[Deathpenalty] death penalty news------worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jan 17 18:04:50 CST 2008
Death sentence for murder convict
Colombo High Court Judge Thilak Thabrew yesterday sentenced a person who
was convicted for murder charges. Liyana Pathiranage Wickramanayake alias
Janaka was convicted for committing the murder of Mohotti Arachchige
Sunethra Almeda of Kirulapona on April 3, 1999.
It was revealed that the convict had stabbed the victim with a knife.
According to the evidence the victim was a mother of 3. Convict was known
to the victim as he came to build her house. But however after an argument
Wickramanayake had stabbed Almeda.
State Counsel Chathurika de Silva appeared for the prosecution.
(source: The Daily News)
Mullahs call for death penalty for young journalist held for past 3 months
Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the pressure being placed
on the authorities by conservative religious leaders in the case of Sayed
Perwiz Kambakhsh, a young journalist in the northern province of Balkh who
has been detained since late October 2007 on charges of blasphemy and
defaming Islam. The Council of Mullahs says he should be sentenced to
"The calls for the death penalty for Kambakhsh highlight the growing
influence of fundamentalist groups on intellectual debate," the
organisation said. "The blasphemy charges are an ill-disguised attempt to
hide the desire of the local authorities to restrict press freedom."
A reporter for the newspaper Jahan-e Naw ("The New World") and a
journalism student at Balkh university, Kambakhsh, 23, was arrested on 27
October and detained in Mazar-i-Sharif. Articles on the role of women in
Muslim society were found at his home.
His brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, also a journalist, told Reporters
Without Borders his arrest was illegal. "Any case involving the press
should be heard first by the Media Evaluation Commission before going to
the courts," he said. "Furthermore, the prosecutor only referred the case
to the courts after the Council of Mullahs said he should be sentenced to
death for insulting holy texts."
Journalists in Balkh province finally revealed that Kambakhsh was being
detained after the failure of attempts to obtain his release through
negotiation. They wrote to President Hamid Karzai calling for his release.
2 days later, the Council of Mullahs warned the authorities against
Reporters Without Borders is also very concerned about Ghows Zalmay, a
former journalist and attorney-generals spokesman, who is being held for
publishing a translation of the Koran into Dari. He was arrested in early
November after conservative religious leaders said the translation was
"un-Islamic" and misinterpreted verses about adultery and begging.
Parliamentarians have even accused him of being "worse than Salman
Afghan journalists are exposed to threats and harassment from religious
fundamentalists who try to prevent any debate about Islam and the status
of women. The authorities often violate freedom of expression on the
grounds of protecting the Islamic nature of Afghan society.
Reporters Without Borders appeals to the international community to
intercede with the Afghan government and seek the release of Kambakhsh and
(source: Reporters Sans Frontieres)
Uzbek Abolition Draws Line Under Past
The abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan -- the 135th state to
abandon state-sanctioned killing -- effectively means the entire central
Asian region has now consigned to history a punishment that was strongly
associated with the days of the Soviet empire.
>From Jan. 1, execution by firing squad in Uzbekistan will no longer be
legal, and the maximum sentence will be life or long-term imprisonment.
The reforms have been incorporated into new criminal code and were
sanctioned by a presidential decree signed by Islam Karimov.
Over the past 8 years, all 5 central Asian nations which gained
independence with the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 --
Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan -- have
halted state executions.
Turkmenistan was the 1st to formally abolish capital punishment in 1999.
Then came Kyrgyzstan in 2006, Kazakhstan in May 2007 and now Uzbekistan.
Tajikistan introduced a moratorium in 2004 and is expected to abolish
capital punishment shortly.
Kazakhstan must remove the exception of capital punishment for terrorist
killings to join the group of more than 100 nations that have abolished
capital punishment for all peacetime crimes.
Only one ex-Soviet republic, Belarus, still actively operates the death
penalty. In December 2007, it executed by firing squad a serial killer
after a trial from which the public was excluded.
"The abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan is the first step
towards the country's democratisation," an elated Marat Kayipov, minister
of justice in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan told IPS. "Today we can truly say
that Central Asia has become a more humane region."
He added: "The reality of globalisation and pressure of world public
opinion must have pushed Uzbekistan to take this essential reform step.
Uzbekistan has listened to the world after the tragic events in Andijan in
In May 2005, there was a massive loss of life when Uzbek police and army
fired on unarmed protesters in the eastern city of Andijan. The true
number killed and the exact cause of the unrest have never been made
In the aftermath, there was a clampdown on all dissent, and
non-governmental organisations were shut down. Thousands of Uzbeks are
believed to have attempted to flee to neighbouring countries, especially
Regional neighbours and human rights activists are clearly hoping that
Uzbekistan's abolition of the death penalty may signal the beginning of a
new era of less repression and more openness in what has been until now
one of the world's most closed societies.
