[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Feb 1 16:54:31 CST 2008
MP shares emotional tale of family's brush with death penalty
A predictable House of Commons debate about the federal government's
controversial clemency policy took a startling turn Thursday night when
NDP MP Wayne Marston gave an emotional account of his own sister's murder
and his father's close brush with the death penalty 59 years ago.
The Hamilton-area member began his speech with a warning to his sister in
Alberta to "sit down" before hearing what he was about to say.
And then Marston, a 60-year-old rookie MP who was born in New Brunswick,
argued from a deeply personal perspective why the federal government
should not, under any circumstance, tacitly endorse the execution of any
Canadian in any country.
"I'm going to go to that place that I just warned my sister Audrey about,"
Marston told the House. "And I am going to get emotional."
He paused, and then spoke again.
"In my family, in 1949, my sister was strangled to death. My father was
accused of the murder of that child."
Marston stopped occasionally to sip water or collect his thoughts as he
revealed, on live national television over the CPAC network, the dark
"Over the period of the investigation, it became clear that another member
of our family who was mentally ill had committed that crime," Marston
continued. "Our family never quite recovered from that in many ways. My
father died an alcoholic at 51 years of age. ... He was poor, he was a
labourer on the railway. He did the best he could for his family. Simply
because he happened to be the last person to go in to say goodbye to that
child in the morning - and she was covered to her eyes - he was accused of
Marston recalled how, as a boy of 10 or 11, he finally learned of his
sister's death and that his father had initially been accused of the
It was the 1950s, and Canada was in an uproar over capital punishment
after teenager Stephen Truscott - later cleared of the crime - was briefly
sentenced to death in the killing of an Ontario schoolgirl.
"At 10 or 11 years old," Marston went on, "it was a frightening thing to
hear. Coincidentally, my father had been picked up for impaired driving
and was in our local jail in Perth-Andover, (N.B.)
"I went with some people to post the bail, and it was a small-town jail, a
couple of cells in the place, and the person who was maintaining that jail
offered me the opportunity to see a jail cell.
"So I go into the jail cell, and I had just the year before learned what
had happened to my sister, because it had been hidden from me for a number
"And when I walked into the jail cell I looked up, and there was a ring in
the ceiling, and I was standing on a trap door, and the person - not
knowing the family history - said, 'Well, this is where we drop them
through to hang them.' "
Marston, his voice shaking said: "And it struck me to the heart and to the
bone and to my very soul - that was the door my father would have dropped
through had the system failed him."
The NDP member ended his comments with an appeal to the Conservative
government to reverse its new clemency policy, which calls for the
government to review requests "on a case-by-case basis" before deciding
whether to intervene to stop Canadians from being executed in foreign
"You've got to step back from all the rhetoric, you've got to step back
from where this government is trying to take us, and understand the
humanity of what you're doing," said Marston. "Understand that in the
prisons there are many, many people who are totally innocent of the
He then tossed some papers aside, said "my notes have kind of gone out the
window," and heaved a sigh before taking his seat.
"I'm very moved," said Liberal MP Marlene Jennings, who resumed the debate
after thanking Marston for having "shared very difficult moments of his
life with us."
(source: CanWest News Service)
3 Japanese prisoners executed ---- Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama
strongly backs capital punishment
3 death row prisoners have been executed in Japan, the authorities have
The justice ministry identified the men as convicted murderers Masahiko
Matsubara, 63, Takashi Mochida, 65, and Keishi Nago, 37.
They were hanged at separate prisons in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka.
Human rights groups are critical of the secrecy surrounding executions in
Japan, one of the few industrialised countries to retain the death
Relatives are told only after the hangings have taken place and this is
just the 2nd time the names of those executed have been publicly
The 1st was in December 2007, when 3 men were executed.
Campaigners remain critical of Japan's continued use of the death penalty,
but opinion polls suggest the policy is supported by an overwhelming
majority of Japan's population.
"For extremely vicious criminal cases, public opinion holds that death
sentences must be handed down and carried out," Justice Minister Kunio
"We have considered a variety of factors so that we can carry out
executions in a methodical manner, rather than thinking about the
intervals and the timing," he said.
9 people were executed in Japan in 2007. Friday's 3 executions are the
first this year.
(source: BBC News)
PRESS RELEASE----Amnesty International Condemns New Round of "Streamlined"
Executions in Japan
Amnesty International strongly condemns the hanging in Japan today of 3
men: Keishi Nago (age 37), Masahiko Matsubara (age 63), and Takashi
Mochida (age 65).
"The Japanese government has shown its disregard for both the universal
protection of human rights and the clear international trend to move away
from using the death penalty," said Tim Parritt, deputy director of
Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Program. On December 18, 2007 the
United Nations General Assembly adopted, by 104 votes in favor, a
resolution calling for a moratorium on executions.
Very few countries currently carry out executions. Data gathered by
Amnesty International suggests that, in line with the U.N. moratorium,
fewer countries executed in 2007 than in 2006. Among major industrialized
countries, Japan stands out as the only country with a fully operational
death penalty system. In the United States, the Supreme Court has blocked
all planned executions in the country pending its decision on whether
executions can be carried out by lethal injection.
"The Japanese government must end executions and adopt an immediate
moratorium on executions in accordance with the U.N. resolution," added
These are the 2nd set of executions during the term of office of current
Minister of Justice Kunio Hatoyama, who has sought to streamline capital
punishment after final appeals. In September 2007, he announced a plan to
scrap the rule under the Criminal Procedure Code which requires the
signature of the Minister of Justice for executions.
Japan executed 9 people in 2007, and over 100 are currently on death row.
At least 23 cases carrying the death sentence were confirmed by the courts
last year -- the highest number since 1962. Executions in Japan are
typically held in secret and carried out without prior notice to the
prisoners or their family; prisoners are informed just hours before their
(source: Amnesty International)
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