[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at smu.edu
Wed Oct 12 11:09:27 CDT 2011
UNITED NATIONS/SAUDI ARABIA:
UN distressed by Saudi executions
The United Nations human rights office on Tuesday said it is deeply distressed
by the recent execution in Saudi Arabia of 10 men, 8 of whom were foreign
migrant workers, and called on the country to establish a moratorium on the use
of the death penalty.
The 8 Bangladeshi migrant workers were beheaded in public in the capital,
Riyadh, on Friday after they were found guilty of killing an Egyptian in 2007,
according to media reports. Three other Bangladeshis were sentenced to prison
terms and flogging in the same case.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) noted that, of
the at least 58 people reportedly executed in Saudi Arabia this year, 20 were
“We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and all other States that still
maintain the death penalty to respect international standards that provide
safeguards to ensure protection of the rights of those facing the death
penalty,” said OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville.
He told a news conference in Geneva that about 140 of the 193 UN Member States
are believed to have abolished the death penalty or introduced a moratorium,
either legally or in practice.
“We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to join these States and establish a
moratorium on the use of the death penalty,” said Colville. (source: IBNS)
Filipino worker escapes death in Saudi Arabia
A Filipino worker who escaped hanging for committing blasphemy in Saudi Arabia
in 2008 arrived in Manila Monday after receiving a royal pardon.
The Philippine department of foreign affairs identified the worker only as
“Pablo” in an announcement issued yesterday.
Pablo worked as a trailer driver in Riyadh until his arrest on March 24, 2007,
for allegedly “mocking the name of the Prophet Mohammad.” He was charged with
blasphemy, an offense punishable by death.
“Under Islamic Law, mocking the name of the Prophet Mohammad is a grievous
offense and considered taboo in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim [community],” the
Philippine Embassy in Riyadh said in an announcement.
A committee of 3 judges sentenced Pablo to death by beheading on November 16,
2008. The committee reviewed its decision in July 2010 and lowered his sentence
to 5 years imprisonment and 500 lashes.
Foreign affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said there are other death penalty
cases involving Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, but added he does not have the
Death Penalty Important in Deterring Would-Be Killers
After reading the article The death penalty a barbaric anachronism by Mariaana
Sall in the Nation, I could not resist the urge to respond.
The death penalty can be restricted only to pre-meditated, cold-blooded and
first degree murder. Mass murder should also attract the same punishment.
Anyone who takes away human life in such a manner does not deserve to have his
or her life spared. The death penalty can act as a deterrent to those
contemplating to kill.
Death Row Convict to Serve 5 Years in Jail
A robbery with violence convict who had been sentenced to death will only serve
5 years in jail due to a legal technicality.
Moris Otieno Oduor, who was convicted of attempted robbery with violence and
sentenced to death on the first count, hinged his appeal on 2 conflicting
provisions of the Penal Code.
The Court of Appeal on Friday agreed with him and quashed the death sentence,
substituting it with a sentence of 5 years in prison.
The appeal raised a serious legal question. When one is convicted of both a
capital offence, punishable by death, and a non-capital offence, punishable by
imprisonment, which one should be applicable?
The question was further complicated by the fact that the Penal Code, the law
that prescribes sentences for criminal offences, offers conflicting sentences.
Section 297 (2) of the code says that "if the offender is armed with any
dangerous or offensive weapon or instrument, or is in the company of one or
more other person...he shall be sentenced to death."
However, Section 389 of the same law has a different penalty. It says that "any
person who attempts to commit a felony or a misdemeanour is guilty of an
offence...so that if that offence is one punishable by death or life
imprisonment, he shall not be liable to imprisonment for a term exceeding 7
With these provisions, Oduor moved to the Court of Appeal, and his death
sentence was quashed.
"This court has stated times without number that where there is a conviction of
a capital offence combined with other non-capital offences and a death sentence
is imposed on one count, the proper thing to do is to leave the other sentences
in abeyance pending appeal or execution of the death sentence," judges Samuel
Bosire, Philip Waki and Alnashir Visram ruled.
They added that there was a precedent "and we find no reason to differ from
(source for both: All Africa News)
The inhumanity of the death penalty
The theme for this year’s World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 October
2011, is ‘The inhumanity of the Death Penalty’.
