[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Oct 11 00:59:42 CDT 2007
Local groups unite against death penalty
THE INDEPENDENT Jamaican Council for Human Rights, Amnesty International
Jamaica group, and the Roman Catholic Church said yesterday they were
united in their efforts towards the abolition of the death penalty in the
Their joint statement came as the region celebrates World Day Against the
Death Penalty today.
On September 25, the Prime Minister of Italy, Professor Romano Prodi,
spoke to the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly on the resolution
before the Assembly for a universal moratorium on the death penalty.
"I trust that we shall all be united in this battle, which is supported by
Nobel Laureates, statesmen and women, and free men and women from
throughout the world," Professor Prodi said.
He added that the "growing trend in international law and the national
practice toward a phasing out of the death penalty" would be officially
sanctioned by U.N. General Assembly's adoption of a draft resolution to be
deposited together with many countries from every regional group and from
the European Union.
In yesterday's joint statement, the local groups said: "We urge the
Government of Jamaica to vote in favour of this resolution as a
contribution to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive
development of human rights in Jamaica and throughout the world."
The statement added: "Our society is rife with violence, often generating
feelings of fear and we strive for any form of 'self-defense' against the
violence. If we are to work together towards building a better society, we
need to cultivate a climate of peace and forgiveness. It will not happen
through killings or executions."
The statement continued: "In a state of fear, we can hang everyone on
death row, but the problem will still be there - violence only begets
violence. We have to decide to develop a rational, intelligent solution
and we must have the political will to face the roots of violence in order
to solve the problems of crime in Jamaica."
(source: Jamaica Gleaner News)
EU lawmakers hold minute silence for death penalty victims
EU lawmakers observed a minute of silence Wednesday for victims of capital
punishment to mark the World Day against the Death Penalty, with their
president criticizing China in particular.
"The death penalty must disappear across the world and the Olympic Games
next year offer the occasion to break the wall of silence behind which
China hides," said European Parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering.
The Council of Europe has proclaimed a European Day against the Death
Penalty for October 10, but Poland blocked European Union plans to do the
The EU's current Portuguese presidency said that the 27-nation bloc was
"committed to keep lobbying in various countries around the world in
support of the abolition of the death penalty."
It also welcomed Rwanda's abolition of the death penalty in July, which it
said represented a "powerful example to other countries."
Wednesday marks the 5th World Day against the Death Penalty.
(source: Agence France-Presse)
Europe fights capital punishment
Europe is marking its 1st anti-death penalty day, despite moves from
Poland to block the event, calling for it also to condemn abortion and
The day was organised by the Council of Europe, a human rights body, after
Poland's veto threatened to derail an EU-sponsored event.
The event is being held in conjunction with a global anti-death penalty
Capital punishment is banned in all 27 EU states but Poland's president
called on the EU to reintroduce it last year.
Poland, Ireland and Malta are the only EU member states where abortion is
Last month, Poland was the only member state to oppose an EU-sponsored
European Day Against the Death Penalty, with Deputy Justice Minister
Andrzej Duda saying the EU "should approach the subject in a broader way
and debate the protection of life".
We know that there are many people in Europe who continue to support the
death penalty... We need to go out and explain to people why the death
penalty is wrong -- Terry Davis, Council of Europe Secretary General.
The event was then managed by the 47-member Council of Europe, which
requires only a majority decision, not unanimity.
Abolishing capital punishment is a requirement for EU members, so the
event might have been expected to go through on the nod, says the BBC's
Alix Kroeger in Brussels.
But Poland's conservative, populist government has made something of a
speciality of going against EU opinion on issues ranging from
homosexuality to environmental protection, our correspondent says.
Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis said the abolition of
capital punishment was "far too important to be taken for granted".
"We know that there are many people in Europe who continue to support the
death penalty. Every time there is a particularly gruesome crime, or, in
some cases, when an election is coming - there are voices calling for the
death penalty to be reinstated," he said.
"We need to go out and explain to people why the death penalty is wrong,
why it has been abolished, and why it should stay abolished."
In 2006, more than 3,800 people were sentenced to death in 55 countries,
the EU says.
(source: BBC News)
Plassnik: No more capital punishment
Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik has called for an end to the
world wide practice of capital punishment. She said in a statement that
one of the consistent policies of the Austrian government was an end to
the death penalty. She welcomed the recognition by the Council of Europe
of its 1st World Day against Capital Punishment. October 10 is the 5th
international day against the death penalty.
The day was taken over by the Council of Europe, a human rights body,
after Poland's veto threatened to derail an EU sponsored event. Capital
punishment is banned in all 27 European Union states, but Poland's
president called on the EU to reintroduce it last year.
