[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Sep 22 10:14:00 CDT 2007
Call for death penalty
A Sabah womens group is repeating its call for the death penalty against
those convicted of brutal rapes and sexually assaulting children as
deterrent against these horrific crimes.
Noting that the killing of Nurin Jazlin Jaziman was the latest in a
seemingly "never ending" series of sexual offences against children, the
Sabah Women's Advisory Council said there was need for capital punishment
for such offences.
"Going by the repeated sexual crimes against innocent children leading to
their horrific deaths, we are convinced that making rape that is now
punishable by 30 years jail compared to the 20 years previously plus
whipping is still insufficient as a deterrent," said council chairperson
Datin Asnimar Sukardi.
She said there was also likelihood that such offenders could repeat these
crimes after being released from jail.
"Let us review existing laws governing crimes against children and provide
for harsher penalties if we want to prevent such heinous crimes," said
The council proposed legal reforms pertaining to rape and other sexual
crimes to the Parliamentary Select Committee onthe Penal Code (Amendment)
2004 Bill calling for punishment on culprits at the panels session in
Sabah in Oct 2004.
(source: The Star)
UN DEATH PENALTY VOTE CAN HELP STOP CYCLE OF REVENGE
Such is the world sentiment against the death penalty -- with notable
exceptions like the United States, China, and Singapore -- that a
resolution calling for a moratorium on executions and the abolition of
capital punishment is to go before the UN General Assembly in October,
writes Desmond Tutu, archbishop of Cape Town, 1984 Nobel Peace laureate.
In this analysis, Tutu writes that the time has come to abolish the death
penalty worldwide. The case for abolition becomes more compelling with
each passing year. Everywhere experience shows us that executions
brutalise both those directly involved in the process and the society that
carries them out. Nowhere has it been shown that the death penalty reduces
crime or political violence.
In country after country, it is used disproportionately against the poor
or against racial or ethnic minorities. It is often used as a tool of
political repression. It is imposed and inflicted arbitrarily. It is
irrevocable and results inevitably in the execution of people innocent of
any crime. It is a violation of fundamental human rights.
(source: Desmond Tutu, for IPS)
Q&A: 'A Key Step Towards Abolition'----Interview with Amnesty
International's Martin Macpherson
Amnesty International has been fighting since its foundation for the
universal abolition of the death penalty. In the next weeks, the UN
General Assembly will be voting on a resolution calling for a global
moratorium on executions.
Directing Amnesty's campaign for the moratorium is Martin Macpherson. How
close are we to an end to all state killings? Macpherson makes no
predictions to Julio Godoy, European correspondent of IPS. But the UN vote
will be an historic milestone in the campaign to end capital punishment.
IPS: Why does Amnesty International want the UN General Assembly to adopt
a resolution calling for abolition of the death penalty?
Martin Macpherson: Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all
cases and without exception, believing it to be a violation of the right
to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The
death penalty legitimises an irreversible act of violence by the state and
will inevitably claim innocent victims. Amnesty therefore demands
unconditional and worldwide abolition of the death penalty.
A resolution by the UN General Assembly -- a universal body representing
the entire UN membership -- calling for a moratorium on executions as a
step towards abolition would be an important international milestone in
the campaign to abolish the death penalty worldwide.
IPS: Why is there a push for this resolution on the death penalty just
Martin Macpherson: A death-penalty-free-world is increasingly becoming a
real possibility. But to achieve that goal there must be strong political
leadership and a well-crafted strategy to create global support.
This past year has seen renewed debate on the use of the death penalty
prompted in part by the execution of Saddam Hussein. A time has been
reached when it should be possible to adopt a resolution in the UN General
Assembly calling for a moratorium on executions.
One-hundred-and-thirty-one countries have abolished the death penalty in
law or practice. Only 25 countries actually carried out executions in
2006. In 2006, 91 percent of all known executions took place in China,
Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and the U.S. Amnesty International's
statistics also show an overall decline in the number of executions in
2006 -- a recorded 1,591 executions, compared to 2,148 in 2005. These
figures demonstrate that there is now a real momentum to end capital
Statements by both the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the High
Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour have supported the "trend in
international law and in national practice towards a phasing out of the
IPS: Has the General Assembly ever taken a position on the death penalty?
