[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Dec 6 17:34:59 CST 2008
Children 'executed' in 1950 South Korean killings
Government investigators digging into the grim hidden history of mass
political executions in South Korea have confirmed that dozens of children
were among many thousands shot by their own government early in the Korean
The investigative Truth and Reconciliation Commission has thus far
verified more than two dozen mass killings of leftists and supposed
sympathizers, among at least 100,000 people estimated to have been hastily
shot and dumped into makeshift trenches, abandoned mines or the sea after
communist North Korea invaded the south in June 1950.
The killings, details of which were buried in classified U.S. files for a
half-century, were intended to keep southern leftists from aiding the
invaders at a time when the rightist, U.S.-allied government was in danger
of being overrun by communist forces.
Family survivors last month met with the U.S. Embassy for the first time,
saying afterward they demanded an apology for alleged "direct and
indirect" American involvement in the killings.
Declassified records show U.S. officers were present at one killing field
and that at least one U.S. officer sanctioned another mass political
execution if prisoners otherwise would be freed by the North Koreans.
Uncounted hundreds were subsequently killed, witnesses reported.
With thousands of citizens' petitions in hand, the 3-year-old truth
commission has been taking testimony from witnesses and family survivors,
poring over police and military files, both here and in the United States,
and excavating mass grave sites.
Before suspending operations for the winter, crews had exhumed the remains
of 965 victims from 10 mass graves, out of at least 168 probable sites
across South Korea. They only scratched the surface in some cases: At a
cobalt mine in the far south, they penetrated just 36 feet into a vertical
shaft, recovering 107 skeletons from among 3,500 bodies believed dumped
Some mass killings were carried out before the war; many came in the first
weeks after the June 25, 1950, invasion, and others occurred later in 1950
when U.S. and South Korean forces recaptured Seoul and the southerners
rounded up and shot alleged northern collaborators.
The executioners at times cold-bloodedly killed families of suspected
leftists, the commission has found.
In late 1950 and early 1951, in Namyangju, 16 miles northeast of Seoul,
the commission estimates that police and a local militia slaughtered more
than 460 people, including at least 23 children under the age of 10.
Survivor Kim Jong-chol, 71, said his father, a South Korean border guard,
had been forced to work for the conquering northerners, and then was
executed by the southerners as a collaborator. More than a dozen relatives
were also killed, including Kim's grandparents and 7-year-old sister, he
"Young children or whatever were all killed en masse," Kim told The
Associated Press. "What did the family members do wrong? Why did they kill
the family members?"
The 15-member panel, whose unprecedented inquiry will stretch into 2010,
has thus far verified that children were among the victims in at least 6
mass killings. In a 7th case, it found, it was southern leftists who
killed children of supposed South Korean rightists.
Similarly, the North Korean occupiers and their southern comrades at times
killed policemen and others associated with the rightist regime after
summary "trials." But the commission says petitions relating to executions
of leftists outnumber by 6-to-1 those dealing with right-wingers' deaths.
That was his experience in Namyangju, said Kim Jong-chol.
"When the people from the other side (North Korea) came here, they didn't
kill many people," he said, contrasting that with "indiscriminate" killing
by southern authorities.
The AP has reported that declassified U.S. military documents show U.S.
Army officers took photos of the assembly line-style executions outside
the central city of Daejeon, where the commission believes between 3,000
and 7,000 people were shot and dumped into mass graves in early July 1950.
Other once-secret files show that a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel reported
giving approval to the killing of 3,500 political prisoners by a South
Korean army unit he was advising in Busan, if the North Koreans approached
that southern port city, formerly spelled Pusan.
The files show the U.S. command was aware in other ways as well of the
On Nov. 13, 4 representatives of bereaved family groups met with a U.S.
Embassy official in Seoul to ask that the U.S. open a "dialogue channel"
with them and provide any documents relevant to a U.S. role in these
deaths a half-century ago.
"It's the 1st time we relatives have met U.S. officials," said Oh Won-rok,
68, representing family survivors of a wartime mass killing in the
southwestern county of Haenam.
Oh Byoung-Han, 65, representing those who lost relatives in the huge
Daejeon-area slaughter, charged that the U.S. was involved "directly and
indirectly" in that case.
"We asked them to review the case and cooperate positively," Oh said. "We
demanded an apology."
