[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Nov 10 10:48:09 CST 2007
Ex-justice assails death-row policy
Louise Arbour, the former Supreme Court of Canada judge who now serves as
the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has denounced as "very
troubling" the Conservative government's new hands-off policy on death-row
prisoners in the U.S., and its plan to soften Canada's opposition to
capital punishment in an upcoming vote at the UN General Assembly.
In a statement sent to CanWest News Service yesterday, Arbour's office in
Geneva said: "The High Commissioner believes that not seeking clemency is
very troubling, and so is the fact that Canada is not among the
co-sponsors of the draft resolution before the UN General Assembly on a
global moratorium on capital punishment."
The rebuke from Arbour -- who also holds the title of
undersecretary-general of the United Nations -- adds a powerful
international voice to the growing chorus of criticism over the federal
government's abrupt reversal last week of long-standing Canadian foreign
policy to seek clemency for any Canadian citizen on death row around the
Instead, under a new directive first revealed last week by CanWest News
Service, Canada will no longer fight for the lives of Canadians facing
execution in "democratic countries, like the United States, where there
has been a fair trial."
All federal opposition parties, Amnesty International-Canada, U.S.-based
Human Rights Watch and a wide array of other critics have denounced the
Conservative government for its new stance on clemency.
Accusations that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet are now
tacitly endorsing the death penalty were fuelled earlier this week by news
that Canada would not be co-sponsoring next week's UN resolution against
state executions, abandoning a decade-long leadership role on the issue.
The uproar over clemency was prompted by the case of Ronald Smith -- an
Alberta man facing death by lethal injection in Montana for murdering two
Americans during a drunken hitchhiking trip to the U.S. in 1982.
Foreign Affairs officials told CanWest News Service on Oct. 26 that Canada
was working to save Smith from execution. But Harper said last week his
government would, in fact, not seek commutation of Smith's death sentence
from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer because "it would very quickly become a
question of whether we are prepared to repatriate a double-murderer to
Arbour, who also served as chief UN prosecutor in trials over genocides in
Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, has led global efforts to abolish the
Earlier this year, she commended Rwanda for ending capital punishment in
(source: CanWest News Service)
NEWS RELEASE: Canadians do not want to revisit the death penalty
Until this week, Canada has been a leader on the global stage in the fight
against the death penalty.
As a co-sponsor of numerous resolutions before the United Nations Human
Rights Commission, Canada has worked alongside countries such as the
United Kingdom and Australia to push for a worldwide moratorium on the use
of the death penalty.
"Foreign policy should always be a reflection of our domestic beliefs and
values. Since Canadians do not believe in capital punishment, our
government should not accept Canadians being put to death in foreign
countries."said Liberal MP Brent St. Denis.
For this reason, the Conservative governments recent decision to no longer
co-sponsor a United Nations' resolution opposing the use of the death
penalty is a shift in policy that shows the true nature of this minority
The UN Human Rights Commission voted every year from 1998 to 2005 on a
similar resolution and Canada was a co-sponsor each time, according to
Canada's former ambassador to the United Nations, Paul Heinbecker, said
co-sponsorship doesn't involve much effort - a simple phone call or the
raising of a hand during a meeting.
He said in the absence of a radical change in the wording of such a
mainstream resolution, the decision not to co-sponsor signifies a
departure for the Canadian government. "You can only take these as signs
of how the government wants to be seen," Heinbecker said.
Additionally, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day surprised the House of
Commons by announcing that Canada will not oppose the execution of a
Canadian citizen on death row in Montana for two murders.
Despite their claims that they have no intention of reintroducing the
death penalty in Canada, many current cabinet ministers have spoken
publicly about their support for the death penalty.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Public
Safety Minister Stockwell Day have all publicly supported reinstating the
death penalty in Canada.
The former Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau abolished the death
penalty in 1976 with a free vote in Parliament.
In 1987, the Conservative Mulroney government held a free vote on the
reinstatement of the death penalty.
The House voted against its reinstatement.
Recent opinion polls have shown that Canadians overwhelmingly oppose the
reintroduction of the death penalty in Canada.
The overwhelming majority of Canadians are appalled at the swelling list
of the wrongfully convicted who could be dead now but for Canada's
abolition of the death penalty in 1976 - Steven Truscott, David Milgaard,
Donald Marshall Jr., Romeo Phillion, Thomas Sophonow, Guy Paul Morin,
James Driskell, William Mullins-Johnson and possibly many more to come,
including Kyle Unger and Wilbert Coffin, hanged in the 1950s.
