[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Oct 11 12:07:56 CDT 2008
EU urges Uganda to abolish death penalty
The head of the European Union delegation in Uganda, Ambassador Vicent De
Vischer, has challenged Uganda to emulate other countries that have
already abolished the death penalty which he termed as inhuman.
While launching a book titled "Abolition of death penalty" produced by the
Civil Society Coalition for Death Penalty and the Foundation for Human
Rights Initiative (FHRIFriday in Kampala, De Vischer said the EU
commission set the abolition of a death penalty as one of the priority for
assistance under the European instrument for democracy and human rights.
He urged African countries to ratify the UN optional protocol on the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides for
the abolition of the death penalty.
According to the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative which has been on
the forefront in the campaign against death penalty, death penalty is not
deterrent enough. It pushes for life imprisonment as an alternative and
more effective for capital offenders.
FHRI executive director Livingstone Sewanyana said the campaign has faced
stiff opposition from government and some judges which, he says, is still
a big challenge.
Crimes like murder, aggravated robbery and treason carry a death sentence
in the Uganda criminal justice system
(source: African Press Agency News)
China, poisoned milk: death penalty for those who break the law
The punishment is stipulated by a new norm regulating production in the
dairy industry. It involves the entire chain of production, from
individual farmers to the point of sale. While the government announces
stiff penalties and new research funds, parents are finding it almost
impossible to receive justice.
The death penalty for those who violate food laws: this is the provision
of a new Chinese law announced yesterday by the state council. The
provision is intended to regulate the dairy industry in particular, which
has been rocked by the melamine scandal, and to bring new trust for
Chinese products on the world market.
According to the norm, the punishment will apply to anyone who works in
the dairy industry: from the farmer, to the producer, to the distributor,
to the final vendor. There are heavy penalties for those who break the
law, especially for those who poison products for children, up to the
death penalty provided for those who "deliberately add illegal substances
to fresh milk."
But this stance will not bring the dead children back to their parents,
nor will it help to cure those who have been poisoned: more than 53,000
according to the latest figures, although the number could be much higher.
The relatives of the victims, however, have been denied their right to
seek justice and obtain compensation, while the courts seem to be ignoring
the lawsuits filed by some lawyers. "Parents are angry. What they need is
justice," says Ji Cheng, a Beijing lawyer who has filed a lawsuit against
Sanlu, in the province of Henan.
The law regulating the quality of dairy products, announced yesterday by
the government, is the first to be put in place by the government in the
industry after the recent scandals, and provides for oversight of more
than 60 sectors, from animal feed to the supermarkets. It requires that
nothing be added - whether natural or chemical, harmless or toxic - to
alter the purity of milk-based products.<>P> For its part, the central
government has promised more funding for research to improve product
testing, and calls upon local officials and provincial governors to
communicate quickly any problem related to food, holding them responsible
if they do not.
This scenario has already been seen in the past with SARS, when efforts
were made to cover up the scandal, followed by repressive action once the
scandal exploded and became public knowledge. Then, like today, this
generated significant concerns about China's integrity.
News agencies and media outlets are working to improve the country's
image: according to Xinhua, the official voice of the party, recent tests
on milk have all produced negative results. The analyses are said to have
examined more than 113 products based on powdered milk, from 20 different
companies in nine provinces. Similar tests have been conducted on fresh
milk. China Daily has published a survey according to which the sale of
dairy products has returned to a level similar to before the scandal,
almost 80% of full market volume.
(source: Asia News)
Nearly 20 % of Japan's death-row inmates don't have visitors
Almost 20 % of death-row inmates across Japan do not have visitors, a
survey by a citizens group has found.
Despite the introduction of a law on the treatment of inmates in May 2006
that extended the categories of visitors death-row inmates can meet, many
of the condemned are still in poor contact with the outside world, it has
The questionnaire was conducted among 105 death-row inmates from July to
September this year by "Forum 90", a group that calls for the ratification
of an international treaty on abolition of the death penalty.
The group tallied the answers of 74 inmates out of a total 77 respondents.
Asked if they have visitors from outside, 19 % (14 inmates) answered "No"
and 78 % (58 inmates) said "Yes," while 3 % (2 inmates) didn't answer.
