[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Nov 21 01:21:29 CST 2007
Sunni leader endorses death penalty for crimes against humanity
An Iraqi political leader has called for the country's President Jalal
Talabani to approve the death penalty for former members of Saddam
Hussein's regime convicted of crimes against humanity.
But Ayyad al-Samarray, the Sunni leader of the Iraqi Concord Front in the
parliament, said it was important to distinguish between the political
leaders of the former regime and those who were forced to follow orders.
In June, the High Court condemned 3 men to death for crimes committed
during the al-Anfal campaign alleged to have included deportations and
mass killings carried out against the Kurdish and Shiite population
between 1988 and 1989.
Ali Hasan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali , the former defence minister,
Sultan Hashim Ahmad, and the former deputy-general commander of the Iraqi
army, Husayn Rashid al-Tikriti, were found guilty of crimes against
More than 100,000 Kurds were estimated to have been killed and some 1.5
million others deported during the campaign.
In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), al-Samarray said: " We
must take account of 2 things in relation to those sentenced for Anfal -
the 1st is the constitutional need for the president to ratify the death
"The 2nd is that we need to make a distinction between the politicians and
the army generals that have carried out the orders as part of their
According to Samarray , they "should be judged on this basis and not
treated like politicians and representatives of the former regime."
But the sentences have provoked a broad debate in political circles and
elsewhere with several appeals to reduce the penalty against the condemned
Furthermore, US forces have refused to hand over the 3 sentenced men, who
are in custody in their prison at the airport, until the sentence is
approved by the government and the president.
Ali, a first cousin of Saddam's, received 5 death sentences for genocide
and crimes against humanity when he was convicted on 24 June this year.
According to the ruling, he and his 2 colleagues were supposed to be
executed within 30 days, but no date has yet been set for their execution.
(source: Kurdish Aspect)
Abolition of death penalty linked to stability
Sonele Daas sits on death row in Lebanon's central Roumieh prison, found
guilty of murder almost one decade ago. The 60-year-old Bangladeshi had
traveled to Lebanon to work and send wages home to his family. However,
after a dispute with a fellow compatriot, Daas was arrested, tried and
convicted by a Lebanese court for his friend's subsequent death.
Today Daas still does not understand Arabic, has lost touch with his
family and is entirely dependent on others for help, explains Jihane
Morad, a young social worker for the Association for Justice and Mercy
(AJEM), a grassroots organization with a daily presence in the prison
offering social services and legal aid. "He doesn't know who his lawyer
was" she says, "so we have agreed to review his case."
Daas is one of 40 men in crowded Roumieh prison currently sentenced to die
by shooting or hanging. Since Lebanon's independence in 1943, 54 people
have been executed by the state, many of them after the end of the Civil
War in the 1990s.
During an enormous national anti-death penalty campaign backed by over 50
civil society organizations a few years ago, a poll conducted by the
leading ban activist, Walid Slaybi, determined that 74 % of Lebanese
lawmakers were in favor of abolition.
The next step, recalls Slaybi, was to present a draft law on abolition,
already signed by a number of deputies, to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on
July 12, 2006. However, that day the Israel-Lebanon conflict broke out.
"Now with the political crises today, the Parliament does not meet. Under
these conditions we cannot present it - but it is ready," says Slaybi.
Lebanon's last series of executions have been high profile and especially
controversial, enacted in the wake of national public outrage over the
In 1998 there was a public hanging in Tabarja town square of 2 thieves,
Hassan Abu Jabal and Wissam Issa, who had killed the owners of a house
they had broken into. Hundreds of people and television cameras watched at
dawn as the gallows briefly malfunctioned and the lifeless bodies were
then left on display for over an hour.
"This was a big trauma for the children of the village," recalls Marie
Daunay, president of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH). "It was
horrible - the kids were playing at hanging each other afterwards at
The executions coincided with the first known public protest in Lebanon
against the death penalty, says Slaybi, when he, Ogarit Younan, a lawyer,
and around 30 others staged a sit-in that morning in the town square.
After a brief halt of executions under former Prime Minister Salim Hoss,
who virulently opposed the death penalty, the murder of 8, mostly
Christian co-workers by a Shiite man, Ahmad Mansour, sparked widespread
sectarian anger in 2004. Careful to appease the various political parties,
Mansour was executed by hanging.
The state also executed by firing squad Remi Zaatar, a Christian, and
Badih Hamade, a Sunni, both on death row for unrelated murders.
Since then there have been no executions. "However those who are condemned
are always living in fear that they might be executed," says Morad.
"Many are receiving psychiatric treatment because of this constant fear."
