[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Oct 27 12:43:24 CDT 2007
UN expert to look into allegations of illegal killings by US military,
The U.N. expert investigating extrajudicial executions said Friday he
plans an official visit to the United States to look into allegations of
illegal killings by members of the U.S. military, particularly in Iraq and
Afghanistan, as well as by military contractors like Blackwater.
Philip Alston, a professor at New York University law school who has been
the U.N.'s independent expert on killings outside the law since 2004,
welcomed the positive responses from the United States and Brazil to his
requests to visit.
But he complained that nearly 30 countries - including Security Council
members Russia and China and six members of the U.N. Human Rights Council
- have failed to respond to his requests to visit, and neither the General
Assembly nor the Rights Council "has done anything in response."
Alston told a news conference after briefing the General Assembly's human
rights committee that he plans to visit Brazil next week and did not yet
have an itinerary for his U.S. visit in the spring or a list of whom he
wanted to see.
"I am very interested in questions relating to military justice, ... in
other words, the response to alleged extrajudicial executions by members
of the U.S. military, particularly in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,"
The Iraq war has seen U.S. service members face prosecution in several
high-profile incidents, including abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison,
the killings of 24 civilians by Marines in Haditha, and the rape and
killing of a 14-year-old girl and the slaying of her family south of
Baghdad. Iraqis have accused American soldiers of unnecessary killings or
At least 700 civilians have died in Afghanistan because of
insurgency-related violence this year, and about half of those deaths were
caused by U.S. or NATO military action, often because of airstrikes
hitting civilian homes, according to an Associated Press count based on
numbers from Afghan and Western officials. The deaths have incited
resentment against U.S. forces and claims of illegal killings.
During his U.S. visit, Alston said actions by "non-state actors and
military contractors" are also "clearly an issue I would want to look at
insofar as executions are involved, and obviously in the Blackwater case
recently they are."
The Iraqi government has demanded Blackwater USA's expulsion within six
months and $8 million (5.5 million) compensation for each of the 17
victims of a Sept. 16 shooting by the company's security contractors. The
government insists there was no provocation, but the company claims the
bodyguards were responding to gunfire.
During his U.S. visit, Alston said he may also look into the use of the
Alston expressed great frustration at the lack of U.N. pressure on
countries that he believes need to answer questions about alleged
extrajudicial killings but have not responded to his requests to visit.
"From the perspective of my mandate to respond to alleged killings, the
majority of governments are failing the basic test of accountability,"
Alston said. "If a country has problems of extrajudicial executions and
doesn't let (me) in, that should be of concern to the General Assembly and
Human Rights Council, but none of those countries are ever really
challenged for their failure."
He said this was especially serious for the Human Rights Council members
that have failed to respond to his requests Bangladesh, China, India,
Indonesia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia "because the council members are
supposed to have said, 'We promise to cooperate fully with the council' as
part of being elected."
In addition to these countries, Alston said Myanmar, El Salvador, Kenya,
Thailand, Uzbekistan and Venezuela did not issue invitations to him.
In the past year, he said, he received invitations from Guinea, Yemen and
the Central African Republic, "but none of those three has subsequently
agreed to schedule a visit."
Alston singled out Iran for executing "not only more juveniles than any
other country, but it is probably the only country that is systematically
executing juveniles." Its prisons currently contain at least 75 juveniles
on death row, he said.
Alston said he has written to the government nine times about these
juveniles and never received a response.
Iran also carries out the death penalty for a wide range of crimes that do
not meet the international requirement that such punishment should be
restricted "to those guilty of the most serious crimes," he said.
At least 173 people have been executed in Iran during the first eight
months of the year for crimes including adultery, unlawful sexual
relations, homosexuality, rape, insulting religious sanctions laws and
acts against national security, he said.
Alston also criticized Singapore's mandatory death penalty for possessing
even small amounts of drugs.
(source: Associated Press)
Iraq Speaker Joins Foes of Execution
The Iraqi parliament speaker on Thursday joined opponents of executing a
Saddam Hussein-era defense minister convicted of genocide against Kurds,
saying that sending him to the gallows would set a dangerous precedent for
the armed forces.
Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's objection to the execution of Sultan Hashim Ahmed
al-Tai likely will deepen what is fast becoming a heated political fight.
"I am entirely against it," al-Mashhadani said on Iraq's Al-Sharqiya
television, which interviewed him in Damascus, Syria. "I am even against
him being held to account."
He said hanging al-Tai would force serving army officers to question their
orders out of fear that they might be held to account after a regime
"This will create an army of mutineers," he said. "Army officers must be
treated as professionals and not held to account by the political
decisions of their leaders."
President Jalal Talabani, himself a Kurd, earlier declared his opposition
to the execution, arguing that al-Tai had to carry out orders to crack
down on Kurds or face a certain death.
Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab like al-Mashhadani, added to
the debate this week by saying Iraq's presidential council has the
constitutional authority to block the execution a position disputed by
the court that imposed the death sentence.
The presidential council is made up of Talabani, al-Hashemi and Iraq's
other vice president, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who is a Shiite Muslim.
Abdul-Mahdi has said little about the issue in public.
