[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Nov 8 21:34:45 CST 2007
Hafidh Ibrahim, after his narrow escape from death sentence: "I will study
at the Faculty of Law and Human Rights."
Talking to the reporter in the police station.
Hadfidh Ibrahim's case aroused large-scale interest among those interested
in delinquents' issues. Ibrahim was sentenced to death for murder. The
court insisted on carrying out the verdict, but both civil society and
international organizations, including Amnesty International, as well as
media outlets publicized the case.
Such intervention resulted in the court halting the death sentence.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered negotiations with the victim's blood
relatives in order to settle their claim. It worked and the verdict was
overturned, thus securing Ibrahim's release from prison. He immediately
went to the Yemen Times Taiz bureau to give the following interview:
How long were you in the delinquents' prison?
I spent 7 years there, since I was 12. Despite the fact that I was an
underage delinquent, they put me in the general prison. I appeared in
person before the court to be tried as a suspect below the legal age or
even the age of puberty; however, they forged my age in the lawsuit. They
put me in the Central Prison and sentenced me to death as well.
As a delinquent inside the prison, what were your impressions?
They treated me well, particularly the head of the prison, and allowed my
family to visit me. I found some others the same age as me, so I
acclimated to the living conditions inside the prison. I also was allowed
to pursue my studies, earning a high school certificate with an 84 %
Did your death sentence affect your concentration while studying?
First, I'd like to say that it was terrible. I was very confused because
it was the 1st time to hear it. However, I trusted Allah and my attorney,
who I was sure was very clever, professional and believed in my acquittal,
so I kept in touch with him. For these reasons, the verdict didnt affect
me while studying.
I want to continue my studies by studying law because I like that field
and I saw the value of being a lawyer because such profession has a very
important role in defending justice. Therefore, I'll study at the Faculty
of Law and Human Rights because the legal profession is a noble one.
How did you feel when they overturned the death sentence?
It was an indescribable feeling. I felt like I was born again. I felt the
value of life; it was priceless. I thanked God, who caused me to feel this
and to know the value of being alive. I think most people don't know this,
but when they are in the same situation as me, they'll realize it.
Additionally, I hope those attorneys who are unfaithful and disloyal to
their profession will be placed in the same situation in order not to
issue verdicts like mine until they verify and seek justice before issuing
any such verdicts.
What do you plan to do after your release and what do you want others to
I'l Hafidh before his release.
l pursue my studies by enrolling in university where I'll study law and
human rights so that I can defend justice. I want others to put away their
firearms, which lead to calamities, as it did in my case. My problems were
caused by my carrying firearms, although I didn't mean for it to happen.
For this reason, I call on all not to carry any type of firearms.
Additionally, I request the Yemeni government continue its campaign
against carrying weapons in order to reduce this phenomenon. I also urge
parents to prevent their children from doing so as well, so they won't be
involved in such tragedies. Those who carry weapons may kill themselves or
others by mistake.
I further demand suing judges and reforming Yemens judiciary system
because there is a lot of corruption there. Additionally, I demand
encouraging the press due to its vital role in correcting the existing
If the Yemen Times hadn't made a big deal of my case, I would have been
executed because it was the Yemen Times' coverage that made them correct
and review my case. Otherwise, I would have been a victim of corrupt
judicial action. I want to promote such newspapers in order to follow up
human rights issues, especially those involving children and delinquents.
Many people know nothing about their issues, so they become victims of
illegal violations. If newspapers like the Yemen Times discovered and
revealed the news, many things would be corrected. Therefore, I call on
human rights organizations to support such newspapers because they can
facilitate many of their humanitarian goals.
Do you have any message for civil society organizations?
I thank all of the civil society and human rights organizations for their
support of me because they took a serious stand in my case and this is a
great achievement. Special thanks to the Sisters Arab Forum, Amnesty
International, the European Union, the French Embassy, the Yemen Times,
President Saleh, attorney Essam A. Hamoud and those others who supported
Again, I call on human rights organizations to unite their efforts with
newspapers in order to see their goals come to fruition; otherwise, there
will be human rights violations.
(source: Yemen Times)
Controversy Swirls Over When to Execute
Egyptians are likely to watch the upcoming U.N. General Assembly vote on a
moratorium on executions -- to be held in the coming weeks -- with
interest. But while many in this majority Muslim country would welcome a
resolution aimed at reining in the use of capital punishment, there remain
serious reservations about making any pledges for the "total abolition" of
"Our society has its own beliefs and standards," Sayyid Askar, Muslim
Brotherhood MP and member of a parliament's religious affairs committee,
told IPS. "Even if there is an international trend towards the abolition
of capital punishment, we aren't interested in imitating other societies
in this matter."