In 1998 Nehmeh al-Haj, a 44-year-old from the Beirut area, was arrested by
Syrian intelligence agents and taken to Anjar, near the Syrian border. He
says he was interrogated with torture for up to a month, denied a lawyer
and forced to sign a confession that he murdered 2 Syrian laborers in
Lebanon. He was then turned over to Lebanon and transferred to Roumieh
prison. His trial, 6 years later, was based on his signed confession in
Anjar, and despite his allegations of torture, he received the death
Haj's case is presently adopted by CLDH and has been reported to the
United Nation's Human Rights Council. "If you study the cases of people
sentenced to death [in Lebanon]," explains Daunay, "with most of them you
will find big contradictions with international law. Their rights during
the trial were not respected. So if you don't respect the rights of the
accused, you cannot be sure that the decision is right."
Human rights advocates complain Lebanon's court trials are often
expedient, the accused lacks adequate counsel (defense lawyers for death
penalty cases are scarce and they usually work for without payment), the
appeals process is limited and torture to obtain a confession is
Lebanon is a signatory to international laws governing civil and political
rights, and against torture. "Lebanon as a state signs everything, but
nothing is implemented," says Daunay.
Death penalty abolitionists were hoping Lebanon would repeal the death
penalty in accordance with international laws governing the UN special
tribunal set up to try the suspects in the killing of former Premier Rafik
Hariri in 2005.
But the UN and the Lebanon reached an understanding that the tribunal,
which has power to impose penalties leading up to life imprisonment, would
have precedence over Lebanese national law where the death penalty would
still be valid.
With widespread public outrage over the Lebanese Army casualties in Nahr
al-Bared refugee camp at the hands of Fatah al-Islam last summer, in
addition to the current political crises, passage of a death penalty the
ban now seems somewhat remote.
But with the abolitionist campaigners having succeeded in getting
accidental death struck off the list of charges to merit the death
penalty, Slaybi believes the campaign will ultimately triumph. "If there
is stability in Lebanon - then the death penalty will be eliminated," he
says with conviction.
(source: Daily Star)
Duma Leaves Punishment on Table
'The State Duma concluded its 4-year term last week, leaving a stack of
important legislation -- including that of banning the death penalty --
"That bill concerning the ratification of the sixth protocol banning death
penalty had been discussed thoroughly several times but we did not gather
sufficient votes to deal with the problem," Pavel Krasheninnikov, chairman
of the parliamentary committee on civil and criminal legislations, told
"It will be wrong to say that the State Duma has relegated the bill to the
background despite the fact that it was not voted on. But there is logical
possibility that the next legislative chamber will consider and prepare it
for another round of votes. Certainly it should be one of its priorities,"
The next legislative chamber to be formed after the December 2nd
parliamentary vote will be tasked with tackling all unaccomplished tasks
as well as correcting laws that have not functioned as intended, in
addition to new legislative responsibilities.
Commonly referred as the State Duma, the lower house consists of 450
members, is elected every four years, and is responsible solely for
enacting legislation for the country.
A prominent lawmaker admitted that the majority of deputies in the State
Duma were unprepared to commit themselves to getting death penalty
completely abolished -- although President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly
called for its abolition.
Speaking at the Valdai International Discussion forum in Sochi, Putin said
that he considers the death penalty "senseless and counterproductive".
"The senseless nature of the death penalty has been proven by the
thousand- year history of mankind and modern civilisation, toughening of
punishment by itself up to the death penalty is not a panacea, is not the
most efficient instrument in the struggle against crime," Putin stressed.
"The most efficient weapon in the struggle against the crime is the
inevitability of punishment -- everybody knows that -- and not the cruelty
of punishment. This is the first thing. Secondly, I am deeply convinced,
that by using the death penalty in relation to its citizens, even
criminals, the state educates its citizens in cruelty and brings forth new
cruelty on the part of citizens in relation to each other and in relation
to the state itself. And this is also harmful and counterproductive,"
"In my opinion, the power to impose the death penalty should not be given
to any government. The death penalty exists for the primary purpose of
controlling criminally notorious people. But the threat of the imposition
of the death penalty is the ultimate threat," Professor Jeffrey T. Renz of
the Law faculty at the University of Montana told IPS, from Missoula.
Countries that have adopted the death penalty -- whether Rome after the
Catalinarian conspiracy or the States of the United States -- have always
used it as a tool of oppression, he said.
"There are other ways to protect ourselves from the murderers of say,
north Ossetia and the Caucasus region and from the Saddam Husseins of the
world. We may imprison them without contact with the outside world for the
rest of their lives. I think that the former Soviet republics recognized
this when nearly all either abolished the death penalty or imposed a de
jure or de facto moratorium on its use," he added.
>From a western standpoint, Russian society is no longer democratizing,
The Commissioner for the Council of Europe (CE), Thomas Hammarberg,
repeatedly cautioned that his organisation was not planning to wrap up its
monitoring mission in Russia until Moscow finally bans the death penalty.