In a similar survey conducted by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations
in January 2006, 26 percent of respondents said they didn't have visitors
from outside. Due to the different format of the questionnaires, it is not
possible to make a simple comparison of the 2 surveys. However, the
results indicate that there are still death-row inmates who are completely
isolated from the outside world.
(source: Mainichi Daily News)
Activists Reveal Japan's Death Row to the World
Japan's death row inmates revealed to the world on Friday their personal
stories of isolation and suffering, uninformed until the last minute when
they will be taken to the gallows.
They were participating in this year's World Day Against the Death
Penalty, answering 14 questions in a survey conducted by Forum 90, a civil
organisation opposed to capital punishment.
The questions were sent to the inmates late July and returned to Forum 90
through their families and lawyers. Forum 90 published the responses
Friday on its Japanese Internet website --
The World Day is focusing its attention on Asia this year, calling for an
end to executions in 14 countries of the region.
Japan's death row inmates wrote of their suffering in solitary
confinement, Akiko Takada, an administrative solicitor and member of Forum
90, told IPS.
"From 7 in the morning until 7 at night they have to sit still in a small
space. If they move, fall over or lie down, the guards immediately force
them to sit up again. They only exercise twice a week, for 30 minutes,
"Cameras watch them 24 hours a day -- while they eat, use the toilet, do
Many said they were falsely charged and sentenced by an unfair justice
"Their defence lawyers told them during their trials to apologise, so they
could receive lighter sentences, even if they were not guilty," Takada
said. "They asked, 'Why did we have to say we were sorry when we were
"Their lawyers give up because 99 % are found guilty in the current legal
system," she said.
Many said they needed regular medical attention and were taking
medication. Nearly 1/2 said they were seeking help from prison chaplains.
76 death row inmates filled out the questionnaires. Their ages ranged from
around 20 to over 80. 2 of those who participated were executed on
According to the justice ministry, there are now 102 people on death row.
Takada said Forum 90 faced strong public opposition to its work on behalf
of death row inmates.
Everyday members received abusive calls for "trying to save murderers
while not helping the families of the victims". Forum 90 had also seen its
membership drop from 5,500 to 4,000.
Japanese were unlikely to change their minds about the death penalty
because of outside pressure, Takada said. "There was a time when I thought
international pressure would help, but the death penalty is part of
Former justice minister Okihara Yasuoka agreed, adding: "Japan has a
culture of shame. There is recognition that death is the only way to atone
for some crimes."
Anti-death penalty activists are hoping that this might change when Japan
introduces a long-debated "citizen justice system" for criminal trials in
May next year.
3 professional judges and 6 lay jurors will pass judgments in capital
"The impact on normal people of the compulsory lay judge system means the
public cannot escape responsibility of being part of it," Teranaka Makoto,
secretary general of Amnesty International Japan, told IPS.
"While the majority supports the death penalty, they don't want to take
responsibility by taking part in handing out executions."
On the 6th World Day, the Paris-based World Coalition Against the Death
Penalty (WCADP) denounced Japan for the "lack of transparency" surrounding
its death penalty system.
"We also express our concern about Hakamada Iwao, sentenced to death in
1968 after an unfair trial," WCADP executive secretary, Cecile Thimoreau,
"He is now 72 and one of Japan's longest-serving death row inmates. He is
suffering from mental illness after spending over 28 years in solitary
confinement. We emphasise the fact that no system is safe from judicial
The general secretary of the International Federation for Human Rights,
Florence Bellivier, also called on Japan to "eliminate the secrecy
surrounding the practice of the death penalty".
13 people have been executed in Japan so far this year.
(source: IPS News)
European Union signs declaration against death penalty
On the occasion of the World and European day against the death penalty, a
Joint Declaration has been signed by the Presidents of the European
Parliament, of the Council and of the European Commission, on the EU side,
and by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Chairman of the
Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
The declaration confirms their commitment to continue to work towards the
universal abolition of this punishment.
Vice President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for freedom,
justice and security stated" Europe has created a "de facto" death
penalty-free zone stretching from Iceland in the west to Vladivostok in
the east and from Norway in the north to the south-east of Turkey this is
one of Europe's greatest achievements.