In recognition of this day, DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
wishes to comment on the current discussion concerning the position of a South
African court on the retention of the death penalty in Botswana. DITSHWANELO
also seeks to express serious concern at the response of The Attorney General
of Botswana to the comments made by the judges, including Justice George Bizos,
as reported in the Sunday Standard of 9 October 2011 (pages 1-2). The report,
The Death Penalty in Botswana – Hasty and Secretive Hangings, to which both the
South African court referred to, is a joint report of The International
Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for
Human Rights. The report was produced in 2007, following on-the-ground research
conducted by a team representing both civil society organisations. A number of
people were interviewed in 2006, including the Attorney General in her current
position, Dr Athaliah Molokomme. The report has been on the DITSHWANELO website
The report noted that hasty and secret executions occur after the conviction
phase. This is facilitated by the non-transparent nature of the clemency
process. Its regulations and procedures are not publicly known. In 1991 and
2003, DITSHWANELO made formal requests to the Office of the President for basic
information about the workings of the Clemency Committee. The Committee advises
the President on the exercise of the prerogative of mercy. To date, we have not
received a response.
This lack of transparency makes it difficult for us to monitor the exercise of
the prerogative of mercy, which the President legally has. The report stated
that the lack of transparency seems to bear witness to ‘the lack of political
will to introduce serious debate on the issue’. Indeed the fact that the death
warrant is transmitted to the condemned person ‘not less than 24 hours’ before
the execution and that he/she is not able to see his or her family before the
execution, constitutes (an) inhuman and degrading treatment. According to
several persons met by the FIDH delegation, the death warrant is transmitted to
the condemned prisoner only a few hours before his execution. This procedure
may in itself amount to a violation of Articles 7 and 10.1 of the ICCPR
(International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) as it may cause
psychological or mental torture (page 27).
This procedure together with the failure to inform the family of the condemned
of the execution clearly fails to respect the human dignity of both the family
and the prisoner and violates articles 7 and 10.1 of the ICCPR’ to which
Botswana is a state party (page 30).
Alice Mogwe, the Director of DITSHWANELO explained to the delegation that, on
Friday 31 March 2006, the day before the execution of Mr Ping, she accompanied
his mother to visit him. The prison authorities denied them access to the
prisoner and asked his mother to return on Monday as it was not possible for
her to see him at the time. At that time however, the prison officers they met
were aware of the death warrant and failed to tell his mother that the
execution had been scheduled for the following day. Mr Ping’s family and Mogwe
eventually heard about the execution of Mr Ping over the radio.
The same happened to his lawyer, Tiro Mothusi, who said he “had expected to be
formally informed about the sitting of the board and finally about the decision
to execute the condemned prisoner, but that never happened”(page 27).
Mariette Bosch, who was condemned for murder in 1999 and sentenced to death by
the High Court of Botswana, is another example provided in the report. The
Court of Appeal of Botswana dismissed her appeal on 30th January 2001. She then
requested clemency from the President. At the same time, her lawyers submitted
a petition before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)
about violations of Articles 1, 4, 5 and 7(1) of the African Charter on Human
and Peoples’ Rights, to which Botswana is a state party. On March 27, 2001, the
Commission ordered a stay of execution pending consideration of the
communication. She was however executed on March 31, 2001. Her family was
informed of her death by prison officials after they had been called to the
prison following her execution. Her lawyer, Kgafela Kgafela, had also not been
notified of her impending execution. Botswana government officials claimed at
the time of the execution, that they were not aware of the ACHPR’s request for
stay of execution. (pages 27-28).
DITSHWANELO stands by the report. Contrary to what is attributed to the
Attorney General in the Sunday Standard of 9 October 2011, this is not a
‘one-sided report of international pressure groups which are opposed to the
death penalty’. Instead, it is a report which was conducted together with a
local, Botswana, civil society organisation which has been opposed to the death
penalty in Botswana since 1994. Botswana remains at odds with some countries in
the present-day southern Africa, where the death penalty is not widely
practiced. Between 1991 and 1998, Angola, Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia and
Mozambique abolished the death penalty from their law.
DITSHWANELO, once again, calls upon the Government of Botswana, to reflect on
its often-stated core values, including botho as well as its publicly stated
commitment to human rights, to consider introducing a moratorium on the death
penalty, while enabling the public to engage in informed processes of serious,
(source: Botswana Gazette)
Men Convicted of Killing Ex-Spy Chief Freed
2 police officers who were sentenced to death in 1998 after they were convicted
of the murder of former director of Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service
(TISS), Lieutenant General Imran Kombe, have been released under a presidential
Former Police Corporal Juma Mswa and Constable Mataba Matiku have been pardoned
after President Jakaya Kikwete quashed their death sentence. Their sentences
have subsequently been reduced to two years imprisonment for manslaughter, a
period which they have already served while on death row.
