[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jul 25 23:12:36 CDT 2007
Children plead for canceling death penalty
The Parliament of Children appealed to president Ali Abdllah Saleh, head
of the High Judiciary Council and Minister of Justice to stop a death
penalty against the juvenile child Walid Haikal.
In their petition, members of the Children Parliament said Walid was only
15 years when he committed the crime.
"We appeal to you to mercifully and fairly look to this case according to
international conventions, especially the children right convention, which
Yemen has signed," said the petition. It said the convention disallows the
execution of a child under 18 years.
The trial of Walid Haikal, convicted of a murder crime, lasted seven
years, according to the petition.
Politicians Clamouring for Death Penalty ---- Recent mud slinging between
the ruling AKP and the nationalist MHP has widened into a national
discourse on the possibility of reintroducing the death penalty. calan has
become part of the election campaign and people in favour of the death
Politicians are using the death penalty as a cheap means of scoring points
against each other.
In the pursuit of votes, there are no discourses of peace, democracy or
human rights. Rather, nationalism, racism and discrimination are rife.
Thus the killing of people by the state, the death penalty, has become a
topic of discussion again.
"Some deserve it"
According to Prof. Dr. Melek Gregenli, who has conducted research on
perceptions on torture in Turkey, most people consider cases in 2
categories, those that deserve the death penalty, and those who do not.
This means that nearly everyone may have a list of those who deserve "the
death penalty, torture, maltreatment, rape, or exploitation". A kind of
list of "people who do not deserve human rights".
Death penalty competition
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the ruling Justice and Development
Party (AKP) and Devlet Bahceli of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are
publicly arguing about whose fault it is that PKK leader Abdullah calan
was not hanged after his capture in 1999.
It started with Erdogan saying, "You don't become nationalist by saying
you are nationalist. They give you the head of a terrorist leader as a
present. You put him in prison in Imrali [a prison island in the Marmara
Sea] and let the AKP pay the bill."
Erdogan was addressing the MHP who was a coalition partner in government
at the time of calan's capture. The same government also abolished the
death penalty in order to comply with EU criteria.
Bahceli replied at a rally in eastern Turkey: "Instead of accusing the MHP
of not hanging him, if you cannot find rope, here is some rope, if you can
hang the separatist leader, hang him". He shouted at a person behind him
on stage, "give it here", and the man quickly took a rope out of his
jacket or from around his waist, and gave it to Bahceli, who then threw it
into the crowd. It was obvious that this whole spectacle was staged. A bad
script, a bad performance, and bad intentions!
Erdogan's answer was not slow in coming: "If you are so skillful [with the
rope], if only people had sent you rope when you were in government, and
you could have finished the job".
Meanwhile, Yasar Nuri ztrk, a popular theologian-turned-politician who
recently founded the "People's Ascent party" (HYP), has said that they
would widen the scope of the death penalty and bring it back.
Another candidate in the upcoming elections, Kemal Yavuz, standing as an
independent candidate, but with a Great Union Party (BBP) background, was
able to say in a discussion programme on TV 8 that "terrorists and
traitors deserve the death penalty".
The print media has also contributed to the reintroduction of a discussion
on the death penalty. Radikal newspaper editor-in-chief Ismet Berkan
wrote, "The [Kurdish] problem will not be solved with the hanging of
Abdullah calan; if it were, I would support his hanging, although I am
against the death penalty."
What about human rights?
Whoever reads about human rights knows that the most basic right is the
right to life, which cannot be violated under any circumstances. The state
cannot only not violate this right; it also has the duty to protect the
right to life.
Furthermore, this right is universal and cannot be ignored in the case of
In October 2005, Turkey ratified the second optional protocol of the
United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , which guarantees
countries' commitment to the abolishment of the death penalty. In
addition, it has also signed the 13th protocol of the European Convention
of Human Rights, which says that "the death penalty is to be abolished
even during war and when there is a threat of war".
Death penalty not a deterrent
It is important here to remember that the death penalty, despite arguments
to the contrary, does not act as an effective deterrent.
According to research of the Death Penalty Information Centre in the USA,
there is no proof that executions lower crime rates:
* The crime rate in states with the death penalty is higher by 44 percent
than in states without it.
* The number of murders in the USA is 4 times higher than the number of
murders in Europe, which does not apply the death penalty.
Furthermore, death is a punishment that cannot be revoked. According to
Amnesty International, 122 of the people executed in the USA since 1973
were later found to be innocent.
