[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Oct 15 22:11:06 CDT 2007
Death penalty in the Bible
The Editor, Sir:
Associate Pastor Daren S. Larmond, in a Gleaner letter, argued, "Death is
not a penalty. Death is an easy way out" and asking, "why should we kill a
man for killing a man?" He added the perennial adage that, "no evidence
exists that capital punishment is a deterrent to murderers".
>From whence the idea of life for life came into human societies? Well,
blame the God of the Bible. Because, He did tell Noah, "I will demand an
accounting for (taking) the life of his fellowman. "Whoever sheds the
blood of man by man shall his blood be shed" (Gen 9: 5-6) He later
delivered to Moses his command to His people, "Thou shall not murder"
(Deut 5:17) Jesus, the victim of capital punishment, made it clear that
"anyone who murders will be subject to the judgement" (of both the
Sanhedrin and God's final punishment) (Matt 5:22).
As the God of the Bible, beginning with His experimental nation Israel,
shaped the type of earthly Kingdom to come, He prescribed civil laws to
rid His people of by death or banishment, gross delinquents, including
murderers. God is not squeamish and He is certainly no bleeding heart, He
sets up earthly authorities, and yes, some are corrupt and unjust, but He
"demands an accounting for taking the life of a fellowman".
I am, etc.,
(source: Letter to the Editor, Jamaica Gleaner)
Drama in American courts as a Scots lawyer visits death row
AMERICAN court cases in films always portray a world of high drama, with
prosecuting and defence lawyers camping up the action as they sneer and
hiss at each other. It couldn't be more different to the atmosphere of
British courts, with gravity and dignity leading the proceedings, so it's
tempting to imagine that what we see in the movies is very far from the
Fresh from three months in the United States as an intern in capital
defence work, Laura Greer, 24, would be the first to testify that fact is
actually very close to fiction when it comes to courts in the States.
"It was a very interesting time and I learned a great deal," she says.
"But I was constantly amazed at the way the courts are treated almost like
a stage, with everyone trying to outdo each other in the level of drama
Greer applied to work in the US because, she says, her big passion is
human rights, although it took her some time to come to the law. "After I
left school, I took a couple of years out while I decided what to do," she
"I have always done voluntary work while at school - and that included
Marie Curie, a care home, soup kitchens and a disabled children's home -
so that further inspired my interest in human rights and law seemed the
While she was studying, she also worked part-time with Fitzpatrick & Co, a
law firm in Glasgow, and the meticulous detail of law in practise further
stimulated her interest in the subject.
"I found it utterly fascinating to see it in reality," she says. "The
great attention to detail really appealed to me, especially since that is
something which never changes, no matter how much experience you gain."
As part of her course she elected to do forensic science, which focuses on
subjects such as fingerprinting and DNA analysis, and also helped her
decide which area of law in which she wanted to specialise. "I wanted to
be able to work for both sides," says Greer. "I continued working with
Fitzpatrick & Co for 2 years while studying, so I gained a lot of valuable
experience there and then applied to the Crown Office for a post as a
There was a great deal of competition for these positions, with the 25
posts vacant at that point in 2006 attracting 500 applications, so all
Greer's energies were concentrated on achieving that ambition. However,
she then attended a guest lecture at Glasgow University that was given by
Clive Stafford Smith, one of the directors of a charity called Reprieve.
Based in the UK, the US and Australia, Reprieve provides interns to
non-profit law organisations, mainly in the US, specialising in capital
defence work. The offices assist with the representation of impoverished
defendants facing execution, and focus on research and litigation directed
towards systemic reform.
Listening to Stafford Smith describing the charity's work inspired a new
ambition for Greer and she began investigating the possibility of getting
involved with Reprieve.
"I was touched and motivated by the lecture he gave and wanted to help in
any way I could," she recalls. " I couldn't afford to go but one of the
partners at Fitzpatrick & Co, Gerry Considine, was president of the
Glasgow Bar Association at that time, and he gave me information about a
bursary from Strathclyde University.
"The bursary is heavily funded by the Glasgow Bar Association so Gerry
helped greatly with my application, which involved an interview in London
and a half-hour telephone interview with one of the attorneys."