(source: Brent St. Denis, SooToday)
OFW Still on Death Row Despite Pardon from Victim's Family
The father of Marilou Ranario, an OFW who is on death row in Kuwait for
allegedly killing her employer, is disappointed to learn that her daughter
is still on death row despite the reported forgiveness by the family of
Rosario Ranario, 64, father of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Marilou
Ranario who is on death row in Kuwait, expressed his disappointment that
the death sentence on his daughter has not yet been lifted despite the
reported forgiveness given by the family of the victim.
A Kuwaiti court sentenced Marilou to death by hanging in September 2005
for killing her female employer. An appeals court upheld this decision in
February 2007. Marilou's case is under final appeal with Kuwait's highest
court, the Court of Cassation. Oral arguments are set this November with
the final decision expected in January or February 2008.
In a Nov. 7 dialogue, Rosario asked Philippine government officials if
they can get Marilou out of death row. However, he said that he got
worried when he was told by Atty. Paulo Sarep of the Office of the
Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs of the Department of Foreign
Affairs (OUMWA-DFA) that there is no assurance that Marilou will be saved.
Government representatives from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration
(OWWA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and
Department of Social Welfare and Development-National Capital Region
(DSWD-NCR) and Migrante International officers were also present in the
dialogue at the St. Peter Parish in Commonwealth, Quezon City.
"May forgiveness na eh bakit hindi pa rin mailigtas ang buhay ni Marilou?
(There was already forgiveness from the victim's family but why is it that
the life of Marilou still cannot be saved?)" asked Rosario during the
meeting. He said that POEA, OWWA and DSWD-NCR representatives could also
not answer his question and just pointed to the DFA for the update on
"Sana magawan ng paraan ng gobyerno dahil may forgiveness na naman (I hope
that the government will find a way because there was forgiveness
already)," Rosario said.
Rosario is currently in Quezon City to personally get updates and
coordinate with government officials and other concerned groups and
individuals about his daughter's case. He said that his fare was provided
by church groups and other concerned organizations and individuals,
including the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), Catholic
churches in their place and their Sangguniang Baranggay (village council).
Life in the province
When Marilou was still in Manila, she and her 2 other siblings, Weng and
Allan, send about P2,000 ($46.73, based on an exchange rate of P42.795 per
US dollar) monthly to help in the finances of their parents. Since Marilou
worked in Kuwait in December 2003, she has remitted only twice to her
parents because of the deductions by the agency and other dues. She has
sent P11,000 ($257.04) and P4,000 ($93.47) in July and November 2004,
respectively, before the alleged crime happened.
Though Rosario is grateful that his grandchildren have scholarships, he
said that they are still living in poor condition in Surigao del Norte.
Since Marilou's detention, Rosario's family only survives by planting rice
in a borrowed one-fourth hectare land. He is thankful that the owner of
the land understands that he cannot rent it given his family's situation.
Out of the 10 to 12 sacks that he manages to harvest, he gives 1 or 2
sacks to the owner of the land as an offering for his kindness.
In times of calamities or non-planting season, he would depend on the
sales of their small piggery. In 2006, OWWA gave monetary assistance to
Marilou's family which Rosario used to buy a carabao for farming and
piglets to start their piggery. He said that they hardly profited from the
piggery because of the rising cost of feeds. Though they can sell a pig
for P5,000 ($116.84) to P6,000 ($140.20) each depending on its weight,
they are also burdened with the feeds consumption amounting to about P850
To augment their earnings, Rosario offers his carabao for rent to Anglo
Exploration which conducts mining activities in their province. For a
2-hour walk carrying the crude oil used in the mining site, his carabao
rental amounts to P800 ($18.69). However, the carabao is rented only once
Already 65, Rosario said that he is already experiencing physical
limitations in working. Aside from his grandchildren's scholarship, he is
asking for donations of food, particularly rice, and additional money to
meet other expenses.
Though the OWWA in Butuan yearly gives $100 from a sponsor's pledge,
Rosario said that 4 of them (he, his wife and Marilou's 2 children) still
have to go to Butuan to submit the childrens records and for the
children's personal appearance in the government agency. Aside from the
transportation expenses of about P100 ($2.34) one-way trip for each,
Rosario said that he and his wife find it hard to travel given their age.
Aside from financial problems, Rosario is also concerned about his
Initially, Rosario said that he did not tell the children about their
mothers real condition in Kuwait. But they later found out about Marilous
detention because neighbors started talking about her after it was
"Umiiyak sila, bakit daw nakakulong mama nila (They were crying, asking
why their mother is imprisoned)," Rosario said, adding that the children
seem to always worry their mother's safety. He said that they always ask
him when their mother could go home, saying they love her very much.