In Turkey rise in nationalism
Political parties in Turkey are not doing anything to address any of the
pressing problems, such as the Kurdish issue, human rights, democracy,
labour rights, poverty, social rights and social policies. As the General
Staff is pushing for "parties of security", political parties are forced
to compete in nationalism.
Politicians and Journalists calling for a return to the death penalty,
should do the following:
* be educated in basic human rights
* read the Charter of Journalists' Rights and Responsibilities, which
declares that defending human rights is a duty
Libya's Release of 6 Prisoners Raises Criticism
After more than 8 years in a Libyan prison, convicted of deliberately
infecting children with the virus that causes AIDS, 5 Bulgarian nurses and
a Palestinian doctor stepped off a French presidential plane to freedom
here on Tuesday.
The charge had been widely dismissed abroad as absurd. The Libyan leader,
Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, had accused the 6 medical workers, who were said
to have been tortured, of acting on the orders of American and Israeli
intelligence agencies to destabilize the Libyan state.
Their liberation, through French intervention and payments of hundreds of
millions of dollars in total to the families of the infected children,
brings to an end a bizarre and tortuous episode that opens the way for
Libya to improved political ties and lucrative trade deals with Europe.
Human rights groups assailed the bargain, saying Libya should not be
rewarded for taking hostages and releasing them for a price.
"This is really an outrageous case in which the lives of these nurses and
medic were literally ransomed for $400 million," said Susannah Sirkin,
deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, a group based in Boston.
"The charges were fabricated; the nurses were tortured into confessing;
there was no due process."
Indeed, after their arrival in Sofia, their stories of torture, beatings
and rape began pouring out. One of the nurses said she tried to commit
"I still can't believe that I am standing on Bulgarian soil," Kristiana
Valcheva, 48, 1 of the 5 nurses, told the state Channel 1 television, as
the medical workers embraced their families.
The freed medical workers were accompanied Tuesday by the 2 women who
reached the final breakthrough: the French first lady, Ccilia Sarkozy, and
the European Unions foreign affairs commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
The liberation of the 6 is a result of a 3-year diplomatic process started
by the European Union, advanced by Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain
and Germany and clinched by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his
In the end, the personal rapport that Mrs. Sarkozy established with
Colonel Qaddafi, his wife and daughter played a crucial role in arriving
at an agreement, French and European officials involved in the initiative
The agreement follows the breakthroughs that brought Libya in from the
diplomatic cold when it acknowledged responsibility for the 1988 Pan Am
103 jetliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 2002, and formally
abandoned its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs in 2003.
At a news conference in Paris, Mr. Sarkozy said, "it is first and foremost
a nightmare that is ending for these women and this man, whose innocence
is obvious for everyone in Europe."
In Sofia on Tuesday, Ms. Ferrero-Waldner of the European Union said the
decision to free the 6 medical workers "will open the way for a new and
enhanced relationship between the E.U. and Libya and reinforce our ties
with the Mediterranean region and the whole of Africa."
Not all of the terms of the deal were clear. Last week, Libyas highest
court commuted the death sentences of the 6 to life imprisonment, after
each of the 460 families of the infected children was told it would
receive $1 million in compensation in exchange for dropping their demands
for the medical workers to be executed.
Colonel Qaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam, who heads a foundation that led
negotiations between the families and the Libyan state, said in an
interview with Le Figaro that Libya was dispensing the funds, but that
Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia and the Czech Republic had also contributed by
forgiving Libya's debt. A senior French official said that at least one
country had already forgiven several tens of millions of dollars of Libyas
debt and that others were considering following suit.
Ms. Ferrero-Waldner said the 27-country European Union would encourage
member governments to pay voluntarily into an umbrella international fund
that would help compensate the families and finance medical treatment and
hospital projects in Libya.
Under the terms of the agreement, which must be approved by European Union
governments, Libya and the Union would develop a full partnership, with
the Europeans promising a package of aid to develop Libyan hospitals and
The Union has also promised a wide range of incentives, including a
regional trade agreement that would ease access to Libyan agricultural
goods in Europe; the financing of restoration of Libyan antiquities; the
offer of scholarships for Libyan students; and the granting of visas to
Libyan citizens for travel in Europe.
Idriss Lagha, the head of the Libyan Union for Children Infected With
H.I.V., said in a telephone interview from Tripoli that financial
compensation for the families, mandated by Islamic law, and promises of
medical support for the infected children and for Libyas hospital in
Benghazi were critically important to reaching a breakthrough.
"This release was finally expected after the negotiations and was in
accordance with Islamic law after the payments were made," Mr. Lagha said.
