Discussion:
death penalty news----worldwide
(too old to reply)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
August 1



LIBYA:

Details of Libya imprisonment told----The nurses and doctor now in
Bulgaria recount their misery and criticize the response to their plight.


The low point for Bulgarian nurse Nasya Nenova came when she reportedly
chewed the veins of her wrists in a desperate attempt to commit suicide.

Dr. Ashraf Alhajouj said he endured the 8 1/2 years in a rough Libyan
prison by embroidering and by scratching slogans into the wall of his
cell.

The 1, along with 4 other Bulgarian nurses, and a Bulgarian doctor who
initially had been jailed with them, were freed last week in a swirl of
diplomacy and money. They had been convicted and sentenced to death on
charges that they deliberately infected hundreds of Libyan children with
the virus that causes AIDS.

Since their flight to Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, details that have
emerged in interviews with The Times, news conferences and other public
accounts sketch an ordeal that was both horrific and tedious. It included
torture early on but evolved, with conditions improving even as death by
firing squad loomed.

They are now trying to regain their health, which includes overcoming
physical and psychological injuries, and contemplating legal action
against their jailers. They also express resentment over how their cases
were handled by Bulgarian officials and leaders of Arab governments,
which, they say, should have been their most vigorous advocates.

Strangers to friends

"We were treated like animals," Alhajouj, 38, said in an interview with a
small group of journalists, noting that he was initially locked up in a
small cell with dogs. "For [the first] 10 months my family didn't know
even if I am alive or dead. They were looking all over Libya for me."

Alhajouj, an Egyptian-born Palestinian, spoke in English and broken
Bulgarian. He had lived most of his life in Libya, though the nurses, for
the most part, arrived in the late 1990s.

He did not know the women before the arrests; what they had in common was
work at the same squalid Benghazi hospital where the children became
infected. The group came to be friends over the long years of hearings and
incarceration, and he learned to speak a little Bulgarian.

Alhajouj, Nenova and some of the other former prisoners have given
harrowing descriptions of electric shock torture, sleep deprivation,
beatings and the use of anesthesia. This mistreatment drove Nenova to
attempt to kill herself about two months after her arrest by biting the
veins in her wrists, according to an account her mother, Stanka Nenova,
gave the Bulgarian newspaper Standard.

Their captors told them they would die if they did not confess, several
said. And so a false confession from Nasya Nenova was used to build the
case against the group.

"They told me that if it wasn't me" who infected more than 400 children,
"then I must know who did," Nenova said at a news conference. "And
throughout all these difficult years I was asking myself, 'Why was it me
that was chosen to be accused of this evil deed?' "

She still wants to know why.

Alhajouj never contemplated suicide, he said, and kept his spirits up with
what he described as unwavering faith in God and in his innocence.

"I [knew] that one day, everything will be clear enough for everybody in
the whole world that we are really innocent and that we are really
victims," he said.

To pass the time, the young doctor scrawled messages on the walls of his
cell such as: "Hope is the last to die" and, in Arabic, Bulgarian and
English, "I will remain as a sting in your throat for the whole of my
life."

Libyan authorities, before releasing the 6 health workers, reduced their
death sentences to life in prison. When they were finally flown to
Bulgaria, after hundreds of millions of dollars were paid to the Libyans,
the president of Bulgaria pardoned them.

Formally, Libya is protesting the Bulgarian pardon, with Foreign Minister
Abdel Rahman Shalgham saying his government feels "betrayed."

In reality, the regime of Col. Moammar Kadafi is benefiting considerably,
earning kudos in the West and the promise of new trade agreements and
enhanced political status for the erstwhile pariah state.

Kadafi's powerful son Seif Islam dismissed concerns about the pardon and
suggested that any controversy would pass.

The health workers' release "was a good deal for Libya," the younger
Kadafi told Reuters news agency this week. "It's a good deal in our
relations with the West, and with ourselves. It's good to put an end to
this tragedy - a happy ending for all parties."

Little outside contact

While they adjust to freedom, several of the former prisoners have
complained that they felt neglected by their government. Days passed
before a representative of the Bulgarian government saw them in jail, the
nurses said, and he did not see all of them. The others were held back by
their captors because their injuries from torture were visible, the nurses
said.

And meetings with Bulgarian diplomats were always attended by a Libyan
official, making it impossible for them to reveal the horrors they were
suffering.

More than a year after the arrests, nurse Kristiana Valcheva said, "for
the 1st time I managed to whisper to a representative of the Bulgarian
government what had happened to us in the past months."

Alhajouj is especially bitter that the Arab world did not come to his aid
and that it instead seemed to accept without question Libyan authorities'
version of events. He said he thought it was because the nurses were
Christians and that he, as a Palestinian, had no advocates.

Alhajouj was granted Bulgarian citizenship, in part to make it easier for
the Bulgarian government to secure his release. In the interview, he said
that though he remains proud of his Palestinian heritage, he is more proud
to be Bulgarian, a status that has given him a future and a chance to
recover from his ordeal.

"We are holding ourselves, but we are truly injured inside," he said.
"Whatever happened, it will remain in our souls. We cannot forget this,
but we will overcome, I think."

(source: Los Angeles Times)






IRAN----executions

Iran hangs 9 for rape, robbery, other crimes


Iran on Wednesday hanged 9 men sentenced to death for rape, armed robbery
and other offences, most of them executed in public in front of a crowd of
onlookers, state media reported.

It followed last month's hanging of at least 16 convicted criminals in the
Islamic state, which according to Amnesty International has one of the
highest rates of executions in the world, and rising.

"Implementation of justice equals improving security," read a banner on
the gallows above 5 hanging bodies in the northeastern city of Mashhad,
state television footage showed.

2 convicted criminals were executed in another location in Mashhad while 2
others were hanged in a southeastern province.

Police have arrested dozens of drug addicts, smugglers, rapists and
murderers during a summer crackdown on crime and "immoral behaviour".

Tehran public prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said late last month that 17 more
criminals would be hanged soon. It was not clear whether they included
those executed on Wednesday.

Murder, rape, adultery, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are
all punishable by death under Iran's Islamic Sharia law, imposed since the
1979 revolution.

The number of executions doubled to at least 177 last year, according to
Amnesty. Since the beginning of 2007, at least 124 people have been put to
death. Western rights groups have called on Iran to abolish the death
penalty.

(source: Reuters)

**************************

Iran hangs 7 convicts


Iran hanged in public 7 people convicted of rape and kidnapping in its
holy 2nd city of Mashhad on Wednesday, the latest execution of criminals
arrested in a crackdown on thugs.

The hangings were carried out in two separate locations in Iran's second
city in the north-east, on the exact spots where they had committed their
crimes, the state-run IRNA agency reported.

Mashhad's chief prosecutor Gholam Hossein Esmaeeli said five criminals
were hanged in one of the executions and 2 in the other.

Iran has stepped up hangings of such convicts

"The group of 5 were convicted of rape, kidnapping, theft and committing
indecent acts," he said.

"The other 2 were young males aged 24 and had abducted a woman 2 years ago
where, after stealing her belongings, they raped her," he added.

State television showed the executed convicts - blindfolded and dressed in
short-sleeved shirts and tracksuit trousers - hanging limply from the
nooses after they died.

"Implementing Justice Equals Elevating Security," read a banner from
Mashhad's revolutionary and public prosecution office placed above the
gallows.

It appeared that thousands of people had turned out in Mashhad, the home
of the shrine of the Shi'a Iman Reza, to witness the executions and were
kept back by iron fencing and a cordon of police.

All the convicts had been arrested in a recent sweep on "arazel va obash",
a Persian phrase that translates loosely as "thugs" and is used to
describe rapists, drug-traffickers and criminals guilty of disturbing
public security.

Iran has stepped up hangings of such convicts deemed to be a public menace
in a clear message that there is no mercy for such criminals.

One week before, 12 convicts arrested in the same crackdown on thugs were
hanged simultaneously in Tehran's Evin prison. It is highly unusual in
Iran for so many people to be hanged at once.

Tehran chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi has said he is looking for
execution verdicts for 17 other criminals.

Meanwhile, 2 convicted bandits were hanged on Wednesday in jail in
Zahedan, the provincial capital of the Sistan Baluchestan province which
borders Afghanistan and Pakistan

"They were convicted of being enemies of God and propagating immorality on
earth by shooting police, which resulted in the martyrdom of 2 police," a
local judiciary spokesperson was quoted as saying by the state
broadcasting website.

The hangings brought to at least 148 the number of executions carried out
in the Islamic republic so far this year, most of them by hanging and
often in public.

At least 177 people were executed in 2006, according to Amnesty
International, making Iran the most prolific applier of the death penalty
in the world after China.

Capital offences in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy,
blasphemy, serious drug trafficking, pederasty, adultery or prostitution,
treason and espionage.

(sources: SAPA/-AFP)

****************

Iranian Kurdish journalists face death penalty


2 Iranian Kurdish journalists who face the death penalty have been
sentenced to hang for harboring links to "hostile" armed groups, their
lawyer said Wednesday.

"The accusations against my clients have no link to their journalistic
activities and the two are accused of collaborating with armed groups
hostile to the system," Saleh Nikhbakht told the ISNA student agency.

Iran's judiciary confirmed Tuesday for the first time that Adnan
Hassanpour and Abdolvahed "Hiva" Botimar were sentenced to death July 16
by a revolutionary court in northeastern Kordestan province as "enemies of
God."

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the 2 journalists wrote for
the magazine Aso (Horizons), before it was banned in August 2005.

Nikhbakht said that Hassanpour had no link to hostile groups and was not
mohareb, a Koranic legal term that is usually translated as "enemy of
God."

Any accusation of "propaganda against the system" should be punished by
prison and not death, he added.

Botimar had never made recourse to weapons and so he should not be
considered an "enemy of God" he added, although he implied that his client
could have been involved in arms sales.

Kurds form a minority believed to be around several million people in
Iran, most of whom live in the northwestern provinces of West Azarbaijan
and Kordestan on the border with Turkey and Iraq.

The border area is hugely sensitive, with Iranian security forces in
recent years fighting banned Kurdish separatist parties, in particular
Pejak, a group linked to Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

(source: Middle East Times)






SOUTH AFRICA:

It's time for a debate on the death penalty


I support Greg Fainberg's remarks about our present state of affairs
(Letters, July 26). "It's so disheartening to see such a beautiful country
with such potential promise and pride let criminal scum, incompetent and
corrupt practices, an inefficient justice system and a drop in the social
value system take down the country."

When he says he's tired of being afraid to walk the streets at night,
scared to drive around for fear of hijacking or murder and tired of
"living in fear", I'm sure we would all comment: "And so say all of us!"

He adds we should tell criminal elements that "actions do have
consequences". I wish we could add: "And when you contemplate killing
someone, especially a baby girl whom you first rape, be sure that you run
the risk of being put to death yourself."

We desperately need a national debate on the death penalty.

On AM Live this week, I suggested they have a talk-in on this. Couldn't we
learn from Botswana - which has the death penalty and is often rated as
Africa's best-run country?

I thought Allister Sparks' piece (Opinion and Analysis, July 26) on
Zimbabwe was excellent.

The madness of Uncle Bob's Idi Aminesque policies has become legendary.

Ivor Davis ---- Sandton

(source: Letter to the Editor, The Star)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
August 2


CHINA:

Official: China 'prudent' in using death penalty


China is very prudent in its use of the death penalty to punish economic
criminals, the Communist Party of China's disciplinary watchdog said on
Thursday.

"We are very prudent in using the death penalty to execute perpetrators of
economic crimes and the number of death penalties handed down to economic
criminals is very small," Gan Yisheng, spokesman for the Central
Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of
China (CPC) Central Committee, said at a press conference.

"China has so far kept the death penalty system and the death penalty is
applicable to serious economic crimes," he said.

Gan's remarks came when a journalist from Agences France Presse questioned
the severity of the punishment given to Zheng Xiaoyu, who was executed on
July 10 for corruption during his tenure as director of China's State Food
and Drug Administration.

"The reason for Zheng Xiaoyu's death sentence was that the bribes he took
were huge and he committed serious crimes," said Gan.

Zheng, 63, was sentenced to death on May 29 by the Beijing Municipal No. 1
Intermediate People's Court after being found guilty of taking 6.49
million yuan (US$850,000) in bribes and dereliction of duty.

Gan said Zheng's punishment was supported by the Chinese people and also
appraised by the international community.

"Different countries have different circumstances and have different
cultural backgrounds and views on the death penalty. They also have
different legal regulations, which is very natural," said Gan.

"The fact that China keeps the death penalty is due to its national
conditions and cultural background. There is nothing to be criticized," he
said.

"Moreover, we have very strict controls on the death penalty and all the
death penalty decisions need to be reviewed by the Supreme People's
Court," he added.

On January 1, 2007, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) retrieved the right
to review all death penalty decisions made by lower courts, ending its
24-year absence in approving China's execution verdicts.

(source: China Daily)






BAHRAIN:

Bahraini MP calls for scrapping death penalty


A lawmaker called for the scrapping of death penalty to avoid jeopardising
human rights achievements of Bahrain.

Faisal Fulad, a Consultative Council (Shura) Member and human rights
activist, told Gulf News yesterday the kingdom attracted criticism for the
recent activation of death penalty as according to human rights principles
no one has the right to take away lives.

Last year 3 Asians - 2 women and 1 man - were executed for their
involvement in murder cases after almost 20 years of suspension of death
penalty in Bahrain.

A Bangladeshi cook convicted of killing his sponsor's daughter, and a
retired Pakistani policeman convicted of burning down his friend's house
out of revenge resulting in the death of a man, face the gallows.

Judges must be careful

"As a politician and human rights activist, I feel that life sentence is
the best punishment for murderers and high risk criminals," he said. "If
you kill murderers they would die before repenting their deeds, but
sentencing them to life imprisonment could allow them to change and become
better persons."

Fulad said judges should be more careful in giving verdicts for murder
cases as many individuals executed worldwide turned out to be innocent
after their deaths.

He, however, supports death sentence in crimes like treachery or genocide.

"I was about to table a law proposal banning death penalties for criminal
[cases] but I reconsidered my plan after discussing the matter with the
Ministry of Interior as security officials told me not intensifying
penalties could attract members of organised crimes, terrorists and drug
dealers to the country."

(source: Gulf News)



KENYA:

Death penalty here to stay, MPs decide


Murderers and robbery with violence offenders will not walk away Scot-free
but face the noose, Parliament has resolved.

Members defeated a Motion seeking to abolish the death penalty when it was
put to vote by temporary Speaker, Mr Kirugi MMkindia, shortly after 11am.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Ms Martha Karua, said the
death penalty would be comprehensively dealt with when the Constitution is
being reviewed after the December General Election.

Karua reminded the House that Bomas Constitutional Conference had resolved
to uphold the death penalty and it would be against the wishes of Kenyans
to abolish it.

MPs Mr Zaddock Syong'o (Gwassi, Narc), Mr Kenneth Marende (Emuhaya (Narc),
Mr Owino Likowa (Migori, Narc), Mr Kalembe Ndile (Kibwezi, Narc), Mr Ekwe
Ethuro (Turkana Central, Narc) and Mr Joseph Munyao (Mbooni, Narc) rallied
to defeat the Motion with contributions against it.

It elicited heated and emotional contributions for and against it.

MP sought amendments through the Penal Code

Said Assistant minister, Dr Bonny Khalwale: "This Parliament has been
called namesthieves, greedy and we cannot allow ourselves to be branded
for licensing murderers."

The Motion moved by Kasipul-Kabondo MP, Mr Paddy Ahenda (LDP), sought to
abolish the death sentence on grounds that no person had been hanged since
1985.

Ahenda sought amendments through the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill to have
the sentence abolished, saying life was sacred and no person had right to
take another's.

Ahenda had a paltry 2 members in support of his Motion and was taken aback
when he donated his time as a mover to 2 MPs Mr Sospeter Ojaamong
(Amagoro, Narc), and Mr Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem, Narc), but both opposed it.

Only Rongo MP, Mr Ochillo Ayacko (Narc) and Subukia MP, Mr Koigi Wamwere
(Narc), supported the abolishment of the death penalty.

Koigi supported the Motion

Said Ayacko: "The sentence does not deter criminals or robbery with
violence offenders as people continue to commit robberies with impunity
and we should find better ways of dealing with that."

Ayacko, who is a lawyer, said those always committed to the sentence were
the poor who could not hire good lawyers to win a case.

Koigi supported the Motion, saying he had been sentenced to hang after
being charged with treason.

"I fought for 2nd liberation and was charged with the capital offence and
would have been hanged if the law was enforced, but I am lucky," Koigi
said.

He pleaded with the House to learn from Mahatma Gandhi that an eye for an
eye would end up with a society whose people could not see.

But Sirisia MP, Mr Moses Wetangula, opposed the Motion arguing the death
penalty was an emotive matter and too sensitive to be left to MPs to
decide. All Kenyans should have a say, he said.

"What would Ahenda do with a man of sound mind who sexually molests a
6-month-old child to death?" Wetangula said.

(source: The East Standard)






RWANDA:

EU Backs Govt On Death Penalty


THE European Commission has backed Rwanda's decision to scrap the death
penalty.

European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel
recently congratulated the Rwandan government on the move the body
regarded as tough but important.

"It is with great satisfaction that I have learnt that Rwanda has formally
adopted the law abolishing the death penalty. This important decision
confirms the political and democratic engagement of the country towards
national reconciliation," Mr Michel said.

Rwanda's Parliament voted to abolish the death penalty early June, with
the ban taking effect last month. The move is aimed at enabling countries
that are holding genocide suspects, but which object to capital
punishment, to extradite them to Rwanda.

But there has been strong opposition to the scrapping of the death penalty
from many survivors of the genocide, a move that prompted the Kigali
establishment to undertake a comprehensive public consultations with
various stakeholders countrywide.

"This significant step sends an important signal to the international
community, showing Rwanda's commitment and respect for human rights. I
hope that this decision will encourage other countries in Africa to
follow," Mr Michel said.

Under the new law, Rwanda's estimated 800 death-row inmates will
automatically have their sentences changed to life in jail. The country
last implemented the death penalty in 1998, when 22 people found guilty of
genocide crimes were put before a firing squad.

(source: The Monitor)


IRAN:

Iran hangs judge's killers in public


Iran hanged the killers of a judge, who had jailed several reformist
dissidents, before a crowd of hundreds of people on Thursday.

Majid Kavousifar and Hossein Kavousifar, his nephew, were hanged in front
of Tehran's Ershad judiciary complex, where they shot dead judge Hassan
Moghaddas in his car in 2005.

The 2 were not political activists, but Tehran's public prosecutor said
Majid Kavousifar had believed the judge was corrupt. The prosecutor
branded the killers as "terrorists."

Judge Moghaddas had presided over the jailing of seven dissidents in 2000
after they attended a conference in Berlin on Iranian reform.

Iran has one of the highest rates of execution in the world, but public
executions are relatively rare.

Hoods over the heads of the judge's killers were removed before the
hanging, which took place in front of a giant portrait of Moghaddas.
Hossein Kavousifar was in tears. His uncle smiled and waved goodbye.

Onlookers in the street and on the roofs of houses chanted and took
pictures with mobile phones. Some laughed.

The tearful mother of one of the killers shouted: "God, please give me
back my son."

Dozens of people have been executed for rape, smuggling and other offences
in Iran in recent weeks. Most were arrested in a crackdown on "immoral
behavior," which began in April.

Iran hanged 9 men on Wednesday for rape, armed robbery and other offences.
Some 16 people were hanged in July.

Murder, rape, adultery, armed robbery, apostasy and drug smuggling are all
punishable by death under Iran's Islamic Sharia law, imposed since the
1979 revolution.

The number of executions doubled to at least 177 last year, according to
Amnesty International. Since the beginning of 2007, at least 124 people
have been put to death. Western rights groups have called on Iran to
abolish the death penalty.

(source: Reuters)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 11




YEMEN----re----juvenile execution

President Saleh stops boy's execution


President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered the general prosecutor to stop the
execution of Hafez Ibrahim, a child convicted of murder, in Taiz on
Wednesday, August 8. Saleh's order came in response to appeals from
concerned international and local human rights officials. According to
Yemen's penal law, the death penalty is banned for anyone under the age of
18. "President Saleh ordered the authorities in Taiz to allow the human
rights groups to visit Ibrahim in prison in order to confirm his age at
the time the crime was committed," said Essam Mohammed, Ibrahims lawyer.

"We were informed today by the central prison officials that the execution
was postponed. We are very happy to hear this," Mohammed added. "Hafez's
family and I thank the President, the human rights groups and the media,
who helped us a lot in this issue." Mohammad said age was not the only
problem in Ibrahim's issue. The trial was not fair. "When the primary
verdict was issued, we asked for appeal, but the verdict went to the
Supreme Court without passing through the appeal court," Mohammed said.
Ibrahim was sentenced to death in 2005 for a murder he allegedly committed
when he was 16 years old.

This is the 2nd time Ibrahim's execution has been postponed. The 1st
execution was scheduled for April 6th, 2005. On April 5th, the Minister of
Human Rights at the time appealed personally to the president to postpone
the execution, calling Ibrahim's age into question. Hoping to obtain a
pardon from the family of the murder victim, she sought commutation of the
death sentence. On April 7, the President postponed Ibrahim's execution in
order to reach an agreement on Ibrahims age. Relatives of the victim have
reportedly refused to pardon Ibrahim, and in July 2007, the Supreme Court
upheld the death sentence against him.

The Ministry of Human Rights, the Arab Sisters' Forum for Human Rights,
the Childrens Parliament, Amnesty International, and other human rights
groups pleaded with the president and concerned officials to stop the
execution against Ibrahim, which was set for the second time on Wednesday,
August 8th, 2007. "We did all we could, we sent letters to the general
prosecutor and all concerned officials yesterday and the day before in
order to stop the execution," said Azal Hashem, Director General of legal
affairs for the Ministry of Human Rights. Amnesty International, based in
London, sent letters of appeal to President Saleh, General Prosecutor
Abdullah Al-Ulufi, Minister of Interior Rashad Al-Alimi and Minister of
Human Rights Huda Al-Ban, in order to stop the execution.

"The Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence against Ibrahim. Neither
he nor his lawyer was reportedly informed of the courts decision until
yesterday, when the lawyer learned that the execution was imminent," said
Amnesty International. Yemen has made significant progress in the
prohibition of the use of the death penalty against juveniles, but courts
continue to sentence children to death. Following the ratification of the
Convention of the Rights of the Child by the government in 1991, Article
31 of the Penal Code, Law 12, stipulates that the death penalty is
prohibited for use against juveniles.

At that time, the prohibition was limited to offenders under the age of 15
when the crime was committed. However, the prohibition was extended in
1994 to include children under the age of 18 when the crime was committed.
This marks progress, bringing Yemen's laws into line with Article 37 of
the CRC and Article 6 (5) of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights which categorically prohibit the use of the death penalty
for anyone under the age of 18 at the time of the crime. Yemen's
legislative progress is not consistently recognized by the practice of the
courts, which continue to impose the death penalty on offenders under the
age of 18 when the crime was committed.

(source: Yemen Observer)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 10



NIGERIA:

Nigerian Gays Charged With Sodomy, Could Face Death Penalty


An Islamic Sharia court in northern Nigeria has ordered 18 men to be kept
in prison pending their trial for alleged sodomy. For VOA, Gilbert da
Costa reports that the men were arrested for allegedly hosting a gay
marriage in a predominantly Muslim city.

The 18 men could face the death penalty if convicted. They were arrested
in a hotel in Bauchi, were said to be wearing female clothing and had
gathered to celebrate a gay marriage.

Local officials say the men's action contravened Islamic law, which
governs Bauchi state in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria.

Bala Ahmed, spokesman of the Bauchi state sharia commission, says the
suspects were all young men.

