[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Oct 31 22:38:45 CDT 2007
Death Penalty Threatens to Split World Body
The 192-member U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote, perhaps by early
or mid-November, on one of the most divisive political issues before the
world body: a moratorium on the death penalty.
The 27-member European Union (EU), backed by virtually every single major
international human rights organisation, will introduce a draft resolution
on the death penalty which is expected to split the General Assembly right
down the middle.
The EU is confident it will have a majority on its side of the aisle --
perhaps helping adopt the resolution, which is not legally binding, by a
But there is also strong opposition to the resolution by the Organisation
of Islamic Countries (OIC), the League of Arab States, and also by China
and some of the Caribbean and Asian countries, where capital punishment is
still in statute books.
Singapore, which has been a consistently vocal proponent of the death
penalty, thinks the EU resolution will be "divisive."
Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon of Singapore says that when the EU tables the
draft resolution, it will be resisted by many countries which have the
death penalty on their statutes and which are of the view that this is not
a human rights issue but one dealing with law and order.
"Under these circumstances, it is best for the EU not to try to push ahead
with their draft," Menon told IPS.
He argued such a resolution will only "sour the atmosphere" in the Third
Committee (which will discuss and vote on the resolution before it goes to
the General Assembly) and "cause unnecessary divisiveness in the house."
"It is not clear to me what the EU hopes to gain with this resolution. It
may give them a sense of moral satisfaction but it is not going to change
the positions of countries that maintain that the death penalty serves to
deter serious crimes," he added. "This attempt by the EU to impose its
values will also be seen in a very poor light by many countries," Menon
An EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS that the
draft is being "co-authored" by 36 member states, including the 27 EU
members. But the number of countries "co-sponsoring" the draft resolution,
he said, would be around 70.
Asked if the EU is confident of obtaining a majority among the 192 member
states, he said "it is hard to predict" because the draft is still being
discussed and is yet to be finalised.
An Arab diplomat, who is opposed to the EU resolution, said he had heard
that some of the non-EU states are "not very comfortable" with the
existing draft and have asked for amendments, thereby delaying the tabling
of the resolution.
But within the EU, there is a split as to whether it should accommodate
some of the amendments proposed by non-EU sponsors.
"There are also rumours of arm-twisting and cheque-book diplomacy to win
support for the resolution from developing nations," the Middle Eastern
Since the draft is still being debated, the EU has not officially released
it, leading to further speculation.
Addressing the conference on "Europe Against the Death Penalty" in Lisbon
in early October, the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
laid down the official line: "The European Union is unreservedly opposed
to the use of capital punishment under all circumstances and has
consistently called for the worldwide abolition of this punishment."
"The death penalty is against human dignity. We want to give visibility to
the efforts of the many non-governmental organisations and individuals who
strive, day after day, towards the abolition of the death penalty," he
According to the EU, a growing number of countries are abolishing the
death penalty: 133 countries have done so in practice or in law.
The European Commission also admits it has funded around 30 anti-death
penalty projects worldwide since 1994, with an overall budget of about 15
In a pre-emptive strike -- and before the draft resolution is to be
introduced in the Third Committee -- Ambassador Menon of Singapore set the
ball rolling Tuesday when he raised the issue of death penalty during a
discussion on "promotion and protection of human rights."
"My delegation is extremely disappointed, but hardly surprised, that the
European Union has once again decided to introduce a resolution on the
He said delegations will recall that the last time the EU tried to foist
such a resolution on the Committee was in 1999.
"Delegations may also recall how divisive this experience was. The
sponsors of this draft resolution are certainly entitled to their views on
the death penalty," Menon added.
Singapore understands and respects the position of countries which oppose
the death penalty as a matter of principle, he added.
"That is their prerogative. It appears, however, that these countries are
incapable of extending the same courtesy to countries that have chosen to
retain the death penalty".
He said: "My delegation would like to remind this committee that capital
punishment is not prohibited under international law. Yet it is clear that
the sponsors of this draft resolution have decided that there can only be
one view on capital punishment, and that only one set of choices should be
For a large number of countries, including Singapore, the application of
the death penalty is first and foremost a criminal justice issue, not a
human rights issue, he argued.
"It is an important component of the administration of law and our justice
system, and is imposed only for the most serious crimes and serves as a
deterrent. We have proper legal safeguards in place to prevent any
miscarriage of justice."
"Every state has the sovereign right to choose its own political,
economic, social and legal systems based on what is in their own best
interests," he said.
(source: IPS News)
Cardinal: Christians Called to Fight Torture
Christians are called to defend human rights, and particularly work for
the abolition of the death penalty, says the president of the Pontifical
Council for Justice and Peace.
Cardinal Renato Martino affirmed this during a Friday meeting with the
president of the International Federation of Action by Christians for the
Abolition of Torture, Sylvie Bukhari-de Pontual, a communiqu from the
Vatican dicastery reported.
The cardinal said: "Christians are called to cooperate for the defense of
human rights and for the abolition of the death penalty, torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against the human
person in time of peace and in case of war."
"These practices are grave crimes against the human person, created in the
image of God, and a scandal for the human family in the 21st century."
(source: Zenit News)
5 Saudis executed for raping and killing boy
5 Saudi men were beheaded by the sword on Wednesday for raping and killing
a young boy, in one of the highest number of executions in a single day in
Saudi Arabia, the interior ministry said.
