the
speedy trial and subsequent hanging of Saddam proof of the new Iraqi
government's disregard for human rights.
(source: The Scotsman)
Russia, EU condemn Iraq executions
The European Union, Italy and Russia Iraq's denounced the Monday
executions of 2 aides to former leader Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.
In Rome, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, an opponent of
capital punishment, criticized the hangings of Barzan al-Tikriti, who
headed the secret police under Saddam, and Judge Awad al-Bander.
"We consider that a man does not have the right to take away the life of
another," Barroso said.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi also spoke out against the executions,
In Moscow, Konstantin Kosachev, head of the State Duma International
Affairs Committee, said the executions demonstrated a desire to get rid of
unwelcome political leaders by any means, the Novosti news agency
Tikriti and Bander were convicted along with Saddam of role in the
massacre of 148 Shiite Muslims in the town of Dujail in 1982.
Saddam was executed on Dec. 30.
(source: United Press International)
Al Sabah family member gets death penalty
A Kuwaiti court on Sunday sentenced a member of the ruling Al Sabah family
to death for drug trafficking, a source in Kuwait told Gulf News.
"Shaikh Talal Al Sabah was convicted of smuggling hashish and cocaine
besides setting up a smuggling network, evading customs and money
laundering," said the source who did not wanted to be identified.
The charges against Al Sabah also included earnings of about 871,000
Kuwaiti dinars (about Dh11 million) from trading in drugs, the source, who
was present in the court, said.
Death sentences are automatically appealed, according to Kuwaiti laws.
3 other people - a Bangladeshi, an Indian and a Bidoon (person without
documents) - were sentenced to life in prison.
2 others - a Lebanese and an Iraqi - were sentenced to 7-year terms each.
The 2 ere sentenced in absentia as they had fled the country.
More than 4 years ago, another Al Sabah family member, Talal A. S. Al
Sabah, was sentenced to death for murder. Later the Court of Cassation
reduced it to 15 years in jail, the source said.
(source: Gulf News)
Islamic Court in Iran Spares Teenage Girl From Death Penalty After
Canadian Namesake - Recording Artist and Former Miss World Canada Nazanin
- Wages International Media Campaign to Save Her Life
After initiating an international campaign to save the life of herIranian
namesake, human rights activist, Bodog Music recording artist andformer
Miss Canada Nazanin Afshin-Jam received confirmation Sunday that the
murder charge against 19-year-old Nazanin Fatehi has been dropped. Nazanin
Afshin-Jam's relentless campaign included a petition signed by 330,000
people, countless speeches and rallies worldwide and months on the media
circuit as well as support from the International Committee Against
Execution, Amnesty International, Canadian members of Parliament, the
European Union and the United Nations. The effort appears to have been
successful and Nazanin Fatehi may be released from prison within a week.
Fatehi was sentenced to death for murder by a court in Iran after
shestabbed, in self-defense, one of three men who attempted to rape her
and her15-year-old niece in a park in Karaj, a suburb of Tehran, in March
2005. Shewas 17 at the time. On June 1, 2006, following extensive
internationalpressure and news coverage, the Head of Judiciary, Ayatollah
Shahroudi,announced a stay of execution and a new trial.
During the new trial on January 10, 2007, the four judges presiding
overthe case found inconsistencies with the testimonies of the male
witnesses andunanimously ruled out premeditated murder. No verdict was
On January 14, 2007, the Iranian Court recognized the incident as an actof
self-defense and commuted Nazanin's death sentence. However, the
courtruled that Fatehi used excessive force while trying to defend herself
and herniece from the three attackers. In accordance with that ruling, the
court hasasked Fatehi to pay "dieh" (blood money) to receive a pardon from
the familyof the deceased. Once this amount is paid, Fatehi can be
Fatehi's lawyers, Shadi Sadr and Mr. Mostafaei, will appeal the order
forpayment of blood money because they contend that Fatehi only acted
This appeal may take several months, so in the meantime arrangements maybe
made to have Nazanin released from prison by paying "bail" money
intocourt. Formal documentation should be available within days,
includingfurther details and specifics including the cost of bail and
To raise the level of awareness about this particular case,
NazaninAfshin-Jam, former Miss World runner-up, hosted a compelling
documentaryentitled "The Tale of Two Nazanins" produced by the Calvin Ayre
Foundation,which can be viewed at www.Bodog.TV. The 30 minute documentary
capturesemotionally charged footage of Nazanin Fatehi in a desperate call
to herfamily by phone from death row in prison as well as candid footage
of NazaninAfshin-Jam in her struggle to bring attention to the teen girl's
desperatesituation, featuring supporting interviews with politicians and
"We are very relieved to hear that Nazanin Fatehi has been spared herlife.