"They are young; they are very young, promising children if they use the
best of their knowledge and their time," he said. "They are all youth,
they are 18 years, 20 years, 25 years. Nobody, I believe, among them is up
to 30 years. Fine and handsome-looking, but they are misusing their time,
misusing their opportunity to get involved in this evil practice."

Bauchi is among a dozen states in northern Nigeria practicing Sharia since
2000, following the end of military rule.

More than 10 Muslims have been convicted for sexual offenses and sentenced
to death by stoning. Most of the sentences have been commuted to prison
terms or rejected on appeal. But Ahmed says the Islamic council is
determined to extract maximum punishment for the 18 men.

"If they are found guilty, let them be punished, so that it will serve as
a deterrent to those who are intending to do this," he added. "Because we
want to stop this menace completely. We don't want to hear about this
homosexuality in our society."

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a southern Christian, unsuccessfully
initiated a bill to ban gay marriage in Nigeria. Like many African
countries, Nigeria is a conservative society where homosexuality is
considered a taboo.

(source: Voice of America News)






INDIA:

Murder in 'fit of passion' doesn't deserve death penalty, says SC


SC has commuted the death penalty handed out by a trial court to a man
accused of brutally murdering two women who resisted his rape attempt, to
life imprisonment, arguing that a crime committed in a fit of passion may
not always belong to the "rarest of rare" category warranting extreme
punishment.

Though the onus to prove that the offence was committed in a fit of anger
or under grave and sudden provocation would be on the person accused of
committing a heinous crime, the "fit of passion" argument undergirding the
ruling could be exploited as an alibi by hardened criminals.

The convict, Kulwinder Singh, was found guilty of killing Hardip Kaur and
Joginder Kaur in Baisala village in Punjab. According to prosecution,
Singh grievously injured Hardip as she resisted his attempt to sexually
assault her. When the elderly Joginder came to her rescue, he hacked her
several times with a sharp edged weapon. Both the victims narrated Singh's
attack to a relative before their death.

The trial court, on the basis of evidence gathered by the police,
convicted Singh for double murder and awarded him death sentence, terming
the case as 'rarest of rare'.

Rejecting Singh's appeal, an SC Bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and
Markandey Katju said, "It seems to us that the appellant first wanted to
rape or molest Kaur, and when she resisted, he killed her. Thereafter,
when Joginer Kaur came to the cattle shed, the appellant also killed her
so as to leave no witness." Though it agreed with the trial court and the
HC on the guilt of Singh, it said this was not a fit case for awarding
death penalty.

"While upholding the conviction of the appellant under Section 302 of IPC,
we reduce the sentence to life imprisonment since it appears to us that
the crime was committed in a fit of passion and does not come within the
category of 'rarest of rare' cases," the Bench said.

(source: The Times of India)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 8



ETHIOPIA:

Ethiopian weekly urges abolition of death penalty


Reporting the execution Monday of a soldier convicted of murdering
Ethiopia's security chief in 2001, a private weekly, The Sub-Saharan
Informer, Friday called for the abolition of the capital punishment in
Africa.

"The death penalty is not a reasonable way to deal with the most heinous
crimes," says the tabloid in its editorial, entitled, 'Why not scrap the
death penalty?'

Attributing its account to a government statement, the paper reported that
Maj Tsehai Woldesilassie was executed after the Supreme Court turned down
his appeal for clemency and President Girma Woldegiorgis consented to the
death sentence.

Tsehai was convicted of gunning down Kinfe Gebremedhin, former head of
Ethiopia's Security and Immigration Department.

His execution is believed to be the 2nd over the past decade.

The previous one was in 1998.

The weekly suggests that African countries should look for alternative
ways of punishment that would make criminals carry the full burden of
their acts and serve as a warning to would-be perpetrators of crime.

"The view here is that justice can be humane as well," says the paper,
arguing that the death penalty offers little by way of redemption or
rehabilitation.

According to the paper, studies have shown that the death penalty has not
lowered the rate of murder cases in countries that keep the penalty on
their penal code.

"In addition, the independence of the justice system in many nations is
often shrouded with speculations and accusations of political intrigue.

"This coupled with the weak capacity of courts unable to handle the huge
demands from piling cases do cast shadows whether including the death
penalty in nations where courts are overstretched to the limit is a bright
idea.

"Unless defendants are afforded proper defence counsels that are competent
in capital murder cases, we stand to allow miscarriage in justice," the
paper contends.

(source: Panapress)






CHINA:

China takes closer look at death penalties


China issued a new decree on reviewing death penalty sentences, clarifying
specific regulations in the legal procedure.

"Regulation of the Second Trial of Death Penalty Cases (Draft)" worked out
by The Supreme People's Procuratorate made clear the specific rules about
reviewing a case, from the court trial to the judgment.

On January 1, 2007, the Supreme People's Court reserved the right to
review all death penalty decisions made by lower courts, in order to avoid
a miscarriage of justice.

The new draft regulation orders the Supreme People's Court to primarily
investigate the authenticity of evidence, and the reliability of
testimonies while re-examining cases.

The executions of felons have been a hot topic among human rights groups
who accuse China of failing to live up to their standard in rights
protection.

Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of China's State Food and Drug
Administration, was sentenced to death on May 29 in Beijing he was found
guilty of taking 6.49 million yuan (US$850,000) in bribes and for
dereliction of duty. He was then executed in July 10, which aroused
questions of the severity of the punishment.

Spokesman for the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection Gan
Yisheng played down the concerns. "The reason for Zheng Xiaoyu's death
sentence was that the bribes he took were huge and he committed serious
crimes," he explained.

"We are very prudent in using the death penalty to execute perpetrators of
financial crimes and the number of death penalties handed down to these
kinds of criminals is very small," Gan added.

Over one third of all countries around the world have the death penalty,
covering more than half of the world's population. Chinese lawmakers
believe the country will eventually abandon the sentence. "To abolish the
death penalty is a step in the right direction in the development of
China's legal system, but this will take time," said Zhang Yumao, a member
of China's National People's Congress.

(source: China Daily)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 6



IRAN:

International Committee against Executions Urges Abolition of Death
Penalty in Iran


The International Committee against Executions which functions in Germany
and is presided by an Iranian human rights activist, Mina Ahadi, believes
there is a necessity to exert pressure upon the Islamic regime in Iran,
where courts make injustice decisions on the death penalty, according to
the appeal of the organization.

Ahadi reported to Trend from Berlin on 6 August that the appeal of the
organization says Iran should stop not only the current death penalty, but
to abolish execution completely. "We ask all international organizations
on human rights to become involved into the recent event in Iran and stop
the murder of people," the appeal says.

The appeal was sent to Amnesty International and other human rights
organizations in the world. According to Ahadi, the inmates personally
requested that she inform international human rights organizations of
their appeals and she has promised to do just that.

The number of executions has doubled in Iran compared to 2006. Iran is the
first place in the world where the juveniles are executed. Notably, two
Kurdish journalists were detained and recently sentenced to the death
penalty in the country. Journalists Adnan Hasanpur and Hiva Butimar were
detained in 2005 by Iran. The court of Marivan City (Iranian province of
Kurdistan) has recently accused the journalists of activities directed
against the national security of the country, transmitting secret military
information to the opposition and the armed struggle against the Iranian
authorities. The journalists attorney who was appointed by the
authorities, Mahammad Saleh Nikbakht, reported that the defendants had
pleaded guilty to the accusation of 140 pages, but said that the trial had
been held unfairly and the journalists could be executed. The attorney
noted that the accusation against Hasanpur involved his professional
activities.

(source: Trend News)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
August 13


RWANDA:

Death penalty abolished


Rwanda is to become the 1st country in Africa's Great Lakes region to
abolish the death penalty. The Rwandan Government announced its intentions
last week, in a move welcomed by Amnesty International.

It is the 100th country to abolish the death penalty in law, with another
30 countries abolishing this in practice. It is the 14th African country
to do this.

The last death sentences were imposed in 2003. The last executions of
people sentenced to death took place in 1998 when 22 people found guilty
of genocide-related crimes were executed. Rwanda currently holds
approximately 600 prisoners on death row. Despite their sentences being
commuted to life sentences with the enactment of the legislation, there
are continuing concerns regarding the cruel, inhumane and degrading prison
conditions in which these prisoners remain detained.

(source: The Voice)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 17


IRAN:

Death penalty urged for 17 hooligans


Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi has urged the criminal court to
issue the death sentence for 17 hooligans, said a judicial official, Iran
Daily reported.

Deputy Prosecutor General Mohammad Salarkia also told Fars News Agency
that the hooligans have been convicted of rape, armed robbery and other
major crimes.

Salarkia noted that according to the law the prosecutor general cannot
file charges against the hooligans since their cases are undergoing trial
in the criminal court.

(source: IranMania.com)






LIBYA:

Death sentence awaits Libyan protesters


Possible death sentence awaits the 12 men for holding a peaceful political
demonstration in the Libyan capital Tripoli, the New York-based Human
Rights Watch, uncovered, expressing concern disappearance of two other
detained protesters.

"For all its promises of better behaviour and improved ties with the
world, Libya still imprisons those who express alternative political
views, and it has 'disappeared' others," the Director of Human Rights
Watchs Middle East and North African Division, Sarah Leah Whitson, argued.

"12 men are potentially facing death sentences, and 2 are missing in
custody, their whereabouts unknown," she disclosed. The 2 "disappeared"
men are Abd al-Rahman al-Qotaiwi, a 4th-year medical student who, together
with the 12 men on trial, was reportedly organizing the demonstration, and
Jum'a Boufayed, brother of the demonstration's main organizer, Dr. Idris
Boufayed. Neither man has been seen since their arrests in mid-February,
nor have the Libyan authorities provided information on their whereabouts.

Jum'a Boufayed was arrested by security agents few hours after he had
granted an interview to a Libyan overseas website, expressing concern
about his brothers arrest.

Demonstrators had announced plans to hold a peaceful demonstration in
Tripoli on 17 February to commemorate the 1st anniversary of a violent
clash between demonstrators and police in Benghazi, Libya's 2nd-largest
city.

And in response to statements by an Italian government minister defending
the controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammed that had appeared in Danish
and other European newspapers, demonstrators attacked the Italian
consulate in Benghazi on 17 February. The police used force to disperse
the crowd, killing at least 11.

Libyan authorities decided to put the 12 men on trial for planning to
overthrow the government, possession of arms, and meeting with an official
from a foreign government.

The men who admitted some of the charges [some of them admitted to have
met the US embassy to inform them of the planned demonstration] have since
been paraded before the courts 4 times. But they denied the 1st 2 charges.

Despite Libyas pledges to abolish the death penalty, right activists
believed that some or all of the defendants could face execution because
Article 206 of the countrys penal code imposes the death penalty on those
who call "for the establishment of any grouping, organization or
association proscribed by law," and on those who belong to or support such
an organization.

In addition, Article 166 also imposes the death penalty on anyone who
talks to or conspires with a foreign official to provoke or contribute to
an attack against Libya while Article 167 imposes up to life in prison for
conspiring with a foreign official to harm Libya's military, political or
diplomatic position.

It is not clear whether 'Abd al-Rahman al-Qotaiwi, apparently one of the
organizers, faces the same charges, even though he has never been produced
in court. The charges against Dr. Boufayed's brother Jum'a are also
unclear.

Human Rights Watch believed the men have been detained on political
grounds because there was no proof that they advocated for violence.

The main organiser of the protest, Dr. Idris Boufayed, 50, who runs a
small exile group called the National Union for Reform, has been an
outspoken critic of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. In November last
year, he was detained for 55 days for authoring critical letters published
on a Libyan opposition website.

After 16 years in exile in Switzerland, Boufayed had returned to Libya for
a visit in September 2006. His return followed a public assurance by the
government that its critics could safely return home.

Another defendant, Jamal Ahmad Haji, is a recognized writer and government
critic who wrote an article calling for freedom, democracy, a
constitutional state and law in Libya shortly before his arrest.

Jamal al-HajI, who is also facing charges, holds Danish citizenship but
Libyan authorities blatantly refused Danish governments request to visit
him in prison.

(source: afrol News)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 18


SAUDI ARABIA:

2 Saudis beheaded for murder, rape


2 Saudis were beheaded by the sword yesterday after one was convicted of
murdering a compatriot and the other was found guilty of raping a young
girl, the interior ministry said.

Aaed bin Ajab Al Qahtani was convicted of shooting dead Moataz Shagmoom Al
Shibani during a fight with a friend of the victim, the ministry said in a
statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Fahed Abdullah Al Bureidi was found guilty of "sexual assault in a
repulsive manner" against an underage girl, it said in a separate
statement.

Bureidi, who was caught in possession of a narcotic substance, also had a
criminal record which included 2 cases of sodomy-one involving a minor
boy-and 8 thefts, SPA added.

Their executions took to 121 the number of people put to death by Saudi
Arabia this year, already outstripping the previous record of 113 during
all of 2000.

Executions are usually carried out in public in Saudi Arabia. Rape,
murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry the
death penalty in the oil-rich kingdom.

(source: AFP)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 20




PHILIPPINES:

Arroyo seeks group's support for anti-abortion law, abolition of death
penalty


President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has urged the Buhay party-list group to
support and pursue legislative measures that would promote life similar to
the anti-abortion law and repeal of the death penalty law that she
strongly supported.

Arroyo, during the 23rd anniversary of the El Shaddai and the 68th
birthday celebration of Catholic charismatic leader Brother Mike Velarde
at the Quirino Grandstand, congratulated Buhay, which is composed of El
Shaddai charismatic group officials and members, for winning in the
elections last May.

The President, in a statement after the anticipated Mass that started
around 10:45 p.m. Saturday and ended around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, said Buhay
topped other party-list groups and would have 3 representatives in the
House of Representatives.

(source: Manilla Sun Star)






SAUDI ARABIA:

Kin Seek Repatriation of Jeddah Chop-Chop Victims' Remains


Relatives of the 3 victims in the infamous "chop-chop killings" of Jeddah
are willing to talk about forgiveness with the convicted killers and they
want the bodies of their loved ones to be sent home, Ambassador Antonio P.
Villamor has said.

Villamor said he was not sure if the repatriation of the victims' remains
was a condition, adding it would be made clear only when talks begin.

He said suggestions have been made to tap the help of political leaders in
Pampanga province, north of Manila, where the victims and the 7 accused
are from. "The new governor of Pampanga, Ed Panlilio, could be a big help
because he is a priest," he said, noting the strong influence of religious
leaders among their flock.

Three of the seven accused Edison Gonzales, his brother Roland, and
Eduardo Arcilla were sentenced to death by a regional trial court in
Jeddah last month for the April 2006 murder of fellow Filipinos Reno
Lumbang, Jeremias Bucod, and Dante Rivero.

The rest of the accused Victor Alfonso, Omar Basilio, Efren Dimahon and
Joel Sinamban were each sentenced to receive 1,000 lashes and a prison
term of 8 years.

In an interview 2 weeks ago, Consul General Lomondot said the 4 were given
a lighter penalty because they were considered only as accomplices.

Citing Saudi police investigation report, which became part of court
records, Lomondot said the four confessed their roles in the killings and
led police to where some of the body parts of the victims were thrown or
hidden.

Arab News learned this week from a Department of Foreign Affairs official
in Manila that the DNA samples taken from relatives of Rivero and Bucod
matched the samples taken from the body parts.

The samples were taken from the victims' relatives by the National Bureau
of Investigation in Manila and sent to Saudi investigators last May.
Lumbang's identity was readily established and probers deemed that no DNA
test was necessary.

As pieced together by Saudi investigators and gathered by Arab News from
consulate and community sources, one night in April last year, Lumbang and
Bucod were playing a card game at one house in Jeddahs Industrial area
with Gonzales and his cohorts when the killing took place.

In their testimonies, the 4 who were given light sentences pointed to the
Gonzales brothers and Arcilla as the killers and that their only role was
to help remove evidence from the crime scene and dispose of the bodies.

One of them also said Rivero was picked up from his apartment on orders of
Edison because Rivero knew where his 2 friends were on that night. Rivero,
who works at the Sarawat supermarket, came with Lumbang and Bucod to the
gambling house earlier that night but he left early.

Investigators also established that the root cause of the murders was
rivalry between 2 groups illegally engaged in jueteng (a numbers game)
operations in Jeddah and nearby places, according to consulate officials.

One group was headed by Edison Gonzales and the other by Lumbang.
Gonzales' group was said to be losing bettors because of the bad
experience of some gamblers whose winnings were not paid. Bettors flocked
to Lumbang's group and Gonzales did not like what was happening.

Lomondot said the ruling made so far was just the first and that the death
sentence is not going to be carried out so soon.

As in the Philippine judicial system, the Saudi courts have 2 more layers
of appeal for the convicted its Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, he
said.

He said that under Saudi law, there is a chance of the Gonzales brothers
and Arcilla escaping death if the aggrieved parties agree to forgive them
and accept blood money payment.

"But there is also under Saudi law a provision stating that if the court
rules that the offense committed is a heinous crime, the forgiveness by
the aggrieved party won't stop the execution," Lomondot explained.

Lomondot said the Philippine government is committed to provide support
for both sides since they are all Filipino citizens.

Lomondot acknowledged, however, that hiring lawyers for each of the
Filipinos involved in the case would be a costly. He said the minimum rate
to hire a lawyer for such case is SR100,000.

(What OFWs Say About the Extent of Assistance Government May Give to Death
Row Convicts)

Following the imposition of the death penalty on 3 of 7 Filipinos accused
in the infamous "chop-chop killings," Arab News randomly asked overseas
Filipinos, some based in other countries, their opinion on the extent of
help the government should extend to the convicts, considering that the
victims were fellow Filipinos. Below is an excerpt of what they are
saying:

Larry Cabago, Yanbu: Our officials should discriminate in providing blood
money payment. One of the reasons some of our compatriots willfully
violate the laws of the land where they work is that they know our
government would help them.

Zenaida Concepcion, International Medical Center, Jeddah: The Philippine
government representative has to investigate the root cause of the crime.
Blood money for offenders is not encouraged because the convicts are
supposed to behave in accordance with law in a foreign land.

Cipriano Gamboa, Jubail: Our government should help every OFW in distress.
Every Filipino citizen is entitled to protection and those on death row
need urgent action by our officials. However, if the victim is a
compatriot, the law of the host country should be followed.

Perla Vega, California: It's just right that the government helps those on
death row, but not to the extent that the system gets abused. But I go
with those who say that if the victim of a heinous crime for which the
death penalty is imposed is a fellow Filipino, we should let the law of
the host country take its due course.

Vic Hizo, Taif: By all means, the government should act to save every
Filipino on death row, guilty or not. Its important to save lives to give
the accused a chance to reform.

Edison Madrideo, Jeddah: The government should treat all those on death
row equally and give them all the help they need, guilty or not.

Noel Pacheco, Riyadh: If the accused is proven guilty in court of a
heinous crime, he should be made to pay for it. To bail out everyone from
death row, never mind if they are guilty, only encourages the
criminal-minded to commit more crimes.

Joro Cantarona, Riyadh: When you talk of blood money, it means the
victim's heirs have already agreed to accept compensation. In that case,
our government should intervene, bail out the convicted Filipino citizen
and let the legal proceedings continue at home.

Kiel Erida, Jeddah: If an accused has been found guilty beyond reasonable
doubt in a proper court, the law should take its course. However, our
government should intervene from the very beginning to prevent a possible
miscarriage of justice.

Jimmy Villa, Jeddah: The government should help in the legal proceedings
to ensure that the accused is accorded all his rights. But if the accused
is found guilty, he should be punished.

Efren Rodrigo, Jeddah: There should be no limit to the governments
intervention to help OFWs on death row. If the penalty of one's crime is
death, our government should work to get the penalty reduced at least to
life imprisonment.

Ed Dioneda, OFW Community leader in Taif: Life being precious, it's
imperative that our government moves to save every Filipino citizen on
death row and give them a chance to reform.

Ador Taedo, president of the Filipino Community in Jubail: In the case of
those convicted of killing their fellow Filipinos the government should
not give any help, particularly in raising blood money. What the
government may do is ask the families of victims to at least appeal to
lessen the punishment of the convicted.

Ali Misuari, an official at the United Muslim Association in Alkhobar: In
cases where the offenders and victims are both Filipinos, the government
should help both parties. Blood money payment can be done away with if the
family of the victim is persuaded to forgive the offender.

Flos Famarin, adviser of the Al-Hasa Basketball Association: In cases such
as the "chop-chop killings," to help the accused escape death by paying
blood money would set a bad example that you can get away with murder.

Ariston "Bong" Magno, Qatar: Our government's help for death convicts
should be on a case-to-case basis. If the convict, for instance, killed in
self-defense or because of maltreatment, by all means the government
should help in the payment of blood money.

Gregg Crisosto, a leader of the Khafji Filipino Sports Organization: The
root cause of the Jeddah killings is envy and greed and both the accused
and the victims were engaged in an illegal activity. The government should
not help any of them. Instead of wasting time and money on them, the
government should focus its attention on the thousands of runaways who
really need help. But let us not rush into giving blood money. For as long
as the victim's family is not asking for blood money, we should not offer
any because such could be misconstrued as adding insult to injury.

(source: Arab News)

***********************

2 Indians on death row Seek Pardon


2 Indian nationals sentenced to death on drug smuggling charges in Saudi
Arabia have appealed to King Abdullah for clemency, an Indian embassy
official said on Monday.

Sheikh Mastan, a 32-year-old worker from the southern state of Kerala, was
arrested in January 2004 in Riyadh and sentenced to death by a court in
the eastern city of Dammam in May 2006, the official said.

"A clemency petition has been forwarded by the ambassador of India... to
King Abdullah... on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, on the basis
of requests received from the family and the detainee himself," said P.
Balachandran, second secretary at the Indian embassy in Riyadh.

He said a similar petition had been delivered on behalf of another Indian
man, Hamza Aboobaker, sentenced to death in the same case. Family friend
Narayan Nilakant said Mastan had been living in Riyadh for 6 months when
he was arrested, the day after Aboobaker was detained at Dammam airport
with 2 kilogrammes (4.4 pounds) of heroin in his luggage.

Nilakant sent a copy of a message from Mastan's mother in India in which
she said she went to see Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July,
accompanied by Mastan's wife and 4-year-old daughter, to plead for his
intervention to secure a royal pardon.

The message quoted Mastan as saying that after his arrest he was taken to
hospital for mental health problems, and when he went to court "the judge
told me that I admitted my offence (in a statement) signed by me."

The family friend said Mastan's case went to appeal about a year ago, but
nothing has been heard from the court, adding that the accused does not
speak Arabic and cannot afford a lawyer.

Saudi Arabia applies a strict form of sharia, or Islamic law, imposing the
death penalty for drug trafficking as well as for rape, murder, apostasy
and armed robbery.

A total of 122 people have already been beheaded in the ultra-conservative
kingdom since the beginning of 2007, a record number in recent years, many
after they were convicted of drug trafficking. Around 1.5 million Indians
live and work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

(source: Agence France Presse)




CHINA----executions

2 drug traffickers executed in southwest China


2 convicts have been executed for drug trafficking in southwest China's
Yunnan province, according to local sources on Sunday.

Wang Zuguang and Xu Lianke were sentenced to death earlier for trafficking
433.95 kilograms of heroin by the Intermediate People's Court of Pu'er
while their accessary Hu Yuguang received death penalty with two-year
reprieve.

The court heard that Wang sent Hu to receive 77 kg of heroin from Thailand
in October and November 2001.

In 2002, Xu was caught when transporting 356.95 kg of heroin sealed in 13
timbers from Myanmar to south China's Guangdong and Hong Kong. Wang and Hu
were arrested while receiving the drugs and delivering messages.

(source: Xinhua)






CONGO:

Congolese President pardons prisoners


Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso Sunday granted total and partial
pardon to several prisoners, including 17 whose death sentences were
commuted to life sentences.

A decree issued in Brazzaville said President Sassou Nguesso took the
decision to mark the celebration of the nation's independence 15 August.

Meanwhile, several human rights organisations have commended the decision
and called for the death penalty to be abolished in Congo.