Askar was commenting ahead of the tabling in the U.N. of an EU-supported
initiative for a worldwide moratorium on executions. The Muslim
Brotherhood, formally banned under restrictions against parties based on
religion, represents roughly 1/5 of the national assembly which is
controlled by the ruling National Democratic Party of President Hosni
Under Mubarak, the use of the death penalty has reportedly increased over
the past decade, although there is little official data available on the
subject. According to the Cairo-based Maat Centre for Judicial and
Constitutional Studies, at least 20 death sentences were handed out last
Under the current terms of Egyptian law, some 90 different crimes can
warrant execution, including premeditated murder, rape and drug-related
offences, as well as a number of so-called "political offences" such as
"attempting to overthrow the regime by force". Over the course of the past
decade, death sentences have been meted out for most if not all of these
Islamic Law, by contrast, mandates the death penalty for only a small
handful of serious offences, which include premeditated murder, violent
crimes such as armed robbery, apostasy, and adultery. Although Article 2
of the national charter states that Islamic Law constitutes "the principle
source of legislation," apostasy and adultery are not capital crimes in
In agreement with most human-rights organisations, Islamist politicians
support the elimination of death penalties for all other crimes that
currently carry capital sentences, particularly those of a political
nature. They are adamant, however, that the practice of capital punishment
not be entirely eliminated.
"Islamic Law maintains that the death penalty for the most serious of
crimes is necessary for the cohesion and stability of society as a whole,"
Local opponents of capital punishment, however, argue that the case
against such a grave punishment resides in the fact that a death sentence,
once carried out, is irreversible.
"It's a penalty that cannot be undone," Ayman Aqeel, head of the Maat
Centre and coordinator for the Egyptian Coalition against the Death
Penalty, told IPS. "And in Egypt, where there's a good deal of official
corruption and negligence, there have been several past cases when
convicts condemned to death were subsequently vindicated."
"The alliance therefore supports the abolition of the death penalty for
all crimes except premeditated murder," explained Aqeel. "And even in this
case, defendants must be subject to impartial investigations and have the
right to appeal the verdict more than once."
Askar responded by saying that Islamic Law lays down strict guidelines in
order to prevent the erroneous execution of innocent parties.
"Islamic Law provides stringent principles for the implementation of the
death penalty, the most important of which is a strong base in careful
jurisprudence," he said. "And if there is any doubt about the guilt of the
accused, it's better for a Muslim judge to find one hundred guilty people
innocent than to convict a single innocent person."
A recent conference in Cairo on the subject organised by the state-run
National Council for Human Rights, NCHR, highlighted the contentious
nature of the issue for many Egyptians. Held on Oct. 21 and 22 under the
title "Roundtable on the Principles of Capital Punishment," participants
reportedly discussed international human-rights protocols dealing with the
Days before the roundtable, however, reports appeared in the local press
suggesting the event had been organised to discuss the total abolition of
the death penalty in Egypt. Some newspapers also reported that Muslim
Brotherhood MPs planned to launch a campaign in parliament against the
NCHR in response to the council's purported stand on the issue.
Responding to initial news reports, NCHR Deputy Speaker Ahmed Kamal
Aboul-Magd issued a statement on the first day of the conference
clarifying the council's position. In it he stressed that the roundtable
was "not organised for the purpose of discussing the total abolition of
the death penalty".
"The council did not suggest, nor is it thinking about suggesting, the
total abolition of capital punishment," Aboul-Magd noted in the statement.
He went on to say that neither he nor the NCHR had "any knowledge of a
disagreement on the issue with members of parliament".
Spokesmen for the Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, confirmed the
non-existence of the purported conflict. "We didn't even know they were
holding the conference in the first place," Hamdi Hassan, spokesman for
the Muslim Brotherhood's bloc in parliament, told IPS.
Although the news reports turned out to be erroneous, Aqeel pointed out
that the council's hasty clarification served to highlight the controversy
surrounding the idea of entirely abolishing the death penalty.
"Inaccurate news reports caused a good deal of confusion," Aqeel said.
"But the NCHR statement was largely the result of the fear that anyone
working to abolish the death penalty will be seen as standing in
opposition to Islamic Law."
In any case, the council ultimately issued a number of significant
recommendations for the future application of capital sentences. The most
notable of these proposed the total abolition of capital punishment for
It also called for the Grand Mufti of the Republic (a state-appointed
religious authority) to be granted the final word in capital cases and an
end to the practice of trying civilians in military courts where death
sentences could potentially be handed down.