The Council of Europe's Secretary General Terry Davis said the abolition
of capital punishment was far too important to be taken for granted. He
added that it was known that there are many people in Europe who continue
to support the death penalty, so we need to go out and explain to people
why it has been abolished, and why it should stay abolished. In 2006, 55
countries ordered executions.
(source: Wiener Zeitung)
Calmy-Rey calls for end of death penalty
Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey has called for the worldwide abolition
of the death penalty, saying it was one of Switzerland's human rights
Calmy-Rey made the appeal in a message to mark Wednesday's World Day
Against The Death Penalty. This year also sees the first such European
"Capital punishment is not justifiable because its deterrent effect is not
proved. It is also inhuman because a juridical error can never be
completely ruled out, " she said.
Calmy-Rey, who is also Swiss foreign minister, added that by carrying out
capital punishment, the state risked becoming a murderer.
"For these reasons the death penalty should be abolished. The right to
life is a universal value, a right that should be protected by all
She also asked how a state could remain credible as a guarantor of human
security if it had the right to decide between life and death.
List of priorities
"The fight against the death penalty is one of our human rights
priorities," she added.
Switzerland actively takes part in debate against the death penalty in
international organisations, including the United Nations, the Council of
Europe, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It
also supports non-governmental organisations that are campaigning against
Many NGOs, which have formed a coalition, launched an appeal on Wednesday
calling on all governments to support a moratorium on the death penalty.
More than five million people worldwide have signed a petition demanding
the moratorium, according to the World Coalition Against The Death
Penalty, which is based in France.
The UN General Assembly is set to vote on such a moratorium later this
The Coalition includes more than 60 organisations, including Amnesty
International, the International Federation of Action by Christians for
the Abolition of Torture and Lifespark, the Swiss-based organisation that
arranges penpals for people on death row.
Last year at least 1,591 executions were counted in 25 countries. 9 out of
10 took place in 6 countries China, the United States, Iran, Irak,
Pakistan and Sudan.
A total of 3,861 people were condemned to death in 55 countries in 2006.
However, organisers of the day say there is a "real dynamic in favour of
the abolition of the death penalty."
At the UN, 133 of its members have abolished it by law or in practice. The
death penalty is not carried out in Europe, with the exception of Belarus.
The Coalition notes that executions took place in only 6 African countries
The United States is the only country on the American continent to have
carried out executions since 2003. However, there has been a slowdown in
their number, with 53 carried out in 2006, the lowest in 10 years.
In Asia, the Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006, while in
China the number declined somewhat, the organisers of the day said.
Bringing hope to death row
For Heidi Uetz, writing to an inmate on death row in the United States has
been an emotional experience. Her correspondent was executed at the end of
Uetz is a member of Lifespark, a Swiss organisation which arranges penpal
exchanges with death row prisoners. As Europe holds its 1st ever Day
against The Death Penalty, swissinfo spoke to her to find out more about
"Michael Richard was 49 years old. He had been on death row for 20 years,
which was unusually long. He had several retrials," explained Uetz.
The appeals mainly focused on whether Richard, originally accused of rape
and murder of a nurse, was mentally retarded or not.
Since 2002 the US Supreme Court, the country's highest legal instance, has
banned these types of executions. Richard, a borderline case, was
eventually deemed mentally sound.
However, this was not the end of the story. The inmate also became
embroiled in the latest twist in the capital punishment debate in the
On the same day as Richard's execution, the Supreme Court decided to
review lethal injection procedures in another US state, Kentucky, after it
was argued that they were a "cruel and unusual punishment" and against the
But the decision came too late. "The absolutely frustrating thing is that
the man to be executed two days after Michael got a stay of execution
because of this case pending before the Supreme Court," said Uetz.
The American, who has lived in Switzerland for many years, wrote to
Richard for 4 years. She also visited him in prison in 2004.
"He loved to hear about life on the outside and his world opened up
through his penpals because they gave him a view of life he never had,"
she said, adding that Richard also learned how to read and write in
Giving support to inmates on death row is the mainstay of Lifespark's
work. Since it was founded in 1993, the organisation has arranged around
800 different penpal exchanges.
The majority of its 300 members are women, but a number of men are
involved as well. For many, the experience has been an eye-opener.
"It's not only that you are giving a lot to the inmate but you also gain
very much from it - you find out about a whole new world," said Uetz, who
is a member of Lifespark's board.
People write in English, although a few people use Spanish. Writers have
to be aware of the responsibility that comes with corresponding with
someone on death row. Emotions can run high and there have even been a few
marriages, according to Uetz.
The question of guilt is also a tricky subject. "There are some inmates
who claim innocence... in Michael's case he claimed he was, but I just
don't know," admits Uetz, adding that the deprived backgrounds of many
inmates has to be taken into account, as well as the gun culture in the
Lifespark members correspond with penpals in all 38 US states that still
advocate capital punishment. There are a higher number in Texas, Florida
and California, the states with the most executions.