"Nevertheless", the Vice-President continued, "public debates within our
societies demonstrate the need to reiterate, time and time again, that the
abolition of the death penalty is an essential achievement for the respect
for human dignity. This is the reason the European Commission works side
by side with NGOs that are active in this field and supports abolitionist
Both the Council of Europe and the European Union are unreservedly opposed
to the use of capital punishment under all circumstances and have
consistently called for the universal abolition of this punishment.
The Death penalty constitutes a violation of the most fundamental of human
rights: the right to life. This explains why the prohibition of the death
penalty is one of the key provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights
of the European Union. It explicitly states that "no one shall be
condemned to the death penalty or executed" in the Union.
(source: The Financial)
Malta renews opposition to death penalty
Malta has welcomed moves by a number of countries to remove the death
penalty, while condemning those which still impose it.
It a message to mark the World Day Against the Death Penalty (October 10)
and the European Day against the Death Penalty, Foreign Minister Tonio
Borg pointed out that the world would soon mark the 60th anniversary of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to life.
"This anniversary should inspire us to do all we can to achieve the global
abolition of capital punishment," Dr Borg said.
"For years now Malta, along with its EU partners, has campaigned
vigorously for the abolition of the death penalty. The adoption last year
by the General Assembly of the resolution calling for a worldwide
moratorium on the death penalty was a major success.
"I strongly welcome the fact that this year Albania, Argentina, the Cook
Islands and Uzbekistan have completely abolished capital punishment.
However, many countries continue to hand down death sentences, in some
cases carrying out highly cruel forms of execution or punishing persons by
death who were minors at the time their crimes were committed, as happens
in Iran for example. We must condemn such practices in the strongest
(source: The Times of Malta)
EU commissioner urges universal abolition of death penalty
I am proud of the European Union's leading role in the international
efforts to abolish the death penalty. Although over half the countries in
the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, the global
figures for its use remain much too high. I fully recognise the plight of
victims of violent crime, but the death penalty is not the solution. On
the contrary, it serves only to aggravate a culture of violence and
retribution. The European Commission is determined to work towards the
universal abolition of the death penalty through all available diplomatic
channels and as a leading donor in this field.
A culmination of the EU's efforts, actively supported by states from all
regions of the world, was the adoption of the resolution on the moratorium
on the use of the death penalty by the United Nations General Assembly in
The European Union encourages public debate, strengthening public
opposition and putting pressure on retentionist countries to abolish the
death penalty, or at least introduce a moratorium as a first step. The EU
also acts against the death penalty in multilateral fora, such as the
United Nations; a culmination of this effort was the resolution on the
moratorium on the use of the death penalty, adopted by the United Nations
General Assembly on 18 December 18, 2007. Our political commitment has
been matched by substantial financial support for concrete projects, given
that the death penalty is one of the priorities under the European
Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
92 countries and territories have abolished the death penalty for all
10 have abolished the death penalty for all but exceptional crimes such as
wartime crimes. 35 countries can be considered abolitionist in practice.
They retain the death penalty in law but have not carried out any
executions for the past 10 years or more, and are believed to have a
policy or established practice of not carrying out executions. This makes
a total of 137 countries which have abolished the death penalty in law or
practice. Since 2005, 10 countries have abolished the death penalty.
However, figures of death penalty application around the world still
remain high. During 2007, at least 1,252 people were executed in 24
countries, and at least 3,347 people were sentenced to death in 51
countries. 88 % of all known executions took place in 5 countries: China,
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the USA. The EU's action, as the
worldwide leader on the fight against death penalty, remains urgent and
Under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, more than
euro15 million has been allocated to support civil society projects since
1994, aimed at raising public awareness in countries which have retained
the punishment through public education, outreach to influence public
opinion, studies on how states' death penalty systems comply with
international minimum standards, informing and supporting strategies for
replacing the death penalty and efforts for securing the access of
death-row inmates to appropriate levels of legal support and training for
(source: Column; Benita Ferrero-Waldner is commissioner for External
Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy in the European Union----The
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