"Payat na siya, mahina na pananalita, pinipilit lang niya magsalita dahil
naroon kami (She is already thin, her voice is weak and she only tries to
speak because we are there)," Rosario said of his daughter when he and
wife Encarnacion visited Marilou in Kuwait in April 2006.
Last September, Marilou was able to send a letter to his father through
the DFA. But Rosario was only saddened when he read Marilou's statement
that she was allegedly framed up. "Kung ganoon, wala talaga siyang
kasalanan (If thats the case, then she is not at fault)," Rosario said.
He also got worried when he learned that Marilou doubts if her case is
really being monitored by the Philippine government. "Sa sitwasyon ko
naman dito sa dinadalawan ninyo sa akin okey lang naman kaya lang, Itay,
gusto ko kasing magbakasyon sa atin sa Pilipinas. Ang problema, hindi ko
alam kung inaasikaso ba ako ng Philippine Embassy dito (My situation in
the place where you visit me is fine but, father, I want to spend my
vacation in the Philippines. The problem is, I do not know if the
Philippine embassy is doing something about my case here)," she wrote.
He wishes to visit his daughter again to personally see her condition and
attend court hearings, specially the oral argument on Nov. 13. DFAs Sarep
told him that the Philippine government will still ask the Kuwaiti Embassy
here if his wish could be granted.
"Masakit pa rin sa kalooban ko na ganoon pa rin ang desisyon, walang
pagbabago. Gusto ko sana naroon ako kapag basahin na ang desisyon sa kaso
niya (It still hurts that the decision remains. I want to be there when
the final decision about her case is read.)," Rosario said.
If the decision would be upheld by the Cassation Court, Marilou will be
hanged. According to Migrante International, there are at least 35 OFWs
currently on death row, and most of them are in the Middle East.
Afghan Government Defends Chaotic Execution-----The authorities are
unrepentant in spite of claims that some of the 15 men executed were
convicted as a result of flawed trials.
Government officials are defending last month's execution of 15 prisoners,
in spite of claims that convictions were unsafe and that the operation was
a roadside slaughter.
The authorities have been severely criticised for the escape of
Afghanistan's most notorious criminal Timor Shah, who was sentenced to
death for kidnapping, rape and murder. It is not clear how Timor Shah
managed to avoid the October 7 execution, which reportedly took place at
9:30pm by the side of a road on the outskirts of Kabul.
General Abdul Salam Esmat, head of Afghanistan's prisons, was evasive
about the circumstances of the escape.
"It is said that Timor Shah was taken to the execution hall but
disappeared because of technical reasons," he told IWPR. "Investigators
are questioning those present on the scene."
A senior prosecutor, Sarbeland, told The Times of London that he was
charged with observing the execution, and described a chaotic scene. As
some of the shackled prisoners tried to run when Timor Shah jumped over a
wall and fled, it took between 5 and 10 minutes for a firing squad to mow
them down and finish them off, he said.
Even before details emerged, the incident drew criticism from human rights
groups and foreign diplomats. But Afghan officials remain unrepentant,
despite the controversy and an ongoing investigation.
"[Afghanistan] has full authority to implement its civil and Islamic
laws," said the presidents spokesman Humayun Hamidzada in an interview.
"As long as Afghanistan's laws allow for execution, the government will
implement it and will not be pressured by anyone."
A panel of judges and prosecutors appointed by President Hamid Karzai
spent a year reviewing the prisoners' files, he added.
But Lal Gul, head of the Afghanistan Human Rights Organisation, said the
process was flawed.
"We have looked at the files of some of those executed. Deficiencies can
be seen in the investigations," he said, claiming that some of the
convicts had no access to a lawyer, and were imprisoned as a result of
ethnic and tribal discrimination.
He says his organisation supplied this information to the death penalty
"The government needs to investigate those prosecutors and judges who
ordered the executions, because innocent people have been killed and we
can prove this," said Lal Gul, picking up a large file and threw it down
on his desk.
"Haji Mohammad Hussain [who was one of those executed] was arrested
because of a personal enmity," he claimed. "The regional district chief,
the provincial governor, members of parliament from Farah province,
regional people, district and provincial councils and the head of the
Solidarity Programme, Sebghatullah Mujadeddi, all gave us documents that
proved his innocence. But the prosecutors and judges gave him the death
While some analysts have suggested Karzai allowed the executions in part
to bolster his popularity, Hamidzada denied such accusations.
"The executions took place to ensure justice is done, and not for
political reasons," he said.
Still, the decision may have worked in Karzai's favour by convincing some
that the government is getting tough on crime.
"If these criminals and thieves are not executed, conditions will become
worse," said Kabul resident Gul Ahmad. "Every criminal should be executed,
whether wearing police or military uniform or travelling in ministry
vehicles with tinted windows. Everyone is equal under the law."