Martin Macpherson: To date, the UN General Assembly has not adopted a
resolution either calling for a moratorium on executions or abolition of
the death penalty. It has adopted standards to limit the application of
the death penalty and safeguards to protect the rights of those facing the
One of these standards is the Second Optional Protocol to the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the
abolition of the death penalty. Sixty-one states have now ratified this
Protocol and a further eight are signatures to it. Amnesty International
believes the UN General Assembly should now call for a global moratorium
on executions as a key step towards the ultimate goal of abolition.
IPS: Calls for a UN General Assembly resolution on the death penalty
failed in the past. Why should the efforts be successful this time?
Martin Macpherson: Yes, there were unsuccessful attempts in 1994 and 1999.
But since then the number of abolitionist states in law or practice has
increased. At the UN General Assembly in 2006, Finland, as the President
of the EU, delivered a statement supported by 95 states which expressed
"deep concern at the continuing use of the death penalty around the
world". The statement went on to call on states that still maintain the
death penalty to abolish it completely and, in the meantime, to establish
a moratorium on executions.
The international trend is towards abolition. But fierce opposition can be
expected now from some states that retain the death penalty who will seek
to defeat the resolution on the grounds that this is not a human rights
issue that affects the right to life but a question that solely falls
within the domestic jurisdiction of states. They will attempt to defeat
the resolution, for example, by introducing "wrecking amendments" as
happened in the past.
IPS: What is a "wrecking amendment"?
Martin Macpherson: "Wrecking amendments", sometimes called "killer
amendments", seek to undermine the purpose of the resolution. They are
neither friendly nor made it good faith. "Wrecking amendments" in the past
have sought to undermine the draft by denying that the question of the
death penalty resolution is a human rights issue of concern to the world
community and by introducing language which reaffirms the sovereignty of
states to decide on issues of criminal justice and sentencing.
IPS: Surely, though, it is for each UN member state to decide for itself
whether it uses the sanction of capital punishment?
Martin Macpherson: The promotion and protection of human rights is a
concern for the international community as a whole. It is not solely a
matter for individual states. Amnesty International has declared its total
and unconditional opposition to the death penalty, and consequently the
organisation does not accept that states have a right to execute people in
any situation. Even the best judicial systems are fallible, and innocent
people will invariably be put to death. There is no perfect judicial
IPS: Your critics may say this is just another instance of rich countries
and their non-governmental organisations seeking to impose their values on
developing countries. How would you reply to this?
Martin Macpherson: Opposition to the death penalty is not exclusive to any
particular region, political system, world religion, culture or tradition.
States that have abolished the death penalty are to be found in all
regions and cut across religious divides. Furthermore, international human
rights law and standards on the death penalty has been elaborated by
international and regional bodies, including the UN General Assembly and
the development of those standards draws on many different experiences and
The current initiative to table a resolution on moratorium on executions
at the UN General Assembly is supported by states from all regions of the
IPS: The next UN General Assembly -- the 62nd -- opens in the last week of
September. We can expect, then, that the moratorium initiative will be
introduced into the new Assembly for a vote in the coming weeks. What will
it take for it to be successful?
Martin Macpherson: It must build a strong, broad cross-regional support
and be carefully prepared in order to secure a successful outcome. A
number of the states that are opposed to such a resolution are influential
and determined to defeat or distort it with wrecking amendments. With
strong political leadership and a well thought out strategy it will be
possible to achieve a resolution on a universal moratorium.
IPS: Will the resolution you are expecting make any difference to states
which are now executing people?
Martin Macpherson: A UN General Assembly resolution by itself will not
prevent a state carrying out an execution as such resolutions are not
legally binding. However, a clear call from the UN's highest political
body for a moratorium on executions would carry considerable moral and
political weight. It would be a very valuable tool in convincing reluctant
states to implement a moratorium as a significant step towards worldwide
abolition. For us at Amnesty, it would be an important advocacy tool in
the campaign for worldwide death penalty abolition.