In a statement, the Congolese Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) also
denounced overcrowded jails in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

The OCDH said the Brazzaville prison, built in 1944 with a capacity of 50
inmates, was currently hosting 300 prisoners.

"The prisons in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire have no operating budget.
Remand prisoners are more numerous than those serving sentences because of
delays in the judicial process," the OCDH said.

(source: Afriquenligne)

**************************

Congo commutes death sentences


Congos President Denis Sassou Nguesso has commuted the sentences of 17
people on death row to life terms in a sweeping pardon to mark the
country's national day, according to a statement.

"10 years have been taken off sentences ranging from 21 to 30 years," a
presidential decree said, adding that all death sentences had been
commuted to life terms.

It said life sentences had been cut down to 30 years in prison.

"Sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years will be cut by half," the statement
said.

Roger Bouka Owoko, director of the Congolese Observatory for Human Rights,
welcomed the presidential decree to mark the country's 47th anniversary of
independence from France on Wednesday, but urged the head of state to
scrap capital punishment.

According to London-based rights monitor Amnesty International, there have
been no penal executions in Congo since 1982.

(source: Agence France Presse)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 23



EUROPEAN UNION:

EU Press Release after TX 400th execution

Press release - 550(2007)

Execution of Johnny Ray Conner in Texas a 'macabre milestone', says PACE
President

Ren van der Linden, President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary
Assembly (PACE), and as such representing a 47-nation "death-penalty-free
zone" in Europe, strongly condemned todays execution of Johnny Ray Conner
in Texas.

"This 400th execution since Texas resumed the death penalty in 1982, after
an 18-year moratorium, is a macabre milestone in the state's history," Mr
van der Linden said.

Texas Governor Rick Perry's reply to the EU appeal to halt executions and
consider a moratorium on the death penalty was unacceptable, he said. "The
death penalty is not, as Governor Perry put it, 'a just and appropriate
punishment'. Death is not justice and never will be."

"Despite the potential unpopularity of the measure, capital punishment
must be totally removed in all countries which strive to uphold democracy,
the rule of law and human rights", he added.

Mr van der Linden finally recalled that, as a country with observer status
in the Council of Europe, the United States is violating the commitment of
all observers to share the Council's basic values.

Note to editors

The Assembly President will participate, on 9 October in Lisbon
(Portugal), in an international conference marking the establishment of an
annual European Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October. The
conference is jointly organised by the Council of Europe, the European
Union and its Portuguese Presidency.

***************

PACE President strongly condemns the execution of 3 death row inmates in
Japan

Press release - 552(2007)

PACE President strongly condemns the execution of 3 death row inmates in
Japan

Following his statement concerning an execution in Texas, Council of
Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President Ren van der Linden today
also strongly condemned the execution of 3 death row inmates in Japan.

Mr van der Linden expressed regret that according to the information
available, current Justice Minister Jinen Nagase has signed execution
orders for 10 death row inmates since taking office - and did not pursue
the direction taken by his predecessor, Seiken Sugiura, who refused to
sign execution orders during his term - thus ending a de facto moratorium.

Mr van der Linden said that PACE finds it unacceptable that the Assembly's
appeals to Japan and the United States - which have both enjoyed observer
states with the 47-member organisation since 1996 - for an immediate
moratorium on executions have gone unheeded and that both countries
continue to apply the death penalty. "By doing so, they violate their
fundamental commitment to share the Council of Europe's core values the
principles of democracy, the rule of law and the enjoyment by all persons
within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms," he
said.

"The death penalty has no legitimate place in the penal systems of modern
civilised societies, and its application constitutes torture and inhuman
or degrading punishment within the meaning of Article 3 of the European
Convention on Human Rights," said the PACE President.

He added that PACE is also very concerned about conditions on "death row",
both in Japan and in the United States, exacerbating the mental anguish
known as the "Death Row phenomenon", which was expressly declared a
violation of human rights by the European Court of Human Rights in 1989.
He urged the authorities concerned to immediately improve conditions on
"Death Row", in particular by ending all secrecy surrounding executions
and unnecessary limitations on rights and freedoms as well as broadening
access to post-conviction and post- appeal judicial review.

(source for both: EU Parliamentary Assembly Communication Unit)






IRELAND:

Sunny Jacobs has found a new life in the West of Ireland following her
release from death row


2 YEARS ago I interviewed the most remarkable woman I have met in a long
career in newspapers. Her name is Sunny Jacobs and she was a dead woman
walking - walking free, that is, after being incarcerated for 17 years, 5
of them on death row in Florida, for 2 murders she did not commit.

In 1976, Sunny and her common-law husband Jesse Tafero were convicted of
the fatal shooting of two Florida police officers, based on the false
testimony of the real killer.

The profoundly shocking story of Sunny, then a 28-year-old mother of 2,
who suffered an isolation from family, friends and society that is beyond
recompense, was 1 of 6 death row tales - all miscarriages of justice -
told in the award-winning play, The Exonerated, a scorching indictment of
capital punishment, which came to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2005.

Like scores of other innocent men and women wrongly convicted and
sentenced to death in the US, Sunny was eventually released. That happened
in 1992, when the man who had committed the murders, Walter Rhodes,
confessed to the double shooting.

What was so unusual about Sunny - one of the most life-enhancing, joyous
people I know - was her complete lack of rancour, her ability to find
forgiveness in her heart for those who had so shamefully wronged her,
especially Rhodes and also the police who managed to lose and then
fabricate evidence against her and Tafero, the father of her 10-month-old
baby daughter, Tina. It was his misguided, trusting friendship with Rhodes
that led to him and Sunny witnessing the killings.

Despite his innocence, Tafero was sent to the electric chair, in 1990, in
one of the most botched procedures in the history of the American
executions. The chair malfunctioned and the executioner had to pull the
switch 3 times. It took Jesse more than 13 minutes to die - his head
actually bursting into flames.

Yet Sunny is a woman without a bitter bone in her body, a woman who
survived by meditating and practising yoga while held in the brutal
American penal system. There she made many lasting and loving friendships
with other prisoners. She once told me: "They took away my name and I
became a number. I was in there 17 years; I'm not gonna give them one more
minute of my life."

Why didn't she write a book, I asked, after she revealed how she had kept
a journal even in prison, written in minute script on scraps of toilet
paper, tissues, anything she could salvage. She didn't think she could
write, she said, and asked if I would help either edit or ghost-write her
story. She e-mailed me 6 different opening chapters, saying: "I don't know
where to begin."

"They came for me in the middle of the night," was the gripping opening
sentence of one version, telling how she was taken to the Correctional
Institute for Women, in Ocala, to a specially built death row because she
was the only woman in the state of Florida under sentence of death at the
time.

I read those opening words and called her, saying: "Sunny, you are a
writer." Now we have proof positive - her moving, redemptive memoir Stolen
Time: The Inspiring Story of a Woman Condemned to Death, which is very
much all her own work. It opens with that sentence and ends with this
courageous woman looking up at the sky over her home in Connemara, where
she now lives, and thanking the universe "for this amazing life. I love
life. I love my life. Thank you for this gift of life!"

Already embarked on her second book, which she's co-writing with her
67-year-old Irish partner, Peter Pringle, also a death row exoneree, she
says: "Whenever I get stuck with my writing I think, 'They came for me in
the middle of the night' - and what you said to me about being a real
writer. Those words have become my mantra."

Tiny and slender, with gamine features and an impish, sunny smile, Sunny
(her given name is Sonia) will be 60 tomorrow. On Saturday she returns to
Edinburgh - she was here two years ago, sometimes playing herself in The
Exonerated, and being garlanded with awards - to appear at the Book
Festival.

As she relates in Stolen Time, she was a young hippy mum, with one son,
Eric, then nine years old, when she met Tafero. The daughter of nice
Jewish middle-class parents, she grew up in New York. Her first marriage
to her childhood sweetheart, the father of her son, had already broken
down.

She was a totally nave 24-year-old, "a vegetarian, a flower child into
peace and love", when she fell in love with the gentle, soft-spoken
Tafero, who it emerged had a police record. They had been together for
three years and had their baby daughter, although the relationship was
already in trouble, when they made the mistake of taking a lift with
Rhodes.

When his car was stopped by two highway patrolmen, Rhodes shot them,
kidnapped Sunny, Tafero and the children, then drove off in the police
car. He then stole another vehicle, while holding the little family at
gunpoint. A high-speed chase with helicopters ensued. But Rhodes knew how
to play the system. After they were apprehended and charged, he took a
plea bargain, fingering Sunny and Tafero for the murders.

Now a grandmother of 3, Sunny spent 5 years in solitary confinement before
her death sentence was commuted to life and she was introduced into the
prison population. A decade later, she was finally released. She hasn't
received a penny in compensation.

There is something infinitely girlish about Sunny - "you don't grow in
prison, you stay the age you were when you went in, because you don't have
the experiences on which you grow," she says simply - as well as great
dignity.

"Although I'd revisited my story often in The Exonerated, telling it in my
own words, those words were like a protective shield for me. So I never
had to dig down really deep, into my innermost being. However, whenever I
played myself on stage, I was never able to do so without feeling real
pain," she confides.

"But writing Stolen Time has been doubly hard for me. I had to live
through everything that has happened to me again and again, and although
it's some time ago, a lot of it is still very raw. I had never spoken
before about what else had happened to me, about how my children suffered,
how they were robbed of their childhood with their mom. I had never spoken
about my deepest feelings about Jessse's terrible execution, or about what
my parents went through." In fact, while she was till in prison, her
parents were killed in a plane crash in 1982.

"It was years before I could speak about all of this to anyone, let alone
write about it," says Sunny. "I just kept it to myself, like some awful
festering thing. I didn't want to go back there. But, you know, people
face challenges all the time in their lives - my story is just a bit more
dramatic than most, I guess.

"I didn't think people would identify with my story, but they do. I have
toured in England and Ireland and Australia speaking about the book and
about the need for forgiveness and reconciliation. People have come up to
me and said, 'If you can forgive, I can forgive...' and then they tell me
their stories. It's a precious thing to be given these stories."

She sees Stolen Time as her chance to give back the ability to find
forgiveness. "I was given that gift," she says softly. "I hope I can share
that with other people. Many people have told me that they have bought the
book to give as a gift to someone they know who is troubled. Isn't that a
wonderful thing? To be able to help other people!

"When I'm told that my book is being given as a gift, I always say that
that is the spirit in which it was written."

Life has dealt further cruel blows. After Sunny was released from prison,
she was mown down in a car accident in LA and still suffers dreadful back
pain. She says: "Anger would strike many times, especially when I
discovered what tough times my children had had and the difficulties we
had coming together again. Sure, I felt angry about what happened to me
and what I suffered. But I refused to become a victim.

"I grieve, though. I grieve not only for what I lost but for what will
never be. All the possible futures I might have had with my children, all
the futures that they will never have, stolen from them too. I could get
angry all over again, but you grieve and then you get on with it. If you
don't, then depression hits you and that becomes a gnawing sickness inside
- and there's no hope for you then. I believe in hope. It really does
spring eternal. It's not about where you are but who you are that matters
- and what's inside yourself."

Stolen Time by Sunny Jacobs is published by Doubleday at 14.99. Sunny
Jacobs is at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 25 August at
7pm.

The death sentence: "After they sentence you to death they tell you
exactly how they are going to do it. They say they are going to send 2,200
volts of electricity through your body until you are dead - and then they
ask if you've anything to say!"

Survival: "If you sit there, rubbing 2 sticks together and crying on your
sticks, they're never going to make a spark. But if you stop feeling sorry
for yourself, just because you are determined not to believe in
hopelessness, then a spark happens, and then you keep fanning that wee
spark until you've got a flame."

Living in Ireland: "When I first came to Ireland I felt an incredible
sense of connection. After my release I didn't belong anywhere, but I felt
I belonged here. A place that's about peace; that is more interested in
healing than vengeance; where it's constitutionally not allowed to bring
back the death penalty; a place that's never gone to war; never colonised
another country. This is the perfect place for me."

(source: Jackie McGlone, The Scotsman)






IRAQ:

Court in 'Chemical Ali' trial hears testimony on executions


A former top aide to Saddam Hussein had 2 men tied to concrete blocks and
thrown from a helicopter into deep water in 1991, according to testimony
on Thursday, the 3rd day in the trial of Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as
Chemical Ali, and 14 co-defendants on charges of crimes against humanity.

The mother of the executed men, Leila Khadem Nasser, 56, said she had
found out about their fate after her brother and nephew, who had been
detained at the same time, were released.

"I asked them about my 2 sons," she said. "They said that they were
executed. My nephew told me that they tied concrete blocks to their feet
and threw them out of a helicopter in the Shatt al-Arab. That was nine
days after their detention."

She added, "My nephew said Ali Hassan al-Majid was the one who ordered
their execution."

Majid and 14 co-defendants are accused of crimes against humanity in the
brutal suppression of an uprising by Shiites in southern Iraq in 1991
after Saddam's forces withdrew from Kuwait, having been routed by an
American-led coalition.

Majid is known as Chemical Ali for his role in gassing Kurdish villages in
the north, for which he received multiple death sentences. He has appealed
in that case.

Also on Thursday, Sunni Arab militants repelled an attack by Al Qaeda in
Mesopotamia north of Baghdad, in a battle that left at least 32 people
dead, news services reported, citing the police. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
retaliated by kidnapping 15 women and children. The fighting underscored
the growing split between Sunni Arab militant groups and the Islamic
extremist group, a division that U.S. forces have sought to exploit.

In Baghdad on Thursday, American forces detained nine Iraqi policemen on
suspicion of involvement in a roadside bomb attack near a police
checkpoint, the U.S. military said, according to Reuters.

At the trial of Majid, the defendant himself cross-examined Khadem, asking
whether her brother had corroborated her nephew's story.

She said: "He didn't tell me anything. Every time he asked me about my 2
sons he started to cry. Maitham, my nephew, is the one who told me the
story, and he was tortured and beaten on his head."

Majid said that although he did not doubt the woman's account of what her
nephew told her, her testimony was based entirely on hearsay.

Another witness, testifying anonymously, said Thursday that he was
tortured in prisons in Basra and Baghdad. In the Basra prison, he said, he
was ordered to stand on a chair with a rope around his neck while officers
asked him to confess. They kicked out the chair from under him and let him
hang by the neck until he passed out, then they took him to another room
where he regained consciousness.

The witness said he saw a girl who had been serving tea to officers at the
prison forced into an adjoining room, and then he heard her screaming. He
realized that she had been raped when another officer congratulated the
officer who had taken her into the next room, telling him: "You have
married twice now. Good for you."

(source: International Herald Tribune)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 24



JAPAN:

Death sentence finalized for ex-Aum Shinrikyo member


Masato Yokoyama, one of the perpetrators of the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin
gas attack that killed 12 people and injured dozens, carried out by the
buddhist sect Aum Shinrikyo, saw his death sentence finalized on Thursday
when the Supreme Court rejected his defense's ojection on the courts
previous ruling, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports.

Presiding Judge Ryoji Nakagawa rejected an objection raised about the July
20 upholding of Yokoyama's sentence by the same court by his defense.

Yokoyama, who was first sentenced to death in 1999, has admitted to
carrying 2 packets of sarin on to a packed subway train, but also led Aum
Shinrikyo's arms-producing team and was involved in illicitly producing an
automatic gun for the sect.

His lawyers had attempted to avoid the death penalty on the grounds that
nobody actually died in the Shibuya train car in which Yokoyama released
the sarin packets.

(source: Japan News Review)






NAMIBIA/CHINA:

Diplomat's son faces death sentence


THE son of a Namibian diplomat, posted until recently in Beijing, China,
may be the 1st Namibian since Independence to face a death sentence after
being implicated with a Zambian friend in the murder of a Russian girl in
Beijing last year June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed
yesterday.

"Yes, it is true, there is such a case," Foreign Affairs Permanent
Secretary Veiccoh Nghiwete said an interview late yesterday.

He said they did not know at this stage when the matter would go to trial
in China, but confirmed that preliminary hearings had already taken place.

Nghiwete said that the son of former senior diplomat Sackey Shikwambi,
thought to be Nelson Shikwambi, aged 23 or 24, and a Zambian friend of
similar age, were arrested in May or June last year, but that the Namibian
Government was only recently alerted to the matter.

"
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
August 25



JAPAN:

Japan Housewives May Judge Killers as Lawyers Condemn Hangings


Sakae Menda spent 34 years on death row after police coerced him into
confessing to a double murder he didn't commit. Released in 1983, he now
campaigns against a justice system he calls vindictive and riddled with
abuse.

Menda isn't alone. The United Nations, Council of Europe and human rights
groups criticize Japan's legal system for presuming guilt, relying on
confessions obtained during weeks of police interrogation and treating
death-row inmates inhumanely. Japan has a 99.9 % conviction rate, Amnesty
International says.

"Japan's courts are less a place to work out the facts of the case than a
venue for people to mete out punishment,'' Menda, 81, said at a briefing
in Tokyo.

The country's bar association condemned the hanging of three inmates
yesterday and called for a moratorium on executions until flaws in the
legal system are corrected. To curb abuses, the government plans to team
citizen judges with professional jurists to rule on serious criminal cases
such as murder and rape.

Under the new system, to be implemented in May 2009, six lay judges chosen
at random from voter roles will sit alongside three professionals.
Decisions will be determined by majority vote.

"Once lay citizens start participating in trials, the conviction rate will
decline,'' Tomonao Onizawa, councilor general at the Supreme Court, told
reporters earlier this year.

Critics say the proposal, coupled with plans to let crime victims and
their families petition for specific punishments, may increase the number
of executions.

"Victims will be able to make emotional pleas to the court, with lay
judges thrust into a role to hear the most heinous crimes,'' said Nobuto
Hosaka, secretary general of the Japanese Parliamentarian League Against
the Death Penalty. "We feel they will favor the most serious punishment.''

Emotional Rulings

At a June 3 mock trial to test the new system, many audience members
wanted the defendant, accused of dangerous driving resulting in death, to
receive a longer sentence than the eight years handed down.

"We should feel emotions to some degree in judging, but we shouldn't let
emotions control the ruling,'' said Kyoko Hamada, a 48-year-old homemaker
from Matsudo city, northeast of Tokyo.

Similar systems are used in some European countries, including Germany and
Norway. The use of lay judges "assures a more open and transparent
process,'' according to Norwegian Public Prosecutor Linda Myrdal.

Instead of the proposed changes, the Justice Ministry should curb abuses
that occur in police cells, where suspects may be interrogated for as long
as 23 days, Menda said.

'Beatings, Intimidation'

Police tactics include "beatings, intimidation, sleep deprivation,
questioning from early morning until late at night and making the suspect
stand or sit in a fixed position,'' Amnesty International said in a July
2006 report.

The cells are "a breeding ground for further violations'' and drive the
high conviction rate because "forced confessions'' are rarely ruled
inadmissible, Amnesty International said in a July 2006 report.

Menda said he confessed to killing a priest and his wife in 1949 after 3
weeks without enough food, water or sleep. He was released in 1983 after a
retrial found he had been convicted with fabricated testimony and his
alibi hadn't been considered.

At the end of July, there were 105 people on death row who had exhausted
all appeals. Almost all were convicted of multiple murders, or murder with
another serious crime such as rape or robbery. The most notorious is Shoko
Asahara, founder of the Aum Shinrikyo cult that killed 12 people in the
1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway.

Public Support

Ten people have been executed since Justice Minister Jinen Nagase took
office in October. His predecessor, Seiken Sugiura, refused to sign
execution orders during his 11-month term.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations said systemic flaws uncovered
during the appeals that led to the release of Menda and three other
death-row inmates in the 1980s haven't been fixed.

"The danger that mistaken death sentences will be handed down still
exists,'' the federation said on its Web site.

The government says public support for capital punishment justifies its
use. In the most recent survey by the Cabinet Office, 81 % of 2,048
registered voters contacted by phone supported the death penalty in
"unavoidable circumstances,'' while 6 % wanted it abolished.

The UN says public backing is misleading because of the secrecy
surrounding these cases. The Justice Ministry didn't identify the inmates
executed yesterday. Their names were reported by Kyodo News, citing
"informed sources.''

"There is an obvious inconsistency when a state invokes public opinion on
the one hand, while on the other hand deliberately withholding relevant
information on the use of the death penalty from the public,'' the UN
Commission on Human Rights said in a March 2006 report.

The government doesn't inform inmates or their families about execution
dates to prevent unnecessary "mental anguish,'' the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs said on its Web site.

Critics say the policy is inhumane and designed to suppress protests. For
death-row inmates, it means each knock on the cell door may be the call to
execution.

"Nothing has changed since the time I was arrested,'' Menda said.

(source: Bloomberg News)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 26


MALAYSIA:

9 Years on Death Row, Denied Appeal


"Hang me or release me but don't leave me to suffer a slow death," is the
cry of anguish from Baha Jambol, 45, who has been suspended helplessly
here on death-row for nine long years, unable to appeal a death sentence.

Jambols desperate predicament is not unique. It is caused by a serious
flaw in Malaysian criminal justice system.

Jambol was sentenced to death in April 1998 for being in possession of 50
kg of cannabis. He is unable to appeal because the trial judge has failed
to put pen to paper and give the grounds sentencing him to 'death by
hanging'.

"Without a written judgement we can't appeal," Karpal Singh, Jambol's
lawyer and prominent human rights campaigner, told IPS.

Jambol, a driver, was at the wheel of a car when cannabis was found
inside. But the car owner, who was with him at the time, was acquitted.

The scandal of the ink-shy judge, loath to put his judgements on paper,
has shocked the nation and led to renewed demands for a swift end to the
death penalty.

"This case is a severe travesty of justice," said Singh. "Jambol has been
languishing on death row for 9 years what can be crueller than this? I
urge the government to immediately abolish the death penalty and end the
misery of people on death row."

Like Jambol, dozens of others wait in great misery in the country's
overcrowded jails unable to appeal their death sentences because trial
judges have skipped their duty of spelling out their judgements on paper.

Aziz Sharif, 28, was sentenced to death in 2001 for murdering his
girlfriend, a conviction that his lawyer Harbahjan Singh says is deeply
flawed. 6 years on, Singh is still blocked from filing an appeal because
there is no written judgement.

Aziz is suffering severe mental torture while waiting to know his fate,
his family, poor rice farmers from the southern state of Negri Sembilan,
told the newspaper The New Straits Times earlier this month.

They have appealed to the court numerous times to get the judge to write
his judgment but without success.

"I wrote 5 letters to the court over the matter and sadly they did not
have the decency to reply to any of the letters," Singh told the paper.

The same predicament is currently being endured by Haszaidi Hasan, also
sentenced to death for drug trafficking in 2001.

Opposition politicians and rights activists are now pressing for action
against Malaysias indolent judges.

"Their lackadaisical attitude has hamstrung the administration of justice
to people who need it the most," opposition lawmaker Kulasegaran Murugesan
told IPS.

"If the judges had done their basic duties the convicted persons could
have speedily filed their appeals and probably been acquitted. A long
delay is a mark of a poor criminal justice system," he said, urging the
government to set free death-row inmates caught in such a tragic
predicament.

He added: "A more lasting and more humane solution is to abolish the death
penalty."

The cases have also been taken up by the rights organisation Malaysians
Against the Death Penalty. "Prisoners facing capital punishment are under
severe pressure if their appeals are delayed," Charles Hector, the
organisations co-director and lawyer, told IPS.

"Judges should understand the tremendous pressure the death penalty
generates delaying their right to appeal is an act of utmost cruelty.
Family members are also left emotionally drained by the uncertainties and
the long meaningless delays. It is an intolerable form of torture."

Hector added: "This tragic delay is another reason to review the death
penalty. We demand an immediate moratorium on all executions pending the
abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia."

Amnesty International has also expressed shock at the long inordinate
delays and the resulting mental torture death row inmates suffer. There
should be an immediate moratorium on all further executions, the
organisation agrees.

