[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Feb 13 21:03:53 CST 2008
Guatemalan lawmakers revive death penalty
Guatemala's congress has restored the death penalty nearly 6 years after
the country's constitutional court declared a moratorium on execution, EFE
news agency reported Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by the main opposition right-wing Patriot Party, won
by an overwhelming majority Tuesday.
President Alvaro Colom, an opponent of capital punishment, will now have
to decide whether or not to grant clemency to the 34 convicts on death
Under the measure passed Tuesday, Colom will have 30 days to rule on each
separate application for clemency, which is automatic in capital cases. He
can either order the execution to proceed or commute the sentence to 50
years in prison, the maximum allowed under Guatemalan law.
The constitutional court declared a moratorium on executions in 2002 at
the request of the then president Alfonso Portillo, who contended that the
1892 law establishing the commutation mechanism did not specify which
element of government actually has the authority to grant clemency.
In that ruling, the judges said it was up to congress to amend the law and
clarify the issue of jurisdiction.
Guatemala's last executions were in June 2000, when Amilcar Cetino and
Tomas Cerrate were put to death for the kidnapping and killing of a
A poll published in May 2007 showed 65 % of Guatemalans favour death
penalty as a way to control heinous crimes in the country.
IRAN---female death sentence overturned
Iran quashes execution verdict for football case woman
Iran has quashed the conviction of a woman sentenced to death for
murdering a former football star's wife in a case that sparked a major
scandal, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi overturned the
execution verdict against Shahla Jahed and ordered a fresh probe into the
case after finding flaws in the original investigation, the Etemad
"I wrote a letter to the judiciary chief and pointed out to him the flaws
in the case," Jahed's lawyer Abdolsamad Khoramshahi was quoted as saying.
"After investigations, the verdict issued for Shahla was quashed in both
its nature and its form," he added.
Etemad said that Shahroudi had now ordered a new investigation into the
case in a court of first instance due to the "procedural flaws" in the
Jahed had faced hanging for the premeditated stabbing of Laleh
Saharkhizan, the wife of former national football team player and top
coach Nasser Mohammad Khani in June 2002. Her sentence was confirmed by
the Supreme Court in October 2005.
The bizarre case had transfixed Iran, filling the crime pages in the
Khani had taken Jahed as a temporary wife, under a custom unique to Shia
Islam and Jahed was accused of killing Khani's other wife in a crime of
Jahed initially pleaded guilty after an 11-month silence in custody but
then maintained her innocence, saying she had confessed to murder "only
out of love for Nasser."
Locked up in Tehran's Evin prison for the past five years, Jahed is
writing her autobiography and hopes she can be released on bail in time to
spend the Iranian new year (March 21) with her family, her lawyer told
But the victim's family said they did not believe Jahed's "claim to
innocence" and would press for her execution.
"Several judges have found Shahla guilty," the paper quoted Saharkhizan's
sister as saying without giving her name. "Laleh was a mother of two who
was murdered in all innocence. Her murdered must be punished."
A star of the game in the late 1980s who went on to coach Tehran's popular
Persepolis club, Khani was in Germany on a training trip at the time of
Khani had initially been suspected of complicity and held in jail for
several months, but was released after Jahed's initial confession of
The footballer had been leading a double life for years with Jahed whom he
had taken as his wife under a "temporary" marriage contract known in Iran
Under the practice unique to Shiite Islam, Muslim males can take on
temporary wives for periods ranging from just a few hours to several
(source: Agence France Presse)
What Punishment for the Rapist?
The recent upsurge in the cases of rape, especially against kids and old
women, has become a source of worry for not only parents, but also policy
makers in the country. In this write-up Yekeen Nurudeen ponders why people
rape and what punishment should be appropriate for offenders.
