[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Feb 18 10:21:16 CST 2008
For well over 4 decades, Canada has recognized that the death penalty is
incompatible with human rights and fundamental justice. For many years,
Canada has also routinely and successfully sought the commutation of death
sentences imposed on our citizens abroad.
This humanitarian policy is the standard practice among nations that have
abolished the death penalty, such as the United Kingdom and Mexico.
It should come as a shock, therefore, that 3 months ago, the Canadian
government tacitly sent a Canadian citizen to the death chamber in Montana
by declaring in the House of Commons that it would no longer be seeking
clemency on his behalf.
Until that time, the government had been actively pursuing commutation for
Ron Smith, while assuring his legal team of its continued support.
Despite the fact that his lawyers had met with Canadian officials only
days before, Mr. Smith first learned about the abrupt policy reversal not
by direct communications to him and his legal team, but through the media.
Many Canadians have been shocked by this shameful about-face.
A spontaneous flood of angry letters arrived at Public Safety Minister
Stockwell Day's office in the days following the announcement. Every other
major political party, representing the majority of the electorate, has
publicly opposed the decision. This month, the House of Commons voted by a
wide margin, to endorse Canada's traditional policy of seeking death
sentence commutations for its citizens in all cases.
The Canadian constitution guarantees the right to life and the right not
to be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. The
government has ignored Ron Smith's constitutional rights in order to make
a political statement -- and did it in a way that pulled the rug out from
under a defence strategy that was years in the making.
Mr. Smith was led to expect that the Canadian government's support would
be a key element in his defence against execution. Based on these and
other compelling grounds, Mr. Smith has now launched a lawsuit against the
A team of volunteer lawyers recently filed with the Federal Court of
Canada a mountain of documents supporting his legal challenge. Amnesty
International is in the process of filing an affidavit supporting the
position that fundamental human rights are at stake here.
Reflecting Canada's long tradition of opposing the death penalty, our laws
forbid the surrender of a person wanted in a foreign jurisdiction if there
is any possibility that the suspect would face a death sentence or
execution when returned.
This protection against a cruel and barbaric punishment that the law
guarantees for foreigners and Canadians alike on this side of the border,
the government will no longer extend to Canadian citizens facing death
The rights and lives of Canadians should be fully protected wherever they
are -- but the current government does not seem to care.
Canadians were rightly outraged by the mistreatment of Maher Arar, and by
the American government's reliance on "extraordinary rendition" to
subcontract his torture in Syria. Canadians should be just as outraged
that their own government is now violating another Canadian citizen's
basic rights by attempting, in the words of the president of the Council
of Europe, to apply the death penalty "by subcontract" in the United
States. Canada must stand for much better than that.
(source: The Ottawa Citizen; Aubrey Harris is co-ordinator of the Amnesty
International Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty)
Execution on mind 'every second' - Rush
Bali 9 death row inmate Scott Rush says the thought of being executed
weighs on his mind every second of the day.
In an exclusive interview with SBS TV's Cutting Edge program to air
tonight, the 21-year-old also says he was motivated by money and the
chance to have "a bit of an adventure".
Scott Rush is 1 of 6 Bali 9 members facing execution for drug offences in
In October 2007, he and fellow Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran
Sukumaran, along with 2 Indonesian death row convicts, had their challenge
to the death penalty dismissed by Indonesia's Constitutional Court.
The Australians' last avenue of appeal is a Supreme Court review of the
sentences, while the prime minister could also make a plea to Indonesian
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for clemency.
Rush tells SBS there were a number of factors behind his actions.
"I didn't have a concrete job at the time, I was waiting to go to the air
force. I mean, I think about this and sometimes the answer changes in my
He had never been overseas and was not carrying a passport when he landed
"I mean, everyone likes a bit of adventure now and then," he said.
But he said he was reluctant to go to Bali.
"Quite honestly I didn't want to come because I didn't feel comfortable.
"I didn't know what I was risking, I didn't know there was a death
penalty, I didn't know anything about Bali really."
He now regrets the pain he caused his family.
"They had a lot of, I don't know, expectance for me I guess, I mean I do
He said the thought of execution weighed heavily.
"It weighs on my mind pretty much every second of the day.
"I mean I can't have a normal conversation like I used to be able to
because of this.
"It's always in my mind. Always in the back of my head or it stops
sometimes at the front."
But he remained hopeful of being released.
"I feel that I will. I mean if I've got any sort of instinct, obviously
I'm hoping that I will."
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