[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Oct 5 11:38:00 CDT 2007
PAPUA NEW GUINEA:
Death penalty for men who beheaded 'witch'
2 men have been sentenced to death in Papua New Guinea after pleading
guilty to wilfully murdering a woman accused of witchcraft by beheading
her with a bushknife.
Sedoki Lota, 22, and Fred Abenko, 20, of Salakahadi village in Milne Bay
Province have been ordered to be hanged by the neck until dead by Justice
Mark Sevua in the National Court in Alotau.
The pair pleaded guilty to wilfully murdering Marcia Kedarossi on July 9,
2005, at Sigaroi village on Normanby Island, PNG's Post-Courier newspaper
The court was told the pair entered Kedarossi's house, blindfolded her and
tied her hands before chopping her head off for allegedly practising
sorcery and causing the deaths of their fathers.
A de facto moratorium on the death penalty is in place in PNG with former
justice minister Bire Kimisopa saying last year that a proposal to abolish
it was before cabinet.
Defence counsel for Lota and Abenko told the court the death sentence
should not be imposed and the court should consider his clients' guilty
pleas and their belief in sorcery.
But Justice Sevua said aggravating factors in the case outweighed
mitigating factors and a serious penalty was warranted.
He noted the 2 accused had been ordered to kill Kedarossi by village
magistrate Martin Mega who had promised to pay them.
Sevua said that amounted to a contract killing and he used his discretion
to impose the death penalty despite prosecutors not requesting it.
"It is my view that the degree of criminal culpability and cruelty
exhibited by the prisoners is so enormous that imposing a determinate term
is inadequate and will not fit the crime," he said.
(source: Herald Sun)
Yes, Uganda Should Review Death Penalty
I wish to thank The New Vision for the editorial of October 3, "Uganda
should review death penalty." I hope one day The New Vision will hit the
streets with a screaming banner, "Uganda abolishes death penalty." What a
day that will be. As you correctly put it, the death sentence is getting
out of fashion because it is a sign of backwardness. Indeed, almost all
the states in the US who still have it on their law books have put it on
Within the confines of rational thinking, every action to be taken must
have an objective. Again an objective should be analyzed to determine
whether it meets the SMART test - that is whether it is Specific (clearly
stated), Measurable (its results quantifiable), Achievable, Realistic and
Time-bound (within a time frame). Any objective that does not satisfy all
the elements of the SMART test is rationally faulty and untenable.
What then are the objectives of the death sentence? These are: to punish
the wrongdoer, to act as a deterrent to would be wrongdoers, and to avenge
the death of the killer's victim. However when subjected to the SMART
test, none of those objectives holds.
Death penalty as a punishment
Punishment or penalty is defined as "causing one to suffer for an
offence." Suffering may take many forms but death is not one of them.
Death is an absolute state of matter. One is either alive or dead. Since
suffering is an aftermath of an infliction monitored by the victim, it can
only occur along the continuum of life before the absolute. In other words
no body suffers death because there is no aftermath. We can only suffer
until death. It is a fundamental error, therefore, to refer to the death
sentence as either a capital punishment or a Death penalty because the
dead don't suffer and, likewise, they don't reform. Genesis 4:8-15 is a
good reference. To ensure that Cain was duly punished for slaying his
brother Abel, the Lord put a mark on him so that no body would kill him.
God wanted him to stay alive and suffer for his crime.
As a deterrent
There is no evidence that the death sentence has ever deterred crime.
Recently, two young men walked into their former school compound in
Colorado, USA, and shot their mates, teachers and all. They then shot
themselves dead. They had planned the macabre stint to the letter. They
knew all along they would die but they were not deterred.
In Bugolobi flats, Kampala, a hapless housemaid was brutally strangled to
death during a robbery. Why? She had recognized her assailant. Wasn't the
assailant aware of the death sentence? Or was the assailant forced to
strangle the girl for fear of the death sentence (for aggravated robbery)?
Without the death sentence, probably the poor girl would still be alive
today. Either way the death sentence, as a deterrent, is an illusion.
As a revenge
Like Shakespeare intimated, "Vengeance is a desire for retaliation by the
devil". Revenge is never an attribute of rational thinking. A life cannot
avenge a life. The objective must be to punish the wrongdoer (to make them
suffer for their crime). There is nothing being avenged when somebody is
sentenced to death for aggravated robbery. It is a life for a TV set.
Bad laws normally do not end up only as absolute miscarriages of justice
but they also tend to have a "boomerang effect". The death sentence is a
good example. First, it lets off the wrongdoer scot-free (saved from
suffering) and punishes the relatives and friends of the condemned for a
crime they did not commit because they are the ones who stay behind to
suffer the agony of looking after the estate.
Secondly, where the murderer's victim left five orphans without any
assistance, they may probably grow up into rogues and a menace to society.
When the murderer is hanged, he may leave behind his own 5 orphans. In the
end society ends up with a menace of 10 rogues (murderers).
Protecting the innocent
An execution once carried out, cannot be reversed. There is no room for
errors but that is not human. Errors are routinely being committed in
capital sentencing and, consequently, innocent people are being executed
for crimes they didn't commit. Thomas J. Miller was sentenced to death in
Dallas, Texas (USA) in March 1986. Later evidence showed that Miller was
not in Dallas when the crime was committed. The execution of Alan Jeffery
Bannister in Missouri in October 1997 set off the Alan J. Bannister
Foundation to campaign against the death sentence. Bannister went to the
gallows pleading his innocence and that by executing him the state was
committing a premeditated murder. Indeed the evidence proved later that
his victim's death was an accident.
