[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Oct 23 00:28:30 CDT 2007
Death penalty foes to try again for UN resolution
European Union and other countries opposed to the death penalty are to
launch a fresh bid in coming weeks to have the U.N. General Assembly pass
a resolution urging an end to it, diplomats said on Monday.
2 previous similar attempts failed, due partly to opposition from the
United States, where many states still perform executions, but a diplomat
familiar with the campaign said this time the text would tone down the
Instead of asking outright for abolition, a draft obtained by Reuters
calls on countries that put criminals to death to "establish a moratorium
on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty."
It calls application of the death penalty "a denial of human dignity and
integrity," says it "provides no added value in terms of deterrence" and
notes that "any miscarriage or failure of justice in its implementation is
irreversible and irreparable."
Unlike Security Council resolutions, those passed by the General Assembly
are not binding, but they have moral force.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition he was not identified, said the
co-authors of the resolution were the 27 EU states and nine other
countries. They were led by Italy, a vigorous opponent of the death
penalty, and current EU president Portugal.
In May, the EU mandated Italy to lead a push for a U.N. moratorium on the
death penalty across the world.
"We have been lobbying hard in the past year for the suspension of the
death penalty and we believe the time is right now to have another stab,"
Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier of Germany, then in the EU chair,
said at the time.
The diplomat said sponsors of the resolution would hold an informal
meeting later this week before circulating it to a General Assembly
committee. The aim was to have a vote by mid-November by the full
Assembly, where a simple majority of the 192 member states is needed.
Data collected by rights group Amnesty International showed a fall in
worldwide executions to 1,591 in 2006 from 2,148 in 2005, and a fall in
the number of countries imposing the death penalty.
Some 99 countries ban capital punishment, while 69 still use it. Six
countries -- China, Iran, Iraq, the United States, Pakistan and Sudan --
account for about 90 percent of the total, and China the bulk of those.
Tearing at the flesh of Bali bombing victims
THE spectre of the Bali bombings, in which 88 Australians were among the
202 people killed, emerged on the eve of its fifth anniversary last week
because of an "insensitive" speech by Labour foreign affairs spokesman
Had it not been for his remarks at a human rights forum in Sydney, the
anniversary would have passed quietly as in previous years (except for Oct
12, 2003, when a big memorial ceremony, attended by thousands of
Australians and Balinese, was held at the site of the bombings).
McClelland had wanted to send a clear message that Labour was opposed to
the death penalty even for the Bali terrorists and al-Qaeda leader Osama
But the message evoked anger and criticisms, particularly from surviving
victims and families who lost their loved ones in the senseless massacre
on the Island of the Goddess. It is obvious that for many of them, the
physical and mental scars from 5 years ago have yet to be healed.
"This is probably the worst period ever out of the whole time," remarked
Peter Hughes, who suffered horrific burns in the Bali bombings.
It was only a statement from Greg Hunt, parliamentary secretary to the
Foreign Affairs Minister, that Australia would not let the terrorists'
murderous hatred displace "our love of life" that gave some encouragement
to those who attended the dawn memorial ceremonies throughout the country
and in Bali.
The sour points, of course, were McCelland's speech on a policy matter
that had not been vetted by his party leader Kevin Rudd, who described a
passage as "insensitive in terms of its timing" and the remission of jail
terms up to 5 months for those convicted of their involvement in the Bali
At this time of the year, Australians who survived the terrorist attacks
and those who lost a member of their families deeply felt as one of them
described last week the "tearing at the flesh" when, as part of its
Independence Day celebrations, Indonesia remitted the terrorists sentences
for good behaviour in prison.
Although McClelland's speech was mainly based on a long-time Labour policy
on capital punishment, his emphasis on applying it equally to everyone,
including terrorists, was, unfortunately, delivered at a wrong time.
It would have been all right if he had not politicised his speech by
accusing Prime Minister John Howard of sending mixed messages to the
international community over the issue of the death penalty.
He cited Howard's support for the execution of the perpetrators of the
Bali bombings while declaring at the same time that Australia opposed
This contradiction became increasingly focused when Amrozi Nurhasyim, one
of the perpetrators of the Bali bombings, received the death sentence at
the same time as Van Nguyen (a Vietnamese-Australian drug trafficker) in
McClelland pointed out that Howard had said there would not be any protest
from Australia over the death penalties imposed on the Bali bombers, but
he had spoken harshly of the Singapore governments refusal to show
leniency for Van Nguyen.
Then he declared that Australia would lead a regional coalition to place
pressure on all neighbouring countries to abolish state-sponsored
executions, even for the Bali bombers. He would do this as a diplomatic
priority if Labour won the forthcoming federal election.
The coalition would include five Asian countries the Philippines,
Cambodia, Nepal, Bhutan and Timor Leste which have abolished the death
penalty in the past 10 years.
They would pressure the 15 neighbouring countries that still apply capital
punishment for serious crimes, including murder, drug trafficking and
terrorism. These are Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China,
Japan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Taiwan, North Korea, South
Korea, Laos and Mongolia.