In his 1st public comments on the issue, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker on
Thursday sought to distance Washington from the dispute, saying it was a
matter involving the Iraqi judicial process.
"We think it's very important that the rule of law be respected here and
that, when and as necessary, that the time be taken to be sure that all of
the issues are clarified," he said.
Al-Tai and 2 others Saddam's cousin "Chemical Ali" al-Majid and Hussein
Rashid Mohammed, former deputy operations director of the Iraqi military
were convicted in June of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity
for their part in the Operation Anfal crackdown that killed nearly 200,000
Kurdish civilians and guerrillas two decades ago.
Their death sentences were upheld on appeal last month, and they remain in
the custody of the U.S. military.
(source: Associated Press)
Execution Case Tests Iraqs Bid to Ease Divide
Sultan Hashem Ahmed al-Jabouri al-Tai, a top military official under
Saddam Hussein, as he was sentenced in June to die.
In late June, three of Saddam Hussein's senior military officials were
found guilty of war crimes, including the notorious henchman known as
Chemical Ali. Iraqi law required that they be executed no more than 30
days after the Iraqi courts rejected their final appeals.
That deadline has passed, but the men are still alive and in United States
custody. The execution has been delayed because of questions raised by
some Iraqi politicians and a spirited behind-the-scenes discussion
involving senior Iraqi and American officials over the death sentence of
one of the other men, Sultan Hashem Ahmed al-Jabouri al-Tai, the former
minister of defense.
Now, Mr. Hashem's fate has become a test case for reconciliation and
whether Iraq's fractious sects and political alliances can work together
to resolve the difficult issues surrounding his death sentence. There are
also doubts among some Iraqi officials about the fairness of his
Beyond the heated arguments about Mr. Hashem's guilt lies the fraught
question of whether Iraqis are ready to stop the retributive killing of
members of the former government. It seems that some of them are.
"We need to show there have been enough deaths; we are tired of it, we
need to stop it," said a senior adviser to President Jalal Talabani. The
adviser spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the
issues. In an emotional press conference in Iraqi Kurdistan last month,
Mr. Talabani, who has often spoken against the death penalty, said he
refused to ratify Mr. Hashems execution.
Other Iraqi politicians are unwilling to forgive those involved in the
atrocities perpetrated by Mr. Hussein and his lieutenants, when so many of
their victims were shown no mercy. Both Shiite and Kurdish officials
believe that if Mr. Hashem's life is spared, it might set a precedent by
which others who committed crimes while the former government was in power
would similarly seek to be let off. They also fear that Mr. Hashem would
become a hero to many members of the former government, and provide a
dangerous rallying point.
"All other defendants will say that they were only receiving orders and as
a result no one would be tried," said Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer, a member of
Parliament from the largest Shiite bloc. "The Al Qaeda militants will
adopt the same argument."
Still, the price of insisting on Mr. Hashems hanging could be high because
of the respect he commands in the largely Sunni community of former Iraqi
military officers. If the government executes him, it risks alienating
potential allies in the fight against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the
homegrown Sunni insurgent group that American intelligence officials say
Mr. Hashem's execution would also anger Sunni factions that long composed
the backbone of the insurgency but have begun to work with the American
Despite their new alliance with the Americans, many of these Sunnis deeply
distrust the Shiite-dominated central government, and American officials
fear that hanging Mr. Hashem would set back hopes for a dtente with the
government and any larger Sunni-Shiite reconciliation.
"Once you execute someone, you can't unexecute him," one American military
official said. "Any benefit that could be derived from sparing his life
will be lost. It would be better to see what benefit could be brought out,
rather than to see what might be lost from his death." The official spoke
on the condition of anonymity, like other American officials, because he
was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.
The Iraqi Constitution empowers the president to ratify death sentences,
but he does not have the power to pardon or commute sentences in cases
like this one. Mr. Talabani would like to reduce Mr. Hashems death
sentence, his aides said, but there is no legal mechanism for that.
One possibility raised by several people close to the case would be for a
group amnesty to be offered to several members of Mr. Hussein's
government, including Mr. Hashem, but that would require new legislation.
Mr. Hashem was one of Iraq's top military officers for decades, winning
respect from many Iraqis for his professionalism. He was a military leader
of the Anfal operation in 1988, in which as many as 180,000 Kurds were
killed. That operation was led by Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical
Ali. Mr. Hashem also negotiated a cease-fire with American commanders
during the Persian Gulf war in 1991. And he was defense minister when
American troops invaded in March 2003.
Some American officials say Mr. Hashem helped limit the resistance of the
Iraqi Army in 2003. "Had he told the military to dig in and fight, they
would have dug in and fought," the American military official said.
After the defeat of Mr. Hussein's forces, Mr. Hashem fled to Mosul, his
birthplace. In August 2003, Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the
commander of American forces in northern Iraq, wrote a letter praising him
as a "man of honor and integrity," and asking him to surrender. "I offer
you a simple, yet honorable alternative to a life on the run from
Coalition Forces in order to avoid capture, imprisonment and loss of honor
and dignity befitting a General Officer," he wrote.