The CE monitors the fulfillment of Russia's obligations, undertaken 10
years ago when the country joined the organisation.
Russia is the only European country yet to ban the death penalty, although
it promised to do so upon accession to the organisation.
Renz stresses that Russia should immediately repeal the death penalty and,
as part of its constitution, prohibit its use by the federation or any
"Countries who wish to participate in the Council of Europe, or have
relations with the European Union and the OSCE, for example, may freely
decide to enhance human rights or forego the benefits of membership," he
Amnesty International (AI) believes that the death penalty is not
acceptable under any circumstances in democratic world.
"Every execution is an affront to human dignity and a grave abuse of human
rights. The world is steadily turning against capital punishment," Piers
Bannister, a coordinator of the Death Penalty Team at AI, told IPS in an
133 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.
"These countries have realised the risks inherent in the use of the death
penalty," Bannister said.
"It can be used against those innocent of the crime for which they were
condemned and it is often used after unfair trials or disproportionately
against ethnic minorities, the poor or other disadvantaged groups," he
AI regularly campaigns for those guilty of grave human rights violations
-- such as Saddam Hussein -- to be held accountable for their actions.
However, AI believes that any punishment inflicted upon them should only
be administered after a full and fair trial that adheres to international
standards and that, whatever the appalling nature of the crimes of which
they are accused, they should not be subjected to cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment or punishment.
"Nothing that we are aware of prevents Russia from abolishing the death
penalty," Bannister says.
Russian authorities have repeatedly stated that President Putin strictly
opposes the death penalty, but that the population may not be ready to
accept the full abolition of the death penalty.
Many countries, Bannister explained, have abolished the death penalty
despite a large portion of the population allegedly being in favour of it.
(source: IPS News)
Taiwanese Prosecutors Demand Death Penalty For Filipina Killer
Taiwanese prosecutors on Monday demanded the death sentence for a Filipina
for the robbery and murder of a local teaching broker in Kaohsiung City in
The prosecutors believe Armia Nemencia Panaglima, 38, deserves the penalty
for her callous act of killing Chiu Mei-yun and dumping the victim's body
in a downtown back alley, the Central News Agency said.
The Filipina was indicted on Monday for the charges while her American
lover, Fillion David Michael, 47, was cleared on involvement in the
Based on the indictment, the Filipina killed the Taiwanese for refusing to
pay her debt.
Panaglima and Chiu met at Fillion's house in Tsoying district on Sept. 12.
Panaglima asked Chiu to pay the teaching fees that Taiwanese allegedly
owed the Filipina. When Chiu refused, the 2 quarreled and Panaglima
stabbed the Taiwanese 16 times.
The Filipina then took the victim's two cell phones, bank cards, credit
cards and $745 cash. She forced the dyiing Chiu to divulge the code
numbers of her bank card and ignored the victim's plea for help.
When the victim died, Panaglima hid the body in the house. The following
day, she placed the corpse in a black plastic bag and dumped it at a back
The Filipina was able to use Chiu's ATM card to withdraw $2,052, but
returned $247 to the police when she was arrested.
(source: All Headline News)
Monks leader faces death penalty
Amnesty International today admitted that it has deep concern over the
future of U Gambira, the 27-year-old leader of the All-Burma Monks
The ABMA was instrumental in getting thousands of monks onto the streets
in pro-democracy demonstrations at the end of September this year. The
protests came to an end after a brutal crackdown by the country's ruling
military junta, which left at least 13 people dead and hundreds injured.
Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:
'U Gambira went into hiding shortly after the crackdown, but Amnesty
International has now received reliable reports that he has been arrested
and charged with treason for his role in the demonstrations. If convicted
he faces either life imprisonment or the death sentence.
'His exact whereabouts remain unclear and Amnesty International believes
he is in grave danger of torture or ill-treatment.'
Other members of his family have been arrested as 'hostages' in an attempt
to force him out of hiding, including his brother Aung Kyaw Kyaw, who was
arrested in October, and his father Min Lwin. Both are still being
detained, and like U Gambira, Amnesty does not know where they are being
held and has fears over their safety.
Meanwhile, the well-known labour rights activist Su Su Nway has also been
arrested. She was arrested on 13 November in Rangoon after attempting to
put up leaflets during the recent visit by the UN Special Rapporteur to
investigate human rights abuses in Burma. She is being held in Insein
Prison in Rangoon.