Tuesday January 15, 2008 was arguably not an exciting day for both Hasiya
Yau, 7 and Fati Lawali, 8, and indeed, their parents, as the two girls
were allegedly defiled by an 18-year-old Muttaka Ahmadu at Yanmangorora
area of Gusau, Zamfara State. Ahmadu who was arrested later by the police
according to Saturday 26, 2008 edition of Weekly Trust, successfully lured
the poor girls into a secluded place on the pretext of sending them on an
Dan-Hassana as the alleged rapist is popularly called gave Hasiya and Fati
a sum of N5 each with which he enticed them for him to have an
uninterrupted access to them, which of course he did. Perhaps, he would
have done that unnoticed and gone scot free, but pains that Hasiya who
bleeded immediately Ahmadu forced himself into her, was going through
would not allow the poor girl to keep calm. She and her co-victims
reported the incidents to their parents who alerted the police.
What however is most perturbing in the whole scenario which those who have
been calling for strict punishment against those who commit this criminal
act have condemned is the fact that, the alleged culprit, Ahmadu, after he
was apprehended by the police and admitted that he committed the act,
accused the little girls of exaggerating the whole thing. "They are acting
the way they will attract sympathy. It was not something serious. The
mother of the other girl wanted to leave the matter before the other
girl's parents decide to bring in the police," Ahmadu was reported to have
In his own estimation of what he had done, Ahmadu believed it was only an
"Act of God," and nothing serious as to attract the involvement of police
or what he should be prosecuted for. Similar to his case is that of a
43-year-old man, James Obasi recently arraigned before an Ikeja Magistrate
Court in Lagos for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl. When he was
paraded before the court on 2-count charge, Obasi who reportedly committed
the atrocity on October 25, 2007 pleaded guilty.
Unlike the case of Ahmadu who defiled Hasiya and Fati, Obusi's victim was
a housemaid in the house where he lived at Egba Street, Onilekere, Cement
Bus Stop, Agege, Lagos. He was however granted bail in the sum of N100,000
with 2 sureties while the case was said to have been adjourned till
February 11, 2008.
These 2 separate cases are quite negligible considering the rate at which
rape cases occur at the moment. While, Hasiya, Fati and the unfortunate
housemaid may still be counted as lucky to have gotten assaults against
them reported, and therefore could possibly hope to get justice at the
court of law, several other cases have gone unreported with the victims
living with the practical and psychological trauma of the rape. The most
worrisome of the recent tide of rape incidents across the country is that
under-aged girls, teenagers and old women are more often than not the
It is the incessant reported cases of rape of this category of people that
have perturbed most women rights organisations in the country to agitate
for a review of the punishment mechanism for the rapists.
According to those who want strict sanctions against rapists, the present
jail term of about two to five years for a rapist is comparatively
inadequate to serve as, deterrent to would be offenders, and also, as
redress for the victims. They argued that such measure would do little or
nothing to amend the damages done to a victim.
All cultures, especially, Africa have historically promoted a system of
honour, dishonour and shame, which was applied with particular strictness
to females. For instance, a victim of rape would be considered to have
lost her honourable reputation and place in society; a loss of honour
which entails shame on the victim's family group as well. It is a naked
truth that shame and pressure that follow rape incidents have led many
victims of rape to commit suicide. A near home example was the mysterious
death of late Miss Tokunbo Ajayi, a vibrant broadcaster who unconfirmed
reports say might have committed suicide after she was gang-raped.
Findings reveal that suicide of rape victims for reasons of shame and
stigmatisation have been historically documented in Chinese and Japanese
cultures. In the analysis of psychologists, the logic of the loss of
honour was largely an extension of the ingrained view of women as
commodities for men to consume: once the packaging was forcefully opened
by another man, the goods are believed to have been tainted for the next
The implication belying this practice is also that women do not
biologically lust and thus would or could not choose to have a sexual
experience of her own accord, thus providing a justification for women as
bartered products. Even as barbaric and condemnable as it is, rape has
been view differently also by different cultures.
Some settings see it as a form of punishment, as a victim of rape is
commonly a female relative of the person targetted for retaliation.