The President is empowered by section 15 (1) (c) of the Union Constitution to
alter any heavy sentence, including the death penalty, given to a convicted
person to a lighter sentence.
Lt Gen Kombe was gunned down on June 30, 1996, after police had mistaken him
for a hardcore criminal at Maili Sita in Moshi Urban District, Kilimanjaro
Region. Police had launched a manhunt for a criminal who had stolen a car in
Dar es Salaam.
Ex-Police Constable Matiku told The Citizen yesterday that they were freed in
May, this year, while awaiting the execution of their death sentence.
"After the Judge had condemned us to death by hanging we filed an appeal at the
Court of Appeal whose ruling upheld the earlier judgment by the High Court. We
decided to ask for presidential amnesty," said Constable Matiku.
When asked what they were currently doing, Mr Matiku said he was engaged in
farm work while his colleague was doing business.
The then High Court Judge Buxton Chipeta sentenced the duo to death by hanging
for what he described as "negligence of the highest degree."
Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, Matiku confirmed that he is now a free man,
thanks to pardon by President Jakaya Kikwete, after spending more than 15 years
"Yes, it is true that we were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. But
after spending 15 1/2 years in jail, the President reduced our sentence to 2
years," he elaborated. Following the judgment in 1998, the widow of Lt Gen
Kombe, Mrs Roselyne Kombe, sued the government seeking compensation over the
murder of her husband.
Mrs Kombe and her children demanded Sh690million as compensation saying that
following the death of Lt. Gen. Kombe all projects that he had established were
on the brink of collapse.
On October 4, 2001, retired Judge Lawrence Mchome ordered the government to pay
the family of the deceased Sh300million.However, the government was not
satisfied with the ruling and filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal which
ruled that the family be compensated Sh200million only.
The decision by President Kikwete to extend a presidential amnesty to the two
policemen comes at a time when human rights activists are pushing for the
abolition of the death penalty.
Human rights activists argue that the death penalty should be replaced by a
life sentence.Since President Kikwete took power in 2005, he has not signed the
execution of a death penalty, a record that is similar to that of his
predecessor retired President Benjamin Mkapa who also never sanctioned it
during his 10-year tenure at the helm.
Reports indicate that over 500 convicts are on the death penalty list.
The then spokesperson of the Opposition camp in Parliament, Mrs Fatma Maghimbi,
told the National Assembly in 2008 that former President Mkapa quashed the
death penalty for 100 convicts who were given long jail terms instead.
According to Mrs Maghimbi of the Civic United Front (CUF), former President Ali
Hassan Mwinyi signed the death penalty for 21 convicts who were hanged in 1994.
Divergent views characterised the debate on whether to abolish or retain the
death penalty when the world marked the Anti-Death Penalty Day in Dar es Salaam
on Monday.Those opposed to the penalty said it was inhuman and proposed lengthy
jail sentences as the best alternative for the punishment.
Most of the participants, however, pressed the government to make sure the
punishment was abolished since it had become irrelevant after staying dormant
(source: All Africa News)
UK Envoy Urges Countries to Emulate Rwanda On Death Penalty
The British envoy to Rwanda, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, has described the death
penalty as a horrendous punishment that should not be applied on any human
He called upon other countries to emulate Rwanda in repealing this sentence
from their books of law.
The world is today, for the ninth time, marking the Day against Death Penalty,
which aims at raising awareness on the inhumanity of the sentence.
Rwanda is among the countries that repealed the capital sentence from the penal
In an exclusive interview with The New Times, the envoy observed that, instead
of hanging and killing people, there were many alternative punishments that can
be applied, saying that death row does not only inflict extreme psychological
suffering but also metes out physical and mental assault.
"Countries should emulate Rwanda on this punishment. Killing is not the only
way of punishing people; there are many other ways of punishing criminals
instead of taking their life," he said.
"Rwandans should be proud of the fact that they abolished it. It's an example
to other countries and this shows the courage that Rwanda has since the
He pointed out that the death penalty for murder conviction in Britain was
abolished in 1965, but it was not until 1998 that it was abolished for treason
and piracy when the country passed the Crime and Disorder Act.
Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama noted that it was an important day to the
country. "Rwanda finds this day important in the history of legal culture in
the sense that, nine years ago, the World Coalition against the Death Penalty,
moved to adopt this day. Rwanda believes that death is not and should not be a
policy towards its citizens that's why we abolished it," the minister noted.
He highlighted the fact that the day comes at the time when Rwanda is preparing
to host a continental conference to discuss the abolition of death penalty.
The 2-day international meet is due to commence on Thursday.
(source: All Africa News)
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