The Malaysian Bar Association has taken up the scandal, calling on all the
countrys lawyers to report back cases where clients are enduring a "slow
death" because of long-delayed or non-existent written judgements.

The association plans to present Malaysia's Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz
Halim with a list of serious cases. The hope is the offending judges will
be penalised, a sanction that might finally end the torment of many dozens
like Jambol and Aziz left dangling on death-row.

Malaysia imposes the death penalty for a raft of offences, from drug
trafficking (15 grams of heroin and 200 grams of cannabis) to poisoning
the water supply. Mandatory death penalties are also given for murder,
possession of firearms, treason.

Over a thousand persons have been executed since independence in 1957 and
some 300 are currently awaiting execution on death row, many of them
Acehnese from Indonesia convicted of trafficking cannabis.

(source: IPS News)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 29


IRAN:

2 journalists under sentence of death urged to call off hunger strike


Reporters Without Borders joins the families and lawyers of imprisoned
Kurdish-Iranian journalists Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed "Hiva" Botimar
in urging them to call off the hunger strike they began on 14 July. The 2
journalists are currently under sentence of death.

"They are now on the 47th day of their hunger strike and their condition
is very worrying," the press freedom organisation said. "We obviously
respect their perseverance and we support their demands, but they are
putting their lives at risk."

Reporters Without Borders added: "We demand that the judicial authorities
keep their promises and improve the conditions in which they are being
held, above all by allowing them the right to receive visits and to phone
their lawyers and their families. The supreme court must also agree to
review their convictions and quash their death sentences."

Hassanpour and Botimar, who are being held in a ministry of intelligence
detention centre in Sanandaj, in Iran's Kurdish northwest region, were
allowed to receive a visit from relatives and one of their lawyers, Sirvan
Hoshmandi, on 25 August. It was only the 2nd visit they have been allowed
since their arrest last December.

Hassanpour's mother and Botimar's wife reported that they appear to be
very weak and have lost a lot of weight. They said they have asked
Hassanpour and Botimar to abandon the hunger strike, in which they are
consuming nothing but water to which a small amount of sugar is added.

Hassanpour and Botimar began the hunger strike to press their demands for
improved conditions of detention, an end to their solitary confinement and
their transfer to a prison in the city of Marivan where their families
live. The also want a meeting with a senior justice department
representative and the right to see their lawyers whenever they want.

Hassanpour and Botimar, who write for the magazine Asou, were sentenced to
death on 16 July by a revolutionary tribunal in Marivan for spying,
"subversive activities against national security" and "separatist
propaganda."

(source: Reporters Without Borders)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 29



UGANDA/CHINA:

Deport Drug Traffickers, MPs Request


Convicted Ugandan drug traffickers should not be killed in China but left
to serve their sentences back home, members of Parliament pleaded
yesterday.

"They should not be killed but sentenced to life imprisonment back home
(in Uganda)," Ms Loy Kiryapawo, the chairperson of the Parliamentary
Foreign Affairs committee, said yesterday while presenting her committee
report on the Ministerial Policy Statement and budget estimates for the
financial year 2007/2008.

7 Ugandans were arrested in China in possession of heroin weighing more
than 50 grammes each, the threshold upon which the death penalty can be
imposed in Communist China. Death is usually by hanging.

Ms Kiryapawo told Parliament that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is
trying to persuade the Chinese government to commute the death sentences
to life imprisonment. She said they want the traffickers handed over to
Uganda.

1 of the 7 drug traffickers Jason Mukiibi was sentenced to death on August
3 but the Uganda government has since appealed to China to reverse its
decision against him and others who are still on trial.

The other suspects, who face death are Henry Kakooza, 24; Paul Muwonge,
31; Faridu Kalema, 35; Keren Ocokoru, 36; Lillian Nakungu, 48; and Salim
Nassuru.

The minimum penalty for selling, smuggling or transporting drugs in China
is imprisonment for 15 years, although that punishment applies only when
the weight of drugs is 50 grammes or less.

There is no extradition treaty between Uganda and China, which has
shrugged off international pressure to stop handing down the death penalty
on drug-related offences.

The committee members also looked at the harmonisation of the education
system in the East African countries.

"The partner states of the East African Community have different education
systems yet when the free movement of persons within the community is
operationalised it will be very important to have the education system of
all the member states hamonised," the MPs noted in the report.

They recommended that Swahili should be made compulsory in all East
African Community schools. On the deployment in Somalia, the MPs
recommended that Parliament should be briefed about the new developments.

(source: The Monitor)




RWANDA:

Kagame to Be Awarded for Scrapping Death Penalty


President Paul Kagame flew to Italy yesterday where he is expected to
receive an award for Rwanda's recent abolition of death penalty.

The President will be awarded with "The Abolitionist of the Year 2007"
which is presented by Hands Off Cain (HOC) at a high-profile ceremony to
be graced by top Italian government officials.

"The award (which is presented) to recognise the person, who, above all
others, has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment in the struggle for a
moratorium on executions and the abolition of the death penalty, is
conferred this year upon President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame," a release from
HOC said.

Founded in Brussels in 1993, HOC is an international pressure group of
citizens and parliamentarians championing a campaign to abolish the death
penalty the world over.

The release said Kagame's "personal statement is found as the Preface to
Hands Off Cain's 2007 Report."

The report, dubbed "The Death Penalty Worldwide", will also be launched
during the same function.

Italy's President of the Council of Ministers, Romano Prodi, will present
the award to President Kagame.

"The abolition of the death penalty and the adherence to the campaign for
a universal moratorium on capital punishment are acts of remarkable
symbolic value, through which Rwanda has emblematically shown the world
the possibility of an end to the absurd cycle of vendetta and that justice
and lawfulness cannot be achieved with capital punishment," the
organisation said.Prodi himself wrote the report's introduction.

The report 'confirms a positive trend towards the abolition of the death
penalty, underway for more than a decade.'

During the ceremony, there will also be a briefing on the international
campaign to hold a UN General Assembly vote on a universal moratorium on
capital punishment this year.

Expected at the function due to kick-off at 4:15 Rwandan time are
President of the Italian Senate, Franco Marini, HOC President Marco
Pannella, Italian MPs and foreign ambassadors.

The name "Hands Off Cain" is inspired by the Bible's first book, the
Genesis, where it is stated: "And the Lord set a sign for Cain, lest any
finding him should smite him" in reference to Cain who slaughtered his
young brother Abel.

The organisation says it stands for "justice without vengeance."

The process for Rwanda to outlaw death penalty, which was initiated by the
ruling RPF political organisation, came to the climax on July 25 when a
new law was published in the Official Gazette.The government said the move
was intended to underline the value it attaches to life. Rwanda suffered
one of the cruellest bloodletting in the 20th Century when at least one
million people died during the 1994 Genocide.

The move is also expected to encourage foreign governments to arrest and
extradite to Rwanda key Genocide suspects, who remain at large thirteen
years after the killing spree.

The new law saw over 1,350 Rwandan convicts who were on death row in
various prisons having their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

Prior to lifting the capital sentence altogether, the country had already
enacted a specific law waiving the penalty from suspects due to be
transferred from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR),
which closes shop come December 2008.

Thousands of hundreds of Genocide suspects, most of whom outside prisons,
are awaiting trial.

(source: AllAfrica.com)






FRANCE:

French refuse senators' request----Suspect in slaying won't be extradited


Despite mounting political pressure, the French Consulate in Chicago said
Tuesday that the suspect in the murder of a Loop dermatologist would not
be extradited to the United States and instead would be tried in a French
court on murder charges.

But Cook County State's Atty. Dick Devine said Tuesday that his office has
not given up the fight, expressing confidence that there are still avenues
to pursue to get Hans Peterson extradited back to the U.S.

Peterson, 29, is being held in a French jail on the Caribbean island of
Guadeloupe, where he was transferred after he turned himself in this month
in St. Martin. He allegedly confessed to killing Dr. David Cornbleet in
October in his Michigan Avenue office.

Peterson has dual citizenship, both U.S. and French, because his mother is
French and he was born in the U.S. The French last week refused to
extradite Peterson, saying they would not do that to a French national.

Cornbleet's family, Cook County prosecutors and public officials --
including Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama and Mayor Richard Daley --
have sent letters asking the French government to reconsider. They have
argued a treaty between the countries does not obligate the extradition
but urged the French to use its discretion to send him anyway.

At a press briefing Tuesday in his Chicago office, Jean-Baptiste de
Boissiere, the French consul general, said that the letters "misinterpret"
the treaty and French law. He said French law makes it illegal to
extradite any national.

"Our law provides very clearly that French nationals are not to be
extradited," he told reporters. "It's a law which doesn't give room for
maneuvering."

De Boissiere said steps already have been taken to charge Peterson with
murder under French law. He would remain in custody until trial, he said.

In a telephone interview later Tuesday, Devine pointed out that a European
Union treaty appears to make exceptions for nationals to be extradited.

"Despite the claims of how rigid everything is, the European Union treaty
does allow for French nationals to be extradited," he said. "If you can
find that flexibility for European countries, there's nothing in the world
of law -- international or otherwise -- that says you couldn't do it
here."

De Boissiere said he couldn't talk about European treaties but indicated
it wouldn't be relevant anyway because of the French law.

Anthony D'Amato, a professor of international law at Northwestern
University, said treaties typically supersede any country's laws. Still,
the French could deny extradition based on their own interpretation of the
treaty, he said.

If the French continue to refuse extradition, Devine said, the U.S. could
withdraw its warrant for Peterson's arrest. The French could then
prosecute him on their own murder charge or drop the case, Devine said.

Either way, if Peterson ever left French soil, the U.S. then could arrest
Peterson and prosecute him in Illinois, without risking double jeopardy
protection, he contended.

Peterson would face much lighter penalties if convicted in France. He
could be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison, but defendants
typically serve no more than 20 years, Devine said.

Jon Cornbleet, the victim's son, said a trial in the Caribbean would be
difficult for supporters to attend.

"I don't think the French are considering our family," he said. "We're the
victims here."

(source: Chicago Tribune)






CANADA:

Canadian Court Overturns 1959 Murder Verdict


An appeals court on Tuesday overturned a 1959 rape and murder conviction
that had sentenced a 14-year-old boy to hang -- the youngest Canadian ever
to face execution.

The defendant, Steven Truscott, was victimized by a "miscarriage of
justice" 48 years ago when he was convicted of killing a 12-year-old
classmate, Ontario's highest court ruled.

Mr. Truscott, now 62, had long insisted on his innocence. "I never in my
wildest dreams expected in my lifetime for this to come true," he said
after the ruling.

His death sentence had been commuted 3 months after his conviction because
Canada's government at the time feared that the country's image would
suffer if it allowed a 14-year-old to be executed. Mr. Truscott was given
a life sentence and paroled after 10 years in prison. His ordeal helped
bring about the abolishment of Canada's death penalty in 1976.

Mr. Truscott was convicted of raping and murdering Lynne Harper on Sept.
30, 1959, about 3 months after her body was found in a wooded area in
southwestern Ontario. He said then that he had given the girl a ride on
his bicycle, then saw her get into a passing car on a rural highway.
Prosecutors argued he had taken the girl down a path, where he raped and
strangled her.

Last year, the Ontario Court of Appeal heard evidence that the original
autopsy conclusions allowed for a time of death much later than that cited
by the prosecution, perhaps a day later, when Mr. Truscott was in school.

"The conviction, placed in the light of the fresh evidence, constitutes a
miscarriage of justice and must be quashed," the court said in a unanimous
judgment.

The Ontario attorney general, Michael Bryant, said he would not appeal and
asked a judge to advise on compensation. "On behalf of the government, I
am truly sorry," Mr. Bryant said.

Mr. Truscott said he felt that the apology was not sincere because the
government knew of the evidence in recent years yet fought against his
appeal. After his release in 1969, Mr. Truscott lived under an assumed
name.

"What we've known for years and years, now other people will know," he
said.

(source: New York Times)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 30



CUBA:

Death penalty opponents encouraged by no capital punishment in prison
uprising case


4 men involved in a prison uprising that killed two military officers have
been spared the death penalty, an encouraging sign for opponents of
capital punishment, a veteran rights activist said Thursday.

"What is relevant to us about this case is that no one was sentenced to
death," said Elizardo Sanchez of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and
National Reconciliation. "We hope that this trend continues."

Sanchez said that relatives of the accused reported that an inmate and an
army recruit who was working as a prison guard received life sentences for
their involvement in the Dec. 20 uprising at the El Manguito prison just
outside the eastern city of Santiago.

He said two other soldiers working as prison guards received 30-year
sentences for involvement in the uprising, in which two military officers
were shot and killed and an inmate was wounded.

Sanchez said he has only sketchy information about the uprising from
relatives of the accused. Cuba's government has released no documents or
reports about the uprising or the trial, which reportedly was carried out
by a military tribunal in June.

Sanchez's commission is not recognized by the Cuban government, but its
activities are largely tolerated. Its primary activity is tracking Cuba's
political prisoners and issuing twice-yearly reports that are widely used
by international rights groups.

"We hope this is a good sign for 50 or so people currently on death row"
or who face a possible death sentence, said Sanchez, whose group has long
called for the elimination of capital punishment in Cuba.

Those include three other army recruits who were arrested May 3 after
escaping from their base and trying to hijack a plane at gunpoint.

At least one soldier was killed during their escape and an army lieutenant
colonel was shot to death during the hijacking attempt.

There have been no reported executions in Cuba since April 2003, when
three men convicted of hijacking a Havana passenger ferry with knives and
a gun were sent to a firing squad. No one was hurt in the attempt, which
came amid a wave of attempted boat and plane hijackings on the island.

The government's swift execution of the 3 men led to widespread
international protests.

Capital punishment in Cuba is always carried out by firing squad. It has
been used sparingly in recent years, usually in especially heinous
homicides, such as the murder of a child during a rape, or in multiple
killings.

(source: Associated Press)






NEW ZEALAND:

Death penalty proposed at Grey Power meeting


Grey Power members were fired up during a meeting with the Sensible
Sentencing Trust, with one elderly woman calling for the return of the
death penalty.

"If we haven't got the changes we want by 2010, we'll ask for that," trust
founder Garth McVicar told the packed Netball North Harbour meeting room
last week.

Military training for everyone who leaves school without a job,
consistency in sentencing, strict parole guidelines, the right to defend
one's property, and a review of the youth justice system were other issues
the group champions.

The group opposed the anti-smacking bill recently passed by Parliament.

"Ban smacking, build prisons," said Mr McVicar.

The Napier native told the group how the murders of Teresa Cormack, 6, and
Colleen Burrows, 15, both in his hometown, affected him.

"I have four daughters and it horrified me," he said. "But I didn't do
anything."

When 13-year-old Karla Cardno was raped and murdered by Paul Dally in 1989
her stepfather Mark Middleton was convicted for threatening to kill Dally.

Mr McVicar supported Mr Middleton and organised a rally protesting against
his sentencing.

It was a success, with 16,000 people turning out at 67 courthouses. Mr
Middleton was given a suspended sentence.

Out of that experience, the Sensible Sentencing Trust was born, but Mr
McVicar said he wasn't prepared for the backlash.

"I was called a redneck and racist. The politically correct ostracised
us."

Now the Napier-based trust has become the largest public funded
organisation promoting victims rights and justice reform, boasting they
have more members than many political parties, with some approaching the
trust to join forces.

"But we won't become political," said Mr McVicar.

"We are provocative, we have to be. We've got to call it the way we see
it."

Since the group formed, Teresa Cormack's mother Kelly Piggott told them
her daughter's killer had 78 previous offences, but his DNA could not be
taken because of privacy laws. Mr McVicar said the trust pushed a law
change to get DNA from anyone with a jail sentence longer than 2 years.
"Kelly's law has seen three historic murders solved on DNA in the last 18
months."

After the home-invasion murder of Reporoa farmer Beverly Bouma in 1998 the
trust pushed for longer sentences for murderers from 10 years to 17 years
with a minimum parole period.

As a result, he said, the RSA triple murderer William Bell was given 30
years non-parole.

Last year Mr McVicar visited Finland and was impressed with their prison
regime.

"It was minus 22 degrees but inmates were out breaking rocks. Finland has
12 % reoffending, New Zealand has 86 %."

A visit to an Arizona jail showed him a system of chain gangs and tent
cities.

He said living in the sweltering tent city, where there are 'no drugs, no
cell phones, and no gangs' for just 24 hours convinces offenders they
don't want to return. The recidivism rate of 17 % is convincing, said Mr
McVicar.

Mr McVicar said New Zealand prisons are 'offender friendly'.

He told the meeting he was born in 1951 when New Zealand was one of the
safest countries in the world.

He said 56 years later, New Zealand is one of the most violent countries.

"The country can't turn itself around with current policies.

"We need to draw the line in the sand. If you cross it, there?ll be
consequences."

(source: Auckland stuff.co.nz)






CANADA:

How much is a stolen life worth?


The part that made the heart lurch was when Steven Truscott said, in the
sweet moments of his vindication, he hoped other wrongly accused - "your
kids" - would never have to endure what he had.

Kids. The boy he had been. A childhood stolen.

No document should rank higher on the reading list of the retired judge
who will consider the compensation owed Truscott than Bill Trent's 1971
book The Steven Truscott Story.

Nothing so conveys the cost to Truscott as the account he gave shortly
after being paroled of what it had been like to be 14 and so unspeakably
wronged.

The way police took him, without parents or a lawyer, for grilling. His
endless repeating of the truth, and the slow realization it wasn't being
believed. The terror of being charged with a crime he hadn't committed,
then taken to the century-old Goderich jail, a place he'd "remember in
terrifying detail for the rest of my life."

The strip search. The delousing. The ill-fitting jail clothes. The
clanging locks, the tiny cell. The cold draft, the weird sounds of the
night. The fear so total there was little chance of sleep. The cramped
isolation so jarring to an athletic country boy who still missed the space
and friendliness of Western Canada, where his father had been posted.

How much of a boy was he? When his brother scaled a tree overhanging the
jail yard to ask what Steven wanted, the answer was: "My bike."

Until the start of his trial, he'd been protected by numbness, bucked up
by his mother's optimism, by the suit she'd bought him for court, clothes
he treasured as a link with the world from which he'd been snatched.

How much of a boy was he? In the courtroom, he counted buttons on the
uniforms of the guards.

Still, he was savvy enough to absorb the jury's hostility. "I could have
sat in the prisoner's box with wings and halo and still not have convinced
that jury that I was not the devil himself."

The verdict - a foregone conclusion even to a child - was almost
anticlimactic. But the words that followed were seared on his soul. That
"you be taken to the place of execution and that you there be hanged by
the neck until you are dead."

It was a miracle he kept his sanity during those months on death row. One
day, he woke to hammering outside his cell and thought the scaffold was
being built. Until a guard told him it was a nearby house being repaired.

Transferred to a penitentiary at 18, after the death sentence had been
commuted, he felt strange among older men. But they had one thing in
common. "We were utterly lonely."

Christmas was "the saddest day of the year.'' But spring was bad, too. No
longer a time for fishing, finding wildflowers in the woods "and just
plain dreaming."

He should have come of age in the '60s, the greatest of times to be young.
Instead, he got used to the insult of shackles, his 1st name replaced by a
number - 6730 Truscott. How much of a boy was he? He wondered if they'd
started with No. 1.

He grew alienated from his family. "Each time we got together we had less
in common." He rarely showed emotion, but sometimes got "choked up
listening to somebody talking about his boyhood."

His mother had always told him childhood was the most precious time of
life, that "you'll look back on these years and wish that you could live
them over again."

There isn't enough money in the world.

(source: Toronto Star)

******************************************

Presumed innocent


A person is innocent unless proven guilty, in a fair trial, beyond a
reasonable doubt. Given this basic principle, the Ontario Court of Appeal
made the right decision this week when it acquitted 62-year-old Steven
Truscott of the murder of Lynne Harper.

The 1959 trial in which Truscott, then 14, was convicted of the
rape-murder of a 12-year-old girl was sufficiently flawed to amount to a
miscarriage of justice. As such, it couldn't be allowed to stand.

What were the court's options?

Once it found the original trial flawed, the 5-judge panel could have
ordered a new one - fully knowing that trying Truscott again after nearly
half a century wouldn't be feasible. Much of the old evidence had gone
stale; the new evidence favoured the defence. The Crown could sweat and
spend, but it couldn't win. In all likelihood, the attorney general
wouldn't even bother, just stay the proceedings.

The court must have been tempted. Since Truscott couldn't demonstrate his
innocence, why go out on a limb with an acquittal? If his trial was
unfair, just order a new one. Let the attorney general worry about
feasibility. Every system is a bureaucracy, including the courts, and
passing the buck is every bureaucracy's dream. You'll do nothing wrong as
long as you do nothing.

For if the Ontario Court of Appeal was right this week, it had to be wrong
47 years ago, when it unanimously rejected Truscott's appeal from the same
flawed trial. The 1960 decision left Truscott on death row, with the
Supreme Court of Canada refusing him leave to appeal. It looked like the
end of the road - though chances of the death penalty being imposed were
negligible.

By 1960 Canada stopped hanging 14-year-olds, and Truscott's sentence was
soon commuted to life imprisonment.

The legal system shrugged off the flaws in the 1959 investigation and
trial that put an innocent boy in jail for life, while leaving the
murderer of a 12-year-old girl on the loose. The higher courts held that
such shortfalls didn't amount to a "substantial miscarriage of justice."

It took a woman named Isabel Lebourdais, whose bestselling book The Trial
of Steven Truscott caused questions to be raised in the House of Commons
in 1966, for the system to respond by an unprecedented "reference" - in
essence, a trial - in the Supreme Court of Canada. Public opinion, acting
through Parliament, forced the august body that wouldn't hear a
14-year-old boy's appeal in 1960 to hold a full-blown trial for him as a
21-year-old man. The Supremes were not happy.

Not only had a young ruffian been found guilty of murder, he was now
bucking the system, going outside the chain of command. The miffed
establishment had the last word when, after nine justices listened to
Truscott's testimony and cross-examination, the majority convicted him
again. "We have come to the conclusion that Truscott's evidence does not
and cannot disturb the finding implicit in the jury's original verdict of
guilty," wrote Chief Justice Robert Taschereau in 1967.

Only one judge dissented.

"I take the view that the trial was not conducted according to law," wrote
Justice Emmett Hall. "Even the guiltiest criminal must be tried according
to law."

He would have let Truscott have a new jury trial, which at the time would
still have been feasible.

But the system preferred to cover its posterior. Paroling Truscott 2 1/2
years later, in 1969, and letting him cope with the burden of being
wrongfully convicted, was less trouble than letting him have his day in
court.

A total of 15 years ago Guy Gavriel Kay and I sided with dissenting
Justice Hall when we wrote a TV movie on the Truscott-case for the CBC
series The Scales of Justice, which was hosted by criminal lawyer Eddie
Greenspan.

"Did Steven Truscott kill Lynne Harper? I don't know," concluded Greenspan
on the program. "Did he deserve a new trial? I think he did."

That was in 1992.

By now, ordering a new trial would likely have resulted in a stay, leaving
Truscott in limbo, tainted forever by the initial conviction, no matter
how wrongful it may have been. Good for the Ontario Court of Appeal not to
have taken the easy way out. Any person who cannot be lawfully convicted
must be acquitted, and anyone acquitted is innocent. As is Truscott.

(source: The Ottawa Citizen (George Jonas writes for the National Post)






GLOBAL:

Death penalty numbers up


Even though more countries are renouncing the death penalty, more people
were put to death last year -- 5,628 -- than in the past 2 years, an
anti-death penalty group reported Thursday.

Rome-based Hands Off Cain said the increase came because more countries
that have capital punishment on their books actually resorted to it in
2006.

In its annual report on the death penalty, Hands Off Cain said the gradual
trend of abolishing capital punishment continued, with 51 countries
retaining the death penalty compared to 54 in 2005. But it said 27
countries had resorted to the death penalty in 2006, up from 24 in 2005.

