[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at smu.edu
Mon Oct 10 12:15:39 CDT 2011
Abolish the death penalty; it undermines human dignity
Right now in Uganda, there are more than 470 prisoners on death row. In 2010 in
Uganda, 5 death sentences were handed out.
Today is World Day against the Death Penalty. People, governments and countries
unite to oppose the death penalty. It undermines human dignity and there is no
firm evidence that it has any value as a deterrent.
The UK nationally, and as a member state of the European Union, opposes the
death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle and believes that
it should be abolished. And we are not alone. 138 countries, including 16
African Union members, have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In
December 2010 more UN Member states than ever before supported the UN General
Assembly resolution on stopping the use of the death penalty.
Now you may disagree. In Uganda, there are currently 16 offences that carry the
death penalty and these include crimes such as rape, murder and espionage. You
may believe that people found guilty of these crimes deserve such a punishment.
However, regardless of your views on the death penalty, there are still
important reasons to ensure that its use meets minimum standards. No one would
argue that it should be used for anything but the most serious crimes. It is
important that those charged are given a fair trial: if an innocent person is
convicted and wrongly executed, you cannot make it up to them. It is important
that people on death row are treated humanely. These minimum standards should
be met to protect human dignity.
The Constitutional Court of Uganda agrees. In 2009, it made three landmark
rulings on how the death penalty is used. Firstly, it declared that it is
cruel, inhuman and degrading for a convict to be on death row for longer than 3
years. It ruled that these convicts should have their cases reviewed and, if
appropriate, their death penalties commuted to life imprisonment.
Secondly, the court declared it is unconstitutional for crimes to automatically
result in a death penalty. Mandatory death penalties do not allow for the
individual facts of the case to be considered. Finally, the court ruled that it
is unlawful for civilians to be given a death penalty in a military court. The
Ugandan People’s Defence Force has since said that it will pass civilian cases
to the High Court.
These 3 rulings significantly improve how the death penalty is used in Uganda.
Unfortunately however, they have not been fully implemented. For example, there
are individuals in Uganda who have been on death row for 18 years. People
facing the death penalty often do not routinely have good access to lawyers or
even legal advice.
This is why the UK is supporting Ugandan civil societies’ efforts led by the
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative to promote the implementation of the
Constitutional Court rulings and ensure minimum standards are met. Firstly, the
initiative will help prevent innocent people being wrongly convicted by
providing legal support for a fair trial.
Secondly, it is working to have death penalty sentences changed to life
imprisonment when prisoners have spent more than three years on death row.
Thirdly, it is helping to ensure that judges and magistrates are fully informed
about the sentencing guidelines.
Lastly, it is supporting the amendment of laws that carry a mandatory death
penalty. The UK hopes that Uganda will abolish the death penalty. But in the
meantime, it is important that minimum standards on its use are met. We applaud
the rulings of Uganda’s Constitutional Court on the death penalty and look
forward to their full implementation.
(source: Commentary; Mr Martin Shearman it the British high commissioner to
Uganda----The Daily Monitor)
India Court Stays Mumbai Gunman's Death Penalty
India's Supreme Court on Monday stayed the death sentence of Mohammed Ajmal
Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist convicted for his role in a 3-day-long
attack on several places in Mumbai in November 2008 that left more than 160
The court ruling came after Mr. Kasab filed a special leave petition pleading
for the suspension of his death sentence, his lawyer Gaurav Agrawal said. The
Supreme Court will start a hearing on the petition from Jan. 31, Mr. Agrawal
Raju Ramachandran, a senior advocate who is advising the Supreme Court on the
case, said the court was obliged by India's judicial system to hear the
petition. He said both the petitioner and the respondent - the western state of
Maharashtra where a court had passed the death sentence for Mr. Kasab in May
last year - agreed that the case should be dealt with quickly.
Ujjwal Nikam, public prosecutor in the case, said the apex court's staying of
the death sentence was a "routine procedure." "We are not disappointed; we
believe in law," he said.
Mr. Kasab was convicted by a special Mumbai court for his role in the November
2008 attacks. After allegedly training in Pakistan, he and nine others traveled
to Mumbai by sea, armed with AK-47 rifles and explosives. The group raided and
killed people at two luxury hotels, a hospital, a restaurant popular with
foreigners, a Jewish center and the city's main train station. The attacks led
to increased hostility between India and Pakistan, with India alleging that the
group it saw as masterminding the attacks, Lashkar-e-Taiba, had the support of
the Pakistani state.