But McClelland, who has since apologised for his gaffe, should have known
how strongly the community felt about terrorism. Recent opinion polls
showed that more than half of Australians favour the death penalty for
But what is Rudd's view on this?
"Our policy on terrorism: Track these people down, throw them into jail,
may they rot there for the term of their natural lives. Thats my approach,
and if we form the next government of Australia, there will not be a
single diplomatic intervention from us in support of any terrorist
convicted anywhere in the world."
(source: Malaysia Star; Jeffrey Francis is editorial consultant,
Australians Reject Death Penalty for Murder Cases
2/3 of people in Australia believe people convicted of murder should not
face the death penalty, according to a poll by Roy Morgan International.
67 % of respondents think the punishment for this crime should be
imprisonment, down 2 points since December 2005.
However, 55 % of respondents think Australians arrested on drug
trafficking charges in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Singaporewhere
the death penalty is the norm in such casesshould not be excused from the
The last execution in Australian soil was carried out in 1967, and capital
punishment was abolished in 1985.
On Oct. 8, Robert McClellandthe opposition's Australian Labor Party (ALP)
foreign affairs spokesmansaid an ALP government would campaign against the
death penalty across Asia, in coordination with 5 Asian nations that have
abolished the maximum penalty. McClelland said that in order for this to
be possible, "At the highest levels, Australia's public comments about the
death penalty must be consistent with policy. () This is especially the
case if we are going to tactfully and successfully drive a regional
Australian prime minister John Howard, leader of the conservative
Coalition of Liberals and Nationals, has said he opposes capital
punishment at home and for Australians overseas, but supports the death
penalty for terrorists.
Next about the penalty for murder. In your opinion, should the penalty for
murder be death or imprisonment?
Oct. 2007 Dec. 2005
Death penalty 24% 25%
Imprisonment 67% 69%
Cant say 9% 7%
In Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore and some other countries, the
penalty for drug trafficking is death. If an Australian is convicted of
trafficking drugs in another country and sentenced to death, in your
opinion, should the penalty be carried out or not?
Oct. 2007 Dec. 2005
Should 55% 61%
Should not 41% 35%
Cant say 4% 4%
[source: Roy Morgan International; Methodology: Telephone interviews with
660 Australian voters, conducted on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11, 2007. No margin
of error was provided]
(source: Angus Reid Global Monitoring)
Zanzibar state lawyer against death penalty
A Zanzibar Senior State Attorney, Ali Hassan, has said there is need for
the government to abolish capital punishment, since it does little to
Hassan made the call when presenting a paper on the death penalty at the
Zanzibar Legal Service Centre over the weekend.
He said most dictators were from Africa and could utilize the capital
punishment to kill the opposition, especially where the legal system was
'A punishment is meant to mould criminals in the society. However,
criminal acts seem to have gone up since the death penalty was introduced.
Research findings indicate that the death penalty solves nothing because
countries carrying capital punishment record higher criminal incidents as
days go by,' said Hassan.
He called for review of the relevant law, especially in countries having a
He said some politicians could tamper with the law in order to fulfill
their personal wishes.
'Political leaders could create syndicates that would implicate opposition
leaders in espionage cases, bearing in mind that rulers, courts and
magistrates can create evidence and arraign the opposition leaders,' he
The lawyer said the death penalty had never been effective in Zanzibar
since 1985 when 9 people were convicted.
He said all the preceding Heads of State had not assented the hanging of
Contributing to the debate, a priest with the Anglican Church in Zanzibar,
Mathew Wilfred, said: 'Capital punishment helps neither the punished nor
the defendant. I think we should ban it.
It is wise to let God punish someone's soul rather than human beings doing
the job on their own.There are a number of punishments which could be
Speaking at the same venue, the Chief Kadhi of Zanzibar, Sheikh Ali
Khatib, said society ought to be keen on capital punishment because the
law was inscribed in the Quran.
'It is unwise for human rights activists to perceive the death penalty as
inhuman. Such interpretation is erroneous,' said the Kadhi.
He said:'God handed down a law. It is improper to term it as inhuman. We
have to respect each other and choose our words carefully,' said the Chief
A lecturer from Zanzibar University, Muhiddin Ahmad Khamis, said Muslims
had no authority to amend any law, especially the death penalty.
`Muslims laws will remain as they are because they have come directly from
God. The most important thing is for people to shun away from criminal
activities and immoral acts,` said Khamis.
He said: 'We Muslims shall never change God's commandments. It has been
declared that whoever kills and is proven to have done so must also get
killed,' said the lecturer.
Concluding the debate, the chairperson for Zanzibar Legal Service Centre,
Gharoub Othman, said the debate endeavoured to exchange ideas on capital
punishment. He added: 'Society has the power to decide.'
Othman said the judicial system used laws set by the government and not
Islamic laws as some people perceived.
The seminar was attended by leaders and other stakeholders in the judicial
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