The US was chosen from the six countries which most actively carry out the
death sentence - the others being China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan -
for ease of access and language reasons.
However, the organisation also campaigns against the death penalty
worldwide, often collaborating with similar groups worldwide.
"There are 130 countries now that have either abandoned, abolished or are
not using the death penalty - that's pretty good, but there are still
these 6 nations which are responsible for over 90 % of executions," said
The European Day Against The Death Penalty is a step in the right
direction, she adds, even if such actions are largely symbolic.
"Whatever happens, if many groups of nations or individual nations
officially make a statement against the death penalty this can only be
EUROPEAN DAY AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY
The Council of Europe, Europe's human rights watchdog, has declared
October 10 European Day Against The Death Penalty. This comes on the same
day as World Day Against The Death Penalty.
There has been no capital punishment among Council of Europe and European
Union members since 1997. Abolition of the death penalty is a condition of
membership of both bodies.
Switzerland has been a Council member since 1963, but is not a member of
More than 70 countries worldwide still retain the death penalty. According
to the EU, in 2006 1,591 people were executed in 25 countries and at least
3,861 people were sentenced to death in 55 countries.
DEATH PENALTY IN THE US
The death penalty is legal in 38 states in the US, although not all of
them use it.
There are currently around 3,350 people on death row. California, Texas
and Florida have the highest numbers.
At least 41 people this year and 1,099 people have been executed since the
US Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976, according
to the Death Penalty Information Center.
It says that since 1973, more than 120 people have been released from
death row with evidence of their innocence.
Council of Europe: death penalty
EU: European Day against the Death Penalty
(source for both: Swiss Info)
Ex-leader urges SKorea to scrap death penalty
Former president Kim Dae-Jung, the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize winner who was
once held on South Korea's death row, on Wednesday urged his country to
abolish capital punishment.
No one has been executed for a decade in South Korea, but the death
penalty remains on the books. A bill to end the practice has languished in
parliament for years.
"The dignity of life is a natural right that nobody can infringe and
demolish," Kim said at a ceremony in Seoul to launch a campaign to stop
Since the country's founding in 1948, 902 people have been executed,
mostly by hanging, according to Yonhap news agency.
There has been a moratorium on the death penalty since the end of 1997,
when Kim was elected president.
Kim was sentenced to death in 1980, charged with inciting the Gwangju
uprising earlier that year which led to the killing of hundreds of
protesters by troops.
He later won a reprieve and amnesty following US representations to the
Ahn Kyung-hwan, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said
South Korea should abolish the death penalty despite public opposition, as
was done in Britain, France and Germany.
Kim won the Nobel prize for laying the groundwork for inter-Korean
reconciliation, including a landmark summit in 2000.
(source: Agence France-Presse)
Indonesian A-G denies change of heart on death penalty
Indonesia's Attorney-General, Hendarman Supandji, says he will support the
death penalty as long as it is the law in Indonesia.
His comments follow an article in The Sydney Morning Herald that said he
was backing away from supporting capital punishment.
A Constitutional Court ruling on the death penalty in Indonesia is due to
be made on October 30.
Mr Supandji says he will respect the court's decision.
"I'm just an executor, the executor of law," he said.
"I'm a law enforcer - I'm here to uphold the existing law.
"So when the law says A then I'll enforce A. When the law says B I'll
(source: ABC News)
Bali 9 mother pushes for stronger anti-death penalty stance
The parents of convicted Bali nine drug mule Scott Rush say Australia
needs to reinforce its stance against capital punishment to avoid
The 21-year-old from Queensland was arrested at Bali airport in 2005 with
heroin strapped to his legs and was later sentenced to death.
A political row has emerged in Canberra with Labor Leader Kevin Rudd
criticising his foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland for re-stating
Labor's opposition to the death penalty on the eve of the 2002 Bali
Rush's mother Christine says she is concerned politicians are sending
mixed messages and should take a lead role in abolishing capital
"When we're doing our campaigning we have people say to us that Australia
is against the death penalty," she said.
"Obviously that's not the case, because we do have six Australians on
death row because of what has happened with our Australian authorities, so
it's very difficult to comprehend."
(source: ABC News)
Apology for death penalty comment
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland today expressed
regret for any distress he had caused victims of the Bali bombings.
Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd pulled his frontbencher into line yesterday
for discussing the appropriateness of the death penalty in the same week
as the 5th anniversary of the Bali attacks, which killed 88 Australians.
As a father, Mr McClelland said he could only imagine what the families
and friends of Bali victims were going through.
"[I] genuinely regret the distress [I caused] to the victims of the Bali
bombing," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
"I have kids ... and I can only imagine their situation, and that's the
real regret I have."