As a result, the number of executions increased, to at least 5,628 last
year compared to 5,494 in 2005 and 5,530 in 2004.

Overall, 146 countries and territories have renounced the death penalty to
some extent, either through outright abolition or a moratorium, Hands Off
Cain said.

The group said uses reports from NGOs and mainstream media in compiling
its report.

The report said China remained the top executioner, with unconfirmed
reports that as many as 8,000 people are put to death annually. The report
cited Chinese officials and academics as saying executions had decreased,
however -- in part because of a new amendment requiring the Supreme Court
to confirm all death sentences and for public hearings for appeals.

Iran came in 2nd in the group's top execution rankings. Hands Off Cain
said Tehran doubled the number of people it put to death in 2006,
executing at least 215 people compared to 113 in 2005, though it said the
real number may be even higher.

Pakistan also nearly doubled the number of executions in 2006, putting at
least 82 people to death last year compared to 42 the year earlier.

Hands Off Cain said both Iran and Pakistan executed minors in violation of
the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The United States remained the only country in the Americas that carried
out a death sentence in 2006. 53 people were executed in the United States
in 2006, down from 60 in 2005 and 59 in 2004, the group said.

Hands Off Cain was honoring Rwandan President Paul Kagame with a special
award Thursday for his role in ending the death penalty in Rwanda. Earlier
this year, the government approved a bill abolishing capital punishment,
in part to encourage European and other countries to extradite suspected
masterminds of the country's 1994 genocide.

Rwanda has also signed on as a co-sponsor to a U.N. General Assembly
resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.

Rwanda's actions, the group said, were of "exceptionally symbolic value,
through which Rwanda has emblematically shown the world the possibility of
an end to the absurd cycle of vengeance and that justice and lawfulness
cannot be achieved with capital punishment."

Hands Off Cain said it believed the U.N. resolution -- which has failed in
previous years -- now has enough support to pass.

Italy has been at the forefront of the U.N. campaign.

(source: The Associated Press)






ZIMBABWE:
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Aug. 31



EUROPE/INDIA:

Sikhs Across Europe Call for End to Death Penalty in India


A European-wide protest by hundreds of Sikhs calling for an end to the
death penalty has just commenced in Brussels. The protest is taking place
outside the European Commission and European Parliament.

Following the protest rally a memorandum calling for an end to the death
penalty in India will be submitted to the European Commission, European
Parliament and Council of the European Union.

The European Parliament President, Hans-Gert Poettering and the EC
Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner are being
urged to link future trade with India if it puts an end to the death
penalty and respects basic human rights of minorities, such as the Sikhs.

The EU is India's largest trading partner with about 25 percent of Indian
exports coming to EU countries. The EU also provides the most foreign
investment to India. Last year 2-way trade between India and the EU
totalled about euro38 billion.

Given the level of trade the EU is in a strong position to make future
trade dependent upon the ending of the death penalty and a respect of
basic human rights.

Although Indias highest courts have ruled that the death penalty can only
be applied in the "rarest of rare" cases there are believed to be as many
as 700 people on death row in India.

The EU lobbied strongly against the execution of Dhanomjoy Chaterjee on 14
August 2004, which ended the long-standing moratorium on the death penalty
in India.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: The ending
of the moratorium was a backward and retrograde step by the Indian regime
and a show of defiance to the EU.

The protest is highlighting the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh
Bhullar where there is direct EU involvement. His case is one of the most
controversial and highest profile death penalty cases in recent Indian
history. Almost 12 years earlier Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar, a
Sikh political activist, was illegally deported from Germany. Davinderpal
Singh was handed over to the Indian authorities on the basis that he had
nothing to fear on his return to India.

For 12 years Davinderpal Singh has been forced to live with the mistake by
the German authorities. He was arrested and put in prison as soon as he
landed in Delhi, tortured to obtain a false confession, charged and almost
5 years ago sentenced to death by hanging for a crime he did not commit.

When Germany deported Davinderpal Singh to a death-penalty prone country
it violated the European Convention on Human Rights. After his
deportation, the court of appeal in Frankfurt allowed his appeal and said
that he should not have been deported as he would face torture, harassment
and death in India and were he to re-enter Germany he would be given
asylum.

The verdict of the court of appeal in Germany came too late for
Davinderpal Singh. Following international pressure in support of
Davinderpal Singh additional charges were brought against him. However,
six months ago the Professor was acquitted and all charges dropped.
Germany and the EU have a moral obligation to ensure the threat of the
death penalty by India is immediately withdrawn and the case against the
Professor is fully reviewed in accordance with international law, under
monitoring by international observers.

Earlier this month the latest death sentences were awarded to Jagtar Singh
and Balwant Singh by the Indian courts. This has resulted in worldwide
protests by Sikhs and leading figures in the Sikh community in Punjab have
expressed shock over the death sentences and condemned the Indian
authorities for taking this insensitive step and ignoring Sikh sentiments.

The European Commission, European Parliament and Council of the European
Union are being urged to press for an immediate withdrawal of the death
sentences imposed against Jagtar Singh and Balwant Singh.

Sikhs from Belgium will also be submitting a memorandum to the Belgium
Foreign Minister, Karel de Gucht and urging him to share it with the
Foreign Ministers of the other 27 EU Member States.

Bhai Amrik Singh said: 'The estimated 1 million Sikhs in Europe find
India's position on the death penalty totally unacceptable and calls on
the EU and the member states to force India to end the death penalty and
respect basic human rights or risk its trading position with the EU.'

(source: Panthic Weekly)






MALAYSIA:

Nonoi's stepdad gets death sentence for murdering toddler


It's the gallows for Nonoi's stepfather Mohammed Ali Johari.

The High Court has sentenced the 31-year-old to death for killing
2-year-old Nur Asyura Mohamed Fauzi, also known as Nonoi.

But his family and lawyers say they will appeal against the verdict.

In passing sentence on Friday, Judge Kan Ting Chiu said evidence in court
showed the child was killed when Mohammed Ali dunked her in a pail of
water three times last year.

Nonoi's naked body was then dumped under the Aljunied Flyover.

She was initially reported as missing, leading to an islandwide search on
1 March, 2006.

The truth only came to light when Mohammed Ali confessed three days later
to the police that he killed the child.

The defence had argued that Mohammed Ali was provoked by the little girl's
non-stop wailing.

But the judge dismissed the argument as evidence did not show that
Mohammed Ali had lost self-control.

Even though it was proven that Mohammed Ali had killed the girl, the judge
said he was not convinced by the prosecution that the murder was
intentional.

Defence lawyer R S Bajwa said: "All I can say at this stage is that the
court concluded that he did not intend to kill the child. That's something
we'll be taking up on appeal. The court also did not say anything about
whether he was responsible for the sexual injuries found on the child."

The courtroom was full, with three quarters of the seats taken up by
Mohammed Ali's parents and other family members. But Nonoi's mother was
nowhere in sight.

When the death sentence was passed, Mohammed Ali was calm. But his mother
broke down and fainted, and his siblings started sobbing.

The lawyers then requested the officers to let Mohammed Ali's father have
a brief moment with his son.

"I told him to pray. He agreed. That's all. There's nothing else for him
to do now," said the father, in Malay.

(source: ChannelNewsAsia)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
URGENT ACTION APPEAL

31 August 2007
UA 230/07 Death penalty/ Fear of imminent execution

IRAN Behnam Zare' (m), aged 18

Behnam Zare' has been convicted of a murder committed when
he was 15 years old, and is now at risk of imminent
execution, though Iran is a state party to international
treaties including the Convention on the Rights of the Child
(CRC), which expressly prohibit the execution of child
offenders. Behnam Zare' has been detained in Adelabad
prison, in the south-western city of Shiraz, since his
arrest. His death sentence could be carried out at any time.

The murder reportedly took place on 21 April 2005, when
Behnam Zare' swung a knife during an argument with a man
named Mehrdad, wounding him in the neck. Mehrdad later died
in hospital. Behnam Zare' was detained on 13 November 2005;
Branch 5 of Fars Criminal Court sentenced him to qesas
(retribution) on charges of premeditated murder. Under
Article 206 (b) of Iran's Criminal Code, murder is classed
as premeditated ''in cases where the murderer intentionally
makes an action which is inherently lethal, even if [the
murderer] does not intend to kill the person.'' The case
went on appeal before Branch 33 of the Supreme Court where
the sentence was upheld, and it has now been passed to the
Office for Implementation of Sentences.

Behnam Zare' was reportedly not aware that he had been
sentenced to death until a recent visit from his lawyer.

Around 11 August, his family were reportedly asked to seek a
pardon from the victim's family, who have so far reportedly
refused to grant one.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
International law strictly prohibits the use of the death
penalty against people convicted of crimes committed when
they were under 18. As a state party to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the CRC,
Iran has undertaken not to execute child offenders. However,
since 1990, Iran has executed at least 24 child offenders.
At least 71 child offenders are currently on death row in
Iran.

For more information about Amnesty International's concerns
regarding executions of child offenders in Iran, please see:
Iran: The last executioner of children (MDE 13/059/2007,
June 2007)
http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde130592007

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly
as possible:
- expressing concern that Behnam Zare' is at risk of
execution for a crime committed when he was under 18;
- calling on the authorities to halt the planned execution
of Behnam Zare' immediately, and commute his death sentence;
- reminding the authorities that Iran is a state party to
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and
the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibit
the use of the death penalty against people convicted of
crimes committed when they were under 18, and that the
execution of Behnam Zare' would therefore be a violation of
international law;
- urging the authorities to pass legislation to abolish the
death penalty for offences committed by anyone under the age
of 18, so as to bring Iran's domestic law into line with its
obligations under international law;
- stating that Amnesty International acknowledges the right
and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those
suspected of criminal offences, but unconditionally opposes
the death penalty.

APPEALS TO:
Leader of the Islamic Republic:
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: ***@leader.ir
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary:
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building
Panzdah-Khordad Square,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: ***@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write:
FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:
President:
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: dr-***@president.ir
via website: www.president.ir/email

Iran does not presently have an embassy in this country.
Instead, please send copies to:
Iranian Interests Section
2209 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington DC 20007
Phone: 202 965 4990
Fax: 202 965 1073
Email: ***@daftar.org

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the AIUSA Urgent
Action office if sending appeals after 12 October 2007.


Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement
that promotes and defends human rights.

This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including
contact information and stop action date (if applicable).
Thank you for your help with this appeal.

Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave SE 5th fl
Washington DC 20003
Email: ***@aiusa.org
http://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent/
Phone: 202.544.0200
Fax: 202.675.8566

----------------------------------
END OF URGENT ACTION APPEAL
----------------------------------
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 3



UGANDA:

In Uganda, Capital Punishment Sparks Anguish on Both Sides of the Prison
Bars


It is rare that the commissioner of prisons disagrees with the president.
But Johnson Byabashaija adamantly opposes capital punishment and thinks at
least some of the more than 500 death row inmates here are innocent.

Even so, if President Museveni orders him to execute one of those
prisoners, the commissioner said he will obey.

"If Museveni directs, we shall carry an order out. It's our obligation,"
Mr. Byabashaija said with resignation, adding that he hopes those orders
never come.

Though there were 3 military executions in 2003, Uganda hasn't put a
civilian to death since 1999. In that year, 28 people were hanged at
Luzira Prison. But despite the unofficial moratorium, death sentences
continue to be handed down, and the nation remains on Amnesty
International's list of death penalty practitioners.

Across the African continent, capital punishment is becoming increasingly
unpopular. In nearby Tanzania, despite the fact that no law has officially
abolished the death penalty President Kikwete hasn't executed anyone since
1994 and in August of this year, he commuted all death sentences to life
imprisonment.

And though there are reports of extrajudicial killings in Rwanda's
prisons, that country's Parliament officially outlawed the death penalty
in June. Neighboring Kenya hasn't executed anyone since 1986, though a
recent push to abolish capital punishment could have the opposite effect
and expedite executions.

"Nobody has the right to take away life. With the death penalty, the
government is taking away life," said Mr. Byabashaija, a decorated
prisons-officer who has served in the Ugandan government as a civil
servant since he received his veterinary degree in 1982. He began his
career by supervising animals kept by the prison system and then raised
money for prisons through the system's poultry farm, which led to regular
promotions until he was appointed commissioner in 2005.

"Our criminal justice system is not foolproof. There is the danger of an
innocent person being wrongfully convicted, and you cannot reverse that,"
Mr. Byabashaija said. "We are a Third World country. We are understaffed.
How many policemen are available? The raw number of crimes overwhelms the
police officers and compromises the quality of investigation."

Still, despite his opposition to the death penalty, Mr. Byabashaija told
The New York Sun: "Death is not a punishment. Everyone shall die anyway."

At least 1 person would disagree with him.

"I'm Susan Kigula, a death row inmate. I've served seven years. They
allege that I killed my late husband with my housegirl," Ms. Kigula said,
calm and measured, concerned with her own fate and that of her housegirl,
or maid, who supposedly assisted her in brutally murdering her husband.
She has told the story many times always with the insistence that she is
innocent, pointing out the fact that the key testimony against her came
from a child who was only 3 years old at the time of the alleged crime.

"The justice system makes mistakes because it is comprised of human
beings, who are bound to make mistakes. No one is perfect," she said.

Based on her conversations with other death row prisoners, Ms. Kigula
estimates that only 60% of the people sentenced to die here actually
committed the crimes for which they were convicted. The rest, she said,
are victims of a broken legal system.

In a 2006 report titled "Uganda: Challenging the Death Penalty," the
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative found that nearly 90% of the
country's death row inmates have little or no command of the English
language, which is used in all court proceedings. Thus, suspects often are
often unable to follow their own trials or even to understand the charges
against them.

Additionally, 94% of inmates were found to be from lower economic classes,
and 90% of the crimes were found to have been committed outside Kampala in
rural areas where police departments are understaffed and underfunded.

All of these factors diminish a suspect's chances for a fair trial, said
Livingstone Sewanyana, the director of FHRI, a Ugandan nongovernmental
organization focusing on legal rights issues.

In Ms. Kigula's case, these issues don't apply: She is a rarity among
inmates in that she speaks very good English and was educated through the
equivalent of high school an uncommon level of education among the mainly
illiterate prisoners.

However, she still insists her trial was unfair, which is why she is now
the lead in Uganda's first class action lawsuit challenging the death
penalty: Kigula and 416 others vs. the Attorney General of Uganda.

Filed in 2003, the case has been stalled in the courts since 2005.While
the law firm of Katende, Ssempebwa, and Company initially won on 2 counts
in the Constitutional Court securing a ruling that ended mandatory death
sentences for specific categories of crime and that stopped sentences from
being delayed more than 3 years the firm on 2 other counts. The court
ruled that the death penalty was indeed constitutional and that hanging
was not a cruel and inhumane method of execution.

The defense appealed, and Uganda's attorney general counterappealed.

Now, the case is currently waiting to be heard in the Supreme Court, which
has been 2 judges short of a quorum since one of the justices passed away
in June 2006. The court is waiting on President Museveni to approve the
appointments of other judges.

Though Amnesty International declined to comment specifically on the
Kigula case, they did agree that the courts are the best way to challenge
the death penalty. "For the death penalty to go off the books, we have to
have the Cabinet and Parliament to agree," an Amnesty International
researcher for East Africa, Godfrey Odongo, said. "That is where we need
change, and that is where Amnesty International concentrates its action."

Meanwhile, Ms. Kigula is just glad so many people are working on her case.
But, she said, she doesn't blame anyone for her time in jail she just
prays that she will soon be released. "One day in prison is a thousand
years," Ms. Kigula said, tears dripping down her cheeks and falling on the
red-and-white gingham of her prison uniform.

Susan Kigula's life will be spared as long as her case is held up in the
courts, a fact that makes Mr. Byabashaija glad that no announcement will
be posted on the board at the main prison gate any time soon.

"In 1999," when the last civilian executions were carried out, "the notice
said it will be at such and such a time," Mr. Byabashaija said. "It is not
comfortable. Me, I've never seen an execution being carried out," he
added, since it is not one of his duties as commissioner to witness the
executions. "I shiver at the prospect."

But Ms. Kigula's mental anguish is directly related to the timelessness of
her sentence and the interminable waiting. "My relatives have abandoned
me. They got tired of waiting," she said. "If they sentenced me to some
number of years, they have hope you're coming out, but if you're sentenced
to death, you are left on your own with God."

(source: The New York Sun)






THAILAND:

Man gets death for murder of tourists


A 26-year-old Thai man has been sentenced to death for the premeditated
murder earlier this year of 2 female Russian tourists, on the beach at the
seaside resort of Pattaya southeast of Bangkok.

The Chonburi Provincial Court on Monday handed down its verdict,
convicting Anuchit Lamlert on 6 counts of murder in the deaths of Tatiana
Tsimfer, age 30, and Liubov Svirkova, 25, who were killed at Pattaya's
Jomtien Beach, about 160 kilometres southeast of Bangkok, in the early
morning hours of February 24.

According to a statement issued by the Criminal Court in Pattaya, a
municipality in this province, Mr. Anuchit confessed to the shooting
deaths of the 2 women in an case of attempted robbery.

Executions in Thailand are carried out by lethal injection, but Mr.
Anuchit's case must first be reviewed by automatic appeal to a higher
court in Bangkok, the Thai capital.

In death the 2 women joined a continuing roll of tourist casualties which
has led to increased vigilance on the part of police and tourism agencies
in Thailand's popular holiday resorts.

(source: Bangkok Post)






CHINA:

China says death sentences fewest in a decade


The number of people sentenced to death by Chinese courts in 2006 was the
lowest in nearly a decade and the trend has continued this year following
a key legal reform, state media said on Monday.

International rights groups had estimated China executes between 5,000 and
12,000 people a year, more than any other country.

But China has been slowly reforming the death penalty system after several
high-profile wrongful convictions raised public anger.

The Supreme People's Court took back on Jan. 1 its power of final approval
on death penalties, relinquished to provincial high courts in a
crime-fighting campaign in the 1980s.

"Among the death penalty cases the Supreme People's Court reviewed from
January to July, a relatively large proportion was not given approval,"
Jiang Xingchang, vice president of the top court, told Outlook Weekly
magazine.

"That is to say, executions would have been authorised (by provincial
courts) if the final review power had not been taken back," Jiang said in
rare official comments on the effect of the reform.

The approval rate had been increasing as a percentage of all death penalty
cases, but it only reflected the improved quality of initial trials by
local courts, Jiang was quoted as saying.

Jiang said the number of Chinese sentenced to death in 2006 was the
smallest in about 10 years and the figure continued to drop in the 1st
half of 2007. He did not give figures.

Chinese media reported last week that the rehabilitation of Nie Shubin,
widely believed to have been wrongfully executed in 1995 for rape and
murder, crimes a man named Wang Shujin said in 2005 that he had committed,
had run into difficulty.

Authorities in the northern province of Hebei had chosen not to prosecute
Wang for the crimes and sentenced him to death on other counts of murder,
the Southern Weekend newspaper said.

Chinese media have widely suspected the omission was aimed at protecting
police, prosecutors and judges involved in Nie's case more than 10 years
ago.

Wang had appealed -- not against the death sentence but against the fact
he was not charged with the rape and murder in Nie's case, saying he
wanted to prove Nie's innocence, the newspaper said.

(source: Reuters)






IRAN:

UN human rights chief in Tehran amid widespread executions


Mrs. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, attended a
meeting on human rights in Tehran today, the state-run news agency IRNA
reported.

The meeting is apparently organized by the Non-Aligned Movement to address
human rights and cultural diversity.

Mrs. Arbour's visit which was not previously announced, takes place at a
time when the most brutal suppression is going on in Iran and a rising
number of people and political opponents of the religious dictatorship are
hanged in public and in prisons everyday.

Over 100 people have been hanged in the past 6 months according to media
reports in Iran. This does not take into account executions taking place
in secret. In July and August, the number of executions took a sharp rise.

Human rights organizations and activists as well as political groups and
personalities around the world have condemned the new wave of executions
in Iran and called on the international community to intervene.

Upon Mrs. Arbour's arrival in Tehran, members of families of political
prisoners and those on death row tried to contact her and appeal for help.
Her visit to Tehran is considered by prisoners and their families as a
possible response to their calls on the world body for help. Some of the
families have rushed to Tehran for a chance of seeing the UN chief on
human rights and deliver their personal appeals.

Representatives of various groups including students, women, workers,
teachers, nurses, journalists and many others are trying to reach the UN
office in Tehran to seek an appointment with Mrs. Arbour.

On August 27, 2007, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, Mrs. Maryam
Rajavi appealed to the conscientious people of the world to condemn
executions in Iran. She called for immediate referral of the regime's
human rights dossier to the UN Security Council for adoption of binding
measures against the mullahs.

People of Iran who are living under the brutal tyranny of the mullahs as
well as defenders of human rights across the world expect a serious and
immediate measure by the international community to stop executions in
Iran. The political prisoners and their families fear that if their plight
is not addressed by the UN human rights chief on her visit to Tehran, the
criminal mullahs will take it as a green light to continue with their
barbarism and executions.

(source: National Council of Resistance of Iran - Foreign Affairs
Committee)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 4



IRAQ:

Iraq confirms death sentence for 'Chemical Ali'


Iraq's top court said on Tuesday it has confirmed the death sentence on
"Chemical Ali" and 2 other cohorts of Saddam Hussein convicted of genocide
and they will be hanged within 30 days.

"The Iraqi Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentence on Ali Hassan
al-Majid, Sultan Hashim al-Tai and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti," court chief
Judge Aref Shaheen told a press conference.

Asked when the three would be executed, Shaheen replied: "According to
Iraqi law, sentence must be carried out withing 30 days, no more."

Majid, widely known as "Chemical Ali" for using poison gas against ethnic
Kurds, was the executed Iraqi dictator's most notorious hatchet man, Tai
was his defence minister and Tikriti was armed forces deputy chief of
operations.

The 3 were sentenced to death on June 24 after being found responsible for
the slaughter of thousands of Kurds in the so-called Anfal campaign of
1988.

An estimated 182,000 Kurds were killed and 4,000 villages wiped out in the
brutal campaign of bombings, mass deportation and gas attacks.

"Thousands of people were killed, displaced and disappeared," Iraqi High
Tribunal chief judge Mohammed al-Oreibi al-Khalifah said after he had
passed sentence in June.

"They were civilians with no weapons and nothing to do with war."

Majid, 66, was the last of the 6 defendants to learn his fate in the Anfal
case -- the 2nd trial of former Saddam cohorts on charges of crimes
against humanity since the fall of the feared regime in 2003.

He muttered only "Thanks be to God" before being led from the court.

He and the other 2 condemned men are currently on trial for their alleged
roles in brutally crushing a Shiite uprising in southern Iraq in 1991, but
the charges against them will be dropped once they have been executed.

Saddam's regime said the Anfal campaign was a necessary counter-insurgency
operation during Iraq's 8-year war with neighbouring Iran.

It involved the systematic bombardment, gassing and assault of areas in
the Kurdish autonomous region, which witnessed mass executions and
deportations and the creation of prison camps.

Saddam, driven from power by a US-led invasion in April 2003, was executed
on December 30 for crimes against humanity in a separate case and charges
against him over the Anfal campaign were dropped.

Saddam's former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan was hanged for crimes
against humanity on March 20, while the dictator's half-brother Barzan
Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, the ex-chief of Iraq's
Revolutionary Court, were hanged on January 15.

Over the course of the Anfal trial, which opened on August 21 last year, a
defiant Majid said he was right to order the attacks.

"I am the one who gave orders to the army to demolish villages and
relocate the villagers," he said at one hearing. "I am not defending
myself. I am not apologising. I did not make a mistake."

Iraqi Kurds were jubilant following the verdicts but initial plans to
execute Majid in the Kurdish town of Halabja have been scrapped so the
hanging does not appear to be motivated by revenge, an Iraqi government
official said.