In Pakistan in June 2002, for instance, a Pakistani woman named Muktaran
Bibi was gang-raped by a vigilante mob after her brother was (falsely)
accused of rape himself. The Pakistani government, along with local
religious officials, condemned this action and sentenced the rapists to
death. In another case, ten years prior, Bhanwani Deri, an activist
against child marriage in her Rajasthani village, was reportedly
gang-raped by 5 upper-caste village men in retaliation for interference
with local child marriages.
Rape has also been used by dictatorial government as method to retaliate
against or to intimidate political enemies. There are of course several
allegations that this phenomenon took place under the former Iraqi
president, Saddam Hussein. And a clear example now is the Abu Ghraib
prison, where US soldiers were reportedly using similar sexual
intimidation and the threat of rape as a means of psychological torture to
frighten their mostly male and Muslim prisoners.
Evidently, varied views about rape have also led to varied punishments
against offenders of the crime. And it can hardly be argued what measure
of punishment is appropriate for those found guilty, as from society to
society, establishing a case of rape substantiated with inconvertible
evidences have more often than not provided shield to alleged culprits
leaving the victims to contend with the pains and trauma of the assault.
This is without doubt what prompted the sponsoring of 'Sex Crime Bill'
which is pending before the Nigeria's Senate Committee on Human Rights and
Judiciary by Senator Chris Anyanwu.
Senator Anyanwu hopes that Sex Crime Bill when eventually passed would
help curb the growing cases of sexual harassment and rape throughout the
country and child rape. "We are in the National Assembly to touch lives of
the people. There is an upsurge in sexual harassment, both in schools and
universities, as well as when ladies go out in search of jobs. We even
have newer aberrations such as gang-rape not mentioned in our obsolete
Apparently, the lapses in the Nigeria's criminal law where rape is seen as
a punishable offence had made it difficult for victims to get justice at
the court of law, while, prosecution of rape altogether had been made
difficult due to the doctrines of the law. The law seems to have immuned
offenders from punishment as in the case of English law from where
Nigeria's law originates, that contained a number of legal and procedural
requirements that made the prosecution of rape difficult.
Under the utmost resistance doctrine, a man could be found guilty of rape
only if his victim could demonstrate that she had physically attempted to
fight off the rape but had been overpowered. So, also, a woman who was not
physically bruised had little hope of proving a case of rape. If a woman
did not promptly complain of a rape, under the fresh complaint rule, her
case could not be heard. The fresh complaint rule was based on the theory
that a delayed report of rape was more likely to be fabricated. The
implications of these are that children and old women who are victims of
rape and could not establish their case following these procedures are
most unlikely to get redress.
Although, it was difficult to obtain a conviction under the English common
law, the punishment for rape was severe when prosecution was successful.
It is treated as a capital offence that attracts capital punishment by
death. Death sentence for rapist to some individuals and human rights
group could be too much a punishment, even, as Islam and Christianity
frown at it. While Christianity, according to Deutronomy 22:28 and 22:25
advocates that a man who commits rape be forced to marry the victim, as
the only succor for the victim if she is virgin, but that the culprit must
be put to death if the victim is a married woman. Islam prescribes stoning
to death of a rapist. Saudi Arabia, has strictly followed the latter, yet,
it has been met with severe criticism.
The variation of punishments for rape and how to establish a case for rape
call for discretion in handling and determining the case of rape as it is
a matter of life and death. Yet, it is in the same vein that rape should
be seen as a big crime that could actually take the woman or the victim's
life and as a result, a review of the punishment as being deliberated at
the National Assembly cannot be more timely.
The bill as assured by Senator Anyanwu when finally passed will take
cognisance of very important areas not touched by the previous laws,
especially with regards to establishing sex crimes, such that will create
world acceptable standards with recognisable evidence of sexual
It thus, means, that Hasiya, Fati and many in their shoes whose joy have
been tainted by rapists could hope to have justice and reprieve. But,
Nigerians hope that the Senate would not trivialise on this matter as to
come out with appropriate punishment for rapist that would serve as
succour to victims, and then, deterrents to would be offenders.
(source: Column, Yakeen Nurudeen, AllAfrica.com)
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