Mr. Kasab was the only gunmen to be captured; the others were killed by Indian
(source: Wall Street Journal)
Help the Pacific rise above the Death Penalty
Today is World Day Against the Death Penalty and Amnesty International Aotearoa
New Zealand is calling on the people of this country to step up and help the
Pacific rise against the death penalty.
The Pacific is the only region in the world that does not practice the death
penalty and for 3 decades has been death penalty free.
Yet 4 Pacific countries still retain the death penalty in law - Tonga, Papua
New Guinea*, Nauru and Fiji.
“Today, as we mark the World Day Against the Death Penalty, there is no better
time to show the international community that not only is a world free of the
death penalty possible, but that the Pacific can lead the way towards realising
it,” says Margaret Taylor, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand
New Zealand has historically taken a strong anti-death penalty stance and is
well placed to encourage the four Pacific countries to end this brutal act.
Amnesty International is calling on the people of New Zealand to send letters
and e-actions to the leaders of these countries at www.amnesty.org.nz.
“With the execution of Troy Davis still fresh in our minds, let’s mark this day
by taking action to ensure this ultimate denial of human rights is brought to
an end” says Taylor.
“As long as the death penalty exists, the risk of executing the innocent can
never be eliminated.”
Troy Davis, who had been on death row since 1991, was executed by lethal
injection at the Georgian state prison in Jackson on 21 September, despite
serious doubts surrounding his conviction.
On the same day, Iran publicly hanged a 17-year old boy convicted of killing a
popular athlete despite international prohibitions against executing juveniles,
while China executed a Pakistani national convicted of drug smuggling even
though drug offences do not meet the threshold for “most serious” crimes in
Troy Davis left a message with Amnesty International before he was executed.
“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the
Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me, I’m in
good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace.”
Amnesty International reported thousands of executions in 23 countries in 2010.
At the end of 2010, at least 17,800 people were under sentence of death around
the world, waiting for governments to kill them.
The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The
inhumanity of its application is evident in cases from all around the world.
People describe their appalling living conditions on death row, the anguish of
waiting for their execution to happen, often because they had "confessed" after
torture to a crime they maintain they did not commit.
Amnesty International will also mark the World Day by looking towards Belarus,
the only European state that still kills people.
As many as 400 people may have been executed in Belarus since 1991 – the true
number is unknown because of the secrecy surrounding executions.
Prisoners are usually told they will be executed, with a bullet to the back of
the head, just moments before their death sentence is carried out.
“When Amnesty International was founded in 1961, only 9 countries had abolished
the death penalty for all crimes and capital punishment was barely considered a
human rights issue. 50 years on, the worldwide trend towards abolition of the
death penalty is unstoppable, and the fight continues,” says Taylor.
Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand supporters in Auckland will mark the
International day to end the Death Penalty by asking people in Vulcan Lane to
sign a letter to all 4 leaders of the Pacific countries asking them to abolish
the death penalty in law as well as practice.
A balloon tied to a prisoner will match every signature collected and with
enough signatures the prisoner will rise above the death penalty, which is
Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand’s aspiration for the Pacific.
When: Monday 10 October, 12.00-2.00pm
Where: Vulcan Lane, Auckland
*Earlier this year Papua New Guinea sentenced 5 men to death. Amnesty
International is taking a watching brief on this case as there is no current
information available as to when their sentences will be carried out.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception
regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or
the method used by the state to kill the prisoner. The organisation believes
the death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman
and degrading punishment, and has been campaigning for the global abolition of
the death penalty since 1977.
On 10 October 2011 anti-death penalty organisations and activists will
celebrate the 9th World Day Against the Death Penalty. The initiative was
launched in 2003 by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, of which
Amnesty International is a founding member.
(source: Amnesty International)
HRCP calls for abolishing death penalty
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called upon the government
to follow through the commitment it made three years ago to abolish the death
penalty and demanded that in the meanwhile the informal moratorium on
executions should immediately be made formal in the country.
A statement issued by the commission on Sunday said: “On World Day against
Death Penalty (Oct 10), the HRCP reiterates its opposition to the death penalty
and its belief that this punishment allows for a very high probability of
miscarriage of justice on account of critical deficiencies in the law,
administration of justice, police investigation, chronic corruption and
cultural prejudices affecting women and religious minorities in the country.
This is unacceptable in any civilised society, particularly so when the
punishment is irreversible.”
Welcoming the government’s persistence with the stay on executions since
December 2008, the commission expressed concern that capital punishment remains
on statute books for over two dozen offences and courts continue to give death
penalty more or less on the pre-moratorium scale. The moratorium also remains
both informal and incremental, lapsing every few months.