On March 16, 1988, Saddam's troops strafed Halabja with chemical gases,
killing 5,000 Kurds in one of the biggest military operations against the
people of the northern Kurdish region during the Iran-Iraq war.

Human Rights Watch has expressed concern that the Anfal verdicts were as
"flawed" as in the previous trial of Saddam over the killing of Shiites
from the village of Dujail in the 1980s.

(source: Agence France-Presse)






FRANCE:

Sarkozy And The Death Penalty----Father of abused boy says Sarkozy
supports capital punishment


The father of a 5 year old boy kidnapped and raped by a recently-released
paedophile has claimed that Nicolas Sarkozy confided to him that he, too,
supported the death penalty for paedophiles.

Mustafa Kocakurt, the father of Enis, told French TV personality in an
interview Karl Zero that he supported the death penalty for paedophiles.
When he met the President following the rescue of his son, he said Sarkozy
agreed with his sentiment.

The Elysee is likely to be embarrassed by M Kocakurt's claims. France
abolished the death penalty in 1981 and has since been a high-profile
campaigner against capital punishment. Indeed, it is illegal for EU
governments to reintroduce the death penalty and France earlier this year
modified its constitution to enshrine the law that "nobody can be
sentenced to death."

A poll last year showed that 51 % of French voters opposed the death
penalty and 41 % supported it. Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front is
the only prominent politician to support the death penalty.

Sarkozy, while unlikely to reopen the debate on capital punishment, has
indicated that he will seek new ways of dealing with persistent paedophile
offenders. In August, M Kocakurt's son Enis was kidnapped and raped by 61
year old Francis Evrard, who had recently been released from prison after
serving 2/3 of a 27 year sentence for raping three children. The French
public's disbelief and fury mounted as it became clear that Evrard, who
claimed to have abused forty children, had been given Viagra by a prison
doctor.

Sarkozy called an emergency cabinet session, after which he announced he
was considering introducing chemical castration for offenders.

The French response once again contrasts notably with the British
experience. This week, a 39- year old man was sentenced to 6 years in
prison for the rape of a 12 year old girl. Shakil Chowdhury raped the
child 11 times and even invited 2 friends to sexually abuse her too. The
Victims Support Group reacted with disgust to the leniency of the
sentence.

(source: EURSOC)






JAPAN:

CABINET INTERVIEW----NEW JUSTICE MINISTER; Hatoyama a hawk on death
penalty, illegal immigrants


When he appointed Kunio Hatoyama as justice minister Aug. 27, Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe requested that the veteran lawmaker help Japan regain
its recognition as one of the world's safest countries.

Facing reporters later that day, Hatoyama was quick to display his
determination to heed Abe's call, quickly supporting capital punishment
and pointing to the threat of crimes committed by foreigners.

"The death penalty embodies preventive functions against crimes. I
disagree with abolishing the system," the 58-year-old stated in his first
news conference at the Justice Ministry. "Cutting the number of illegal
immigrants in half is also a goal for this administration. We must tighten
up immigration management to achieve that," he said, referring to the
growing perception that more crimes are being committed by foreign
nationals.

Hatoyama, a conservative hawk who makes frequent visits to Yasukuni
Shrine, hails from a prominent political family. His grandfather, Ichiro,
was a prime minister, and his father, Iichiro, a foreign minister.
Hatoyama's older brother, Yukio, is secretary general of the Democratic
Party of Japan.

The Tokyo native began his political career as a secretary to his father
and the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka before winning a seat in the
1976 Lower House election.

Hatoyama later went through a period of turbulence, leaving the Liberal
Democratic Party in 1993 and helping form the DPJ in 1996, only to resign
as a lawmaker 3 years later and run for Tokyo governor in 1999. When that
failed, he ran on the LDP ticket and won a Lower House seat in 2000.

Although Hatoyama has served as both education and labor minister, the
tasks he faces at the Justice Ministry require trickier decision-making,
especially authorizing hangings. But he pledged to make advancements
during his stint in office.

In an interview Friday, he said the death-row population, reduced to 103
after Hatoyama's predecessor, Jinen Nagase, sent 3 to the gallows last
month, is still "a large number."

"One must be extra careful in approving death penalties because it is
about ending human life," Hatoyama said, but added that failure to
authorize capital punishment runs against the nature of the legal system.

"Executions should be carried out aptly" under the Constitution, he said.

Cabinet profiles Regarding long-term policies for accepting overseas
workers, Hatoyama said the government could add more job categories for
which foreign nationals with skills and expertise can apply.

But he disagreed with some of Nagase's proposals to open the market and
accept manual laborers and unskilled workers.

"Considering Japan's culture, I must question whether that is a good
idea," Hatoyama said. "This may not be the right thing to say, but that
could provoke an increase in crimes by foreign nationals."

Asked if he intends to reject Nagase's proposal, Hatoyama simply stated,
"I am the justice minister (now)."

A close friend to LDP Secretary General Taro Aso, Hatoyama promised not
only to "become a good justice minister" but also support Abe and his
Cabinet in the wake of the LDP-New Komeito ruling bloc's loss of its
majority in the July Upper House election.

"This Cabinet is facing a difficult time, but I believe it's healthy for
Cabinet members to feel pressure and tension," he said. "I will make use
of my connection with my brother if that is required anytime in the
future."

(source: Japan Times)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 6



ZAMBIA:

A quiet life on death row ---- Hundreds are killed each year, but the
government couldnt find an executioner


In a country where most people have no job, and those who do are rarely
paid, you would expect a horde of applicants for an occasional position
that requires only basic skills and pays US$3,500 a go, plus a nice house
to live in and a Lexus to drive.

But the job's been vacant for 12 years. Finally the government has given
up searching for an applicant at home, and has gone abroad to find
someone. And its search has been successful.
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 7



IRAQ:

Saddam aides face execution Saturday


A lawyer for Ali Hasan "Chemical Ali" Al-Majid and other former aides of
ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein said the 3 are to be executed Saturday.

Majid Badee Aref Ezzat said his clients informed him by phone that the
executions were moved up, KUNA, the Kuwait News Agency, reported Thursday.

An Iraqi appeals court Tuesday refused to overturn the death sentences
handed down to Majid, former Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashem Ahmed
and former Deputy Director of Operations for the Iraqi Armed Forces
Hussein Rashid Mohammed after they were convicted of crimes against
humanity for the massacre of about 180,000 Kurds using chemical weapons.

Judge Mounir Haddad said the appeals court decision was sent to the Iraqi
president, who set the date for the executions. He said the death
sentences were upheld by a majority decision.

(source: United Press International)

**********************

Iraq President Objects to Execution


The Iraqi president raised objections Friday to the planned execution of
Saddam Hussein's former defense minister, who is due to be hanged with 2
other former regime officials for their roles in a massacre of Kurds.

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said former Defense Minister Sultan
Hashim Ahmad al-Tai deserved to be spared because he had been carrying out
orders under threat of death by Saddam and because he had engaged in
unofficial contact with the Kurdish community under the ousted regime.

Earlier this week, an Iraqi appeals court upheld the death sentences
imposed against al-Tai, along with Ali Hassan al-Majid, who gained the
nickname "Chemical Ali" after poison gas attacks on Kurdish towns in the
1980s, and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, former deputy director of operations
for the Iraqi Armed Forces.

All three were convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against
humanity in June for their role in the brutal crackdown that killed up to
180,000 Kurdish civilians and guerrillas two decades ago known as
"Operation Anfal."

Under Iraqi law, the appeals court decision must be ratified by Talabani
and Iraq's 2 vice presidents.

Talabani has said he is opposed to the death penalty. But he previously
deputized Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite Muslim, to sign
execution orders on his behalf.

The Iraqi president said Friday, however, that he would not support the
decision against al-Tai.

"Personally, I will not support executing Sultan Hashim," he said at a
news conference in Sulaimaniyah, a city in the autonomous Kurdish region
160 miles northeast of Baghdad.

"If the court will carry out its verdicts without referring them to the
presidency council that is something else," he said. "But if they will
refer them, then we will register reservations these verdicts."

He said the reservations would include executing former Iraqi army
officers because many of them had been forced to implement orders by death
threats, although he stressed that did not justify their crimes against
the Iraqi people.

"But a character like Sultan Hashim, with whom we had contacts during
Saddam Hussein's era, is something else. We were urging him to work
against the government, so how can I now vote for his execution. I will
never ever do that," Talabani said.

The Iraqi High Tribunal upheld the death sentences in a majority decision
on Tuesday, and appellate court judge Munir Hadad said the government must
carry out the executions within a 30-day period.

Prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said only that the executions had to be
approved by the government and the president's office.

"If there is a law that exempts Sultan Hashim from execution, we are with
this law," al-Moussawi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview,
declining further comment.

Defense lawyer Badee Izzat Aref said his clients informed him that they
believe the executions will occur next week before the Islamic holy month
of Ramadan begins and they wanted to meet with their families beforehand.

He also complained that the government was planning to carry out the
punishment without Talabani's approval.

The Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party also said Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi
had sent letters to the government appealing for the execution to be
stopped if Talabani does not sign the order.

Al-Tai negotiated the cease-fire than ended the 1991 Gulf War, when a
U.S.-led coalition drove Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

(source: Associated Press)






MALAYSIA:

'Free convicts if grounds not written'


The Bar Council wants the judiciary to free long serving convicted
prisoners who are waiting for their appeals to be heard.

Its Human Rights Committee chairman Edmund Bon said it was the
constitutional right of prisoners to a speedy trial and expedient appeal,
especially when life and freedom was affected.

"We suggest that the courts set free those convicted if the written
grounds of judgment for their appeal had not been written within six
months of their sentencing," he said.

Bon said the appellate court could also act on its own to call up cases if
prisoners had filed their appeals.

He said this in response to a report that more than 1,000 convicted
prisoners in jail could not appeal against their sentences as Sessions
Court judges and magistrates have not submitted written judgments.

Similarly, judges in the High Court and Court of Appeal have also not
provided judgments in at least 100 cases that carried the death penalty.

Lawyer Karpal Singh said there was a circular which required subordinate
court judges to provide the grounds of judgment within 4 weeks after an
appeal was filed.

For the High Court, it was 8 weeks.

"Obviously, these circulars have been ignored," he said.

Kuala Lumpur Criminal Practice Committee chairman N. Sivananthan called
upon newly appointed Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Alauddin Mohd Sheriff to
conduct and independent audit to determine the number of outstanding
judgments in criminal and civil cases.

"We hope he will make public the figures and act without fear or favour
against judicial officers who are persistent in not writing judgments
after notice was given," he said.

Similarly, Court of Appeal president Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad should
ensure that grounds of decision were provided as soon as possible where it
involved capital punishments.

(source: New Straits Times)






JAMAICA:

CONDEMNED TO DIE - The story of a former death row inmate


Anthony 'Fines' Ashwood - says he spent 10 years on death row for a crime
he didn't commit.

He spent 21 years in prison. For 10 of those years he was on death row.
For 10 long years, he waited to die. Anthony 'Fines' Ashwood said from the
moment the jury pronounced him guilty of murder and the judge sentenced
him to hang, his days were numbered.

Crammed into a small cell at the Spanish Town District Prison, he endured
the mind-numbing horror of listening as the bodies of 30 of his former
inmates were slowly wheeled past his cell on their way from the gallows to
their final resting place within the prison walls.

"You see, where I was located, every dead man haffi pass my cell. Di
coffin dem haffi pass my cell pon a cart and go up fi di body dem and come
down back," he recalled.

Excruciating task

For Fines, listening as the bodies were taken past his cell on their final
journey was excruciating.

"When I put my foot pon di wall and climb and peep through the vents in my
cell, I could see the grave dem a dig," he recalled.

"Di cart have on two wheels and a pure squeaking it make when dem a push
it," he continued as he imitated the squeaking sound that rang like a
death knell down the corridor of death row and reverberated in the minds
of every inmate waiting to be hanged.

The sound, a gruesome reminder that the next day or next week or the next
month, it could be their bodies being carted to an unmarked grave and
forever entombed behind prison walls.

Strength from others

According to Fines, when he arrived at the Spanish Town District Prison,
he gradually lost the fear that gripped him when the judge handed down his
sentence to be hanged until dead, and he drew strength and hope from other
inmates who had been on death row for several years before he arrived.
According to him, Earl Pratt, who was released from prison recently, was
one of them.

"When mi go pon death row, mi did confused, me did scared, me neva know
what fi expect, because this is somewhere where mi say dem a go hang mi.
Mi did a look somewhere fi run or jump, but a pure grille, and walls and
barb wires and gun surround mi," he recalled, the dread still evident in
his voice.

"It took me a little while to get rid of the fear, but what helped me is
that people get strong off other people; if me weak and you move with self
confidence, mi will look pon it and say how mi come see you and you a
cope.

"So by talking to other death row inmates, I was able to gain courage and
followed their example in writing letters to the Privy Council and
international human rights bodies to get help for my case," Fines stated.

"Mi start deal with it one day at a time and try fi understand the place.
Me try fi get fi know the rules and the regulations and the laws and
history of certain things, because prison is like a different world," he
continued.

Despite many attempts to thwart the hanging process through filing various
appeals to delay the inevitable, Fines said many of the men who were on
death row with him were taken to the gallows. He estimates that in the 10
years that he was on death row, 30 men were hanged.

Painful process

He explained the painful process that the condemned men had to go through
and which those who were waiting their turn to die had to witness
countless times.

"You see if dem come for you this evening, you have at least a weekor a
week and a half before dem hang you. There is a process that you have to
go through before dem hang you and if that process is turned down, the day
before you are to be hanged, the Governor-General will sit in Privy
Council and decide if you were to be given a stay of execution, if you
were to be executed or if you were to be given a reprieve," he explained.

Fines explained the morbid practice of 'fattening up' the persons who were
in the condemned cells waiting to be hanged. According to Fines, men who
were given basic prison fare for years, in the face of their impending
death, were told that they could order any kind of food that they desired.
A few did just that, but according to Fines, many just did not have the
stomach for food, no matter how appetising it might have seemed and simply
waited for death to arrive while slowly losing their fragile grip on
sanity.

"Those times you get the best food. Anything you ask for - beef, pizza,
steak, anything!" he stated.

"Most of them don't ask, but some a dem will ask, because dem know say dem
nah come back!" he emphasised.

He explained another morbid practice of constantly monitoring the men in
the condemned cells to ensure that they did not get the opportunity to
harm or, heaven forbid, kill themselves before they were to be hanged.

"(On the condemned block), them have three cell(s) and the officer dem sit
in a likkle place in front a dem, anything whey dem (the condemned men) do
? if dem spit, anything whey dem do, dem see. Dem duty is fi ensure that
dem (the prisoners) no hurt themselves before they are hanged. You see, if
dem see dem move like dem want to hurt themselves, them just go in, hold
them and restrain them by tying them up," he continued.

7-day countdown

While the wait on death row with the hundreds of inmates is nerve-racking
on an everyday basis, when those whose time have come are moved to the
condemned cells and they begin the seven-day countdown to their final
hour, Fines said many of those waiting to be killed by the hangman's noose
tried to thwart the system by attempting to kill themselves in horrific
and painful ways.

"You have man who will just run and slam dem head inna di grille, just fi
try fi thwart di hanging (process)," he continued. "So dem haffi watch
dem, straight from di week before dem go over deh until dem hang them,"
Fines continued as he explained the constant monitoring of the condemned
men who were waiting to die.

However, he explained that some of the condemned men's desperate attempts
at suicide were more than just attempts to deny the hangman the task of
hanging them.

According to Fines, many of them were simply making final bids to secure
their freedom after death, trying to ensure that they were buried outside
the prison walls.

(source: Jamaica Gleaner)






UGANDA:

Replace death penalty, says American judge


A visiting American judge wants Ugandan judges to substitute the death
penalty with lighter sentences for convicted capital offenders. Mr Abdulai
O. Conteh, the Chief Justice of Belize, a Caribbean State, said Uganda
should be part of the growing world trend against the death penalty.

"It is not that every murderer found guilty by the courts deserves death,"
he said.

He was presenting a paper on 'Sentencing Procedures for Capital Offenders'
at a training workshop for lawyers, members of civil society organisations
and the academia.

The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) organised the event with
the Uganda Law Society.

Justice Conteh commended the Constitutional Court decision that relaxed
the sentencing procedure of capital offenders in Uganda, thereby outlawing
provisions of the law that make the death penalty mandatory in certain
offences.

He said instead of sentencing inmates to suffer death, the courts could
prefer other jail terms and life imprisonment, "depending on the
circumstances under which the offence was committed and the circumstances
of the convict."

Uganda has over 500 prisoners on death row in the Luzira and Kirinya
Prison.

In 2003, about 417 of them challenged the circumstances under which they
were sentenced, calling them unconstitutional and unfair. Prof Frederick
Ssempebwa who represented them, delivered a paper at the seminar.

(source: Daily Monitor)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 10



SOUTH AFRICA:

New party wants death penalty


The newly-formed National Peoples Party wants to bring back the death
penalty, and seeks tougher action on drugs.

These are 2 of the points in its draft statement of principles, released
on Monday.

Party leader David Sasman said the document would have to be discussed at
a party congress before a final set could be drawn up.

The draft said the NPP wanted mandatory death sentences for crimes against
the state, murder, rape, drug trafficking and molestation.

It said it would introduce an "effective management system" for safer
neighbourhoods, and would participate in "the destruction of shebeens,
drug outlets and gangsterism".

(source: IOL.com)






IRAQ:

Judge paves way for executions


The executions of three former officials in Saddam Hussein's regime can be
carried out without presidential decrees because of the scale of their
crimes, a judge said Monday.

The statement by Munir Hadad, a judge and spokesman for the Iraqi High
Tribunal, appeared to pave the way for the hanging in the next few weeks
of the 3 men despite objections by President Jalal Talabani and the Sunni
vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi.

Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai was sentenced to death along
with Saddam's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majidwidely known as "Chemical Ali"and
Hussein Rashid Mohammed, former deputy operations director of the Iraqi
armed forces. All three were convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes
against humanity for their roles in the massacre of thousands of Kurds 2
decades ago.

Questions were raised last week over the legality of the decision as
Talabani said he would not sign off on it. Al-Hashemi and members of
al-Tai's tribe and family warned his death could incite sectarian violence
at a time when the government is working for national reconciliation.

Talabani, a Kurdish leader whose revolt against Saddam led to the
crackdown for which the three were convicted, said he had reservations
against hanging former Iraqi army officers who were acting under threat of
death from Saddam if they disobeyed.

He spoke warmly of al-Tai, saying he "had contacts" with the Kurds during
Saddam's regime and "we were urging him to work against the government."

"So how can I now vote for his execution? I will never ever do that,"
Talabani said Friday.

He also raised the legal point that the execution order was never cleared
with the presidency council, which includes himself and the 2 vice
presidents, one a Shiite and the other a Sunni.

The constitution says the 3 must sign off on death sentences, but Iraqi
legal experts are divided over whether that rule applies to the special
court trying former regime figures for horrific crimes.

Hadad, the spokesman for the tribunal overseeing the trials, said the
constitution and the court's law are clear that the death sentences cannot
be commuted and the punishments must be carried out within 30 days.

"It does not need a presidential decree," he said at a news conference.

Article 71 in Iraq's constitution states that a special amnesty against
the death sentence can be granted except for those charged with
international crimes, terrorism and financial and administrative
corruption.

"Genocide and crimes against humanity are considered international
crimes," Hadad said.

However, prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said a government advisory
committee, the State Shura Council, had ruled that the presidency council
must agree to an execution. Al-Hashemi said he had no doubt that the
council must agree to the hanging, and he called for a stay of execution
unless Talabani and the others approve.

(source: Associated Press)






SAUDI ARABIA/ SRI LANKA:

Sri Lanka deathrow teen in Saudi dreams of freedom


A Sri Lankan teenager Rizana Nafeek who is on death row is being treated
well by her jailors and was hoping an appeal of her sentence will succeed,
media reports said.

"Rizana was so confident that she told me to bring some good clothes to
wear when she comes out of jail," Arab News quoted social worker Kifaya
Ifthikar, who visited her in jail, as saying.

"She also wanted a Tamil translation of the Holy Qur'an, which I gave the
woman jailor to hand to her."

Rizana, who was employed as a housemaid in Saudi Arabia, was condemned to
death after a baby died while in her care. The Asian Human Rights
Commission has already put up money for her appeal.

In prison, Rizana was in normal clothes and said that she spends her time
reciting the Qur'an, praying and watching television, Arab News said.

Kifaya said Rizana said that her jailors, who are all women, look after
her well.

"The place is fully air-conditioned and there is a TV for Rizana to pass
her time," Kifaya said, adding that she was given 60 riyals a month to buy
toiletries some of which she was saving to take home.

Rizana was anxious to see her brother and sister, Kifaya had said.

The Saudi Human Rights Commission has assigned an officer to look after
Rizana's case and Arab News said it would also try to negotiate with the
parents of the infant who is alleged to have been killed by Rizana.

Attempts by Sri Lankan officials to meet the father of the dead infant had
so far failed.

Sri Lankan Ambassador A.M.J. Sadiq had met chairman of the Human Rights
Commission Turki Al-Sudairi prior to his final departure to Colombo
seeking his intervention in Rizana's case.

4 Sri Lankans were earlier beheaded and put on public display despite
repeated appeals for clemency. One prisoner who was earlier told he was
sentenced to a 15-year prison term was also beheaded with the others.

Sometimes prisoners are kept on death row for years, before suddenly being
taken and beheaded.

(source: Lanka Business online)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 11



POLAND:

Poland vetoes the European Day against the death penalty


Poland has used its power of veto to prevent October 10 from being
declared "European Day against the death penalty". Jacek Holwska, a
philosopher at Warsaw University, writes: "In my opinion the protest
against the European day against the death penalty was aimed at forcing
the states of Western Europe to change their stance on abortion and
euthanasia. This moral blackmail seems uncalled for. It exploits human
life for political purposes. The government seems to be saying - although
it won't admit it - that we would agree to ban the death penalty if
abortion and euthanasia are banned at the same time... You can't seriously
argue that the moral status of a foetus is equal to that of an adult
person - although you can state that both were created by God. For
agnostics and atheists this argument is irrelevant."

(source: Courier International)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 12



UGANDA:

Prisons boss against death penalty


It is rare that the commissioner of prisons disagrees with the president.
But Mr Johnson Byabashaija adamantly opposes capital punishment and thinks
some of the 520 or so death row inmates here are innocent.

However, he says if President Yoweri Museveni orders him to execute one of
those prisoners, he would obey. "If Mr Museveni directs, we shall carry an
order out. It's our obligation," Mr Byabashaija said with resignation,
adding that he hopes those orders never come.

Though there were three military executions in 2003, Uganda hasn't put a
civilian to death since 1999. In that year, 28 people were hanged at
Luzira Prison. But despite the unofficial moratorium, death sentences
continue to be handed down, and the nation remains on Amnesty
International's list of death penalty practitioners.

Across Africa, capital punishment is becoming increasingly unpopular. In
nearby Tanzania, despite the fact that no law has officially abolished the
death penalty, no one has been executed in the country since 1994 and in
August, President Jakaya Kikwete changed all death sentences to life in
prison.

And though there are reports of extrajudicial killings in Rwanda's
prisons, the country's Parliament officially outlawed the death penalty in
June. Neighbouring Kenya hasn't executed anyone since 1985, though a
recent push in Parliament to abolish capital punishment could have the
opposite effect and expedite executions.

"Nobody has the right to take away life. With the death penalty, the
government is taking away life," said Mr Byabashaija, a prisons officer
who has been in the Ugandan government as a civil servant since he
received his veterinary degree in 1982.

"Our criminal justice system is not foolproof. There is the danger of an
innocent person being wrongfully convicted, and you cannot reverse that."
An avid CSI watcher, Mr Byabashaija is aware of the fallibility of
justice. He said, "We are a third world country. We are under staffed. How
many policemen are available? The number of crimes overwhelms the police
officers and compromises the quality of investigation."

