[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Oct 10 00:00:12 CDT 2007
As people across the planet mark today, October 10, as World Day Against
the Death Penalty, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights issues this
statement calling for the member states of the United Nations to adopt a
resolution supporting a global moratorium on executions.
Statement of Renny Cushing, Executive Director of Murder Victims Families
for Human Rights on World Day Against the Death Penalty in Support of a
Global Moratorium on Executions
Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights is an organization of family
members of homicide victims and family members of people who have been
executed. As survivors with a direct stake in the death penalty debate,
and as people who believe in the value of basic human rights principles,
we join today in the call for a worldwide moratorium on executions.
The most basic of human rights, the right to life, is violated both by
homicide and by execution. We call today for a consistent human rights
ethic in response to violence: let us not respond to one human rights
violation with another human rights violation.
Let us recognize that justice for victims is not achieved by taking
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inspired by victims,
demanded by victims. It grew out of the suffering of millions of civilians
murdered under the brutal regimes of the Second World War, and its
adoption on December 10, 1948 was a way to honor the loss of those lives
by asserting that such violations are neither moral nor permissible under
any nation or regime.
Now, almost 60 years later, let us recognize that violations of human life
in the form of the death penalty should not be permissible under any
nation or regime. We call for a moratorium on the death penalty because
the only way to uphold human rights is to uphold them in all cases,
Today, on World Day Against the Death Penalty, the United Nations General
Assembly is considering a resolution that will take us one step closer to
fulfilling the aspiration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As
victims, we urge the members of the General Assembly to adopt the UN
resolution for a universal moratorium on executions.
(source: Renny Cushing, MVFHR Executive Director)
NZ backs worldwide ban on death penalty
New Zealand is working with other countries to put a resolution to the
United Nations seeking the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, Prime
Minister Helen Clark said today.
Miss Clark made the announcement at an event in Parliament, attended by
Amnesty International representatives, to highlight World Day Against the
New Zealand's last execution occurred 50 years ago, in 1957 and capital
punishment was removed from the statute books in 1961, except for the
crime of treason. That provision was finally repealed in 1989.
Miss Clark said 90 countries had abolished the death penalty for all
crimes, 131 had done so in law or in practice and 66 retained it.
"Capital punishment is the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment," she said.
"The death penalty violates the right to life...it is known to have been
inflicted on the innocent."
Miss Clark said the resolution would ask countries to implement a global
moratorium on executions as a first step towards the eventual abolition of
the death penalty.
In Parliament today Miss Clark and Amnesty International's New Zealand
director Ced Simpson, walked along the Death Penalty Timeline, laid out to
show the history of abolition initiatives.
The Sensible Sentencing Trust's spokesman Garth McVicar said while there
are no calls yet to re-introduce the death penalty in New Zealand, this is
simply another example of putting offenders' rights before those of
Mr McVicar said he is shocked because the trust deals with victims who
have had loved ones murdered, and there is no worse form of treatment than
He noted that 2 countries New Zealand is working at achieving free trade
deals with - the United States and China - carry out the largest number of
executions each year.
The last person executed in New Zealand was farmer Walter James Bolton,
68, convicted of murdering his wife Beatrice.
He was hanged in Auckland Prison on February 18, 1957, the 54th person to
be legally put to death before capital punishment was abolished.
It was a messy business, and it was believed some of those in the death
chamber had to swing on his legs after the hangman miscalculated and
Bolton did not die instantly from a broken neck.
"The spectacle for those required to attend was so horrifying that they
indicated they would boycott any further execution," Auckland crown
prosecutor Simon Moore said in a speech to the Criminal Bar Association in
(source: New Zealand Herald)
Film festival to be held to call for an end to death penalty
The Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty will hold a film festival
starting Oct. 12 to call public attention to the issue of abolishing
capital punishment, officials said yesterday.
The Murder by Numbers Film Festival, the second of its kind since 2004,
will be held to mark the Oct. 10 World Day Against the Death Penalty and
to underline the violent nature of the death penalty, according to
alliance CEO Lin Hsin-yi.
The festival, scheduled for Oct. 12-14 in Taipei and Oct. 19-21 in
Kaohsiung, will feature 9 films from Taiwan, Italy, Sweden, France,
Denmark, India and the United States, Lin said, adding that the alliance
hope the films will help the public better understand the issue.
Liu Ching-yi, president of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, noted
that the issue of a moratorium on the death penalty has been included on
the agenda of the ongoing 62nd session of the United Nations General
Assembly and that the General Assembly is expected to adopt a resolution
on the issue in November.
Liu suggested that Taiwan proactively adopt the human rights values and
practices advocated by the United Nations if the country wishes to join
the world body.
Wu Chih-kuang, deputy convener of the alliance, pointed out that although
Taiwan remains one of the few countries where the death penalty has not
been abolished, no executions have been carried out over the past 2 years,
a situation which he said could be taken as the beginning of the end of
the death penalty.