A study sponsored by the American Federal Government gives the error rate
in capital cases of up to 68%. The prosecutors and Judges are humans; they
are bound to make errors.
We must come up with appropriate and acceptable punishments commensurate
with life and justice in a civilized society. For example, the Government
can set up money generating activities where the condemned would be
trained (if necessary) to generate income for life such as on farms, in
workshops, among others. Such arrangement will have the following
The condemned will be punished and made to suffer for their crimes. Not
only will they have to labour, they will also be left to live with their
guilt until death. Being haunted for life by a guilt conscience is the
ultimate punishment for any crime.
Outputs from one's labour will be sold on the open market for one's
Where it may be found later that an innocent person was condemned, the
punishment will be revoked with no innocent life lost. This will protect
The sacrilegious Article 121(5) of our Constitution that refers to the
Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy will be no more. Mortals
should not claim powers of Prerogative of Mercy to life. It is tantamount
to playing God.
When the state kills, it does so on behalf and in the name of all the
citizens. To those of us who believe in the sanctity of life (and we are
many) it is like hiring an assassin. It makes us all accessories before
and after the fact.
The death sentence is a primitive and barbaric law. It is attrition to
moral conscience and irrevocably demeaning to the human race. It is
nothing but murder in disguise. Let us revert to the cardinal rule "Thou
shall not kill". Let Article 22(1) of the Constitution be amended to read
thus; "No person shall be deprived of life intentionally." The exception
clause embedded in the Article must be deleted. Our Constitution must
leave no room for one human being to kill another human being.
As the former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clerk, said, "We need all the
help we can get to overcome this terrible character flaw that arises from
our love for violence. We have to stop killing people, whether they are
innocent or not."
Thank you once again for that editorial. It made my day.
(source: New Vision; Joseph Magala-Nyago----The writer is a management
consultant and the author of The Rape of The Pearl (1985), a novel on Idi
Amin's Uganda, published by Macmillan, UK)
Saudi Arabia approves long overdue judicial reforms
King Abdullah has approved a long overdue rehabilitation of the kingdom's
judiciary, including the establishment of a Supreme Court as well as
commercial, personal status and labor tribunals, fulfilling a promise he
made a few months ago to reform the much-criticized body.
Saudi officials and lawyers say the new body of laws, outlined in a royal
decree issued this week, would revolutionize the kingdom's justice system.
"The new Judiciary Law and Court of Grievances Law were prepared with
utmost care and will bring about qualitative change in the kingdom's
judicial system," Justice Minister Abdullah Al-Asheikh was quoted by Arab
News daily as saying.
Justice in Saudi Arabia is administered by a system of religious courts
according to the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.
Judges appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Supreme
Judicial Council have complete discretion to set sentences, except in
cases where Sharia outlines a punishment, such as capital crimes.
That means no 2 judges would likely hand down the same verdict for similar
crimes. The problems over sentencing are exacerbated by loose trial rules,
in which physical evidence sometimes is not presented.
The justice system came under heavy attack in the media following several
cases of arbitrary sentencing in the kingdom. In 1 case, 3 men convicted
of raping a 12-year-old boy received sentences of between 1 and 2 years in
prison and 300 lashes each.
By contrast, another judge sentenced at least 4 men to between six and 12
years imprisonment for fondling women in a tunnel in Riyadh.
In the most high-profile case, a judge, using his broad discretion,
divorced a woman identified as Fatima from her husband, Mansour al-Timani,
after her half brothers went to a judge and told him their sister had
married beneath her. Fatima had been married for over 3 years and was
pregnant with her second child when the judge declared the marriage void
in July 2005.
After spending more than a year in jail for refusing to return to her
family, Fatima is now in a women's shelter.
In his annual address in April to the unelected Consultative Council, the
closest thing Saudi Arabia has to a parliament, the king listed several
projects that will be introduced in the coming year, including the
development of the judiciary.
Abdullah has allocated a budget of 7 billion riyals (US$1.8 billion) "for
the King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz project to revamp the judicial sector,
which aims at upgrading the judiciary and developing it in a comprehensive
and integrated manner," said the decree, issued on Tuesday and carried by
the Saudi Press Agency.
The new Judiciary and Court of Grievances Laws stresses the independence
of the judges and calls for the establishment of specialized courts,
including personal status, commercial, penal and labor tribunals.
The Supreme Court will take over all the functions of the Supreme
Judiciary Council, which had served as the kingdom's highest tribunal,
except the administrative aspects of the judiciary.
(source: Associated Press)
Iraq delays "Chemical Ali" execution
The execution of Ali Hassan Al Majid, the defendant in Anfal case, which
was scheduled on Thursday has been delayed, a governmental source said.
The same source explained that the Iraqi government does not want to
implement the execution during the holy month of Ramadan while the
sentence should be implemented within 3o days according to the law.
On the other hand, the high national de-baathification committee accused
the Iraqi government of passing the draft law prepared by civil governor
Paul Bremer, considering it as an interference in the committees work.
(source: Alsumaria Iraqi Satellite TV Network)
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