[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jan 30 20:04:00 CST 2008
Saudi Arabia beheads 2 citizens convicted of raping a minor
Saudi authorities beheaded 2 Saudi citizens Wednesday for raping a child
and filming him with a cell phone in the city of Medina, the official news
Mohammed bin Bashir bin Hamid Howsawi and Majed bin Hassan bin Darwish
kidnapped a minor, raped him and then filmed him with a mobile phone, said
a statement by the Interior Ministry carried by SPA.
Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which people
convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery can be
Wednesday's executions bring the number of people beheaded this year to
19, including 3 women, according to an Associated Press count. Saudi
Arabia beheaded 137 people last year, up sharply from the 38 executed in
Afghan upper house backs journalist death sentence
Afghanistan's upper house of parliament has backed a death sentence issued
against a reporter accused of blasphemy, one of the members said on
The United States and U.N. right groups have expressed concern over the
case of Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, sentenced to death by a court last
week for allegedly mocking Islam and the Koran, and for distributing an
article which said the Prophet Mohammad had ignored the rights of women.
"The Meshrano Jirga (elders house) yesterday supported the death sentence
on him," Noorullah, a delegate said.
The upper house has no legal authority in the case, but was merely
commenting on the sentence.
President Hamid Karzai has to approve any death sentences before they are
The House of Elders also strongly criticised the international community
for putting pressure on the Afghan government and judiciary over the case,
the delegates said.
Under Islamic law stipulated in Afghanistan's constitution, blasphemy is
punishable by death.
Liberals not always so different from Tories on clemency for killers
When the Conservative government reversed Canadian policy in late October
and revealed it would no longer seek clemency for an Alberta-born killer
on death row in the U.S., federal Liberals pounced.
The decision to abandon Montana inmate Ronald Smith, they claimed, was an
offence to Canadian values and offered a rare glimpse of the kind of
policies Prime Minister Stephen Harper might implement if handed a
majority government in the next election.
"If you're not ready to fight the death penalty abroad today, that means
tomorrow you will restore the death penalty in Canada," Liberal Leader
Stephane Dion declared at one party rally as the issue flared last fall.
He insisted there is "no middle ground" on capital punishment: "You are
either for it or against it. I am a Liberal, and I am against it."
In a recent interview with Canwest News Service, Dion added: "We are
against the death penalty, in every circumstance. We don't understand why,
then, Canada would be silent in Montana. We think this is a kind of
preview, if you want, of what the Conservative government may do."
But when it comes to the potential execution of Canadians beyond our
borders, the supposed ideological divide between Conservatives and
Liberals isn't as stark, or long-standing, as Dion has suggested.
During his time in the cabinet of former prime minister Jean Chretien,
successive Liberal justice ministers spent years in court trying to
extradite two B.C. men facing murder charges in the U.S. - without seeking
assurances they wouldn't be put to death for their crimes.
And the arguments made then by former Dion colleagues Allan Rock and Anne
McLellan sounded strikingly similar to those being made now by Justice
Minister Rob Nicholson, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and Harper
The Conservatives - until Smith's late-November lawsuit against the
government silenced cabinet on the subject - had argued that crimes
committed in the U.S., a democratic nation where the rule of law prevails,
should be punished according to American standards of justice.
It was, almost word for word, the same line of argument Rock had used a
decade earlier when the then-Liberal justice minister refused to seek a
nonexecution-execution guarantee from the U.S. before ordering the
extradition of Atif Rafay and Glen Burns - accused of killing Rafay's
parents and sister in Washington state in 1994 - to face a trial and
possible death sentences.
"The crimes in this case were committed on foreign soil and are subject to
the foreign judicial system," Rock stated in July 1996, even as he
acknowledged that Canada's Parliament "has decided that capital punishment
is not an appropriate penalty for crimes committed here."
Lawyers for Rafay and Burns quickly appealed, arguing that Rock's stance
was a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Amnesty International-Canada - now one of the loudest critics of the new
Tory policy on clemency - backed the legal bid to get capital punishment
off the table before the Canadians were handed over to U.S. authorities.
For 6 years the court battle raged on. Anne McLellan, Rock's successor as
justice minister, argued that Canada faced becoming a "safe haven" for
killers fleeing death sentences if the federal government was forced, in
all cases, to seek nonexecution-execution assurances from the U.S. before
At the same time, Liberal foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy did work
hard - but ultimately unsuccessfully - to try to convince then-Texas
governor George W. Bush to commute the death sentence of Alberta native
Stanley Faulder. He was executed, despite Canada's pleas for clemency, in
Finally, in February 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its
unanimous ruling in the Rafay and Burns case. The court concluded that
there must be a nonexecution-execution promise from the U.S. before any
extradition from Canada could occur - a decision hailed as a landmark
judgment because of its sweeping condemnation of capital punishment.