Noting that 28 criminals are still on the death row in the country,
Judicial Reform Foundation CEO Lin Feng-cheng urged President Chen
Shui-bian to officially declare a moratorium on the death penalty and
grant amnesty or sentence commutations to criminals under sentences of
Lin also suggested that the Minister of Justice Shih Mao-lin not sign any
execution orders, but rather work to amend related laws to pave the way
for the abolition of the death penalty.
(source: The China Post)
Organs from China death row inmates only for family: report
China will no longer transplant organs from executed prisoners except for
their immediate relatives, state media reported Tuesday citing the Chinese
International rights groups have long accused China of harvesting organs
from executed prisoners for transplant without either their or their
Hospitals have also been regularly accused of secretly taking organs from
road accident victims and other dead patients without telling relatives.
The government has denied such charges, saying most organs are voluntarily
donated by ordinary citizens and executed criminals who gave consent
before their death.
The Chinese Medical Association, an official body which represents nearly
half a million doctors, promised at an international meeting in Europe
last week to strengthen management of human organ transplants to ensure
standards were implemented, the China Daily reported.
But it was unclear from the report if the association has the power to
make sure its requirements for prisoner organ donations would be followed.
If implemented, the rule could effectively signal an end to the transplant
of organs from executed prisoners, as it would be rare for a person in
severe need of a new organ to be closely related to someone on death row.
The number of transplants from executed prisoners has dropped
significantly this year, the China Daily said, citing Chen Zhonghua, the
deputy head of the Chinese association's sub-committee on organ
At the same time, live donations from relatives, as well as donations from
other dead citizens, have increased.
This is partly due to stricter regulations on organ transplants that went
into force on May 1.
The regulations, issued by the State Council, or China's cabinet, prohibit
all organisations and individuals from trading human organs in any form.
(source: Agence France-Presse)
Howard stands by death penalty for terrorists
Prime Minister John Howard says it would be a major injustice if the Bali
bombers were not executed.
Mr Howard has reaffirmed his stance on the issue as Indonesia's death
penalty laws are being challenged in the country's Constitutional Court.
The Labor Party's viewpoint on capital punishment is under the spotlight
following comments by foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland, who
said the ALP would oppose the death penalty in principle, including for
the notorious Bali bombers.
Labor leader Kevin Rudd last night said terrorists should rot in jail and
a government led by him would only intervene diplomatically to try to save
the lives of Australians sentenced to death overseas.
Mr Howard has reiterated that he will not oppose the death penalty when it
Speaking on Southern Cross Radio, Mr Howard was asked about the
possibility that the Bali bombers will not be executed.
"I think that would be very, very bad, I accept that many people will
think it is inconsistent of me to say and I've acknowledged this before...
I personally don't support capital punishment in Australia," he said.
"It follows from that whenever an Australian is sentenced to death
overseas I'll argue for the remission of the sentence."
(source: ABC News)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE; For Immediate Release:
Amnesty International Dismayed by Execution of 15 in Afghanistan
Amnesty International condemned the executions of 15 people on Sunday
October 7, 2007 in Afghanistan. The 15 men were executed by firing squad
at the Pul-i Charkhi high security prison outside Kabul. They had been
charged with a variety of offenses including rape, murder, attacking
security posts, robbery and looting.
Amnesty International particularly regrets these executions at a time when
there is a global momentum toward the abolition of the death penalty. A
total of 133 countries from all regions of the world have abolished the
death penalty in law or practice and there is an overall decline in the
number of reported executions. On October 10, World Day against the Death
Penalty, people around the globe will be protesting against the use of the
death penalty. Later this month the United Nations General Assembly will
be voting on a resolution calling on all governments to support a global
moratorium on executions.
These executions mark an end to a three year moratorium on executions in
Afghanistan, and come shortly after the Taleban executed a 15 year old in
Amnesty International considers the death penalty a violation of the right
to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. As the
world continues to turn away from the use of the death penalty, the
execution of these 15 men is an anomaly. Such state sanctioned killing is
all the more unacceptable where, as in this case, there are serious doubts
about the fairness of trials.
The last execution in Afghanistan was that of Abdullah Shah in April 2004.
At the time of his trial in October 2002 the U.N. Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, following her observance
of his trial proceedings, stated there were concerns "that the safeguards
and restrictions according to international standards for imposing capital
punishment cannot be observed at this stage." In 2003, the U.N. Commission
on Human Rights called on the Afghan government to "declare a moratorium
on the death penalty in the light of procedural and substantive flaws in
the Afghan judicial system."
The death penalty is often discriminatory in its application, used
disproportionately against the poor and racial, ethnic and religious
minorities. It is often imposed after unfair trials. The risk of executing
the innocent has been persistently demonstrated. Further, executions have
never been proved to have any unique deterrent effect against crime.
Amnesty International believes that executions are brutalizing,
dehumanizing those that carry it out and devaluing the worth that society
places upon human life.
Amnesty International again calls on the Afghan government to immediately
impose an official moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
(source: Amnesty International)
Kabul to continue with executions -- The executions in Afghanistan ended a
The Afghan government has said it will continue to carry out death
sentences despite concern about the execution of 15 convicts in Kabul on
The executions - announced on Monday - were the 1st confirmed in
Afghanistan for 3 years.
