[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Sep 5 17:56:55 CDT 2007
Poland opposes EU day against death penalty
Poland is opposing the creation of a yearly 'European day against the
death Penalty', arguing that the issue should form part of a broader
discussion on life and death including abortion and euthanasia.
In a meeting of EU member states' justice experts in Brussels on Tuesday
(4 September), Poland opposed a draft EU declaration announcing the bloc
will from now on organize a European day against the death Penalty each
year on 10 October.
The draft declaration should be signed by the EU jointly with the
47-member human rights body the Council of Europe - before next month when
the 1st death penalty day has been scheduled.
But Poland is against the initiative, which was formally proposed by the
European Commission in June.
"We don't think that the idea is reasonable because the death penalty is
not a problem in Europe. There is no use to promote the law that is
already in force in every European country," the spokesman for Polish
foreign minister Ana Fotyga told EUobserver.
In arguments greeted with astonishment by some of its EU partners, Poland
said in Tuesday's meeting that the idea of the "right to life" cannot be
reduced to the death penalty problem alone - and so the issue does not
merit a special European day.
"We think that when anybody wants to discuss a problem of death in the
context of the law it is also worth to discuss on euthanasia and abortion
in this context," the Polish spokesman explained.
"We are not sure whether it is worth establishing a special day [only on
the death penalty]," he added.
The European Commission rejected the link between the death penalty and
other "right to life" issues. "In our view the context of the discussion
is limited and clear. The subject of the debate is the death penalty," a
Meanwhile, another factor behind Warsaw's position on the issue appears to
be domestic public opinion, with a Polish diplomat indicating that "some
polls show that Polish public opinion is divided on the subject."
The European day against the death Penalty should come in addition to the
'World Day against the Death Penalty', which has taken place on 10 October
every year since 2003.
In the draft declaration opposed by the Poles, the EU and the Council of
Europe "stress the importance of persevering in the pursuit of actions
aimed at abolishing the death penalty in the world."
The 2 organisations "invite European citizens to support the abolition of
the death penalty in the world and thereby contribute to the development
of fundamental rights and human dignity."
Warsaw's move comes ahead of a meeting of EU justice ministers on 18
September which would formally give the go-ahead for the death penalty
Member states' ambassadors to the EU are expected to discuss the issue on
Thursday (6 September).
Since the declaration establishing the death penalty day is subject to
unanimous agreement in the EU Council, the member states' decision-making
body, Poland's position could block the initiative altogether.
The commission is confident that the day will be established. "We expect
that the declaration can and will be adopted by all 3 institutions,
including the Council, in time for the launching of the European day
against the death penalty to be held from this year onwards on 10
October," the commission spokesman said.
The European Parliament for its part, has already given its approval of
(source: EU Observerf)
U.N. Faults Iraq for Continued Executions
A new United Nations report on human rights criticises the government in
Baghdad for its continued executions of prisoners despite appeals by the
United Nations and its human rights bodies for a moratorium on capital
The death penalty in Iraq -- argues the report authored by Leandro
Despouy, the U.N. special rapporteur overseeing the independence of judges
and lawyers -- also denies crime victims the right to the truth.
The study specifically criticises the recent execution of an Iraqi
prisoner, who may have possessed key evidence relating to the 2003 bombing
of the U.N. compound in battle-ravaged Baghdad.
In a report to the upcoming 62nd session of the General Assembly which
begins Sep. 18, Despouy says he is "extremely concerned about the
circumstances surrounding the execution of Awraz Abdel Aziz Mahmoud
Sa'eed," who had confessed to having participated in the attack against
the U.N. offices.
The Iraqi government, he complains, went ahead with his execution in spite
of the fact that the United Nations had specifically requested the
"cancellation" of the execution in order to elicit information on the
"The execution also violated the right to the truth of the victims of the
attack against the U.N. offices in Baghdad, and frustrated attempts to
obtain significant evidence relating to the tragic attack that cost 22
people their lives, including Sergio Vieira de Mello," a senior U.N.
official who was a national of Brazil.
Vieira de Mello, who headed the Baghdad office at the time of the bombing,
also held the substantive posts of U.N. high commissioner for human rights
and special representative of the secretary-general in Iraq.
In his report, Despouy expresses "serious concern that individuals
sentenced to death are still being executed in Iraq, despite his repeated
requests and those of other U.N. bodies that such executions should be
Furthermore, in the case of Iraq, he points out, "The implementation of
the death penalty has engendered a serious violation of the right to the
truth of the victims of the crimes committed by Saddam Hussein's regime."
In January, the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour
made an unusual public appeal to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani asking him
to spare the lives of two former colleagues of Saddam Hussein.
The two officials, Awad Hamad al-Bandar and Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan, were
co-defendants of the former Iraqi president.
"The concerns I expressed just days ago with respect to the fairness and
impartiality of Saddam Hussein's trial apply also to these 2 defendants,"
Arbour said. All of them were executed.
Arbour also pointed out that international law, as it currently stands,
only allows the imposition of the death penalty as an exceptional measure
within rigorous legal constraints.
In a report released last April, the London-based human rights
organisation Amnesty International said that Iraq was the world's fourth
highest user of the death penalty, ranking behind China, Iran and
Since mid-2004, at least 270 people have been sentenced to death, "often
after unfair trials", and more than 100 people have been hanged, including
several senior officials of the former Saddam Hussein regime.
Under the U.S. occupation, following the ouster of Hussein, the death
penalty was suspended. But Iraq's interim government reintroduced the
death penalty in August 2004.
The government argues that the death penalty would act as a deterrent in
view of the grave security situation in Iraq.
But Amnesty International has challenged this argument, pointing out that
the extent of violence has increased in Iraq, rather than diminished.
