[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Nov 12 16:24:57 CST 2007
UN Moves to Halt Death Penalty
The UN will this week vote on a resolution calling for a worldwide
suspension of the use of the death penalty.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the UN, reports that the movers of the
resolution are led by Singapore, which is one of the countries that use it
A UN source told NAN at the weekend that "about 81 of the 192 UN
membersare backing the resolution".
The source said: "The resolution calls for countries which still have the
death penalty to introduce a moratorium or a suspension, with a view to
abolishing the practice".
NAN learnt that so far 132 countries have already banned the death penalty
and only 25 of them carried out executions last year.
NAN, however, gathered that there is considerable opposition to suspending
the death penalty by some countries, who uses as a deterrent to drug
trafficking and other social problems.
Although, UN General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, a vote
calling for a suspension of the death penalty and backed by a majority of
countries, will be a significant statement of changing international
(source: All Africa News)
Poll suggests opposition to Tory policy on death-penalty clemency
A new poll indicates respondents oppose - by a margin of 50 % to 43 - the
decision by the Harper government to stop seeking clemency in all cases
where Canadians are sentenced to death in foreign counties.
The Harris-Decima survey, provided exclusively to The Canadian Press, also
suggests sharp divisions on the subject along party lines. 58 % of
Conservatives polled supported the government's move, while strong
majorities in all other parties opposed it.
There were also splits along other lines, suggesting younger, female and
urban voters are more likely to oppose the decision.
Those are precisely the demographic groups the Tories have been hoping to
woo in greater numbers in the next election in their quest to form a
The poll of just over 1,000 respondents was conducted Nov. 1-4 and is
considered accurate to within 3.1 % points, 19 times in 20.
(source: The Canadian Press)
Noose is loose
WE HAVE "no desire to open the debate on capital punish-ment here in
Canada and likewise we have no desire to participate in the debate on
capital punishment in the United States."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper uttered those words recently at a Halifax
news conference. Yet if the noose is on the loose, it's surely his fault.
Opposition critics do not take him at his word. They claim that if Mr.
Harper had a majority, he'd revisit the death penalty debate, which has
been in abeyance for 20 years.
What Mr. Harpers true intentions are, only he knows he keeps his own
counsel. On the one hand, the Grits' fear-mongering should be taken with a
grain of salt. On the other hand, so should Mr. Harper's assurances. If he
could capitalize on capital punishment, he would. But there doesnt seem to
be enough political gold in them thar hills.
According to surveys, roughly 1/2 of Canadians currently support capital
punishment. But thats only half the story. In 1995, as many as 69 % were
in favour, which means backing for the death penalty is steadily eroding,
even though the issue hasnt been on the public radar. And the closer to
reinstatement Canada might get, the greater the recoil factor you might
Nonetheless, the Harper government has signalled where its sympathies lie
by announcing that it won't seek clemency for a Canadian double-murderer
who faces death by lethal injection in Montana. Although Ronald Allen
Smith is the only Canadian on death row in the U.S., Ottawa has, by
extension, seemingly developed a new policy whereby it will no longer
intercede on behalf of Canadian citizens sentenced to death in other
democracies, where they presumably get due process.
"Were we to intervene, it would very quickly become a question of whether
we are prepared to repatriate a double-murderer to Canada," Mr. Harper
claimed. "In light of this governments strong initiatives on tackling
violent crime, I think that would send the wrong signal to the Canadian
Thats hogwash. One can be against the death penalty and tough on crime at
the same time. Its not a contradiction in terms, and its not about any one
individual. Its about a principle. The case for capital punishment is
bankrupt. Not only is it ineffective in terms of deterrence, it makes
judicial errors irrevocable.
We should stick to that principle at home and uphold it abroad. But now
were sending out mixed messages. We wont petition to have the sentences of
Canadians on death row in foreign lands commuted. But when we deport or
extradite prisoners, well continue to seek a no-execution guarantee from
those jurisdictions. Meanwhile, at the UN, Canada plans to vote in favour
of a resolution calling for a global moratorium on capital punishment, but
it wont co-sponsor it, as was the tradition.
So far, the Tories have only succeeded in tying themselves in knots. They
should have left the noose in storage where it belongs.
(soruce: Editorial, The Chronicle Herald)
King Seen as Final Arbiter in Long-Running Debate
The months-long political impasse over death penalty abolition in Morocco
can only be finally broken by King Mohamed VI, according to a leading
"Abolition now depends directly on the king," Mostafa Hannaoui, a member
of the Progress and Socialism Party, told IPS. Only the king had the
authority to break the current deadlock and put the controversial subject
back on the political agenda.
For months all political parties in Morocco have maintained a silence on
the death penalty abolition issue, even during the recent national
3 parties -- the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), the Progress
and Socialism Party (PPS) and the Democratic Forces Front (FFD) -- had
promised to campaign for abolition in the elections held on September 7.
They had publicly pledged to do this at an international conference on the
death penalty organised by the Paris-based World Coalition against the
Death Penalty in Casablanca last year. This was widely reported at the
time in the Moroccan and international press.
In February this year, the head of Morocco's state-appointed consultative
committee on human rights, Ben Zekri, told delegates at the Third World
Congress against the Death Penalty in Paris that there was general
agreement among MPs that the death penalty in Morocco should be abolished.