Mr Rudd carpeted Mr McClelland for the timing of the speech and staff from
both offices were "counselled" for their role in the episode.
Today, the Labor leader refused to guarantee Mr McClelland would be
foreign minister if Labor won the election.
Mr McClelland said he took full responsibility for what had happened.
"I agree unhesitatingly that the time was unfortunate, was unsympathetic
and I accepted that," he said.
In an embargoed copy of the speech circulated on Monday, Mr McClelland
spoke about Labor's universal opposition to the death penalty, at the same
time criticising the Howard Government for a double standard.
He accused the Federal Government of being inconsistent because it said it
opposed capital punishment while supporting the death penalty for the Bali
The speech, delivered on Monday, was meant to be timed to coincide with
the International Day against the Death Penalty, which falls today.
But they were seized on by the Government and some sections of the media
as Labor calling for the Bali bombers to be spared.
Mr McClelland said that in his final delivery of the speech he omitted any
reference to the Bali bombers.
After his few days at the centre of the political storm, Mr McClelland
remains relaxed about his future prospects as a frontbencher despite Mr
Rudd refusing to give any guarantees about who will be foreign minister.
"I think everyone other than the economic portfolios have got to show
their worth. I've done some work - I accept mistakes this week - but I'd
like say that's uncharacteristic and all that history will be regarded,"
Mr McClelland said.
Costello says execution of Bali bombers up to Indonesians
Treasurer Peter Costello says it's up to Indonesia whether the Bali
bombers are executed.
Mr Costello said that while he did not personally agree with the death
penalty and did not think it would ever be reintroduced in Australia, the
terrorists were Indonesians who had broken Indonesian law on Indonesian
"I don't have any sympathy for the Bali bombers, to be frank," Mr Costello
told Southern Cross Broadcasting in Perth.
"They decided to kill Australians, they killed 88 of our fellow
Australians, they killed them just because they were Australians, and I
don't think we should waste our sympathy on them."
Mr Costello said it was not up to Australia to try to stop the Bali
"Why Robert McClelland and Kevin Rudd decided that the Australian
Government should intervene and should try and lobby for clemency on
behalf of Amrozi and co is beyond me," Mr Costello said.
"There are real victims here and that's the 88 that are dead."
Rudd disloyal and lacking courage, Howard says
Prime Minister John Howard has launched a fierce attack on Mr Rudd,
accusing him of disloyalty and a lack of courage for not backing Mr
Mr Howard said Mr McClelland was a decent bloke who had been treated badly
for articulating Labor Party policy in a speech cleared by the leader's
"He's absolutely humiliated a decent bloke for what? Articulating his
policy," Mr Howard told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
"I mean, I could understand him humiliating him if he'd come out in favour
of invading New Zealand or something stupid, but all the bloke was doing
was articulating what Mr Rudd himself has already said on several
(source: The Age)
Stanhope backs McClelland on death penalty
ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has weighed into the death penalty debate
and supported the comments of the federal Opposition's foreign affairs
Robert McClelland was pulled into line by Labor leader Kevin Rudd after
failing to endorse the death penalty for the Bali bombers.
But Mr Stanhope says the comments were appropriate in the week of the
World Day Against the Death Penalty.
(source: ABC News)
Afghan prisoners on hunger strike after executions
Dozens of inmates at Afghanistan's main prison in Kabul have been on a
hunger strike for 3 days to protest the executions at the weekend of 15
convicts, the head of prisons said.
The inmates at the Pul-i-Charki prison started their protest soon after
the 15 men were taken from the jail late Sunday and put before a firing
squad for crimes including murder, kidnapping and attacks on government
They were the 2nd known executions carried out in the past six years by
the post-Taliban government.
"It is the 3rd day of their hunger strike today," Afghanistan's head of
prisons, Abdul Salam Asmat, told AFP. "They are apparently protesting the
execution of the 15 criminals."
Most of the striking prisoners are linked with the extremist Taliban and
Al-Qaeda groups that are behind an insurgency launched 6 years ago, he
Asmat would only put the number involved in the protest at "tens". Local
media reported that 2 dozen inmates were forcing around 200 others not to
eat, but he would not confirm the figure.
The Pajhwok Afghan News agency cited the head of the prison, Shah Amir
Khan, as saying most of the striking prisoners had criticised the process
by which the executions were carried out as lacking transparency.
The United Nations and Afghanistan's main human rights body have expressed
concern about the judicial processes that led to the weekend executions.
"I am deeply troubled by this sudden resort to execution, after 3 years of
refraining from carrying out the death penalty," the UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights Louise Arbour said in a statement Tuesday.
About 300 people are on death row awaiting President Hamid Karzai's
execution order, having been sentenced since 2001, when the hardline
Taliban movement -- which carried out public executions -- was driven from
(source: Agence France-Presse)
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