Whether or not the government will take up any of these recommendations,
though, remains open to question.
"I'm not very hopeful that the council's proposals will be implemented,"
Commenting on the effect that a possible U.N. decision on ending the
practice might have on Egypt's capital punishment laws, he said: "I would
be more optimistic if the U.N. issued a resolution stipulating the
abolition of the death penalty for all but the most extreme crimes."
(source: IPS News)
Group denounces Canada over death penalty
Human Rights Watch, a leading international advocacy group based in the
United States, has denounced the Conservative government's new policy to
stop seeking clemency for Canadians on death row in the U.S.
The New York-based rights watchdog - which joins Amnesty International,
all three federal opposition parties and a chorus of critics across Canada
in condemning the government's sudden reversal on the issue - released a
statement Wednesday urging Canada to return to resisting "an inherently
cruel and unusual form of punishment and a violation of fundamental human
"Canada decided long ago that the death penalty has no place in a
civilized society," said David Fathi, director of the U.S. branch of Human
Rights Watch. "The Canadian government shouldn't abandon its longtime
policy aimed at preventing the execution of its citizens in the United
Canadian Ronald Smith is facing death by lethal injection for the murders
of two Native American men in 1982.
CanWest News Service revealed last week the Canadian government had -
within days of expressing its opposition to capital punishment - ended a
decades-old policy of seeking clemency for any Canadian facing execution
outside of the country.
The new policy - that Canada won't seek clemency for Canadians on death
row in "democratic countries, like the United States, where there has been
a fair trial" - was prompted by a CanWest News Service story about Ronald
Smith, a 50-year-old Alberta native at Montana State Prison who is facing
death by lethal injection for the murders of 2 Native American men in
Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: "The reality of this
particular case is that were we to intervene it would very quickly become
a question of whether we are prepared to repatriate a double-murderer to
Canada. In light of this government's strong initiatives on tackling
violent crime I think that would send the wrong signal to the Canadian
Human Rights Watch noted the death penalty is under unprecedented scrutiny
in the U.S., where the Supreme Court recently agreed to rule on whether
execution by lethal injection should be considered "cruel and unusual
punishment" because of the "excruciating" pain it inflicts on those
The Canadian government's decision not to try to save Smith's life came
less than a week after the American Bar Association called for a U.S.-wide
moratorium on all forms of capital punishment, Human Rights Watch added.
"Americans are beginning to conclude that their death penalty system is
irreparably broken," said Fathi. "This is not the time for Canada to
announce that it will no longer seek to prevent the execution of its
citizens south of the border."
The denouncing of Canada's new policy by Human Rights Watch also comes a
day after Amnesty International Canada published an open letter to Harper,
expressing its "deep concern" about the abrupt reversal of Canada's
The letter, signed by Amnesty executives Alex Neve and Beatrice Vaugrante,
also hammered the Conservative government for Canada's decision - for the
first time in a decade - to not co-sponsor an upcoming resolution at the
UN General Assembly urging a global moratorium on capital punishment. The
resolution is sponsored by 74 countries including the European Union, New
Zealand and Australia.
Canada's decision to not sign on is a shift in policy that shows the
Conservatives' true nature, Liberal Justice Critic Marlene Jennings said
"They're desperate to appear moderate, to trick Canadians into believing
that a Conservative government wouldn't move Canada closer to the radical
agenda of President Bush," Jennings said in a statement. "But the truth is
that this government is eager to implement a socially conservative agenda,
and they'll start by sneaking what they can through the backdoor, since
they know they can't pass any of it in the current Parliament."
Harper's actions can only be taken as a sign that he no longer wishes
Canada to be seen as a country that strongly opposes the death penalty,
said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
"The Conservative government owes Canadians an explanation: if Mr. Harper
and his ministers still oppose the death penalty, why will they not
co-sponsor the UN resolution and why are they allowing Canadian citizens
to be executed in foreign countries?
"We must oppose murder, even if it is state-sanctioned murder."
"Both of these developments represent setbacks in Canada's international
human rights record," the Amnesty letter states. "That is obviously deeply
regrettable with any government, perhaps doubly so with a country such as
Canada, which has such a strong global reputation when it comes to human
Amnesty added it "would be a travesty" if Canada fails to fight for the
life of a Canadian on death row even as Canadian law demands the
government seek a no-execution guarantee from the U.S. before extraditing
a suspect from this country to a death-penalty state.
Neve and Vaugrante urged the government to reverse its recent reversals,
noting that "no date has yet been set for Mr. Smith's execution" and that
the UN vote is set for Nov. 14, and "Canada can still add its name to the
list of co-sponsors."