"It is final. It is irreversible," Canada's top judges ruled. "Its
imposition has been described as arbitrary. Its deterrent value has been
Rafay and Burns were later extradited and are now serving life sentences
in the U.S.
Dion says the 2001 Supreme Court decision redefined, unequivocally, his
party's position on the death penalty and has guided Liberal attacks on
the Conservative decision to not seek clemency for Smith.
Smith has been on death row in Montana for more than 20 years. His death
sentence was handed down in 1982 after he admitted murdering two
aboriginal Americans - Harvey Mad Man, 24, and Thomas Running Rabbit, 20 -
during a drunken road trip south of the Canada-U.S. border in 1982.
"We know that because of the Supreme Court decision, that it would be a
violation of the Charter - and I was pleased by this decision, by the
way," Dion said in the interview.
"I am against death penalty. If Mr. Nicholson and Mr. Stockwell Day were
able to say the same, it would be good. But I know they think the other
way. I think it's barbarian. I don't think it's helping to fight crime. I
think there is a danger to kill innocent persons," Dion told Canwest News
But did Dion speak up during his time in Chretien's cabinet and convey
those feelings to Rock and McLellan?
"I never discuss what happened at the cabinet table," he said. "But I want
to tell you I have been consistent all my life about this particular
(source: CanWest News Service)
The law of the land
The founding fathers of independent Jamaica are acknowledged to have been
outstanding men of vision who framed the constitution of "The land of wood
and water". In their wisdom and prudence, they created a sovereign
document which successive governments have sworn to uphold. Jamaica being
a Christian country, it is accepted that all authority comes from God,
symbolised by the use of the Bible at swearing-in ceremonies.
An appeal by The Conference of the Religious of the Antilles, which is the
Roman Catholic Conference of the Antilles, seeks to persuade the
government and citizens of Jamaica to abandon capital punishment for
religious reasons based on morality. The appeal is aimed at influencing
the result of a conscience vote to be held shortly in parliament. However,
the outcome of a conscience vote against capital punishment would still be
insufficient reason to tamper with the constitution, as the nature of the
issue and the democratic process, both demand a national referendum to
determine the will of the people in such a grave and sensitive matter.
At present, Jamaicans, according to national polls and reports in the
media, strongly support the retention of capital punishment, as enshrined
in Chapter III, Section 14-(1) of the constitution: "No person shall
intentionally be deprived of his life save in execution of the sentence of
a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been convicted".
The fundamental motive underlying the people's attitude is the desperate
need for justice on behalf of the victims, and not primarily vengeance.
The CRA's premise for abolishing the death penalty relies heavily on the
Old and New Testament of the Bible, relating to the divine mercy and
forgiveness of Jesus Christ. An example relates to the woman caught in
adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. Jesus challenged her accusers
saying: "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone". Coincidently,
the woman had not murdered anyone, and was fully deserving of Jesus'
Article 2267 of the Roman Catholic catechism states: "Assuming that the
guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the
traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death
penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human
lives against the unjust aggressor... the cases in which the execution of
the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically
non-existent". Article 2260 states: "The covenant between God and mankind
is interwoven with reminders of God's gift of human life and man's
murderous violence: 'for your lifeblood I will surely require a
reckoning... Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be
shed; for God made man in his own image' (Gen 9:5-6). The Old Testament
always considered blood a sacred sign of life. This teaching remains
necessary for all time."
The argument that capital punishment is not a deterrent is based on
circumstantial evidence at best. Has its absence contributed to killings
that have soared in Jamaica? In an extensive study, Professor Paul Rubin
at Emory University in the US, sought to answer the question: "What are
the consequences of an execution?" Will an execution have the effect of
deterring other potential murders, or will it merely satisfy some desire
His answer was: "In all six equations measuring the deterrent effect of
executions, we found that each execution led to a significant reduction in
the number of homicides. The most conservative estimate was that each
execution led to an average of 18 fewer murders. The 95 per cent
confidence interval estimate for this value was between eight and 28 fewer
homicides. In other words, we can be 95 per cent sure that each execution
resulted in at least eight fewer homicides. In summary, if we decide not
to execute murderers, then we are making a decision that will lead to many
additional murders in society."
The nature and number of murders perpetrated in Jamaica cannot be compared
with those committed in the European Union or Canada. For example, among
the 1500-plus killings in Jamaica last year, were over 400 women and 75
children. Mutilation and beheading were evident, with babies as young as
three months being shot dead! As this is being written, a man and a young
boy were reported shot dead waiting at a bus stop on Constant Spring Road.
What alternative form of punishment can justifiably equate with such
barbaric and depraved behaviour?