Those executed had been found guilty of crimes such as murder, kidnapping,
rape, adultery and armed robbery.
A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said the executions would be a
lesson for those committing such crimes.
The executions in Kabul have proved controversial.
The chairman of Afghanistan's human rights organisation said human rights
groups had called for the cases of the executed men to be re-examined,
alleging shortcomings in the way they had been investigated.
The United Nations said it had been a staunch supporter of the moratorium
on executions observed in Afghanistan over recent years.
But the spokesman for the Afghan President, Humayun Hamidzada, said
Afghanistan had every right to carry out the death penalty.
"There was no understanding between the United Nations and the Afghan
government about executions. The Afghan government is doing what its laws
dictate," he said.
The executions were carried out at Kabul's Pul-e-Charkhi jail
"We of course respect the concerns raised by the international community,
the UN and others, but you know capital punishment is not only practised
in Afghanistan but in many many countries," Mr Hamidzada said.
"So what we do is what is best for our people... in light of our
One of those executed was a man convicted of involvement in the murder of
foreign journalists after the fall of the Taleban, including Grazia Cutuli
of Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Sergio Romano of Corriere Della Sera said the Italian press reflected
mixed feelings about his execution.
"For the time being of course, there is a certain amount of satisfaction,
although there are doubts about the validity of the verdict," he said.
"The inquiries conducted by the Italians in Afghanistan and Rome proved
that there were other people involved, who don't seem to have been taken
Mr Romano said the family of the murdered Italian journalist said they
would have appealed for mercy if they knew the executions were about to be
He added that the case is embarrassing in some ways for the Italian
government, which is pushing, through the United Nations, for a moratorium
on the death penalty.
(source: BBC News)
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO:
Of crime and punishment
TODAY, when electoral politics for E-Day-November 5, will continue to
dominate media/public attention, there is one area of commonality that
distinguishes the contesting parties and on which focus is quite relevant.
It is their shared stand in favour of the emotional, gut-wrenching issue
of the death penalty for murder that continues to sharply divide opinions
in this and other Caricom societies as well as the wider international
Among the 192 member countries of the United Nations, some 100 still
officially retain the death penalty for murder but with increasing numbers
moving towards abolition, or at least review of the practice other nations
have rejected as barbaric and inhumane.
According to Amnesty International-the primary international advocate for
abolition of capital punishment-since1990 a total of 90 countries have
abolished the death penalty for ALL crimes; 10 others for all, except for
war crimes; and 30 other nations, while maintaining a de facto
abolitionist position by retaining laws for capital punishment, have
carried out no executions in the last 10 years.
As regional human rights groups and advocates today join in the tenth
anniversary observance of "World Day Against the Death Penalty", the harsh
reality of our own Caribbean experience bears noting:
45 years after the dawn of political independence in this region, first in
Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, ALL of our Caricom states continue to
retain the death penalty for murder, but with NO government having ANY
significant progress report to offer in battling the epidemic of murder
and other serious crimes.
Or, more precisely, how the ultimate punishment of execution for murder
may have contributed to curbing rampaging killings in the worst affected
countries-Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Guyana, in that order-to
those with comparatively low but still alarming murder rates, such as The
Bahamas, Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Heads of Government and Attorneys General are prone to genuflect to the
emotional cries of the "hang them quickly" crowd by promising speedy
trials for murder accused and making pledges to execute murderers with
haste. But where is the example of curbing the murder rate by
implementation of the death penalty?
Ministers of National Security and Attorneys General of successive
administrations-particularly those unsympathetic to accessing the
Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our final appellate institution-often
compete to blame the Privy Council in London and successful members of the
national/regional legal fraternity for hurdles placed in carrying out
death sentences for murder.
Even now part of the election campaign here features the fighting rhetoric
of past and present cabinet ministers responsible for law and order and
the justice administration system who seek to market their capacity to
fight the criminals and implement the death penalty for murder.
Their sense of frustration could perhaps be appreciated in the face of
some of the most mind-blowing criminal acts of murder, armed robberies and
What, however, seems lacking is an anti-crime strategy-one structured for
sustained widest-possible bi-partisan involvement by political parties and
social interest organisations-working in collaboration with the security
Of necessity, such an approach would entail curbing also the passion of
members of disciplined forces to shoot and/or brutalise first and ask
questions after; and, for their part, members of the public discarding
their own social/political prejudices and habit of treating law
enforcement agents as "enemies" rather than "friends". It must also entail
discouraging collusion with criminals by people who keep silent when they
should be proactive in helping to keep their respective neighbourhoods,
villages and urban communities safe from criminals-often linked to
narco-trafficking and gun-running networks.
When the November 5 general election is over, and whatever the composition
of a new government, it would be good to know whether any serious effort
may be forthcoming to abolish the death penalty.
And whether there is commitment-beyond glossy mainfestos-to pursuing new
bi-partisan, creative initiatives to arrest the plague of murder,
kidnappings and armed robberies now resulting in expanding national grief
and apprehension amid packed courts of accused and overcrowded prisons.
(source: Column, Rickey Singh, The Trinidad Express)
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