(source: CanWest News Service)
New policy on murderers a killer
As far as I can figure it, here is the new policy of Prime Minister
Stephen Harper and the Conservatives when it comes to the death penalty.
We will no longer pressure other governments not to impose the death
penalty on Canadians convicted of capital crimes abroad, as long as they
are democracies that support the rule of law, like the United States.
But we will continue to insist that, say, an American captured in Canada
who is wanted for capital crimes in the U.S., not be put to death if found
guilty, before agreeing to extradite him.
And if that's now our policy, then, with the greatest respect, isn't that
kind of stupid?
Why would we be more concerned about the imposition of the death penalty
on an American than a Canadian?
I say this as someone who supports the death penalty, while aware the
possibility of ever restoring it to Canada is, you should pardon the
expression, a "dead" issue, given our soft-on-crime chattering classes.
Further, a 2001 unanimous Supreme Court of Canada ruling which nixed the
extradition of two Canadians who were accused of a triple murder in the
U.S., unless Canada received assurances they would not be executed,
strongly suggested the Supreme Court would today strike down any law
bringing back capital punishment as unconstitutional.
Indeed, trying to bring back the death penalty in Canada would be as
futile as, say, passing a law defining same-sex marriages as civil unions,
which our chattering classes consider homophobic, even though it's the
position of every major Democratic contender for the U.S. presidential
nomination. But I digress.
The point is that bad things and unintended consequences can happen when
you change justice policy on the fly. And that's what the Conservatives
appeared to do last week when Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day
announced, to the apparent surprise of the foreign affairs department,
that Canada was no longer seeking clemency for Ronald Allen Smith of
He's facing execution by lethal injection for the 1982 murder of 2
innocent men in Montana.
I think Smith should be executed because of the brutality and callousness
of his crimes and because there's no doubt of his guilt. But do we really
want to give up our right to intercede on behalf of ANY Canadian who may
be convicted of a capital crime and sentenced to death abroad, as long as
it's done by a democracy supporting the rule of law?
By the way, which countries do the Conservatives define as democracies
supporting the rule of law? Couldn't that be open to dispute? And even in
such a democracy, is there no possibility of a trial where a Canadian
abroad could be wrongly convicted (obviously, not the case with Smith),
which, if he's already dead when that information comes to light, would
make freeing him a rather moot point?
Instead of a blanket policy that we will or won't seek clemency for
Canadians convicted of murder abroad, as long as the country doing it
meets some undefined standard of democracy and the rule of law, shouldn't
our policy be that we will look at each case on its merits and, applying
good judgment and common sense, decide whether we want to protest the
imposition of the death penalty?
Wouldn't that make more sense?
(source: Comment, Lorrie GOldstein, Edmonton Sun)
UN to vote on death penalty halt----General Assembly resolutions are
non-binding but can send a signal
A resolution calling for a worldwide suspension of the use of the death
penalty has been introduced at the United Nations General Assembly.
81 of the 192 UN members are backing the resolution, which is expected to
be voted on next week.
This resolution calls for countries which still have the death penalty to
introduce a moratorium or a suspension, with a view to abolishing the
Opponents of the moratorium are led by Singapore.
130 countries have already banned the death penalty, and only 25 nations
carried out executions last year.
Franklin Makanga of Gabon said there should be a worldwide pause in the
use of capital punishment.
"No country, no legal system, even the most advanced one is immune to
miscarriages of justice. There are great risks of executing innocent
people which is irreversible and irreparable," he said.
There is considerable opposition to suspending the death penalty from
those countries that use it the most, led by Singapore.
The island state argues capital punishment is not about human rights but
criminal justice and that is for each country to decide on.
Human rights groups say Singapore may try to introduce what are known are
"wrecking amendments", changes to the resolution which would have the
effect of making it ineffective.
Although General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, a vote
calling for a suspension of the death penalty, backed by a majority of
countries, will be a significant statement of changing international
(source: BBC News)
The death penalty is wrong -- it reduces the society that uses it to the
lowest common denominator and to the same level as those that commit
The probability of killing a wrongly convicted person is so high, and its
deterrent nature has been shown to be so small (just look at the U.S.)
that there can be no valid or rational argument in support of the death
penalty. ANDREW KEITH----Jakarta
The death penalty is a must for killers and drug traffickers. The death
penalty must be applied for terrorists who killed Munir, Marsinah and
Udin. LUKMAN----Bandarlampung, Lampung
Death penalty is the best tool to deter people from making a mockery of
our laws. SANUSI ISMAIL----Jakarta
Well done! I absolutely agree with the court's rejection while drugs could
devastate anyone's life who did not consume it properly.