This was a joint effort by the international community and the media
toraise awareness about this particular case and about the plight of
othergirls who face a similar fate," Nazanin Afshin-Jam said. "However, I
stronglyoppose the payment of blood money, especially in a case of
self-defense.Let's hope that Nazanin's legal counsel will be able to have
the blood moneypayment waived. In the interim, I hope that bail money can
be raised as soonas possible so that Nazanin can be reunited with her
family and begin to putthese last two horrific years in prison behind her.
"Also, we must not forget that there are at least six other minors ondeath
row in Iran, which violates international human rights law. I hope
thatthis campaign has brought world wide attention to gender
discriminationembedded in Sharia Law and has established a milestone for
To find out more information about the case of Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi,see
To view the documentary, visit www.bodog.tv
For an interview with Nazanin Afshin-Jam about the case, please callmedia
relations at +1-866-591-0217. Or, email at: nazaninpr at bodogmusic.com
About Bodog Music
BodogMusic.com is a division of the international digital
entertainmentgiant Bodog.com. With six offices worldwide, the label
features a diverse andgrowing roster of talented musicians. Bodog Music is
searching for the topunsigned band in America with "Bodog Battle of the
Bands," which is takingplace in 17 major markets and features more than
300 live shows. Bodog MusicFounder Calvin Ayre, who is recognized as a
world authority on branding inthe digital entertainment industry, was
featured on the cover of Forbesmagazine's best-selling "Billionaires"
issue in March 2006. Bodog.comEntertainment also includes a television
production unit, an online magazine,Bodog Nation, and further properties
coming soon. For more information,contact publicity at bodogmusic.com. BODOG
is a registered trademark ofBodog.com Entertainment Group.
Web site: http://www.helpnazanin.com Web site: http://www.bodog.tv
De facto Parliament of Abkhazia abolished death penalty
Abkhazian de facto Parliament has established moratorium on death penalty.
The information has been spread by the news agency Apsnipress. Based on
the legislation death penalty has been changed by imprisonment from 15-25
years, and for high treason or military treason - imprisonment for life.
The Moratorium has been functioning on the territory controlled by de
facto Abkhaz government since 1993. And on January 12 2007, the so called
Parliament received relevant law. According to the law, moratorium on
death penalty will function only during the period of peace.
Perspectives: The UN and the death penalty
This week's topic:
New UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been criticized for failing to
assert the UN's policy of opposing the death penalty. One of his first
moves in his new position was to urge the Iraqi government to delay the
executions of Awad Bandar and Barzan Hassan, who were sentenced to death
along with Saddam Hussein for the 1982 executions of Iraqi Shias. Hussein
was executed on 30 December.
However, the request came too late and with too much restraint for some
members of the international community. According to reports, Bandar and
Hassan met the same fate as Hussein this morning.
The issue met with more controversy when Ban said that capital punishment
"was for each and every member state to decide."
Does this reflect the UN's new stance on the death penalty, despite
protests? Should each member country be allowed to determine its own
stance on capital punishment?
Here is what our readers had to say:.
Does this reflect the UN's new stance on the death penalty, despite
I do not think this so much reflects the UN's new stance on the death
penalty as it does the new secretary-general's interpretation of UN
I think it is a simple reality that each member country will determine its
own stand on capital punishment. I do not see that the UN is able to allow
or disallow it.
It was reported that the new UN secretary-general said that capital
punishment was "or each and every member state to decide." This statement
raises two questions. The first question concerns whether any UN
secretary-general is entitled to make such a statement in his or her
official capacity. The second concerns whether the substance of this
statement is correct under current international law regardless of whoever
makes the statement. My answer to the first question is a definite "no"
and to the second question a qualified "no."
First, any UN secretary-general is under an obligation to protect and
promote the objectives and the purposes of the UN as enshrined in its
founding documents and practices. The UN, through its work under the UN
Charter based-mechanisms, namely the General Assembly, the Economic and
Social Council, the former Commission on Human Rights (current Human
Rights Council) and the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of
Human Rights, has systematically called for the abolition of the death
penalty. Even in countries where the death penalty is retained, UN
resolutions recognize that it is contrary to customary international law
to impose capital punishment on juveniles, pregnant women and persons who
may be subject to unfair trials.