The United Nations in November 2007, voting on a non-binding resolution
for a death penalty moratorium resulted in 99 in favour, 52 against with
33 abstentions. Among those against was the United States, a nation that
strongly influences Jamaican culture and lifestyle. The US carried out 42
executions in 2007. The US representative stated: "The US recognises that
supporters of this resolution hold principled positions on the issue of
the death penalty. Nonetheless it is important to recognise that
international law does not prohibit capital punishment". The US maintained
that capital punishment was not a human rights issue but a matter of law
enforcement. Caribbean countries, Singapore, other developing countries,
including China, voted against the resolution.
It is acknowledged that the Jamaican justice system needs improvement with
the implementation of DNA technology proactively, to eliminate as far as
possible the likelihood of wrongful conviction. Such advancement must go
hand in hand with purging corruption in the law enforcement agencies, and
securing porous prisons. Acknowledgement of such deficiencies should
neither invalidate retention nor application of the law once these
remedies have been successfully applied. The government is therefore, in
its sovereign responsibility, urged to uphold the law of the land.
(source: Column, Anthony Gomes, Jamaica Observer)
Bali bombers demand review of verdict: lawyer
The 3 Bali bombers on death row filed a demand on Wednesday for a
procedural review of the Supreme Court verdict which could delay their
imminent execution by firing squad, a lawyer said.
The Supreme Court has rejected their demand for a case review and the
paperwork submitted calls for a review of the procedure by which the
guilty verdict was reached and its legality.
"What we submitted today [Wednesday] is not a demand for a case review,
but a demand for a procedural review on a Supreme Court verdict," defence
lawyer Achmad Michdan said.
He said the Supreme Court ruling that rejected their demand for a case
review violated procedures as it was made without an open hearing.
"The Supreme Court, until now, has not explained how come the verdict in
our case was made without any hearing. Therefore we are questioning the
procedure and consequently also, the legality of the verdict," he said.
"The process required by Indonesian rule of law had not been followed by
the Supreme Court. We want the judges who worked on this to be also
He said the move was not aimed at stalling the imminent execution of his
clients, but added that the action may delay it.
Imam Samudra, Amrozi and Ali Ghufron played key roles in the 2002 bombings
on the mainly Hindu resort island, which left 202 people dead, including
The Attorney General's office said the 3 had until the end of the month to
lodge an appeal for presidential clemency or their executions would be
carried out. They have previously said they would not appeal for clemency.
Timings and locations of executions in Indonesia are kept secret, though
officials have said they would not take place on the island of Bali.
The 2002 bombings were blamed on the militant Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)
network and the three men admitted during trial that they were JI members.
JI is blamed for a series of bombing attacks in Indonesia and other
Southeast Asian countries but the Bali attacks were the most deadly.
(source: Agence France Presse)
5 hanged in Teheran prison for murder
Iran hanged five convicted murderers in Teheran's Evin prison on
Wednesday, the Fars news agency reported, as curbs were imposed on
executions being carried out in public.
A man identified only by his 1st name of Faraz was hanged for killing his
girlfriend Andia in February 2004.
'This morning Faraz begged Andias father to forgive him, but the father
reminded him of how he had murdered his daughter and refused to pardon
him,' Fars said in the report.
Ramezan, 29, was executed for stabbing his brother's wife to death after
suspecting she had had affairs with other men, while Mohammad Abedi and a
man named Mohsen were hanged for killing friends.
A 5th convicted, Mohammad, 32, had killed and robbed a passenger of his
taxi in 1999, the agency said.
The hangings bring to at least 33 the number of convicts executed in the
Islamic republic so far this year.
The hangings came as the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud
Hashemi Shahrudi, announced that he must in future approve any executions
to be carried out in public and banned all pictures of the events.
The number of executions soared last year to 298, many of them carried out
in public, according to an AFP count, amid a government campaign to boost
'security in society'.
Capital offences in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, serious drug
trafficking and adultery.
Human rights groups have accused Iran of excessive resort to the death
penalty, but the authorities say capital punishment is an effective
deterrent and is used only after an exhaustive judicial process.
(source: Agence France Presse)
Iran to limit execution in public ---- Public executions have become more
common in a blitz on crime
The head of Iran's judiciary has issued an order that no executions be
carried out in public without his permission.
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi also banned the publication of
photographs or films of executions.
Human rights groups say Iran executed nearly 300 people in 2007 as it
tries to improve security and reduce what it calls immoral behaviour.
Most executions take place inside prisons but some criminals have been
hanged from cranes in public.
Correspondents say it appears Ayatollah Shahrudi wants to lower the
profile of executions as Iran has been widely criticised by Western
countries and international organisations.
Iran has executed at least 28 convicts so far this year, according to
Capital offences in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, serious drug
trafficking, apostasy, adultery and male homosexuality.
(source: BBC News)
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