Verdict on Mujib killers' death sentence Sunday
Bangladesh's Supreme Court will Sunday decide whether it will allow an
appeal against the verdict of a high court, which upheld the death
sentences to 12 former army personnel in the murder of the country's
founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The country's longest trial has come to this stage after an appellate
division bench of Justice Tafazzul Islam, Justice Joynul Abedin and
Justice M. Hasan Ameen concluded the hearing in the petitions filed by 5
of the convicts, who are in jail and have sought permission to appeal
against the High Court verdict.
If the court rejects the petitions Sunday, Mujib's assassination case will
be finally disposed off and the 5 prisoners will have to face the gallows
within 2 months.
The other convicts, who are absconding, will be executed after their
arrest, New Age said Friday.
In case the court allows the condemned prisoners to appeal against their
sentences, the appellate division will need to further hear the case. It
started hearing the case July 7 after a 6-year freeze.
The case had been shelved since Aug 16, 2001, because of a shortage of
judges in the division capable of hearing the case. Some judges had felt
"embarrassed" and had opted out.
Muhitul Islam, Mujib's personal assistant, filed a murder case with the
Dhanmondi police Oct 2, 1996, 21 years after Mujib and his family members
were assassinated by a group of army men on Aug 15, 1975.
Dhaka District and Sessions Judge Quazi Golam Rasul awarded death
sentences to 15 of the 20 accused on Nov 8, 1998.
The High Court delivered a split verdict in the case Dec 14, 2000. Justice
M. Ruhul Amin, senior judge of the High Court bench, upheld the death
sentences of 10 convicts, while the other judge, A.B.M. Khairul Haque,
retained the death sentences for all the 15.
On April 30, 2001, Justice M. Fazlul Karim, in the final High Court
verdict in the case, upheld death sentences for 12 and acquitted 3.
Syed Faruque Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Muhiuddin Ahmed and
Bazlul Huda, who were in jail at the time, filed petitions with the
appellate division, seeking permission to appeal against the verdict.
A.K.M. Mohiuddin Ahmed filed a similar petition after the US government
sent him back to Bangladesh from Los Angeles June 17.
4 More Drug Offenders Sentenced to Death in Vietnam, 17 Hung in Iran
4 more people have been sentenced to death for drug trafficking offenses
in Vietnam in the past week. Meanwhile, Iran reported that it had executed
17 drug traffickers earlier this month.
Under Vietnamese law, anyone convicted of possessing or trafficking more
than 600 grams (about 1 pounds) of heroin or 44 pounds of opium is
eligible for the death penalty. Under Iranian law drug trafficking is one
of numerous offenses that can garner the death penalty.
In Hanoi People's Court on September 14, three members of the same
extended family were sentenced to death for trafficking four pounds of
heroin. 2 other members of the organization received life sentences, while
four others received sentences ranging from 10 months to 20 years. All
were convicted of bringing heroin from northern mountainous Son La
province to Hanoi between June and August of 2006.
On Tuesday, the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court announced it had sentenced
a 40-year-old Australian citizen to death for heroin trafficking. Nguyen
Hong Viet was arrested at the Ho Chi Minh City airport with nearly 950
grams of heroin in his clothing as he waited to board a flight to Sydney.
Viet told police he was paid $10,000 to carry the drugs to Australia.
"Prosecutors find that with the amount of heroin trafficked, the defendant
deserved the highest and most severe punishment so that society can
prevent this crime and have educational impact on others," the Ho Chi Minh
City People's Court said in a statement.
Viet is 1 of at least 5 Australians of Vietnamese descent who have been
sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Vietnam. None have yet been
Meanwhile, Iranian state television tersely announced another round of
executions. "After legal procedures, 17 individuals were hanged on the
charges of drug smuggling in Khorasan Razavi province this morning," the
official outlet reported, on September 5.
Along with Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, Vietnam and its
Southeast Asian neighbors Malaysia and Singapore are world leaders in
executing drug offenders.
(source: Drug War Chronicle)
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