[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Dec 1 10:22:56 CST 2008
Re Mandela and the death penalty
The Editor, Sir:
In "Human rights in paradise" (11/28/08) Peter Espeut writes: "If the fear
of being shot down in the streets by the police is not deterring
murderers, I cannot see how the fear of being ... hung is going to deter
All, even Mr Espeut I suspect, would admit crime would be far worse
without the police, meaning that, of course, the police deter some
criminals, including murderers, just as the prospects of harsher
No one has any illusions about the magnitude of the problem and that many
different tactics must be implemented and be successful to get things
under control. The death penalty is only one small piece of the larger
social and criminal justice solutions.
The conscience vote on the death penalty was a moral statement that some
crimes are so horrendous that the criminal should not be allowed to live.
In addition, by both enhanced deterrence and incapacitation of executions,
more innocent lives will also be saved. That is enough.
Mr Espeut's invoking that Nelson Mandela abolished the death penalty in
South Africa will have none rethinking their vote in Jamaica, unless they
voted against capital punishment. Mandela's strategies, however, did
nothing to curb the incredible violence still plaguing that country.
I am, etc.,
(source: Letter to the Editor, Jamaica Gleaner)
More executions will not reduce crime
Jamaica's crime epidemic must be solved with reforms to the police and the
justice system, not with more death, said Amnesty International after the
Jamaican House of Representatives voted a motion to retain the death
Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International, Kerrie Howard, said:
'Supporting the death penalty to tackle Jamaica's spiralling violence and
crime is like trying to put out a fire with petrol. In order to put that
fire out, its root causes need to be tackled.'
Amnesty International called on the Jamaican government to prioritise
policy changes to reduce crime and convert these changes into effective
These include implementing recommendations from the strategic review of
the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Justice Sector Reform Review and
expediting the passage of legislation to establish an independent
commission to investigate police abuses and an Office of Coroner to
examine alleged police killings.
Kerrie Howard said:
"We all agree that crime is an issue that must urgently be addressed.
However, executions offer only an illusion of effective action being taken
and do nothing to lessen suffering in Jamaican society."
(source: Amnesty International)
Africa's human rights body takes a stance against the death penalty
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) calls for a
moratorium on executions and the ratification of the UN Protocol for the
abolition of the death penalty.
The ACHPR, the African Union body responsible for defending human rights,
adopted a "resolution urging State Parties to observe a moratorium on the
death penalty", during its Session held in Abuja, Nigeria in November
The text notes that "27 State Parties to the African Charter on Human and
Peoples' Rights have already in law or de facto abolished the death
penalty", but that only 6 among them have ratified the UN Second Optional
Protocol aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. The ACHPR states
that it is "preoccupied" by some death sentences handed down in conditions
not respectful of the right to a fair trial in several African countries.
The resolution, which applies to State Parties to the African Charter on
Human and Peoples' Rights, thus exhorts them to urgently guarantee
irreproachable judicial procedures for all persons accused of crimes
punishable by death.
The text then goes further, inviting the 53 African countries to "observe
a moratorium on the execution of death sentences with a view to abolishing
the death penalty", with reference to previous ACHPR and UN resolutions on
the subject. It also calls on them to ratify the UN Second Optional
Protocol, the only international treaty establishing the abolition of the
death penalty, without the possibility of reintroduction at a later stage.
Finally, the resolution calls on States to include "information on the
steps they are taking to move towards the abolition of the death penalty"
in the periodic reports they must submit to the ACHPR. The reporting
process should be detailed in a document presented in the next
Working group on the Death Penalty finally active
The resolution results from the activation of the ACHPR working group on
the death penalty established almost 4 years ago, which brings together 4
experts around Rwandan Commissioner Sylvie Zainabo Kayitesi. The Word
Coalition has observer status.
"This working group had never worked as there was no budget", explains
Guillaume Colin of FIACAT, a member of the World Coalition. This changed
last summer and several members of the Coalition gave the group the
information they needed to start its activities.
Guillaume Colin also participated in the NGO forum that preceded the ACHPR
Session. This was an occasion to organise a meeting between Commissioner
Zainabo Kayitesi, FIACAT, Amnesty International and Nigerian NGOs. "At the
end of the meeting, we presented an NGO resolution calling for the
abolition of the death penalty in Africa and the ratification of the
Second Protocol, which was adopted for the most part", reports Guillaume
The next step for these organisations will be active participation in the
preparation of the periodic reports on the death penalty situation in each
(source: World Coalition Against the Death Penalty)
Toronto joins global protests against death penalty
An eye for an eye makes the world blind.
So read a placard carried by one of 70-odd protesters Sunday night at
Nathan Phillips Square as Toronto joined with more than 800 cities around
the world to speak out against the death penalty.
"The imposition of the death penalty is inconsistent with the fundamental
values of our democratic system and an intolerable denial of civil
liberties," said Coun. Gord Perks, speaking on behalf of Mayor David
Miller. "We must therefore seek to prevent executions and to abolish
capital punishment through litigation, legislation or commutation."
Perks declared Nov. 30 "Cities for Life Day" in Toronto and encouraged
residents to join the campaign to have the death penalty abolished
Led by a black-hooded figure symbolizing an executioner and Amnesty
International activists dressed in orange prison jumpsuits, the crowd
marched from city hall to St. James Cathedral to the tune of a single
Marie Copps, a Toronto fashion designer who braved the wind and rain to
join the march, acknowledged that a small protest would likely have little
impact on nations practicing capital punishment, but said denouncing state
executions was important.
"Every bit can make an impact," said Copps, 38. "It's important to gather
together to express our concern. I hate the death penalty."
Many countries continue to practice capital punishment, including China,
Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Canada abolished the death
penalty from the Criminal Code in 1976, replacing the punishment for
1st-degree murder with a mandatory life sentence without the possibility
of parole for 25 years.
According to Amnesty International, organizers of Sunday night's protest,
at least six Canadian prisoners convicted of first-degree murder have been
released on grounds of innocence since capital punishment was abolished in
Last year, the federal government announced the reversal of a
long-standing policy to seek clemency for Canadian citizens facing the
death penalty in democratic countries.
Canadian Mohamed Kohail, 23, was sentenced to death by public beheading in
Saudi Arabia earlier this year after a schoolyard brawl in Jeddah in which
a man died. He has exhausted all legal options. Supporters say only the
Saudi Supreme Court or a protest from King Abdullah can prevent his death.
Ottawa has said it will seek clemency for Kohail.
Canada also declined to co-sponsor a resolution adopted by the United
Nations General Assembly last fall calling for a worldwide moratorium on
"Our tradition of firm leadership at the United Nations has begun to
diminish considerably when it comes to the world's struggle to end the
death penalty," said Alex Neve, Secretary General for Amnesty
International Canada. "It's a decision that's been made at the political
level. Canada is going in the wrong direction."
James Lockyer, director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly
Convicted, and lawyer for Steven Truscott, a Canadian sentenced to death
for murder when he was just 14 years old for the murder of Lynne Harper
(Truscott was acquitted last year and awarded $6.5 million in
compensation), denounced the Harper government's position on Canadians
facing the death penalty overseas as "unacceptable."
"It's unfortunate that in our country we have a prime minister who
supports the death penalty," Lockyer said. "It's unacceptable and
uncivilized behaviour to execute people."
(source: Toronto Star)
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