[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Oct 14 16:06:22 CDT 2007
Death penalty hanging loose
A PROMINENT MEMBER of the Roman Catholic clergy last week joined the
debate on the death penalty, echoing the Vatican's view that, since all
human life is sacred, killing whether by an individual or the state, is
It echoes this declaration by the United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops: "We cannot overcome crime by simply executing criminals, nor can
we restore the lives of the innocent by ending the lives of those
convicted of their murders. The death penalty offers the tragic illusion
than we can defend life by taking life."
Last week, former Trinidad & Tobago attorney-general, Ramesh Lawrence
Maharaj, who once argued that capital punishment amounted to murder under
the guise of law, is now saying it does indeed act as a deterrent to
crime. According to him, when Trinidad and Tobago executed a number of
murderers in 1999, homicides and other crimes, including kidnappings,
In his opinion, if executions had continued, the twin-island republic's
murder rate would not now be in the region of 400 to date in 2007 alone.
Similar sentiment is being expressed in Jamaica which surpassed Brazil and
South Africa to become the "murder capital of the world" by 2005. Already
in 2007 more than 1 030 murders have been committed there and the Jamaica
Defence Force is increasingly being used to assist the Jamaica
It is perhaps ironic that it was a Jamaican case, Pratt vs Morgan in 1993,
in which a Privy Council decision was to mark a turning point in the
region's approach to enforcement of capital punishment.
Their Lordships concluded that in any case in which execution is to take
place more than five years after sentence there will be strong grounds for
believing that the delay is such as to constitute "inhuman or degrading
punishment or other treatment."
Although executions have not been carried out in Barbados for many years,
all opinion surveys done here, as well as the majority of comments by
writers and broadcasters on the subject of capital punishment, have shown
our people to be overwhelmingly in favour of retaining the death penalty,
particularly for the most heinous or premeditated murders. Actually, there
appears to be a very large number who want to see it applied.
In the light of such endorsement, no government has attempted to remove
that provision from the statute books, not even when, as now, some
religious denominations and various human rights organisations agitated to
have it expunged in countries across the world.
It is worthy of note that in the United States, inspired largely by
western European countries and the Roman Catholic Church, there is growing
momentum for outlawing capital punishment.
Such is the power of the United States, however, that there is no serious
chance of sanctions being imposed to change the tradition of capital
punishment. It is, therefore, the weaker countries that feel the force of
a strong world lobby. In Arab countries the death penalty is a cultural
and religious imperative.
It is disturbing, to say the least, that any Caribbean country could be
threatened with loss of special diplomatic or economic treatment by its
colonial master for failing to adopt a more liberal approach not only to
capital punishment, but to homosexuality. Sanctions of one kind or another
are also being held like a Damoclesean sword over theft heads.
It goes against the Barbadian tradition to accept that the death penalty
should be abolished, although we very much doubt whether capital
punishment will ever again be applied.
Those in this region and elsewhere who take the view that this form of
punishment is not a deterrent appear dismissive of the fact that it is the
constitutionally enshrined provision for the particular crime.
If the official policy now is not to enforce the death penalty, then our
Constitution should be suitably amended.
(source: Editorial, The Nation News)
Iran arrests anti-death penalty activist
Iran arrested on Sunday a prominent rights activist who has campaigned
against the death penalty on charges of spreading propaganda and
publishing secret documents, his lawyer said.
Emaddedin Baghi, who heads the Committee for the Defence of Prisoners'
Rights, has already served several jail terms in Iran and received awards
from Western countries for his work.
"He is charged with spreading propaganda against the regime and publishing
secret government documents," his lawyer Saleh Nikbakht told AFP.
According to the charges, Baghi obtained secret information from prisoners
detained in security prisons and then disseminated this information during
seminars organised by his group, the lawyer said.
Baghi is a former journalist who served a three-year jail term between
2000-2003 over his writings in several pro-reform newspapers.
Over the last months, he has publicly protested against the wave of
hangings, many in public, that have swept Iran as part of a campaign by
the authorities they say is aimed at improving security in society.
In September he wrote an open letter to the heads of reformist parties --
including former president Mohammad Khatami and ex-parliament speaker
Mehdi Karroubi -- complaining of their silence over the increased
At least 207 executions have been carried out in the country so far this
year, already well above the figures for 2006.
In 2005 Baghi was awarded a prize for human rights by France for his work
campaigning against the death penalty.
He has been particularly prominent in cases in the western Khuzestan
province, which has a substantial Arab population and has seen a spate of
executions following deadly bomb attacks in 2005 and 2006.
Capital offences in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, serious drug
trafficking and adultery. The Islamic republic is believed to be currently
second only to China in the number of executions carried out annually.
Nikbakht said a bail of 500 million rials (53,500 dollars) had been set
but it was then decided to imprison Baghi as he still had a 1 year jail
term to serve from a previous conviction.
The lawyer also confirmed reports from Western rights groups that Baghi
had been sentenced to three years in prison earlier this year over his
activities. However he has yet to serve this sentence, which remains the
subject of an appeal.
"He has appealed and now the case is in the hands of the court," he said.
The lawyer said that in the same case his wife Fatemeh Kamali Ahmad Sarahi
and his daughter Maryam Baghi were also each handed 3 year suspended
(source: Agence France-Presse)
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