Amnesty International, in welcoming news of the abolition, called on Uzbek
authorities to release information about the past operation of the death
penalty. For years Amnesty has been campaigning for Uzbekistan to disclose
the burial sites of those executed.
"No one knows how many people have been sentenced to death in Uzbekistan
and how many were on death row," Akin Toktaliev, chairman of the
non-government Committee to Defend the Rights and Dignity of the Kyrgyz
People told IPS.
Numbers vary enormously. Some human rights activists have estimated that
about 1,000 were on death row before abolition, according to Penal Reform
"There have been many reported cases of torture leading to the death of
prisoners in jails," Sultan Ikramov, head of the Uzbek independent
committee on human rights said, raising another issue of alleged
"Prison relatives have been appealing to us for information about the
conditions in the Uzbek jails. The conditions there are just not
acceptable," he added.
Another group of Uzbek human rights activists based somewhere outside the
country, the Rapid Response Group for the Prevention of Torture in
Uzbekistan, in a statement issued before the abolition announcement,
welcomed the approaching reform but criticised its limitations.
"This is one of the first necessary steps for the liberalisation of the
criminal justice system," it said cautiously. But the proposals fell far
short of the Council of Europe's recommendations for the humane management
of prisoners sentenced to life or long-term imprisonment.
It noted that life-imprisonment in Uzbekistan meant 25 years in the most
severe prison conditions before being allowed to apply for a pardon.
This was also particularly harsh and inflexible. For the first ten years
prisoners were allowed only one short meeting with relatives a year, one
telephone call, and there was a "cruel and severe" ban on working. There
was also no distinction between the different types of long-term
"Some long-term prisoners have been members of criminal gangs with long
criminal records. But the majority are respectable citizens who led
stable, normal lives before sentencing. Most could be released
conditionally much earlier and should have the right to apply for a pardon
at any time," it said.
The group noted with concern that recommendations on pardon applications
and transfer through the prison system would be made by penal officials
"without any public control."
The group also raised the issue of the absence of any apparent provision
for the correction of miscarriages of justice.
This issue was addressed in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan when it abolished the
death penalty at the end of 2006. The cases of all 169 former death row
inmates are now being reviewed. So far 60 cases have been heard.
Kyrgyzstan also offers an example of the difficulties faced by all former
Soviet republics in adopting essential reforms to their penal system after
the abolition of the death penalty. It also suggests how Uzbekistan might
be encouraged to seek help by opening its borders to the rest of the
"We are currently receiving financial support from international
organisations to improve the conditions in prison," said Kayipov. With
this, prison rations were increased by 50 % last year.
A new prison building programme is now being discussed to house the newly
created category of life and long-term prisoners.
"Although the Kyrgyz government does not have the resources to build
these, there are international organisations which could help us,"
Tursunbek Akun, chairman of the Presidential Committee on Human Rights in
Kyrgyzstan told IPS.
"We also need to learn from these how to run special projects for
long-term prisoners," he added.
(source: IPS News)
PACE head urges Russia to outlaw death penalty
Rene Van der Linden, the head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe (PACE), has met President Putin to discuss Russia abolishing the
death penalty. He has urged Russia to ratify Protocol 6 to the European
Convention on Human Rights, which outlaws capital punishment. It's Van der
Linden's last visit to Russia in his capacity as head of PACE.
"When I was elected in 2005 the relationship with Russia was one of my
priorities. It's unprecedented for me. When I was president I invested a
lot in our relationship. And I made a lot of friends here," Van der Linden
said during his meeting with Russia's President.
The 2 sides also discussed the death penalty issue. Russia imposed a
moratorium on the death penalty after joining the Council of Europe 12
years ago. It is the only member that has not completely abolished the
Van der Linden is suggesting reform of the European Court of Human Rights
which should speed up the processing of cases.
(source: Russia Today)
Ugandan Bishop calls for end to death penalty
A UGANDAN bishop has urged Christians to back a campaign banning the death
The Rt Rev Zac Niringiye, the Assistant Bishop of Kampala, told a
Christmas Day congregation his ministry with death row convicts had taught
him it was possible for murderers to reform.
He cited the case of John Katuramu, the former prime minister of Toro
province, who in 2004 was sentenced to death for murdering the Prince of
Toro, Charles Kijjanangoma.
"Katuramu now has joy, peace, love and faith because he has been redeemed
by Jesus Christ," said Dr Niringiye. "He told me that he may physically be
living in Luzira [prison] but at heart, he is a free man.
"There are over 500 convicts on death row in Uganda, he said. I have
interacted with them and seen how they have been transformed. Such people
should be given a chance to live a new life, the bishop said.