To Mr. Hashem, it was a promise that he would avoid lengthy incarceration,
his son, Ahmed Sultan Hashem, said in an interview. "Petraeus said that
the investigation would take 2 to 3 weeks and after that he would be
released and could resume his normal life," he said. "The Americans
promised us they would treat him with dignity and respect and keep him
alive and release him afterward. They didn't fulfill their promises."
General Petraeus, now a 4-star general in charge of all American forces in
Iraq, never made a promise that Mr. Hashem would be released, said a
senior American military official in Baghdad. "It doesn't mean that
somebody else may have said that, but General Petraeus did not," the
official said. The language about avoiding "imprisonment pertained solely
to Mr. Hashem's time in the custody of General Petraeus's 101st Airborne
Division in Mosul, he said. No offer of immunity from prosecution was
extended, he said.
While American officials do not want Mr. Hashem executed, they insist that
they will turn him over and allow the sentence to be carried out once a
proper "authoritative" request is made by the government of Iraq. Iraqi
officials asked for him to be turned over in early September, but American
One senior American official in Baghdad characterized the Iraqi requests
as "informal," and cited President Talabanis objections to the execution.
"If the president isn't signing the document, then I don't think we have
an authoritative request," the official said. "We're not blocking
anything. We are awaiting their decision."
Mr. Hashem's son says his father believes that he acted appropriately,
under orders from commanders. In his last telephone call, he said, his
father said, "I am innocent, and I did nothing that I should be ashamed or
(source: New York Times)
LIBRARY MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA GULF STATES IRAN
AI Index: MDE 13/125/2007 26 October 2007
Amnesty International's global Urgent Action network provides an effective
and rapid means of preventing some of the most life-threatening human
rights violations against individuals.
Iran: Death penalty/imminent execution: Makwan Moloudzadeh (m)
PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/125/2007
26 October 2007
UA 278/07 Death penalty/imminent execution
IRAN Makwan Moloudzadeh (m), aged 21, child offender
Child offender Makwan Moloudzadeh, an Iranian Kurd, is believed to be at
risk of imminent execution. He has reportedly been convicted of lavat-e
iqabi (anal sex) for the alleged rape of a 13-year-old boy. Makwan
Moloudzadeh was aged 13 at the time of the alleged offence. His death
sentence has been passed to the Office for the Implementation of Sentences
and he is due to be executed in public, near his home.
He was reportedly arrested on 1 October 2006 in Paveh, in the western
province of Kermanshah. He was detained in Paveh Prison and later
transferred to Kermanshah Central Prison. Following interrogations in
Paveh during which he was reportedly ill-treated, he was tried by Branch 1
of the Kermanshah Criminal Court and on 7 June 2007 he was sentenced to
death. The witnesses and the 2 people who had pressed charges against him
withdrew their claims after the trial. Under Iranian law, children (boys
of up to 14.7 years) are to be flogged for lavat ("homosexual acts").
However, the judge relied on elm-e qazi, the "knowledge of the judge" to
determine that penetration had taken place and that Makwan Moloudzadeh
could be sentenced to death. Makwan Moloudzadeh lodged an appeal on 5
July, which the Supreme Court rejected on 1 August. Several witnesses have
withdrawn their testimonies and signed notarized written statements to
During his trial, Makwan Moloudzadeh reportedly maintained his innocence.
Previously, however, he was reportedly ill-treated during interrogation
and "confessed" during interrogation that he had had a sexual relationship
with a boy in 1999. He is reported to have gone on hunger strike for 10
days to protest against his ill-treatment in detention. Following his
trial and conviction, on or around 7 October 2006 Makwan Moloudzadeh was
reportedly paraded through the streets of Paveh riding on a donkey, with
his head shaved. People in the street shouted abuse and threw things at
Article 1210(1) of Irans Civil Code sets the ages of 15 lunar years as the
age of criminal responsibility for boys, and nine lunar years for girls.
Makwan Moloudzadeh was reportedly born on 31 March 1986 and, at the age of
13, was a minor under Iranian law at the time of the alleged offence.
According to Article 49 of Irans Penal Code: "Children, if committing an
offence, are exempted from criminal responsibility. Their correction is
the responsibility of their guardians or, if the court decides, by a
centre for correction of minors."
Furthermore, in this case the judge used the customary practice of "judges
knowledge" to override Article 113 of Irans Penal Code which states, "If a
minor has anal sex with another minor, each will receive up to 74 lashes
unless one of them was forced to do so [in which case he will not be
International law strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty against
people convicted of crimes committed when they were under the age of 18.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child has raised concern about child
offenders' criminal responsibility being determined by judges, using
subjective and arbitrary criteria such as the attainment of puberty, the
age of discernment or the personality of the child. As a state party to
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the
Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran has undertaken not to execute
child offenders. However, since 1990, Iran has executed at least 24 child
offenders, with a further two reportedly put to death on 17 October 2007.
At least 78 child offenders are on death row in Iran; at least 15 Afghan
child offenders are reportedly under sentence of death. For more
information about Amnesty International's concerns regarding executions of
child offenders in Iran, please see: Iran: The last executioner of
children (MDE 13/059/2007, June 2007)
(source: Amnesty International)
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