This raised hopes that Morocco would become the 1st Arab country to
abolish capital punishment.
But in the September elections no political party campaigned for
Hannaoui said the parties could drop any mention of the death penalty
issue from their election manifestos because of the "lack of internal
party democracy". Party leaders decided their political agendas without
needing to consider the opinions of the rank and file members, he said.
"There was an absence of any real debate when the party manifestoes were
drawn up," he said.
IPS approached the USFP and FFD parties to confirm this explanation for
the omission of the death penalty abolition issue from their election
programmes, but they refused to comment.
Hannaoui said Morocco's current stiff resistance to abolition was due to
the recent "terrorist attacks against Morocco".
"These have made it difficult for the state to abolish the death penalty
while innocent citizens are being killed," he said.
After a lull of four years and the deadly bombings in Casablanca in 2003,
there was a new wave of bombings in the city, Morocco's largest, this
March and April.
Some 5 suicide bombers blew themselves up. A sixth was shot dead by the
police and three others arrested. A police agent was shot dead in the
action. Several innocent bystanders were injured in the blasts, according
to press reports.
The 1st political fall-out of these bombings appears to have been in the
evaporation of support for a private member's bill to abolish the death
This was introduced last year by Bouchra Khiari, a MP from the FFD party.
"The bill was simply put into the freezer. It is still waiting for
approval by the king and then the government," Mostafa Hannaoui said.
Hannaoui predicted that royal support for the bill to proceed might
eventually be given.
The young king had shown his liberal, progressive side, he said.
He had agreed to set up the Equity and Reconciliation Board (IER), a
symbolic move to make amends to the victims of human rights violations
during the rule of his father, Hassan II.
Hassan II ruled from 1961 to 1999. During that time, known as "The Years
of Lead", thousands of opponents were kidnapped and imprisoned. Some were
executed without trial.
In 2005, the IER completed its work and issued its final report. One of
its concluding recommendations was that the abolition of the death penalty
was necessary to complete the reconciliation process.
Hannaoui noted that the King had also adopted a new progressive family law
in 2002. This granted emancipation rights to women which were
unprecedented in the Arab and Muslim world, including freedom to marry
without paternal permission.
The king had also backed efforts to stamp out corruption. Several
prominent officials had been put on trial and convicted of embezzlement of
state funds in a series of trials, he said.
Human rights activists argue that the death penalty issue is the key to
reversing the widespread public cynicism over the working of the electoral
system in Morocco.
This was reflected in the extraordinarily low 37 % turnout in the
September elections. Nearly half of the votes cast then, some 17 %, were
"Many human rights activists boycotted the elections. If death penalty
abolition had been an issue, they would have certainly turned out to vote
and the turnout would have been higher," Khalid Harakat, a member of the
Moroccan Human Rights Association, told IPS.
(source: IPS News)
'Abolishing death penalty possible'
As the debate over the delay in the execution of Parliament attack case
convict Mohammed Afzal rages, the National Human Rights Commission has
said the high courts and Supreme Court can commute a death penalty to a
life term if there is inordinate delay in its execution.
In an exclusive interview to the Hindustan Times, NHRC chairman Justice S.
Rajendra Babu said that though the Commission was yet to take a formal
stand on the death penalty, it was possible to recommend to Parliament to
abolish it altogether. He said that in many cases where the period between
the sentencing and the execution has been particularly long, the Supreme
Court has commuted a death sentence to a life sentence.
Right-wing parties like the BJP and Shiv Sena have been demanding Afzal's
execution as the Supreme Court has already dismissed his appeal, review
and curative petitions. However, the Centre has been sleeping on his mercy
petition to the President.
Going by Justice Babu's views, the delay in Afzal's execution can become a
valid ground for commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment.
Asked if delays like this amount to violation of human rights, the NHRC
chief said: "Whether it is a systemic problem or somebody has delayed it
deliberately these are all issues the cases have to be studied. I can't
say generally in every (such) case there is a violation of human rights."
Skirting the issue, he added: "When there is a judicial verdict, there is
very little the NHRC can do. It's only the judiciary that can correct it
If you want me to say if it is human rights violation or not, I can't say
Stating that the President or a governor can pardon a death sentence,
Justice Babu said: "The presidential pardon is a prerogative and no
particular policy can be evolved in such matters. The NHRC by itself can't
evolve any particular policy."
On the Commission's stand on abolition of capital punishment, he said:
"It's possible. Just as the European Convention took the view that there
should be no death sentence, one can take such a view and then recommend
to the Parliament." He added: "But whether we should do it or not you see
it should be supported by adequate material. We have to do the necessary
research and thereafter, take a particular stand We can examine it."
On whether Indian courts have developed an aversion to capital punishment
(courts in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi awarded over 60 life
imprisonments on a single day last month), Justice Babu said: "The death
sentence is to be awarded only in the rarest of rare cases... If the court
is not in a position to come to the conclusion that a case is not the
rarest of rare cases, the judges may feel that the appropriate sentence to
be awarded is the life sentence. It is a judicial discretion circumscribed
by parameters set out by the Supreme Court."
(source: Hindustan Times)
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