Amnesty International reports that as of August 2005 there were 555
prisoners on death row in Uganda, including 27 women. They have been
convicted for various criminal offences including murder (65 %), robbery
(33 %), kidnapping, aggravated robbery, treason, and cowardice in action.
Speaking to the Melbourne Age newspaper last week, the Archbishop of
Sydney voiced support for the death penalty in that country. Dr Jensen
noted Article XXXVII affirmed the states right to impose the death
penalty: The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for
heinous and grievous offences.
Dr Jensen has challenged the use of the death penalty for those convicted
of drug smuggling by the Indonesian government and in other, non-capital
"But I cannot absolutely rule out capital punishment in all circumstances,
since the Bible itself allows it, he said.
(source: Religious Intelligence)
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO:
T&T could amend laws to facilitate State executions
The debate on the resumption of hanging has stepped up a notch in Trinidad
and Tobago, following the government's announcement that it is looking at
legislative amendments to try to carry out State executions.
The Opposition, which has been weighing in on the debate, has suggested
that the government and the security forces should instead concentrate on
apprehending and convicting killers before trying to enforce hanging.
Prime Minister Patrick Manning is hoping that amended legislation will
help circumvent the London based Privy Council's Pratt and Morgan ruling
But the ruling party needs opposition support in order to carry out the
(source: Radio Jamaica)
The Death Penalty Debate
PRIME MINISTER Patrick Manning triggered a fresh round of debate of the
pros and cons of the death penalty this week when he announced that he
wanted to see a resumption of hangings in Trinidad and Tobago. He said his
administration would go to Parliament to get legislation passed to resume
the death penalty.
Manning is of the view that hangings can be a deterrent to this country's
high murder rate. However, there have already been strong objections to
that move. The most vocal of the objectors is attorney Desmond Allum.
He warned: "If the country wants to move to 2020 status, the re-employment
of the death penalty is not in keeping with that. It is not the solution
to the rising incidents of crime."
Arguments for and against the death penalty have been taking place for
centuries. Since ancient times capital punishment, the lawful infliction
of death as a punishment, has been used for a wide variety of offences.
The Bible prescribes death for murder and many other crimes including
kidnapping and witchcraft.
By 1500 in England, only major felonies carried the death penalty
treason, murder, larceny, burglary, rape, and arson. From 1723, under the
"Waltham Black Acts", Parliament enacted many new capital offences and
hundreds of persons were being put to death each year.
Reform of the death penalty began in Europe by the 1750s and was
championed by academics such as the Italian jurist, Cesare Beccaria, the
French philosopher, Voltaire, and the English law reformers, Jeremy
Bentham and Samuel Romilly.
They argued that the death penalty was needlessly cruel, overrated as a
deterrent and occasionally imposed in fatal error. Along with Quaker
leaders and other social reformers, they defended life imprisonment as a
more rational alternative.
By the 1850's, these reform efforts began to bear fruit. Venezuela (1853)
and Portugal (1867) were the 1st nations to abolish the death penalty
In the United States, Michigan was the 1st state to abolish it for murder
in 1847. Today, it is virtually abolished in all of Western Europe and
most of Latin America. Britain effectively abolished capital punishment in
In the United States, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (except Israel)
most countries still retain the death penalty for certain crimes and
impose it with varying frequency.
However, there are obvious merits to both the pro and anti arguments.
Arguments for the death penalty:
The death penalty gives closure to the victim's families who have suffered
It creates another form of crime deterrent.
Justice is better served.
Our justice system shows more sympathy for criminals than it does victims.
It provides a deterrent for prisoners already serving a life sentence.
DNA testing and other methods of modern crime scene science can now
effectively eliminate almost all uncertainty as to a persons guilt or
Prisoner parole or escapes can give criminals another chance to kill.
It gives prosecutors another bargaining chip in the plea bargain process,
which is essential in cutting costs in an overcrowded court system.
Arguments against the death penalty:
Financial costs to taxpayers of capital punishment is several times that
of keeping someone in prison for life.
The endless appeals and required additional procedures clog our court
We as a society have to move away from the "eye for an eye" revenge
mentality if civilisation is to advance.
It sends the wrong message: why kill people who kill people to show
killing is wrong.
Life in prison is a worse punishment and a more effective deterrent.
Some jury members are reluctant to convict if it means putting someone to
The prisoner's family must suffer from seeing their loved one put to death
by the state, as well as going through the emotionally-draining appeals
The possibility exists that innocent men and women may be put to death.
Mentally ill patients may be put to death.
It creates sympathy for the monsterous perpetrators of the crimes.
It is useless in that it doesnt bring the victim back to life.
(source: Trinidad & Tobago's Newsday)
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