Still, despite his opposition to the death penalty, Mr Byabashaija told
Daily Monitor: "Death is not a punishment. Everyone shall die anyway." At
least one person would agree with him.

"I'm Susan Kigula, a death row inmate. I've served seven years. They
allege that I killed my late husband with my house girl," Ms Kigula said.
She is concerned with her own fate and that of her house girl, who
supposedly assisted her in brutally murdering her husband. She has told
the story many times - always with the insistence that she is innocent,
pointing out the fact that the key testimony against her came from a child
who was only three years old at the time of the alleged crime.

"The justice system makes mistakes because it is comprised of human
beings, who are bound to make mistakes. No one is perfect," she says.

Basing on testimonies of other prisoners, Ms Kigula estimates that only 60
% of the people on death row actually committed the crimes for which they
were convicted. The rest, she says, are victims of a broken legal system.

In a 2006 report titled "Uganda: Challenging the Death Penalty," the
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, a Ugandan NGO that focuses on
issues of the Judiciary and legal rights funded by private donations
mainly from Scandinavian donors, found that nearly 90 % of the country's
death row inmates have little or no command of the English language, which
is used in all court proceedings. Thus, suspects often are often unable to
follow their own trials or even to understand the charges against them.

Additionally, 94 % of inmates were found to be from low-income class, and
90 % of the crimes were reportedly committed upcountry where police
departments are understaffed and under-funded.

Trial challenges

All of these factors diminish a suspect's chances for a fair trial, FHRI's
director Livingstone Sewanyana said.

In Ms Kigula's case, these issues don't apply: She is a rarity among
inmates in that she speaks very good English and went through secondary
school. However, she still insists her trial was unfair, a reason she is
now the lead in Uganda's first class action lawsuit challenging the death
penalty: Kigula and 416 others vs. the Attorney General of Uganda.

Filed in 2003, the case has been stalled in the courts since 2005. While
the law firm of Katende, Ssempebwa, and Company initially won on two
counts in the Constitutional Court (no mandatory death penalty based on
the category of the crime and no delayed sentences for more than 3 years),
they lost on 2 other counts as well. (The court ruled the death penalty
was indeed constitutional and that hanging was not a cruel and inhumane
method of execution).

The firm appealed, and Uganda's attorney general counter-appealed. The
case is currently waiting to be heard in the Supreme Court, which has been
two judges short of a quorum since one of the justices passed away in June
2006. The court is waiting on the President to approve the appointment of
other judges.

Though Amnesty International couldn't comment specifically on the Kigula
case, they agreed that the courts are the best way to challenge the death
penalty. "For the death penalty to go off the books, we have to have the
Cabinet and Parliament to agree," an Amnesty International Researcher for
East Africa, Mr Godfrey Odongo, said.

Meanwhile, Ms Kigula is just glad so many people are working on her case.
But she doesn't blame anyone for her time in jail. She just prays that she
will soon be released. "One day in prison is a thousand years," Ms Kigula
said, tears dripping down her cheeks.

Ms Kigula won't be executed as long as the case is held up in the courts,
a fact that makes Mr Byabashaija glad that no notice will go up on the
board at the main prison gate any time soon.

(source: The Monitor)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 11



CHINA----execution

China executes banker for economic crime


A former official with the Agriculture Bank of China was executed Tuesday
for taking bribes and embezzling bank funds worth about 15 million yuan
($2 million; 1.45 million euros), a newspaper reported.

Wen Mengjie, 50, had been in charge of information technology at the
bank's Beijing office from February, 1999 to February, 2004.

He was found guilty last year of accepting bribes worth 10.73 million yuan
over the purchase of electronic equipment and computer software, and
embezzling another 4.32 million yuan while overseeing the purchase of
ATMs.

Wen's execution was reported by the Beijing Evening News.

China continues to execute people for economic, nonviolent and political
crimes, despite additional judicial oversight and official avowals of
greater restraint in ordering the death penalty.

In July, the country's former top drug regulator was executed for taking
millions of yuan (dollars, euros) in bribes to approve substandard
medicines, including an antibiotic that killed at least 10 people.

(source: Associated Press)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 12


INDONESIA:

Bali bombers on death row won't seek pardon


3 Islamic militants sentenced to death for the 2002 bombings on the resort
island of Bali will not seek a presidential pardon, their lawyer said on
Wednesday.

The 3 militants -- Imam Samudra, Amrozi and Ali Gufron -- have been on
death row for over 2 years after courts convicted them of playing leading
roles in the nightclub bombings in Bali that killed 202 people, mostly
tourists.

Ahmad Michdan, who heads a team of lawyers representing the 3 militants,
told Reuters his clients announced their decision during the lawyers'
visit to their maximum-security prison on an island off Java.

"The lawyers will not ask for pardon, this is what the clients want. They
are aware of the risks of their choices," Michdan said by telephone.

Under Indonesian law, the family also has the right to ask for a
presidential pardon. Michdan said he will consult with the families on
this option.

The attorney-general's office has not set a date for the execution, which
in Indonesia is conducted by a firing squad.

The militants' stand follows a Supreme Court decision last month to throw
out a final appeal by one of the bombers against his conviction.

Amrozi's lawyers had sought a review of his case, arguing the
Constitutional Court had ruled in 2004 that new anti-terrorism laws under
which the militants had been convicted could not be applied
retrospectively.

But a Supreme Court panel of judges found the appeal did not meet the
requirements of the law, Supreme Court judge Djoko Sarwoko said last week.

Verdicts for the 2 other death-row convicts are still pending.

Michdan read out a message from the three convicts which is part of a
written statement to be revealed after their execution.

"If we are executed, we will reunite with our beloved ones: the apostles,
the holy people, the martyrs, the pious people and the beautiful and
lovely angels," Michdan said.

"If we are executed, then our stream and drops of blood, God willing,
would allow us to become the light for the faithful ones and burning hell
fire for the infidels and hypocrites."

Amrozi, dubbed the "smiling bomber" for his chilling grin and expressions
of delight at the carnage caused by the blasts, said during his trial he
welcomed the death penalty.

The bombings in Bali have been blamed on the Southeast Asian Islamic
militant group Jemaah Islamiah.

Michdan said during the visit the three looked healthy and appearing
relaxed and composed.

"When we left the room they said, laughing, 'We are ready for execution,
at any time!"' Michdan added.

(source: Reuters)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 13


INDIA:

HC upholds death penalty to LeT terrorist Ashfaq


The Delhi High Court on Thursday upheld the death penalty awarded to
Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Mohd Ashfaq in the 7-year-old Red Fort attack
case but acquitted 6 others sentenced to varying jail terms.

A Division Bench of Justice RS Sodhi and Justice PK Bhasin dismissed
Ashfaq's appeal against a trial court verdict awarding capital punishment
to him for waging a war against the state and killing 3 persons, including
2 Army jawans, in the Red Fort on the night of December 22, 2000.

Prosecution has proved its case with sufficient evidence against Ashfaq
for his involvement in the attack, the Bench said, adding, so far other
accused are concerned, the prosecution failed to complete the chain of
events.

The trial court's conviction order, based on confessions of the accused,
was reversed by the court since the statements were given to the police,
which are not admissible as evidence.

"We uphold the conviction and death sentence to Ashfaq and the remaining 6
convicts are acquitted," the Bench said.

(source: Press Trust of India)






UGANDA:

Judiciary Praised on Death Penalty


THE chief justice of Belize, found in the Caribbean Islands, has hailed
Uganda's Constitutional Court for declaring mandatory death penalty as
unconstitutional.

"This is a bold, courageous, ground-breaking and forward-looking
decision," said Justice Abdulai Conteh.

Following a 2003 petition by over 400 inmates on the death row at Luzira
Prison, the Constitutional Court ruled that the death penalty was not
mandatory but depended on the discretion of the trial judge and the
circumstances under which the crime was committed.

It refused to totally abolish it, saying it was provided for in the
Constitution.

The inmates appealed to the Supreme Court, which is yet to hear the case.

Conteh who was speaking at a conference for judges at the Imperial Resort
Beach, Entebbe early this week, said the term "mandatory" had turned trial
judges into robots and rubber stamps.

He said the judges could not use their discretion to consider the
circumstance under which the offence was committed.

In most Caribbean countries, Conteh noted, the judges were required to
consider the case, the prisoner and the circumstances of the offence
before determining the sentence to be passed.

(source: New Vision)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 15



VIETNAM:

Hanoi court sentences 3 heroin traffickers to death


3 people were sentenced to death after a Hanoi court found them guilty
Friday of trafficking 1.8 kilograms (4 pounds) of heroin, a court clerk
said. Judges in the 3-day trial also handed life prison terms to 2 others
and jail sentences of between 10 months and 20 years to four more gang
members, the clerk from Hanoi People's Court said.

The defendants, several of whom came from the same extended family, were
convicted of trafficking the heroin from the northern mountainous Son La
province to Hanoi between June and August last year. In communist Vietnam
anyone found guilty of possessing more than 600 grams of heroin or over 20
kilograms of opium is given the death penalty.

(source: China Post)






IRAN:

Arbitrary executions in Iran cause concern


Arbitrary executions in Iran continue unabated causing concern among human
rights bodies. The number of executions since the beginning of 2007 has
gone beyond 250 which far exceeds the total number throughout 2006. The
following report is by Amnesty International on September 13 expressing
fear of imminent executions:

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/111/2007

13 September 2007

Further Information on UA 57/06 (MDE 13/023/2006, 10 March 2006) and
follow-ups (MDE 13/073/2006, 29 June 2006; MDE 13/085/2006, 1 August 2006;
MDE 13/041/2007, 2 April 2007) Death Penalty/Fear of imminent execution

IRAN Nazem Buraihi (m)

Aliredha Salman Delfi (m)

Ali Helfi (m)

Moslem al-Hai (m)

Yahia Nasseri (m)

Abdulzahra Halichi (m)

Abdul-Imam Zaeri (m)

Abdulredha Nawaseri (m), aged 32

Jaafar Sawari (m)

Mohammad Ali Sawari (m), aged 37, teacher, his brother

Abdulredha Nawaseri was reportedly executed on 11 September, together with
brothers Mohammad Ali and Jaafar Sawari, in Karoun Prison, Khuzestan
province.

Mohammad Ali Sawaris family were reportedly told on 27 August that he
would be executed within the next few days. Following the executions, the
men's families were also reportedly told that the bodies would not be
handed back to them but would be buried by the authorities.

Abdulredha Nawaseri had reportedly been arrested in 2000, but was
eventually charged in connection with bombings that took place in Ahwaz in
October 2005. His brother Mehdi Nawaseri was executed on 2 March 2006,
along with Ali Awdeh Afrawi, after they were convicted of involvement in
these bombings. They were shown along with seven other men, including
Jaafar Sawari, "confessing" on Khuzestan Provincial TV the day before they
were hanged. Jaafar Sawari had reportedly been arrested in September 2005
and Mohammad Ali Sawari on or around 4 November 2005.

Abdulredha Nawaseri and Jaafar Sawari, along with nine other men,
reportedly had their death sentences confirmed on 10 June 2006 by Branch 3
of the Revolutionary Court in Ahvaz. The 11 men, all members of Iran's
Arab minority, were reportedly accused of involvement in the October 2005
bombings. They were reportedly charged with being mohareb (at enmity with
God), as well as with "destabilising the country", "attempting to
overthrow the government", "possession of home made bombs", "sabotage of
oil installations" and carrying out bombings in Ahvaz, which took place
between June and October 2005. By the end of July 2006, the Supreme Court
had reportedly upheld Mohammad Ali Sawari's death sentence.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Much of Iran's Arab community lives in the province of Khuzestan, which
borders Iraq. It is strategically important because it is the site of much
of Irans oil reserves, but the Arab population does not feel it has
benefited as much from the oil revenue as the Persian population.
Historically, the Arab community has been marginalised and discriminated
against. Tension has mounted among the Arab population since April 2005,
after it was alleged that the government planned to disperse the country's
Arab population or to force them to relinquish their Arab identity.
Hundreds have been arrested and there have been reports of torture.
Following bomb explosions in Ahvaz City in June and October 2005, which
killed at least 14 people, and explosions at oil installations in
September and October 2005, the cycle of violence has intensified, with
hundreds of people reportedly arrested. Further bombings on 24 January
2006, in which at least 6 people were killed, were followed by further
mass arrests. A total of 16 men have now been executed as a result of
their alleged involvement in the bombings.

(source: National Council of Resistance of Iran - Foreign Affairs
Committee)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 18


INDONESIA:

3 Bali bombers ready to die, lawyer says


A lawyer for the 3 Bali bombers on death row in Indonesia said yesterday
they were ready to die and had vowed their deaths would lead to "hell for
infidels".

The 3 were convicted over the 2002 nightclub bombings that killed 202
people, including 88 Australians.

The attacks were blamed on the Jemaah Islamiah militant network linked to
al-Qaida.

Indonesia's Supreme Court last month rejected an appeal from the men --
Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Gufron -- and lawyer Achmad Michdan said they
were ready to die.

"They are all ready should their executions have to be carried out. They
said they are even looking forward to their executions," he said.

He said they had signed a joint final statement but declined to give
details.

(source: Melbourne Herald Sun)

*******************

Catholics in Indonesia: "No death penalty for Bali terrorists."


While the country awaits the capital execution of Amrozi, one of the three
condemned to death for the 2002 Bali bombs, Catholic community leaders
warn : the death penalty does not resolve the problems in society, instead
we need to avoid "political verdicts" such as the case of the Poso 3.
Amrozi says he is happy to die, because he will meet the Prophet and
Islams martyrs.


An end to the death penalty in Indonesia and a guarantee that political
interests will not influence judge's decisions in delicate cases linked to
religious issues. This is what leaders of Indonesias Catholic are urging
as they comment to AsiaNews on the imminent execution of Amrozi, one of
the 3 terrorists condemned for the 2002 Bali bombs which killed 202
people. Along with him, Ali Gufron and Imam Samudra are awaiting
execution. On August 30th the Supreme Court rejected Amrozis appeal and is
now set to pass judgement on the other 2 cases.

All 3 have written a spiritual testament, a small segment of Amrozi's was
released by his lawyers. In the letter signed by the terrorist, he says he
is ready to 'take up the jihad once again" should he be saved from the
execution block, and even if he dies he is happy because in doing so he
will meet "the Prophet and all of Gods Warriors in paradise." "Our spilled
blood" - the text continues will become a ray of light for all Muslims
and hell for all infidels."

The General Attorneys office in Jakarta refuses to provide details
surrounding the date and place of the execution. "According to law
explains public official Abdul Hakim Ritonga, it should take place in
Bali where the crime was committed, but for security reasons it may be
moved elsewhere." If Amrozi does not avail of his right to ask for a
presidential pardon concludes Jakarta he will have to face execution.

However Catholic leaders, warn that execution can never be considered a
solution and ask that human life be respected. "I have my own opinion that
death penalty should be omitted from our national law regulation ",
declares Fr. Benny Susetyo, Secretary of The Indonesian Bishops of
Conference (KWI) Commission for Interfaith Dialogue." It is not only
against "human right," but also, from various hand-on experiences and
studies it is clearly that death sentence would not be able to "reduce"
the number of crimes and the brutality of criminals." And he adds: "I
think Amrozi merits life imprisonment not death. It is also a very heavy
burden."

Fr. Luluk Widyawan - Parish Priest of Mary Annunciate Church of Porong,
Sidoarjo

East Java Province, agrees: "the death penalty very often could does not
resolve problems as we Indonesian society saw in the case against the 3
Catholics in Poso, put to death following inter-religious violence in
Sulawesi in 2002; they died but the violence did not end. In the view of
the priest the case of the 3 Catholics is a clear example of the "weakness
of the Indonesian legal system, when political interests are brought to
bear on legal decisions."

(source: AsiaNews)






VIETNAM:

Death sentence for Aussie smuggler


A SYDNEY man was sentenced to death in Vietnam yesterday for trying to
smuggle almost a kilogram of heroin to Sydney in his underwear, as 2 other
Australians prepared to face trial in Hanoi tomorrow on unrelated heroin
trafficking charges.

The convicted man, 40-year-old Tony Manh, will be supported in his
expected appeal for clemency by the Australian Government, a spokesman for
the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said last night.

"Recently, the fact that many Australians of Vietnamese descent are
involved in trafficking heroin from Vietnam to Australia has become a
phenomenon," said Phan Tanh of the People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City.

Manh was caught with the drugs on March 3 at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho
Chi Minh City as he prepared to board a flight to Sydney. He told the
court he was paid $US10,000 to transport the drugs out of the country.

(source: Sydney Morning Herald)






SOUTH KOREA:

Campaign Starts to Scrap Death Penalty


Religious, human rights and civic groups Tuesday called for the
government's abolishment of capital punishment and its signing a global
treaty against the system.

20 civic groups including Amnesty International and Lawyers for a
Democratic Society asked the government to join the moratorium on
executions introduced at the 62nd session of the United Nations General
Assembly that opened Tuesday. The issue is the most urgent one for this
session.

"The adoption of such a resolution by the U.N.'s principal organ would be
an important milestone toward the abolition of the death penalty,'' the
Association for the Abolishment of the Death Penalty said. Amnesty's High
Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour called the punishment "a
sanction that should have no place in any society that claims to value
human rights.''

The association will hold a 100-day campaign, as the government is yet
reluctant to show its standpoint. Many voices in and outside of the
country requested the government join the signing since the resolution was
first proposed in 1977.

"A total of 131 countries legally or practically abolished the system and
only 25 are performing it. Korea has the U.N. Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon who leads the world's human rights. Still, it has 64 people
sentenced to death,'' Kim Ho-soo, the human rights watch dog's campaigner,
said.

He said Korea is near to the goal in reality. The last executions were in
1997 when 23 people were hung, and by Dec. 29 this year, the country will
be classified as "abolitionist in practice'' by Amnesty.

Also, the abolishment bill has been supported by 175 lawmakers and is
pending at the National Assembly for approval.

The association spokesman said that history such as "Inhyeokdang"
incident, which resulted in the deaths of 8 pro-democracy activists
wrongfully accused by a dictatorship in 1970s, showed that courts and
humans do make mistakes but cannot bring back lives.

The groups will hold road campaigns with citizens to write letters to the
Legislation-Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly and to attend
prayer meetings organized by each religious group.

(source: Korea Times)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 19



IRAQ:

Al-Majid (aka "Chemical Ali") Cannot Be Executed

Giovanni Di Stefano [lawyer for Ali Hassan Al Majid, dubbed "Chemical
Ali", Studio Legale Internazionale, Rome]: "On the 4th of September, 2007
the Iraqi High Tribunal Appeal Section refused the appeal of Al Majid et
al, effectively condemning the indictees to death. On the 9th of
September, 2007 I duly filed applications with President Talabani to
commute the sentences of Ali Hassan al-Majid, Sultan Hashim Ahmed Hussein
and Rashid al-Tikriti.

In order to ensure that President Talabani was properly served and on a
timely basis I requested the Italian Government to deliver the application
to the Iraqi Ambassador in Rome. Service was thus deemed effective on the
10th of September 2007.

Under Iraqi Law no executions can take place during the period of Ramadan.
Under Iraqi Law, notwithstanding the contestations on the per se
interpretation of Iraqi Jurisprudence, executions 'must' take place
'within 30 days of the Appeal Court decision if rejected.'

It is inconceivable that executions take place during Ramadan. Ramadan
commenced on Friday, September 13th, 2007 and will end on the 12th of
October, 2007. The period of 30 days upon which Ali Hassan al-Majid,
Sultan Hashim Ahmed and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti lawfully expected
execution concludes on the 3rd October 2007. Ramadan ending on the 12th of
October, 2007, the statutory period upon which Ali Hassan al-Majid, Sultan
Hashim Ahmed and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti could be executed is caught
during Ramadan where Iraqi Law precludes if not mandates a stay on
executions. Since the time period has by passage of time expired and no
executions can lawfully occur it follows that de facto if not de jure the
death sentences imposed upon Ali Hassan al-Majid, Sultan Hashim Ahmed and
Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti are automatically converted to life imprisonment
without any intervention from President Talabani."

(source: The Jurist)






AUSTRALIA/VIETNAM:

Govt to help Aust man in death penalty appeal


Foreign Affairs Minister says the Commonwealth will support any appeal by
an Australian man facing the death penalty in Vietnam to convert his
sentence to life in prison.

Forty-year-old Tony Manh has been found guilty by a Vietnamese Court of
heroin trafficking after he was arrested in March with a kilogram of
heroin hidden in his underwear.

Alexander Downer told Southern Cross Radio the Australian Government has
been successful in having the death penalty overturned in 4 previous
cases.

"The arguments that we put haven't been arguments based on the merits or
otherwise of the case, but on the grounds of humanity," he said.

"We oppose the death sentence and it's important in terms of the
relationship between Australia and Vietnam that the execution doesn't take
place."

(source: ABC News)






CUBA:

5 Cubans get long jail sentences, but spared death penalty in hijacking
case


4 soldiers and a civilian got lengthy prison terms but were spared the
death penalty for killing an army officer and trying to hijack a plane off
the island, a leading rights activist said Wednesday.

It was the 2nd recent case involving killings by soldiers that didn't end
in capital punishment.

Elizardo Sanchez of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
Reconciliation said a secret military tribunal's decision not to apply the
death penalty was "something positive."

"We hope the government will take other positive steps," Sanchez said,
such as commuting the sentences of 50 other inmates believed to be on
Cuba's death row.

The commission said Sgts. Yoan Torres and Leandro Cerezo received life
sentences and a third, Karel de Miranda Rubio, got 30 years behind bars.
Capt. Alain Frobes received a 25-year prison term and a civilian, Ridel
Leseaylle Veloz, was sentenced to 15 years.

The soldiers killed at least 1 soldier while escaping from their base
April 29, an incident that prompted a countrywide manhunt. They
commandeered a city bus 4 days later, headed to Havana's International
Airport and attempted to hijack a plane, sparking a pre-dawn shootout in
which an army lieutenant colonel was killed.

Cuba's government blamed Washington for the attempted hijacking, saying
American policy allowing most Cubans to stay if they reach U.S. soil
encourages violent attempts to leave the island.

Sanchez said 3 separate sources confirmed the men were sentenced last week
after 3-day trial behind closed doors in August, and the commission
obtained a copy of the 32-page sentencing decree.

The soldiers were between the ages of 19 and 21, and the civilian was 31.
Sanchez said that under Cuban military law, only 21-year-old Torres was
old enough to face the death penalty.

(source: Canadian Press)




ITALY:

DEATH PENALTY: PRODI, ITALY HAS MOVED IN A STRONG WAY


Prime minister Romano Prodi has said: "Italy is in the lead and has moved
in a very strong way to achieve the universal moratorium of the death
penalty in full agreement with the EU Portuguese presidency". Prodi will
be in New York next week to take party in the UN General Assembly.

Prodi has said: "Italy wishes this is the right time. We have worked
hard". Prodi was asked about the voting on this measure he said: "In the
coming weeks, knowing the date today is not possible, we think on November
or at least on December".

(source: AGI)






CHINA:

Court upholds death sentence for 2 bank employees


A court in North China's Hebei Province on Wednesday upheld the death
sentence given to 2 bank employees responsible for the country's largest
ever bank theft involving 50.95 million yuan by a lower court in August.

The sentence was handed down by the Hebei Provincial Higher People's Court
at the second-instance hearing in Handan, a city in southern Hebei.

Ren Xiaofeng, 34, and Ma Xiangjing, 37, who worked as vault managers at
the Handan branch of the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), were convicted
of theft and were given death penalties at the Handan Municipal
Intermediate People's Court after the 1st-instance hearing on August 9.

Zhao Xuenan and Zhang Qiang, who joined Ren in embezzling 200,000 yuan in
October last year, were sentenced to 5 years and 2 years in prison with a
2-year reprieve.

Song Changhai was jailed for 3 years for harboring Ma when he was on the
run.

Ren, Ma and Zhao lodged appeals after the sentence.