Khaled bin Humaid al-Sahli, Ali bin Ahmad Ayyashi, Jazi bin Semayel
al-Meraashi, Hani al-Ofi and Aesh al-Mohammadi were executed in the Muslim
holy city of Medina, it said in a statement cited by the official SPA news
The 5 had been found guilty of "forcibly abducting a young boy, raping
him, and jointly killing him by stabbing him with a knife and decapitating
him," the ministry said.
The 5, who threw the head and body of their victim in a stream in a
valley, also stole cars, drank alcohol and used drugs, it added.
Saudi Arabia has executed 137 people so far this year, including 6 people
on a single day last August when 5 Pakistanis and a Nigerian were put to
death for drug smuggling and armed robbery.
The previous highest number of executions in a year was 113 for the whole
of 2000. Last year 37 people were executed.
Executions are usually carried out in public in ultra-conservative Saudi
Arabia, which applies a strict form of sharia, or Islamic law.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry
the death penalty in the oil-rich kingdom.
(source: Agence France Presse)
"Against Death Penalty"
In one of his first interviews after stepping down from the Presidential
post earlier this year, former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam has told
TIMES NOW while speaking of the Afzal Guru case, that he is personally
against the death penality.
Kalam during his office arguably topped the list of ex-presidents but has
also been fiercely guarded on where he stood on 2 of the biggest
controversies of his time - the death penalty, for Parliament bomber
Mohammad Afzal, and the Office of Profit Bill.
Kalam's "personal opinion"
In an exclusive interview with TIME NOW's Editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami,
the latter asked Kalam where he stood on the issue of the death penalty
and at first Kalam was guarded.
"I will go with whatever the type of law needs. As far as the Azfal case
is concerned, the case has not come to me, so that question does not
arise," said Kalam.
But, when pushed further, Kalam did admit openly, for the 1st time, that
he is personally against the death penalty.
"Definitely I have a personal opinion about death penalty, and it needs a
debate in Parliament - that is all I can say," said Kalam.
Did Kalam's own views on the death penalty affect his indecision on Afzal?
We will never know.
What is clear though is that when Kalam sent back the Office of Profit
bill to Parliament, it was deliberate and aimed at sending a message to
politicians at large.
Kalam returned the bill on May 25 and it was passed again by Parliament in
the last week of July. It was sent again to Mr. Kalam on August 9 for his
assent, which he finally gave. But not before the Lok Sabha had adopted a
motion to constitute a 15-member Joint Parliamentary Committee to look
into the comprehensive definition of "office of profit."
The JPC's terms of reference precisely seek to address the concerns voiced
by Mr. Kalam - over the lack of "unambiguous" definition of "office of
profit" and that it be applied across all the States and the Union
Territories in a uniform manner.
"Yes, I wrote a letter about why I am sending it (OOP Bill) back.
Definitely they formed a team to evolve principles, that also I am aware
of. In the history of Parliamentary system that we have in the Government,
it was the 1st time that such a Bill - the Office of Profit Bill - has
been returned with a note. I had to do it, and I did it," Kalam asserted
to Arnab Goswami on 'Frankly Speaking'.
Clearly, behind his disarming smile, there is a very sharp political mind.
(source: TIMES NOW)
Aussie death penalty charge 'rubbish'
An Indonesian prosecutor admitted there was no evidence to charge an
Australian man with a drug crime that carries the death penalty.
Former Australian airline executive Barry Wilfred Hess, 50, is standing
trial in Bali's Denpasar District Court after police allegedly discovered
14.4g of hashish and 2.7g of marijuana in his Kuta home.
Prosecutors last week upgraded their charges against the former Ansett
manager and Air Paradise general manager to include trafficking, which
carries the death penalty.
But prosecutor Ni Gusti Ayu Sasmita told AAP after Wednesday's court
hearing that there was no evidence Hess was distributing drugs.
"That was just our suspicion," she said.
"Barry had various kinds of drugs so we wanted to be sure he wasn't a
"We have no witnesses or proof."
Key prosecution witnesses told Wednesday's hearing that Hess showed no
sign of being a distributor of drugs.
"Based on my experience, drug dealers usually have many packages with
different labels on them, but this was not the case at Barry's house that
day," said police officer Made Eriyasa, who searched the Australian's home
on August 19 following a tip-off.
Several plastic film roll and vitamin containers police claim to have
seized at the home - and which allegedly contained marijuana, hashish and
prescription drugs - were presented to the court.
Hess, formerly of Melbourne but a Bali resident for the past 14 years, has
also been charged with three other articles including drug possession,
which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, drug use and
being a drug addict who failed to report to police.
If he can prove he is a drug addict he would face a maximum 6-month prison
A tense, anxious looking Hess told the court he was seeking treatment for
"I want to recover from my addiction," he said.
He said he had been receiving treatment from a doctor in Bali,
psychiatrist Denny Thong, who has also visited him in Kerobokan prison to
administer the drug Xanex, used to treat panic attacks and stress.
Thong told the court he had been treating Hess for symptoms of drug
addiction since August 2005, and believed there was hope for his recovery.
Outside the court, defence lawyer Daniar Trisasongko described the death
penalty charge as "rubbish".
"The prosecutors showed no evidence that my client was planning to
distribute drugs," Trisasongko said.
"He has been an addict for 11 years and has never supplied anyone else
The trial was adjourned until next week, when prosecutors are expected to
submit their final arguments and sentencing request.
If Hess is convicted, the 3 judges hearing the case will have to decide
which of the 4 charges to apply in sentencing.
Hess declined to comment as he left the court to return to Kerobokan,
where he is being held along with members of the Bali 9 heroin ring and
convicted marijuana trafficker Schapelle Corby.
(source: The Age)
More information about the DeathPenalty