[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Jul 9 16:34:35 CDT 2007
A Violation of the Most Fundamental of Human Rights
The European Commission has put forward a proposal for 10 October as the
date for European Day against the Death Penalty in a draft Joint
Declaration to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, to be
adopted together with the Council of Europe. By establishing an officially
recognised European Day, the Commission aims to raise awareness as well as
set an example to the rest of the world.
Over half the world's countries have put an end to capital punishment in
either law or practice with 10 retaining it only for exceptional crimes
such as those carried out in war and 30 preserving it in law but having a
10 year record of not putting it into practice. However, there remains the
other half. Last year, 3,861 people were sentenced to death in 55
countries around the world, with 1,591 executions carried out in 25
countries. "The death penalty is a violation of the most fundamental of
human rights, namely the right to life," said Franco Frattini, EU
Vice-President and Commissioner responsible for Freedom, Security and
Justice, "Nothing justifies the death penalty."
Abolition of the death penalty is a condition of membership in either the
Council of Europe or the European Union and it is 10 years since it was
last used anywhere within the Council of Europe's 47 member countries. It
is prohibited under both the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
and the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights and the EU is working
constantly to promote abolition around the world, putting pressure on
retentionist countries. "We Europeans are the number one advocate against
the death penalty and for its universal abolition," said Commissioner for
External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita
Ferrero-Waldner, "And we will not rest until the death penalty becomes
history in every country of the world."
If successful, the Joint Declaration will be signed by the European
Parliament, the EU Presidency, the European Commission and the Council of
Europe at the International Conference in Lisbon on 9 October 2007.
Amnesty International USA Press Release----Monday, July 9, 2007
Amnesty International Calls on Ethiopia to Reject Death Sentences for 38
Defendants in Political Trial
Reacting to today's court proceedings in Ethiopia in which the prosecutor
demanded death sentences for 38 defendants in a 14-month-long political
trial, Amnesty International expressed outrage and called on the court to
reject the prosecutor's demand.
The court told the defendants to submit pleas of mitigation in the next 3
days. Sentences are expected to be announced on July 16.
The defendants include 2 women, journalists, a prominent human rights
defender and leaders of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy
(CUD) party. All have been in prison since November 2005. During the
prosecution case they had refused to defend themselves because they
believed they would not receive a fair trial.
They were convicted of "outrages against the Constitution" and "impairing
the defensive power of the state," with 5 of them also convicted of
"leading, preparing or inciting armed opposition." They had earlier been
acquitted of "treason" and "attempted genocide," but the prosecutor has
appealed against this earlier court decision.
"The prosecutor's demand for the death sentence against prisoners of
conscience is outrageous," said Lynn Fredriksson, advocacy director for
Africa for Amnesty International USA.
On the basis of the information available to Amnesty International, most
of these detainees -- if not all -- are prisoners of conscience who have
not used or advocated violence; they have been imprisoned for their
opinions. Amnesty International has been calling for their immediate and
There have been several unconfirmed reports that the Ethiopian government
is considering releasing the 38 on certain conditions -- as well as some
other CUD members still on trial -- in the coming days.
For several months during the trial, the imprisoned CUD leaders have been
reported by various sources to have been engaged in private communications
with government representatives through undisclosed mediators.
It has been unofficially reported that they may be granted a "pardon" and
released in exchange for having signed a statement, along with other CUD
members still on trial, that is said to be an admission of some
responsibility for the violence that took place during demonstrations in
June and November 2005 following disputed elections. During the protests,
193 demonstrators were shot dead by the security forces and 6 police
officers were killed.
A government official has said that any such pardon could only be granted
through the presidential amnesty or pardon process after the end of the
10 other defendants in the same trial who are presenting a defense are due
to appear in court on July 12. They include civil society activists Daniel
Bekele and Netsanet Demissie, who are prisoners of conscience.
Another separate trial of CUD members -- including Kifle Tigneh, an
elected Member of Parliament -- has been adjourned to October 29. The
defendants in this trial also face possible death sentences.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without
exception believing it to be a violation of the right to life and the
ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The death penalty
legitimizes an irreversible act of violence by the state and will
inevitably claim innocent victims. Amnesty International has called for
unconditional and worldwide abolition of the death penalty.
(source: Amnesty International USA)
Letter threatens life of death-penalty foe
A letter threatening the life of an outspoken critic of capital punishment
leading the defense in a high-profile murder trial was mailed to the Asahi
Shimbun in Tokyo, investigation sources said Sunday.
The envelope, delivered to the newspaper Saturday, also contained what
appeared to be a bullet, the sources said.
Written on a word processor, the letter reportedly threatens to
"obliterate" attorney Yoshihiro Yasuda.
He is defending a 26-year-old man who was convicted of killing a woman and
her infant daughter in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in April 1999 and is
now trying to avoid the death penalty. His name is being withheld because
he was a minor at the time of the crime.
The envelope was postmarked Thursday at a post office in Chiba Prefecture,
the sources said.
A similar letter with a fake bullet was sent last month to the Japan
Federation of Bar Associations. It threatened to "execute the defense
lawyers if (the defendant) cannot be sentenced to death."
(source: Japan Times)
Prosecutor calls for death penalty
The prosecutor of Ethiopia's Federal High Court on Monday requested the
death penalty for 38 opposition members accused of "plotting against the
"According to the country's penal code maximum punishment should be dealt
to parties found guilty of plotting against the constitution," the court's
top prosecutor Abraha Tetemke said.
The 38 are among more than 100 opposition figures put on trial by the
state on charges of plotting a coup following disputed 2005 polls which
the opposition claims were rigged.
The group, convicted on June 11, had refused to be defended in court and
admitted responsibility for the unrest that followed the controversial
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