Involved as she was with her career here, it seems quite a strange choice
to go actively looking for experience in an area of law that will not
apply to her work in this country.
"Human rights really is my passion and I was fascinated by the idea of
seeing a completely different jursiprudence," she says. "You have one of
the most powerful countries in the world and it still has the death
penalty in some states. I was also very nervous about the racism I might
encounter, but that and corruption were themes that were even more
prevalent than I had been expecting to experience."
Despite any misgivings, Greer was delighted to learn that she had been
successful in her application, and flew out to Texas in May, where she was
quickly plunged into the work of the Gulf Region Advocacy Centre (GRACE)
in Houston. "Harris County and has one of the highest rates of people on
death row being executed in the whole of the USA, only a couple of states
- not even counties - have a higher rate," she explains. "Whilst I was out
there for 3 months I was involved in a capital murder trial in which the
accused was a black man aged 19 who had 4co-defendants.
"The accused was found guilty and then sentenced to the death penalty,
which was most upsetting to witness. The trial itself lasted almost 4
weeks, which I was told was one of the longest trials that judge had ever
presided over, which I found astonishing in comparison to the legal system
in Scotland. I was in court every day, minuting everything that was said.
I attended consultations with some of the top psychiatrists and
psychologists in America with the defence attorneys.
"I interviewed the family members of the accused and generally assisted in
the preparation for trial. It was an incredibly tense and busy time - my
longest day while working on the trial lasted from 7am to 3am."
During the court case, Greer was constantly amazed by the air of drama
that was deliberately cultivated, especially by the prosecutor.
"She was a tiny woman and strode about the court with the rifle that had
been used in the murder slung over her shoulder," Greer remembers. "She
would roll her eyes at the jury, try to get them to empathise with her -
honestly, it was like a lesson on how not to behave in a Scottish court.
"However, there were some other aspects that I felt would benefit our
system, such as the defence and prosecuting lawyers being able to go back
time and again with evidence as the trial develops. In our system, once
you've done your bit, then you're done, which is unfortunate if something
hasn't been covered."
Now back working with the Crown Office, Greer would advise anyone who
could follow in her footsteps to do so.
"It's not just about the experience of working there but also of seeing
how attitudes differ from this country," she says. "I attended death row
to visit a client who has been on 'the row' for about eight years now and
that was strange, having a seemingly normal conversation by phone, through
glass with someone who was shackled.
"Outside of work if people started talking to me because of my Scottish
accent, then I encountered a lot of animosity when they asked what I was
doing there, usually with a tirade of insulting remarks regarding my lack
of knowledge of how 'the Americans do things over here, not like the
She adds: "Some of the friendliest people were the prison guards on death
row who were genuinely interested in why I would travel so far to help
people I had no affiliation or connection with - one of the guards who
looked at my ID actually started working in Louisiana State Penitentiary
on the day I was born, 24 years ago!
"The whole experience is something I've learned a great deal from and will
(source: The Scotsman)
Iraqi Judge: Execution Set for Chemical Ali
Ali Hassan Majeed, known as "Chemical Ali," is set to be executed on
Tuesday for his role in the deaths of up to 180,000 Kurds, an Iraqi judge
Munir Hadad, a senior judge of the Supreme Criminal Court, said the
execution could take place anytime after 5:00 a.m. local time.
Majeed and 2 other lieutenants of Saddam Hussein were convicted in June of
genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for their role in the
brutal crackdown known as Operation Anfal, in which as many as 180,000
Kurdish civilians and guerrillas were killed 2 decades ago.
Majeed, a cousin of Saddam who was once among the most powerful and feared
men in Iraq, ordered the use of mustard gas and nerve agents against the
Kurds, who had allegedly collaborated with during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq
In September the Iraqi High Tribunal upheld his death sentence in a
majority decision, as well as those of former Defense Minister Sultan
Hashem Ahmed and Hussein Rasheed Mohammed, former deputy director of
operations for the Iraqi armed forces.
Under Iraqi law, a deadline to execute Majeed passed last week, but the
government delayed the execution because of the Ramadan holiday.