Dealing in drugs is similar to dealing in death. It is reasonably fair
when we all refer to a life quote, which says: You will get what you give.
REYNER----Depok, West Java
In medical definitions, alcohol is considered a very addictive hard drug,
whereas cannabis (marijuana) is a soft drug. The use of alcohol is in many
ways much more harmful to a person than cannabis.
In some countries marijuana is prescribed as an alternative to (opium
derived) painkillers and addictive sedatives. The misuse of alcohol is
costing each society much more money and many more lives than the use of
marijuana or even XTC.
So let somebody explain me why people should be killed only because they
produce or possess the side products of a harmless plant. GEORGE
European countries like France, my home country, have abolished the death
penalty considering it an extreme and inhuman sentence. Well known as the
pioneer of human rights, France nowadays is facing a huge criminality
problem and the justice system shows unfortunately its real limits. French
people are expecting radical and effective governmental decisions. The
death penalty seems to be the right choice, French people say.
Death sentence is still needed. You can't take or eliminate someone's life
and then still hope to keep your own life. If capital punishment was
abolished, and the murderer only got a prison sentence, he/she would get
remissions and someday be freed. It's not fair. ANINDYA----Jakarta
Actually it is no one's right to take one's life. However, we live in a
world of constant threat of crime from evil doers. Therefore, one must
take/give a severe punishment of one's cause of action. J.S. LEE Jakarta
Death penalty is not fitting for civilized society anymore. Somebody's
life should be useful for others. I hope the law makers will consider
alternative punishments. E. SANTOSO----Singapore
Who is more dangerous to the community a drug trafficker or a terrorist?
Killing people does not address the underlying issues. Innocent people die
or suffering continues and nothing changes. GERALDINE----Sydney
The penalty for any drugs traffickers and corruptors is death. Softer
punishments are not enough to stop those criminals JEAN MICHEL
No one has the right to end someone's life for any reason, even "in the
name of justice". Taking life is God's job. Every person deserves a second
Singapore and Malaysia have the death penalty. Indonesia must continue
with the death penalty mercilessly and apply it for corruptors also.
I agree with the death penalty. MONA JAHJA----Jakarta
Only God has the right to pull out someone's soul. A. H.
Death penalty is barbaric and has no place in the 21st century and in
civilized society. ANDRE----Jakarta
I think death penalty should be abolished, but if we still have it, it
should be only for corruptors. ROSSIE----Jakarta
Death penalty is a must for members of drug mafia. JACOB----Jakarta.
It is something wrong with us, we easily judge people who don't hurt us,
but protect those who have killed many people like Bali and church
bombers. AJENG----Bogor, West Java
Death penalty is not only given to drug traffickers but also to corruptors
who have caused severe losses to the country. BONNA----Jakarta
I reject the death penalty based on my moral convictions and my
interpretation of the articles on human rights in our Constitution.
KAMANTO SUNARTO----Tangerang, Banten
No death penalty is suitable for whatever crime; forgiveness not hate.
Although capital punishment deprives the basic right to live, I support it
for some reasons. First, it is applied to the crimes that cause mass
casualties like terrorism, drug trafficking and corruption. Second, it is
needed to deter people from doing such actions. Third, even religion
allows capital punishment as stated in the holy Koran. JUJU
How does killing someone who has done a terrible crime make things better?
In fact, it makes us murderers -- not only is nothing solved but we make
things worse. RIO HELMI----Ubud, Bali
If someone tells you not to stick your head in the oven because it will
kill you, you should take notice! If a country says, "Bring drugs here and
you will die," surely they should take notice? They knew the consequences.
MIKE HURLEY----Denpasar, Bali
Death penalty is a must for drug traffickers, by doing so we will
discourage others to follow suit. AGOES HARJANTO----Tangerang, Banten
I totally agree with the death penalty. These people get rich by
destroying other peoples lives. YENNI AND BRIAN----Jakarta
Do not apply death penalty. Put the convicts away for a long time in the
worst possible jail. Let them really sweat the time out. CISCA
The death penalty puts an end to life abruptly while a life sentence, if
followed strictly, will allow the person to introspect into his inner
conscience and become a better human being. MANOJ VASWANI ----Jakarta
I really think that drug traffickers should get the death penalty. It
makes other people afraid to deal with the drug trafficking business.
We have to find the boss of the drug carriers and punish him only with
death penalty. So that all of the drugs users will be frightened.
Indonesia should still maintain the law and create justice. LUTVINA
(source: Comments; The Jakarta Post)
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