Although at the time U.S. diplomats reported confidentially they had urged
restraint on the South Koreans, there was no sign the U.S. military, with
formal command over the southerners, tried to halt the mass executions.
After last month's meeting, embassy spokesman Robert Ogburn said the U.S.
mission would not comment publicly on it.
The investigative panel, equipped with a 240-member staff, cannot compel
testimony, prosecute or award compensation. Findings are meant to
"reconcile the past for the sake of national unity," says its legislative
It was established under the previous liberal administration of President
Roh Moo-hyun, and many expect it to encounter budget and other
restrictions under his conservative successor, Lee Myung-bak.
Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York
contributed to this report.
On the Net: South Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission:
(source: Associated Press)
African Commission calls for a moratorium on the death penalty
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Commission)
has adopted a resolution calling on African States to observe a moratorium
on the death penalty.
The resolution was adopted at the African Commission's 44th Ordinary
session in Abuja Nigeria. It comes just days after the Third Committee of
the UN General Assembly voted for a similar resolution on a moratorium on
executions. It is an important step towards making the African Union (AU)
a totally death penalty-free zone.
The resolution expressed concerns about the failure of some African states
"to give effect to the UN resolutions and African Commission's own 1999
resolution calling for a moratorium on executions", and about the
application of "the death penalty in conditions not respectful of the
right to a fair trial guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and
Peoples' Rights and other relevant international norms".
By adopting the resolution, the African Commission has aligned itself with
the global trend towards abolishing the death penalty, and supported the
call for African states that still retain the death penalty to demonstrate
commitment to observing a moratorium on executions as the first necessary
step towards abolition.
"The African Commission's resolution provides a solid basis for individual
and collective state action to observe a moratorium on executions towards
the eventual abolition of the death penalty," said Martin MacPherson
Director of Amnesty's International Law and Organizations Programme.
"In line with the African Commission's resolution, Amnesty International
calls on AU member states to fully support the plenary votes at the UN
General Assembly for a resolution on moratorium on executions, which is
expected to take place during the week beginning 15 December 2008.
"The African Commission also needs to monitor regularly the implementation
of the resolution on the national fronts. African states must also fully
support, engage and cooperate with the African Commissions Working Group
on the Death Penalty for it to discharge its mandates effectively and
efficiently. They must implement any recommendations by the Working
The African Commission noted that 27 states parties to the African Charter
have abolished the death penalty in law or de facto, while only 6 have
ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty.
The AU member states that still retain the death penalty are: Botswana;
Burundi; Cameroon; Chad; Comoros; Congo (Democratic Republic); Egypt;
Equatorial Guinea; Ethiopia; Guinea; Lesotho; Libya; Nigeria; Sierra
Leone; Somalia; Sudan; Uganda and Zimbabwe.
(source: Amnesty International)
Inter-American Court of Human Rights to hear death penalty case from
Tyrone DaCosta Cadogan is presently on death row in Barbados having been
sentenced to the mandatory death penalty.
On 31st October 2008, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights filed
an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against
Barbados in Cadogan's case and requested the Court to adopt provisional
measures to protect the victims right to life and humane treatment.
On 4th November 2008, the President of the Inter-American Court ordered
that provisional measures be granted to ensure that Tyrone DaCosta Cadogan
is not executed whilst his case is pending determination. In 2009, there
will be a public hearing at the Seat of the Court in Costa Rica.
The case involves the mandatory death sentence imposed on Cadogan by the
Supreme Court of Barbados, in violation of his fundamental rights
protected by the American Convention on Human Rights. In its application
to the Court the Inter-American Commission maintain that the State of
Barbados is responsible for violating the right to life, to humane
treatment and to a fair trial to the detriment of Cadogan.
Saul Lehrfreund MBE and Parvais Jabbar, Human Rights Lawyers and Executive
Directors of the Death Penalty Project stated: "In a landmark case from
Barbados decided in 2007, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
declared the mandatory death penalty to be a clear violation of
international law. In spite of the Inter-American Courts conclusion that
the mandatory death penalty is unlawful in a modern democratic society,
Barbados have attempted to cling onto the cruel and archaic punishment of
the automatic death sentence which continues to be imposed on all those
convicted of murder. It is hoped that the case of Mr Cadogan will further
reinforce the need for Barbados to abolish the mandatory death penalty."
(source: Caribbean Net News)
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