The HRCP noted with dismay that no concrete steps had been taken to realise the
government’s commitment of 2008 to end the death penalty for all but the most
“The high incidence of crime in the country despite Pakistan being among
countries with one of the highest rate of conviction to capital punishment in
the world demonstrates that capital punishment has no special deterrent effect.
“The HRCP calls upon the government to consistently publicise its reasons for
putting in place the moratorium on executions, take effective measures to
address the objectives of the people who oppose the abolition of the death
penalty and mobilise public support for its abolitionist policy through a
sustained awareness campaign.
“The HRCP reiterates its demand that the government must take urgent steps to
remove the impression that the death penalty in the litany of offences on the
statute books is sanctioned by Islam as it has already been held by the Council
of Islamic Ideology that Islamic law mandates capital punishment only for a
couple of offences.
“The HRCP calls upon the government to take definite steps towards abolition of
capital punishment in Pakistan. As a first step, the informal stay on
executions should be made formal and the number of offences that carry the
death penalty should be reduced. We also urge the government to sign the
Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
aiming at the abolition of the death penalty,” the statement added.
Case of Iranian Pastor Facing Death Penalty Reportedly in Hands of Supreme
The case of an Iranian pastor facing a possible death sentence for apostasy has
reportedly been referred to Iran's supreme leader, a move some say shows the
Islamic republic is feeling pressure in the face of growing international
Attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told AFP on Monday that an Iranian court has
decided to seek the opinion of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- the Islamic republic's
spiritual leader and highest authority -- in the case of Youcef Nadarkhani, a
32-year-old pastor who was arrested in October 2009 and later sentenced to
death for converting to Christianity.
Messages seeking comment from Dadkhah were not immediately returned early
Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice,
a Washington-based organization that is monitoring Nadarkhani's case, told
FoxNews.com that the move was unusual and is part of the "secretive process"
within the Iranian judicial system.
"Based on these reports, Pastor Youcef is alive and we have reached the highest
level of Iranian government," Sekulow said on Monday. "I don't believe this
would've ever reached the level of Khamenei without the media attention and
outpouring of support we've seen."
Sekulow said the move to involve Khamenei in a case before a regional court is
uncommon and indicates that "Iran is feeling the pressure" of the growing
international community in support of Nadarkhani.
As of Friday, at least 39 members of Congress had signed a letter calling on
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to put pressure on Iranian authorities to
release Nadarkhani, who, according to reports last week from Iranian
state-funded Press TV, is now considered a security threat and previously
operated a brothel. Judiciary Chief Mohammad-Javad Heshmati of Iran's Gilan
Province told the station on Wednesday that no verdict had been reached and
that an execution order had not yet been issued.
Documents obtained by the American Center for Law and Justice, however,
indicate that apostasy is the only charge against Nadarkhani.
"There was an indication that this would go to one of [Iran's] top leaders,"
Sekulow said of Nadarkhani's case. "It looks like everything we believed would
happen has now happened. This is the time where the international pressure, the
media attention, has to increase tenfold."
Sekulow also asked Clinton to call for Nadarkhani's "unconditional release" and
said more than 125,000 people have signed a petition in support of the father
of two. Calls seeking comment from the U.S. State Department were not
immediately returned on Monday.
The White House condemned the conviction and possible death sentence for
Nadarkhani late last month, saying the execution would further demonstrate
Iranian authorities' "utter disregard" for religious freedom.
"Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which
is a universal right for all people," the statement released by the White House
on Sept. 29 read. "That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to
renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses
all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran's own international obligations. A
decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian
authorities' utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran's
continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the
Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment
to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion."
Nadarkhani is the latest Christian cleric to be imprisoned in Iran for his
religious beliefs. According to Elam Ministries, a United Kingdom-based
organization that serves Christian churches in Iran, there was a significant
increase in the number of Christians arrested solely for practicing their faith
between June 2010 and January 2011. A total of 202 arrests occurred during that
six-month period, including 33 people who remained in prison as of January,
Nadarkhani, a pastor in the 400-member Church of Iran, has been held in that
country's Gilan Province since October 2009, after he protested to local
education authorities that his son was forced to read from the Koran at school.
His wife, Fatemeh Pasandideh, was also arrested in June 2010 in an apparent
attempt to pressure him to renounce his faith. She was released in October
2010, according to Amnesty International.
(source: Fox News)
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