(source: Fox News)
Death Penalty "Utterly Obnoxious", PM
Prime Minister Helen Clark marked World Day against the Death Penalty by
calling the practice "utterly obnoxious" and vowed the government will
push for a global death penalty moratorium.
"I personally find the death penalty, in any circumstances, completely
abhorrent and always have," she said at a press conference in the Beehive
hosted by Amnesty International.
Ms Clark said the Government will be working with other abolitionist
countries on a resolution on abolition of the death penalty to be
considered by the UN General Assembly later this year.
"The resolution will ask countries to implement a global moratorium on
executions as a 1st step towards the eventual abolition of the death
She said achieving the milestone of a death penalty free world will
require huge efforts.
"The death penalty violates the right to life - it is by definition a
cruel and degrading treatment. It is known to have been inflicted on the
innocent. Its very nature means it cannot be reversed."
Ms Clark said although China is by far the "largest practitioner of the
death penalty today" she sees no correlation between this and signing a
free trade deal with China.
"Our message is to all countries who have the death penalty on the statute
books and to those who specifically have it carried out."
"No Valid Arguments"
Amnesty International NZ Executive Director Ced Simpson said the death
penalty is often used as a tool for political repression, against the poor
and minority groups.
"Experience shows that executions brutalise everyone involved in the
process and nowhere has it been shown that the death penalty has any
special power to reduce crime or political violence."
There are no valid arguments in favour of the death penalty, Mr Simpson
"That is why Amnesty International is putting resources into a renewed
international campaign around the time of the UN General Assembly
Although polls suggest the vast majority of New Zealanders are opposed to
the death penalty, Mr Simpson said Amnesty understands why so many New
Zealanders sometimes call for the re-introduction of the death penalty.
"We who are members of Amnesty International deal with the victims of
horrific crime, horrific suffering everyday, the victims of torture, the
victims of killings. And we know too well the anguish and the anger that
accompanies that sort of barbarity against human beings."
There is no evidence it [death penalty] acts as a deterrent, Mr Simpson
"There is overwhelming evidence that it brutalises all those involved."
He welcomed the governments' commitment towards abolition and said other
governments were also strong opponents of abolition.
"The Italian government has taken all sorts of creative initiatives
against the death penalty including bathing the Coliseum in red light
every time someone is executed (that they know of)."
Death Penalty in NZ
New Zealand officially abolished the death penalty in 1989. The 1st
execution in New Zealand was that of a young Maori named Maketu, convicted
at Auckland in 1842.
Walter Bolton became the last to be executed when he was hanged at Mount
Eden prison in 1957. In total there were 83 verified executions for murder
and one for treason between these dates.
The method of execution has always been hanging, and before 1862
executions were conducted in public.
Capital Punishment Around the World
- 133 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or in
- 25 states carried out executions in 2006.
- Between 1976 and 2005, 1004 people were executed in the United States
and over 3000 prisoners were awaiting execution on 'death row'.
- In China in 2001 alone, a government crackdown on crime executed at
least 1781 people in about 4 months.
- In 2006 in China there were 1,591 'known' executions, but sources inside
China say executions may total up to 10,000 people a year.
[sources: Amnesty International and NZhistory.net]
The offences that carried the death penalty in New Zealand were, in
accordance with English common law, 'murder, treason and piracy'.
Minnie Dean, the Only Woman Executed
One of the most famous executions was that of Minnie Dean in Invercargill
in 1895 the only woman to be executed in New Zealand.
Minnie Dean was tried for murdering a baby on her baby farm in Winton,
Southland. The baby-farm project consisted of taking in illegitimate
children, from mothers with otherwise-respectable backgrounds, boarding
them for a while, and then finding them permanent foster homes.
The baby that Minnie Dean was tried for murdering was not the only child
to die in her care - 2 other babies had earlier been verified as dying
from natural causes.
In May 1895 the bodies of 2 babies and the skeleton of a 3rd were
discovered in Minnie's flower garden.
She was arrested, tried on a charge of murdering one of these, found
guilty, and executed on 12 August 1895.
Minnie Dean did not appear in the witness box.
She went to the gallows calmly, protesting her innocence to the end.
(source: Epoch Times)
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