Given the plethora of clear and norm-specifying resolutions, a UN
secretary-general cannot not make a public statement on the voluntary
nature of capital punishment in his or her official capacity. This would
be an incorrect depiction of the institution that employs the secretary
The 2nd question concerns the very substance of the statement: Is it
correct to argue that capital punishment is not prohibited under general
international law? It is a fact that there is not a universal treaty that
bans capital punishment. Many states in the world have banned it, some
retain it, and others have it legally, but do not practice it. This does
not, however, mean that states that retain it can impose the death penalty
on whomever they wish, whenever they wish. As the practices of the UN
organs and regional organizations such as the African Union show, if a
state retains capital punishment it can only impose it for the most
serious crimes and only for adults (adult women if they are not pregnant)
and only after a fair trial. Member states of the UN that have the death
penalty as a form of punishment, therefore, do not have a carte blanche on
all matters concerning it as the statement seems to suggest.
Dr Basak Cali----United Kingdom
This raises an even greater issue with regard to the UN - that of
sovereignty. The sovereignty of states is one of the founding principles
of the UN. According to the UN Charter, the world body "is based on the
principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members." The dictionary
defines sovereignty as "freedom from external control"; therefore, in
correspondence with the UN Charter, it is for each member state to decide
its own domestic policies, even with respect to capital punishment.
If we follow the vein of thought that postulates a scenario where the UN
takes it upon itself to undermine nations' sovereignty by outlawing
capital punishment, we invariably arrive at the problem of how the UN
could possibly enforce this ban. The simple answer is that it could not.
The UN is, for all intents and purposes, inept when dealing with issues of
national sovereignty. The UN can bring the defendant to court, try them
and find them guilty; however, without a police force with which to take
the criminal to prison, the defendant will inevitably escape punishment.
To draw on an example which Noam Chomsky highlighted in his book "Rogue
States,"the US was found guilty in 1986 by the World Court for "unlawful
use of force" against Nicaragua, and was ordered to pay US$17 billion in
reparations. The US responded by criticizing the court and, ultimately,
ignored its ruling. An example such as this highlights the lack of power
that international institutions wield.
When the powerful nations of the international community join together in
an attempt to implement a universal policy, or set of guidelines, they can
affect change; however, if a great power refuses to cooperate with a
policy that is not in its national interest, there is very little the UN
can do. The great example again is the US, the only hegemon in the
international system, which currently allows the decision on the death
penalty to be decided at the state level. If the US is not on board with a
policy to outlaw the death penalty, then what can the UN do? This can
similarly be applied to China, and to a lesser extent Russia, where the
possibility of the death penalty being reinstated for acts of terrorism is
not wholly off the cards unless they sign protocol no 6 to the European
Convention of Human Rights.
The world needs guidelines on imposing the death penalty. Enforcement of
these guidelines is the challenge. In addition to agreeing on policy, a
country should have the right to appeal [to the UN] and state its specific
reasons for the need to impose the death penalty. It must agree that the
UN has the final word. A committee could be established for that purpose.
There should be as many ways as possible to discourage executions. The
various cultures, religions and governments now use their own standards,
which vary. Some are unacceptable, immoral and arbitrary in being carried
out. We should have universal ethical standards to which all members must
Anna Boyle Baniher----United States
The UN Charter clearly and explicitly recognizes states sovereignty. If
this principle is abolished, the essence of the UN disappears. This is why
this principle should be guaranteed. The legal norms that rule the worlds
states are unique to those states, in accordance with their economic and
social development, their history and culture. No one should dictate to
the states which norms to introduce, because each states norms must fit
its own conditions.
The death penalty is a cruelty whose effects on reducing crime have proved
ineffective. It should therefore be abolished. However, a pre-condition
for this is that societies evolve to allow for its abolishment. We should
not forget that laws establish the relations between the citizen and the
state and guarantee the protection of the members of society. These laws
must include punitive measures for those who do not respect them. Laws
must respond to a societys level of development.
One should take into account conditions such as poverty, illiteracy, poor
health conditions and inequalities that prevail in many societies. While
some members of these societies live opulently, others subsist in misery
and this creates favorable conditions for crime.
The irresponsible and uncontrolled way in which the mass media exposes the
life of the rich as well as the way it focuses on the bloodiest crimes
also help increase crime.
On the other hand, it is dangerous to criticize some countries more than
others: the US does not receive as much criticism as other, poorer,
Enrique Martnez Daz----CEID Cuba
Translated by Cristina Viehmann, ISN Editor
(source: International Security Watch)
More information about the DeathPenalty