AI also said that the death penalty may have contributed to the
brutalisation of Iraqi society.
After an ambiguous statement on the death penalty last January, when he
virtually justified the hanging of Saddam Hussein, U.N. Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon later made an official pronouncement on capital punishment.
Calling for the gradual phasing out of the death penalty worldwide, Ban
said: "I believe that life is precious and must be protected and
respected, and that all human beings have the right to live in dignity.
International law affirms these values."
"I recognise the growing trend in international law and in national
practice towards a phasing out of the death penalty. I encourage that
trend," Ban said.
As member states are taking their decisions, he said, "I expect they will
comply with all aspects of international human rights law. As you know, I
have also urged restraint by the Iraqi authorities in the execution of
death sentences imposed by the Iraqi High Tribunal."
Iran hangs 21 criminals
Iran hanged 21 convicted drug smugglers and other criminals on Wednesday,
Iranian media said, the latest of a series of executions that have been
criticised by the European Union and Western rights groups.
The number of executions in Iran, many in public, has risen since July
with the launch of a summer crackdown on "immoral behaviour". Police have
arrested dozens of murderers, rapists and drug traffickers.
At least 56 people have been hanged since mid-July, according to a count
based on Iranian media reports.
Amnesty International said it was "appalled" at the reports of the latest
executions. Iran says it is prosecuting criminals under its Islamic sharia
law and rejects criticism of its human rights record.
Seventeen drug smugglers were executed in the eastern province of Khorasan
Razavi on Wednesday, the Web site of state broadcaster IRIB said. "They
were hanged this morning after all legal procedures were carried out," a
police spokesman said.
4 other offenders were put to death in public in the southern city of
Shiraz after being convicted of banditry, smuggling and other crimes, the
Fars News Agency said.
Murder, rape, adultery, armed robbery, apostasy and drug smuggling are all
punishable by death under Iran's sharia law, imposed after the 1979
Amnesty, which says Iran has one of the highest rates of executions in the
world, said it had recorded 210 so far this year, including those reported
on Wednesday, compared with 177 for all of 2006.
"Amnesty International continues to urge the Iranian authorities to order
an immediate moratorium on executions," the London-based rights group said
in a statement sent via e-mail to Reuters.
The EU said last month it was "deeply concerned about the series of
collective public executions" in Iran.
The issue sparked a diplomatic row between Italy, which is leading a push
for a global ban on the death penalty, and Iran, which accused Rome of
meddling in its internal affairs.
It coincided with a deepening international standoff over Iran's nuclear
ambitions, which the West suspects is aimed at developing atomic weapons.
Tehran denies the charge.
In Shiraz, a big crowd watched Wednesday's hangings, Fars reported, adding
that onlookers said executions should continue until "all criminal
activities had ended" in the area.
A provincial justice department official said one criminal or smuggler had
been executed each week in southerly Fars province since the start of the
Iranian year on March 21. Shiraz is the capital of Fars province.
"This shows the efforts of the judiciary system in bringing about
permanent social security and a serious confrontation with those people
who are corrupt," Abdolnabi Najibi said.
Prisoners want sentences set aside
A death row prisoner and another granted an acquittal but held under the
pleasure of the ruler have filed separate notices of motion at the Court
of Appeal to have their sentences set aside.
This follows the failure of Federal Court judge Datuk Hashim Yusoff, who
was then a High Court judge in Seremban, to provide the written grounds of
judgment and notes of evidence in both cases.
The cases were 1st heard in 2000 and Hashim had delivered his oral
judgments 2 years later.
Both applications were filed at the Court of Appeal registry in Putrajaya.
Ameenuddin Mohamed filed the application on behalf of Abdul Aziz Mohd
Shariff, 30, who has been on death row since 2002. Haresh Mahadhevan filed
a similar application for 30-year-old Omar Bashri.
Abdul Aziz, a honey seller, was found guilty of murdering K. Balakrishnan,
38, at the victim's house in Gemas, Negri Sembilan, on April 7, 2000.
Self-employed Omar was acquitted of murdering Abd Hamid Isa, 18, at a
durian orchard in Kampung Gebok, Mantin, Negri Sembilan, on July 23, 1999.
Omar was, however, ordered by the High Court to be held at the Sungai
Buloh prison under the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Besar when he was
ruled to have been under the influence of an intoxicating substance when
committing the offence.
Abdul Aziz and Omar's plight were reported in the New Straits Times on Aug
Yesterday, they named the public prosecutor as the respondent in their
application. They claimed that Hashim's failure to provide the notes of
evidence and grounds of judgment for their appeal represented a
miscarriage of justice and a denial of the due process of law.
In Ameenuddin's supporting affidavit, it was stated that he had filed a
notice of appeal at the Seremban High Court on July 12, 2002, and had
tried 5 times between 2004 and this year to get the notes of evidence and
grounds of judgment but to no avail.
Similarly, Haresh in his supporting affidavit stated that he also filed a
similar notice of appeal on Aug 6, 2002, while the prosecution had made a
cross appeal on Aug 8, 2002.
Haresh and the prosecution had written to the Seremban High Court for more
than 5 years but had yet to receive the notes of evidence and grounds of
The cases involving Ameenuddin and Haresh came on the heels of a similar
application by Baha Jambol, 45, who had applied to set aside his death
sentence after failing to receive the written judgment for his appeal.
He was sentenced to death after being found guilty of trafficking 50kg of
ganja in front of the Gua Musang police station on Dec 31, 1996.
The judge in Baha's case was Tengku Baharuddin Shah Tengku Mahmud who is
now serving in the Court of Appeal.
(source: The New Straits Times)
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