Zakia, a university student in Kabul, also applauded the decision, but
urged the president to extend the policy to alleged criminals within the
"Execution of criminals is fine, but can Karzai execute those who are his
accomplices?" she asked. "When he is able to do so, I will call him a
Kabul security chief Alishah Paktiawal said he was confident the
executions would send a clear message to would-be criminals.
"I say this clearly - the crime rate will decrease dramatically after this
execution," he said in a telephone interview.
Others, however, have condemned the use of the death penalty.
Fazel Rahman Oria, chief editor of Erada, said Afghanistans legal system
is too corrupt to justify sentencing criminals to death.
"This is an unforgivable crime and murder," he said "This is Karzai's
biggest mistake and it will have bad consequences."
He claimed that Karzai was punishing weak criminals while appointing
powerful ones to government posts.
Political affairs analyst Daad Mohammad Noorani also accused Karzai of
handing down arbitrary punishments.
"I don't think the executions were just," he said. "Local people are
killed by the Americans and French, and bombed by the Coalition forces.
Isnt that crime? Each human being costs 2,000 dollars [compensation] to
them. Who has questioned and prosecuted them?"
He accused Karzai of refusing to go after more powerful criminals, who he
claimed have links to Afghan and foreign governments.
"Those who were executed were mere leaves from a bigger tree," said
Noorani. "Why cut the leaves, and not chop the tree down at its roots?"
The day after the executions, the Taliban issued a statement referring to
the prisoners as "martyrs" and calling on "those working for human rights
to ban this action by the government."
Meanwhile, Timor Shah's whereabouts are still unknown, and officials
refuse to divulge details on the nature of the manhunt.
"We are trying to arrest Timor but cannot say anything more in this
regard," said Interior Ministry spokesman Zmarai Bashari over the phone.
Hamidzada promised that investigators will get to the bottom of what
"After the completion of the investigation, the perpetrators will be
punished," he said, adding that some officials have already been fired.
Afghanistan's Attorney-General is also looking into claims that some of
those scheduled for execution had paid bribes for other prisoners to be
forced to take their places.
Timor Shah was not the only one on the list to escape death that night.
Another convicted murderer, Khayoum, managed to avoid being taken away
from the Pol-e-Charki prison when fellow inmates refused to give him up.
He apparently remains in an ungovernable section of the prison.
Farooq Meranay, a parliamentarian who recently visited the prison, said
110 inmates went on a ten-day hunger strike in support of Khayoum, and to
force officials to listen to their demands.
"The first one is that political prisoners should not be executed; and the
second is that files with long imprisonment terms should be reviewed; that
the commander of the prison should be replaced; and that a Tolo TV
reporter arrested by national security on charges of showing pictures of
the prisoners should be freed," said Meranay.
Authorities say there are currently 175 people on death row. A panel is
reviewing their cases.
AJ questions AG on death penalty: Opposition wants Government's response
on hanging issue
The opposition People's National Party wants the new administration to
clearly state whether it intends to abolish the death penalty or take
appropriate steps to carry out executions as required by law.
Opposition Spokesman on Justice, Senator A.J. Nicholson, tabled several
questions in the Senate yesterday for Justice Minister and
Attorney-General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne.
Senator Nicholson wants to know, among other things, when a promised
conscience vote in Parliament on the retention of the death penalty will
Another question seeks to elicit from the Government the specific approach
that will be taken to carry out death sentences, within the prescribed
5-year limit, in the event that the conscience vote is in favour of
retaining capital punishment.
Earlier this week, National Security Minister Derrick Smith announced that
he had asked for a list of convicted men slated for execution to be made
available, so that the necessary steps could be taken to ensure that they
begin the appeals process in a timely manner.
Pratt and Morgan obstacle
The Opposition also wants to know whether the Government will follow the
example of Barbados and remove the 5-year limit imposed by the Pratt and
Morgan ruling of the U.K.-based Privy Council.
Several years ago, the Government of Prime Minister Owen Arthur in
Barbados passed a constitutional amendment which removed that country from
the strictures of the controversial Pratt and Morgan ruling, handed down
in 1993 by the Privy Council. It was argued by Barbados and other
Caribbean countries that meeting the timetable set by Pratt and Morgan and
the subsequent Neville Lewis rulings was impractical.
The PNP had announced its intention to follow the Barbadian example from
as far back as 2002, but did not receive the support of the Jamaica Labour
Party, then in opposition.
The matter was never taken to Parliament for a vote.
Senator Lightbourne is expected to provide answers to the Opposition's
questions in three weeks' time.
(source: Jamaica Gleaner)
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