Amnesty International has called on its 2.2 million members worldwide to
write to Burma's head of state, the Chairman of the State Peace and
Development Council, Senior General Than Shwe, and the country's Minister
of Foreign Affairs, Nyan Win, to express their fears for the safety of the
Peaceful demonstrations began in August sparked by sharp increases in
fuel prices. Protests by monks grew rapidly in size and number, calling
for a reduction in commodity prices, the release of political prisoners
and a process of national reconciliation to resolve deep political
divisions. In the evening of 25 September, the authorities began a
crackdown on protestors, including raiding monasteries, arresting monks
and others, and imposing a curfew, forcing some activists into hiding.
Thousands of people are believed to have been arrested and Amnesty
International estimates that around 700 currently remain in detention, in
contrast to claims by the Burmese authorities that only 91 people, against
whom legal action will be taken, remain in detention.
At least 17 people have been sentenced to up to 9 1/2 years imprisonment
in connection with the demonstrations, in proceedings likely to have been
closed and grossly flawed.
While the number of arrests has declined since 29 September, state
security personnel have continued to search for and detain specific
individuals suspected of involvement in the anti-government protests,
primarily through night raids on homes. The authorities have also resorted
to arbitrary and unlawful detention of family members or close friends and
suspected sympathisers of protesters currently in hiding. Such action also
constitutes "hostage taking" - explicit or implicit pressure on the
suspected protestors to come forward as a condition for releasing or not
harming the hostage. This is a violation of fundamental rules of
Human rights violations in Burma are widespread and systematic. They
include the use of child soldiers and forced labour. Laws criminalise
expression of peaceful dissent. Most senior opposition figures are
imprisoned or detained, among more than 1,150 political prisoners held in
deteriorating prison conditions. People are frequently arrested without
warrant and held incommunicado; torture and other cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment are common, especially during interrogation and in
custody awaiting trial. Judicial proceedings against political detainees
fall short of international standards for fair trial. Defendants are often
denied the right to legal counsel and prosecutors have relied on
confessions extracted through torture.
Su Su Nway is a member of the youth wing of the main opposition party,
the National League for Democracy. She had previously been imprisoned
after successfully taking legal action against village authorities over
their use of forced labour. The officials concerned received prison terms,
following which Su Su Nway was charged with criminal intimidation and
sentenced to 18 months imprisonment in October 2005. She was released in
(source: Amnesty International UK)
The question of hanging again
Last week, I received a huge number of letters in response to my last
column which dealt with this ever controversial issue of hanging.
Many of the writers were quite critical of my views on the matter. Most of
them, unfortunately, missed the point I was trying to make.
I've never been opposed to hanging as punishment for capital murder. My
simple position is that politicians, like our goodly Derrick Smith, should
not go reinforcing the folly out there in the minds of some misguided
souls that breaking necks will help in reducing the country's horrendous
But even as Smith is salivating at the idea of hanging, there are some
developments on the international scene which we can't ignore.
Last week, a United Nations committee voted in favour of a resolution
calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. The move is a key step
towards the passing of a non-binding motion by the world body.
The resolution was passed 99-52 with 33 abstentions. It is likely to go to
the full assembly in mid-December where supporters say they expect few
countries to change their position.
Although the resolution is not legally binding on states, it carries
considerable moral and political weight and, therefore, death
penalty-backing countries like Jamaica must be clear whether they are
prepared to go against the tide.
Withdrawal of aid
Some Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states have accused the European Union
(EU) - a key supporter of the moratorium - of seeking to impose its values
on other nations. In fact, CARICOM members have suggested that they have
been threatened with the withdrawal of aid over their support for the
No specifics have been presented by CARICOM about this threat by the EU.
However, I will say that if, indeed, there was a threat, then I can see
nothing wrong with it.
If we want to pursue the death penalty as a region then we are at liberty
to do so. However, it cannot be argued that we have a right to aid from
the EU when its member countries disagree with our position on a
As true mendicants, we have got into the habit of thinking that we are
entitled to what is in other people's pockets. That can't be so.
If we are to exercise our choices freely in this world, then we have to
stand on our two feet and pay our way, not lean on others. That principle
is as much applicable to countries as it is to individuals in their
To my mind, it's not worth it for us to lose friends and support over this
death penalty issue, anyway. It has no utility and it certainly won't help
curb crime. We have to choose our battles carefully.
There is an unreasonably high expectation of the government since it took
power just over 2 months ago. The standard to which the current
administration is being held seems to be much higher than what was set for
the People's National Party (PNP) which held power for 18 years.
Critics have been saying that the government should just get on with the
job and not trouble itself in telling people about the state in which it
found the country.
In other words, they asked for the job, so let them do it. I find this to
be an irresponsible position.
This new government has a duty to let the people understand what took
place in the last adminis-tration and how it conducted the affairs of the
country. This will help us to understand what the challenges are and how
they can be met. I call that open government.
(source: Vernon Daley, Jamaica Gleaner)
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