The release of the medical workers is a diplomatic coup for Mr. Sarkozy,
who will visit Libya on Wednesday during a previously planned trip to
Senegal and Gabon.
In addition to freeing the medical workers, Mr. Sarkozy wanted to
replicate for France Mr. Blairs success with Libya. In May, Mr. Blair,
then the British prime minister, visited Libya and announced a $900
million oil exploration contract that returned BP, the British oil
company, to the country after more than 3 decades. He predicted that
British companies would enjoy "huge" new contracts because Colonel Qaddafi
had joined the global fight against terrorism.
Freeing the medical workers was one of Mr. Sarkozy's campaign promises.
After his election as president of France in May, Mr. Sarkozy, who had
visited Libya when he was interior minister, promised Colonel Qaddafi in
telephone conversations that he would go back as soon as the medical
workers were freed. It was then that Colonel Qaddafi invited Mrs. Sarkozy.
Mrs. Sarkozy apparently charmed the colonel during a first encounter in
Libya earlier this month, conducted without the presence of aides. She
also met with Mr. Qaddafis wife, his daughter, the families of the
infected children and the medical workers. Upon her return to France, Mrs.
Sarkozy described forging "a real relationship of trust" with Colonel
During her 2nd trip to Libya this time with Ms. Ferrero-Waldner of the
European Union Mrs. Sarkozy asked Colonel Qaddafi to be magnanimous. A
European official briefed on the meeting paraphrased Mrs. Sarkozy as
saying: "My husband will come tomorrow if you do this deal, but will not
come if you do not. You are going to release them anyway, so get on with
it. This is your chance to come back into the international fold."
French and European officials spoke anonymously, citing normal diplomatic
At the airport in Sofia, Mrs. Sarkozy waved as she descended from the
plane, putting her hand over her heart and mouthing the word "Merci."
Mr. Sarkozy, who conducted much of the diplomacy himself without turning
to his own Foreign Ministry for backup, last Friday even put the visiting
emir of Qatar to work, arranging for him to call Colonel Qaddafi and
promote the French initiative, a European official said.
Mr. Sarkozy's success positions France to forge a new economic
relationship with Libya.
France, a major supplier to the Libyan Air Force in the 1970s before
Libyas military intervention in Chad chilled French-Libyan relations,
resumed military cooperation with Libya in 2005. France is well-placed to
provide Libya with much-needed help in building superhighways, trains,
satellite systems and civil engineering, aerospace and defense projects.
The French diplomatic coup has rankled some of the countrys European
partners, particularly Germany, whose foreign minister, Frank-Walter
Steinmeier, hammered out the contours of a deal with Colonel Qaddafi
during Germanys six-month presidency of the European Union that ended a
few weeks ago.
"The hyperactive French President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened to blow the
entire deal with his unstoppable urge to get involved in the affair," said
a lengthy article in the magazine Der Spiegel this week that reconstructed
Germany's own diplomatic efforts. It added, "New to international
diplomacy, he first sent his wife Ccilia on a conciliatory visit to the
nurses and infected children in her official capacity as a 'mother.'"
(source: New York Times)
What if death penalty could safeguard lives?
Judge Dennis Davis is the spokesperson for his colleagues in the judiciary
who decide matters for us when he proclaims that calls for the death
penalty are misplaced.
This he does in the face of the ongoing murder rate in our country of
approximately 50 per day and an estimated 85% of South Africans who
believe that it is not misplaced.
In the light of the fact that many of the liberals who support the DA also
think as he does, and that 70% of the population support the ANC, it is
clear that many of the 85% must be supporters of the ruling party that
maintains this situation.
The 15% that Judge Davis represents are convinced that they are wiser than
the overwhelming majority of the population.
The problem is that in 1995 they ruled this way when the majority that
dissented was only about 70%. After 12 years the situation has
deteriorated dramatically and there is reason to expect that it will be
worse after the next 12 years.
His only solution now, as it was then expressed by the president of the
Constitutional Court, is for greater efficiency from lawkeepers.
The court refused then to consider and discuss the merits of a proposal
put before them to prevent the crimes from happening in the first place.
This would be by imposing in the law the foreknowledge in the mind of the
potential murderer of the certainty of the consequences.
I put to the 15%, including the judiciary and lawmakers, the following
simple and crucial question to clarify whether the people's call is indeed
If the law could be structured so that the death penalty would indeed
deter a category of murder to safeguard innocent lives and the possibility
of wrongful execution would be eliminated, would they still persist in
Ian Glauber ---- Forest Town, Joburg
(source: Letter to the Editor, The Star)
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