Court hearings found that in October last year Ren conspired with Zhao
Xuenan and Zhang Qiang, who were both employed to guard the vault, to
embezzle 200,000 yuan.

The money was spent on lottery tickets, but Ren later replaced the missing
fund after he won a lottery prize.
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 24




CENTRAL ASIA:

Abolition Close, But Sceptre of Death Remains


The hastening end to state executions across Central Asia could turn out
to be only a temporary reprieve for many as the new category of 'lifers'
face the prospect of decades in jails often plagued with highly-infectious
diseases and meagre, unhealthy rations barely sufficient to survive.

All 5 Central Asian states -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- inherited capital punishment from Soviet
times. Since independence in 1991, they have moved with varying degrees of
speed towards the abolition.

"In Central Asia, there has been a clear move towards abolition. It's been
step by step process. The states all retained the death penalty when they
gained independence in 1991," Gulnara Kaliakbarova, Penal Reform
International's regional director for Central Asia, based in Almaty, the
capital of Kazakhstan, told IPS. "But now in reality the death penalty has
been abolished in 4 of these countries."

Turkmenistan was the 1st state to abolish the death penalty in 1999. Then
followed Kyrgyzstan last year, finally completing the process in June when
capital punishment was removed from its criminal code.

Kazakhstan put in place a moratorium in 2003 and Tajikistan in 2004. In
May, Kazakhstan all but abolished the death penalty with constitutional
amendments banning any taking of life. The sole exceptions to this were
for terrorist killings and for "the most serious crimes in times of war".

"Uzbekistan has not yet introduced a moratorium but it is also taking
steps towards abolition," Gulnara Kaliakbarova said. "In August 2005,
President Islam Karimov signed a decree stipulating the death penalty
would be abolished on Jan. 1, 2008. In June this year, the Uzbekistan
senate passed amendments to the criminal code replacing the death penalty
with life imprisonment."

But the steady progress towards the abolition of the death penalty had not
been matched by a modernisation of prisons and adoption of progressive
penal policies for the most serious offenders to prepare them for eventual
successful release back into the community.

Only in oil-rich Kazakhstan, had there been a big increase in spending on
prisons, according to Penal Reform International. "Over the past three to
four years, the Kazakhstan prison budget has approximately tripled,"
Gulnara Kaliakbarova said. "Spending on each inmate is currently 2,000
dollars a year. This means prisoner living conditions and their nutrition
needs are adequate."

But elsewhere in Central Asia, there was an urgent need to "to provide
minimal international standards of treatment for prisoners", said Gulnara
Kaliakbarova, whose staff monitor and advise on penal policies across the
enormous region.

The worst prison conditions may well be in Tajikistan, the smallest and
poorest of all the central Asian states, Gulnara Kaliakbarova suggested. A
5-year-long devastating civil war in the 1990s had thrown the country back
economically. "Official figures indicate that 86 % of the 7 million
population live below the poverty line," she said.

Tuberculosis, AIDS, gastro-intestinal and other infectious diseases were
"acute" problems in the Tajikistan jails. Overcrowding, malnutrition and
inadequate hygiene and medical facilities increased the vulnerability of
inmates, she said, adding that there were no state funds to finance the
collection of reliable statistics.

"The political will to change the system is there, but the prison
authorities lack the expertise and resources for professional training and
re-training. There is also a high level of corruption in the system," she
said.

In Kyrgyzstan, a neighbouring republic to the south, prisons were also
death traps with rampant tuberculosis, particularly in the 2 underground
jails where most of the long-term lifers were held, Akin Toktaliev,
chairman of the rights organisation, Committee for the Protection of the
Dignity and Honour of the Kyrgyz nation, told IPS in the capital Bishkek.

Adequate medical care for those who fall sick in prison, particularly for
treatment of highly-contagious tuberculosis was lacking, Toktaliev said,
adding: "Instead of keeping them in such unacceptable conditions, it would
be more humane if they were sent to death."

"Some are held in narrow, dark underground cells without access to fresh
air. The average space allotted to the long-term prisoners is 2.5 square
metres. They virtually never leave their cells," Gulnara Kaliakbarova
confirmed, describing conditions generally throughout the Kyrgyz prison
system as "inhumane".

Primitive sanitary conditions, foul-smelling cesspits and insufficient
water were problems throughout its prison system, Gulnara Kaliakbarova
said.

"Prisoners have noticed some improvement in the quality of the meals. But
their variety and nutritional level is still below standard, except in the
case of bread rations. Meat and fish are served in a concentrated form.
Potatoes and other vegetables are inadequate. The daily menu is porridge
for breakfast, steamed cabbage, macaroni or borsch for lunch and a supper
of a soup."

Relatives were allowed to supplement prison rations by bringing in sacks
of potatoes, fruit and vegetables during their once-monthly visits,
Nargiza Akyl of the Kyrgyz Ombudsman Office told IPS.

Despite the abolition of the death penalty and more openness about the
prison conditions, Kyrgyz prison authorities were still refusing to tell
relatives where the bodies of those executed in the past had been buried,
Gulnara Kaliakbarova said.

Penal Reform International has no information about the penal systems in
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, two neighbouring, resource-rich countries in
the region.

Ironically, secretive Turkmenistan was the first country in Central Asia
to abolish the death penalty under its despotic leader Saparmurat Niyazov,
who died suddenly last December. He was succeeded by the former deputy
prime minister Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow.

But in Uzbekistan prison conditions were described as "unsatisfactory" by
Surat Ikramov, chairperson of the Initiative Group of Independent Human
Rights Activists of Uzbekistan, told IPS.

About 40 % of the 70,000 Uzbekistan prison inmates had been unjustly
charged, he said. "Many are tortured, especially religious believers who
number 7, 000," he said. Relatives were only allowed to visit 4 times a
year.

The official information blackout on the death penalty inmates was total.
"Nobody will say how many people have been sentenced to death." He did not
know the date of the last execution or the name of the person. "Officials
never publish any figures on this issue."

Ikramov estimated there were currently about 120 people on death row. But
Penal Reform International sources suggest the number could be as high as
1,000. Penal Reform International is now calling on countries in the
region to take the final remaining steps for it to become absolutely
"death-penalty-free". It also has a detailed list of recommendations to
improve prison life for lifers and their families.

"Life imprisonment should now be orientated towards re-socialisation and
re-integration into the community," Gulnara Kaliakbarova said. "Now with
the abolition of the death penalty, the time has come to adopt the most
humane alternative punishment strategies."

(source: IPS)






BANGLADESH:

Mujib murder convicts allowed to appeal Proceedings in the case relating
to the assassination of Bangladesh's founding father, Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman, resumed on Sunday after remaining in cold storage for 5 years
during the rule of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia.

The Supreme Court granted leave of appeal to the 5 condemned prisoners,
who are seeking to challenge their death sentences.

The court also extended the stay on the execution of the death sentences
until October 30.

Sunday's order of the Supreme Court means that the Appellate Division of
the court will hear the appeals of the 5. The Awami League expressed
disappointment over the court decision.

(source: The HIndu)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 25



JAPAN:

Japanese minister wants 'automatic' executions


JAPAN'S outgoing justice minister on Tuesday called for quicker
executions, saying death row inmates should be hanged 'automatically'
within 6 months of losing their last appeal.

Japan is the only major industrial nation other than the United States
that practises the death penalty, despite having one of the world's lowest
crime rates.

Kunio Hatoyama, who resigned on Tuesday with a change of government, said
that Japan needed capital punishment because 'we have been seeing
extremely violent, vicious crimes in recent years'.

Capital punishment 'plays a significant role in deterring serious crimes',
he told his final press conference.

'As you are well aware, there is an extremely small number of people who
say the death penalty should be completely dropped. But more people wish
to keep the death penalty and their numbers are increasing.'

He said he wanted Japan to implement a little-enforced law that requires
the execution of inmates within 6 months of their final sentences.
Currently, the justice minister signs off on every execution.

'I think we might want to consider a system in which it takes place
automatically and objectively without the justice minister's involvement,'
Mr Hatoyama said, saying signing off placed an emotional burden on the
minister.

Japan resumed executions last year after prime minister Shinzo Abe took
charge and has since executed 10 people.

Japan had no executions for 15 months until last year as a previous
justice minister, Seiken Sugiura, said the death penalty went against his
Buddhist beliefs.

Mr Hatoyama has not signed off on any executions since he took office last
month in a reshuffle by Mr Abe.

But incoming Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is widely expected to remove Mr
Hatoyama from the cabinet as he backed his more conservative rival, Taro
Aso, to be premier.

(source: AFP)

***********************************

Hatoyama proposes omitting justice minister's involvement in executions


Outgoing Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama proposed Tuesday omitting the
current procedure where the justice minister signs an order for executing
a death-row inmate. Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, the justice
minister is required to issue an execution order within 6 months after a
death sentence becomes final.

"The law should be abided by," Hatoyama told a news conference after the
resignation en masse of the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "But no
one wants to put his signature on an execution order," he said. "I wonder
if there are any other ways not to delegate the responsibility only to the
justice minister." Hatoyama called for devising an "automatic and
objective" procedure for executions without having to involve the justice
minister.

(source: Japan Today)






EUROPEAN UNION:

EU politicians denounce Poland's stand on death penalty


A German Socialist member of the European parliament, Martin Schulz, has
called for the European Union to isolate Poland. Schulz argues that the
Polish government is acting in violation of the principles espoused by the
EU, because Polish President Lech Kaczynski supports capital punishment.

The Polish government recently objected to a day of protest against the
death penalty, organized by the EU; Polish officials said that a campaign
dedicated to the dignity of human life should be expanded to include
opposition to abortion.

The head of EU parliamentarians from the European Green parties, Monica
Frassoni, described Poland's opposition to the proposed European Day
Against the Death Penalty as a "serious problem."

In a separate development involving Polish abortion law, the European
Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France has dismissed an appeal by
Poland in the Alicja Tysiac case. The European Court had awarded monetary
damages to the Polish woman, who claimed that her eyesight worsened during
pregnancy because she was unable to find a doctor to abort her unborn
child. The court recognized the mother's right to abortion and ordered the
Polish government to pay her 39,000.

(source: Catholic World News)






EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT:

MEPs demand death penalty moratorium


Socialist group leader Martin Schulz stated today that he will be fighting
for a unanimous stance against the death penalty.

The German MEP expressed surprise that the European council failed to
reach an agreed common position over a practice he described as
"reprehensible."

"The death penalty, when it is handed out and carried out, is the low
point of humanity," he said.

"We need to define in criminal law that the intentional killing of
somebody at a given tine in a given place is the worst crime that exists."

Parliament's Green group are also fighting for a moratorium on the death
penalty, but are concerned that the issue will be brushed under the
carpet.

"We want to stick to what has been agreed," said Monica Frassoni.

"We want a resolution that placed the emphasis on establishing a
moratorium and puts a stop to the coming and going that has lasted 14
years."

Green group co-leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit added that he saw no reason why
there should not be unanimity over this.

"It is incomprehensible," he said.

ALDE leader Graham Watson supported a moratorium but was sceptical about
the European day against the death penalty.

"Somebody should do a list of just how many of these European days there
are", he said.

"If you put them all in your diary, there wouldn't be any room for
engagements", he added.

The proposed European day against the death penalty is being vetoed by the
Polish government.

Warsaw is angry that the debate is restricted to the death penalty only.

Polish deputy justice minister Andrzej Duda recently said that "the death
penalty is only one element of the debate; there are more - for example,
abortion and euthanasia".

Schulz argued however that these issues "don't have anything to do with
rejecting the death penalty."

"To make a link with euthanasia and abortion is unacceptable," he said.

Schulz will be speaking in plenary on the subject on Wednesday.

(source: eupolitix)






UNITED NATIONS:

PRODI, UN RESOLUTION GREAT RESULT


"A UN resolution against the death penalty could show that mankind today
is better than yesterday. It would be a huge result, destined to have an
effect on our notion of progress. A result that would open the doors for a
more just future". PM Romano Prodi writes this in the daily 'Repubblica',
explaining what Italy is doing against the death penalty and underlining
the importance of these days' sessions in New York with the general UN
assembly in which Italy hopes for the approval of a resolution for a
universal moratorium.

The death sentence "is an extreme act" writes Prodi "that goes against the
most basic principles of civil coexistence that has been kept alive
through the ages thanks to the logic of violence against violence in an
endless chain. Today we have a unique opportunity to free ourselves, to
try and break this chain". Therefore, during the assembly "the European
Union and various countries representing every world region will present a
resolution for the universal moratorium. The objective is to come to its
approval as soon as possible. Italy" Prodi concludes "has always been
committed to this battle and in these months has played a decisive role in
the formation of the widest possible consensus in Europe and the world".

(source: AGI)

***************************

Italy To Push For Global Death Penalty Ban


Italy's premier began his fight Tuesday at the United Nations for a
worldwide moratorium on the death penalty, a move that is expected to face
opposition from the United States and other countries that still allow
capital punishment, including Iran and China.

Premier Romano Prodi hopes to generate enough consensus to pass a General
Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium, and the topic was expected
to feature prominently in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on
Tuesday evening.

"Today Italy begins its battle for a moratorium ... that we intend to win"
Prodi said in comments carried by the ANSA news agency and confirmed by
his office.

The premier said the hard work "begins today" but warned of hurdles ahead
because "there are many important countries that still apply (the death
penalty), like the United States and China."

U.N. officials said Monday that Prodi had met with U.N. Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon and discussed the moratorium, among other topics. A diplomatic
source who is traveling with Prodi said Ban supports the initiative.

A U.N. spokesman, Brenden Varma, said Ban's views on the death penalty
have not changed since January, when he stated his belief that life was
precious and must be protected.

"International law affirms these values. I recognize the growing trend in
international law and in national practice towards a phasing out of the
death penalty," Ban said at the time. "I encourage that trend."

The Italian diplomatic source, who requested anonymity because he is
authorized to talk to the press but not to be quoted by name, said it was
not yet clear when a moratorium on the death penalty might be voted on,
but said it would likely happen in late October or November. Prodi said
Tuesday he hoped for a vote in November at the latest.

The resolution would need two thirds of the votes in the 192-member U.N.
General Assembly to pass.

Italy began a diplomatic push against the death penalty in the wake of the
Dec. 30 execution in Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Past lobbying by Italy for
U.N. action to strike down the death penalty has been unsuccessful.

The European Union is likely to back Italy's call, but countries that
still have executions, including the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia and
China are expected to oppose it.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider the
constitutionality of lethal injections in the case of 2 death row inmates.

The high court will hear a challenge from convicted killer Ralph Baze and
fellow death row inmate Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr. The 2 inmates sued
Kentucky in 2004, claiming lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual
punishment. Baze's execution was scheduled for Tuesday night, but the
Kentucky Supreme Court halted the proceedings earlier this month.

The United States has executed at least 40 people this year and 1,098
people since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume
in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington
organization that looks at problems with the capital punishment system.
And Texas, home to President Bush and the country's most active death
penalty state, last month executed its 400th inmate since 1976.

Richard A. Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations,
declined to speculate on how the United States would vote on such a
resolution.

However, he noted that "we strongly feel that the use of the death penalty
in the United States is a decision best left to democratically elected
governments at the federal and state levels."

Italy is a firm opponent of capital punishment. Rome's Colosseum, once the
arena for deadly gladiator combat and executions, has become a symbol of
the country's stance. Since 1999, it has been bathed in golden light every
time a death sentence is commuted somewhere in the world or a country
abolishes capital punishment.

The death penalty center's executive director, Richard Dieter, said a U.N.
resolution calling for a moratorium would be welcome information that
would offer new food for thought, though it would be unlikely to have a
direct effect on executions in the United States, even if it passes.

"This is an important piece of information. It's not a few outspoken
countries against the death penalty, it's a majority of countries," Dieter
said. "It's one small factor that is a part of a calculus used when
Americans say, 'Is it worth it?"'

(source: CBS News)

********************************

"Be Done With the Death Penalty: May the United Nations Adopt a Universal
Moratorium Against Executions," by Romano Prodi, former president of the
European Commission, Prime Minister of Italy


I have written an open letter to 55 Nobel Prize winners who had sent me an
appeal calling for approval within the shortest possible time of a
universal moratorium on the death penalty leading to its total abolition.
I have asked them to continue to support this battle of civilization
alongside Italy, and I have invited them to come to New York September 28
to the United Nations headquarters, to show their commitment with us.

During the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly which
opened yesterday, the European Union and various countries representing
each region of the globe are to present together a resolution for the
universal moratorium. Italy, committed for all time to this battle, has
worked in a decisive way in recent months for the formation of a
concensus, as wide as possible, in Europe and the world. Justice is today
a global question. I have taken up this theme with international leaders,
the United Nations and with the African Union, making myself the spokesman
of those who are fighting for this cause. The battle against the death
penalty is a battle in which all are associated in Italy; public opinion,
the Parliament, the governments which have succeeded each other through
the years regardless of their political color. In recent months, Italian
politics and diplomacy have intensified their efforts, with the support of
associations - notably Hands Off Cain - which have been fighting this
battle for years. After having convinced the European Union in June to
adopt a common step, we have drawn up the text of a resolution that we are
preparing to submit to and have voted by the United Nations. With
Portugal, which is currently president of the European Union, we have
organized a meeting of the foreign affairs ministers at United Nations
headquarters, next Friday, to seek the support of all potential partisans.

If I invited 55 Nobel Prize winners to New York, it is because their
commitment during these decisive days will be the extraordinary evidence
of a joint effor for the more and more total realization of universal
human rights. We know that we cannot have any illusions. The battle
against the death penalty is a difficult one, since it is still practiced
by numerous countries. We are ready, however, to take risks to try to win
this battle. The conditions exist, we have reasons to hope, starting with
the support of the principal international organizations, the European
Union, world public opinion and a growing number of countries which reject
the use of this cruel and inhuman practice. Encouraging signs keep coming
even in recent days from the most tormented continents - I refer to Asia
and Africa. Even China has begun a long term reflection on the use of the
death penalty, which seems to me to go beyond momentary concerns connected
with the organization of the Olympic Games at Beijing next year.

The death penalty is an extreme act maintained through the centuries by a
logic of violence, contrary to the most elementary principles of civil
coexistence. Today we have a unique opportunity to try to break this
chain. Everything has been written about the meaning of the death penalty.
Italian tradition, beginning with the philosophy of Enlightenment of
Cesare Beccaria, has been a protagonist in the ethical and philosophical
debate on this theme. I will therefore limit myself to recalling that by
approving a resolution at the UN we can point up a very important
principle, namely that the human being is capable of making progress not
only in the area of science, which is obvious, but also in the ethical
area - about which one could have legitimate doubts given what is
happening today in the world.

A United Nations resolution against the death penalty could thus show that
todays man is better than yesterday's, even on the ethical and moral
level. This would be an enormous result which would influence the very
notion of progress. A result which would open the way to a more just
future, in a society which would finally disengage itself from the spiral
of the fratricidal vengeance of Cain and Abel. A society which would show
that it has understood the lesson of ancient wisdom evoked recently by
Zygmunt Bauman: "If you want peace, act for justice."

(source: Liberation (Paris) )




INDONESIA:

Supreme Court rejects appeal of 3 Bali bombers awaiting firing squad


The Supreme Court rejected appeals by all 3 Islamic militants on death row
for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, the state news agency
said Monday.

Supreme Court spokesman Nurhadi said Monday 2 separate panels of judges
had ruled against Ali Ghufron and Imam Samudra -- on August 23 and
September 19 respectively -- because their lawyers provided no new
evidence countering earlier verdicts, Antara state news agency reported.

The court has announced earlier this month that it has also rejected an
appeal by a third Bali bomber convict on death row, Amrozi Nurhasyim, on
August 30.

Lawyers for the 3 men, awaiting a firing squad for the twin nightclub
attacks, argued that the convictions were illegal because they were based
on an anti-terror law that was applied retroactively.

"Their appeals were rejected," Nurhadi said, "They will face capital
punishment."

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has been hit by a
string of terrorist attacks in recent years blamed on the al Qaeda-linked
militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, the first and most deadly being the
October 12, 2002, bombings on the resort island of Bali.

The 3 are among more than 30 people convicted in those blasts. They
confessed to participating in the plot and initially accepted their death
sentences, saying they wanted to die as martyrs.

But in July, they asked their lawyers to appeal, noting that the
Constitutional Court ruled in mid-2004 that tough new laws -- passed after
the Bali bombings -- could not be used in cases predating their adoption.

In the Antara report late Monday, Nurhadi did not explain why the Supreme
Court had allowed retroactive use of the anti-terror law.

It was not immediately clear whether the 3 convicts have any further legal
options to fight their death sentence.

(source: Associated Press)






BRUNEI:

Cash backs women's group on imposing death penalty to rapists


Consumers Association (Cash) here fully supports call by Sabah women's
group to impose the death penalty on brutal rapists and those who sexually
assault children resulting in their gruesome deaths.

Cash President Datuk Patrick Sindu who joined others in condemning the
gruesome death of 8-year-old Nurin Jazlin, reminded the government of its
responsibility to protect its citizens.

"Seemingly, there is no end in sight to brutal sexual assault on children
in this country. We need drastic action to stop potential perpetrators of
crimes against children," he said.

Patrick said those people involved in such an heinous crimes should be put
to death. They are undeterred by jail sentences and whipping which mean
nothing to them. These people will laugh upon their release from jail.

Patrick said children are vulnerable to sexual abuse and while it is
important to create a safe environment for them with parents stepping up
vigilance and the police beefing up security in public places, society
needs deterrent legislation like death by hanging to keep sex fiends at
bay.

(source: Borneo Bulletin)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 26



SOUTH AFRICA:

Time for debate on death penalty


Pity time ran out at The Star's breakfast crime conference at Joburg
country club last Friday when Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula
fielded several questions from the audience.

However much I raised my hand when questions were invited, I just couldn't
catch the chairperson's eye. And when mine was the only hand raised, the
chairperson indicated there was no time left.

So let me share with your readers what I had in mind to ask the minister,
who dealt with the other questions fairly and squarely.

Of all the crime statistics we've been getting, the one which moved me
most to tears was 105 children killed in the Western Cape during the
previous 12 months. Presumably, we can multiply that figure to get a rough
idea how many kiddies were murdered in South Africa in one year.

Heaven only knows what ghastly sufferings many baby girls experienced
before their young, innocent lives were brought to a tragic end.

The shocking and senseless stabbing of teenager Mfundo Ntshangase by other
students, who apparently resented Mfundo's attempt to stop a fight, seems
part and parcel of what Carl van Dyk told his Citizen readers: "Where do
you think all these violent tendencies arise? They stem from a society
whose legal and judicial system has no perceived backbone, where law
favours the lawless and punishment is soft."

Most reasonable people of all races in this country, I believe, would
agree. Isn't it time to stop the rot? How many more innocent men, women
and children must die violently before we act?

I would have raised with Minister Nqakula that the wrong signal is sent
out by not having the death penalty. As Van Dyk suggested, we appear to be
supporting the vicious and violent criminals in our midst rather than the
innocent victims.

We have to send out a new signal: Life is indeed sacred. Crimes of rape
and murder against children surely deserve the death penalty and so does
the killing of police officers.

(source: The South African Star)






CHINA:

China threatens death penalty for copper thieves


China is threatening the death penalty for people who steel copper wire,
thereby destroying power lines and disrupting telecommunications, state
media said Wednesday.

The stern warning comes amid a wave of cases in which people have stolen
copper wire to sell to recycling businesses amid desperate demand for the
metal caused by a booming economy, the China Daily reported.

It said the Supreme Court had ruled thieves could receive the death
penalty if their actions risk causing fatal accidents.

The death penalty is also an option if thieves cause blackouts that affect
more than 10,000 people for more than 6 hours, or result in economic
losses of more than 1 million yuan (130,000 dollars), the paper said.

In Shanghai alone, more than 30 people have been sentenced to jail terms
in recent weeks for stealing copper wire, with one person condemned to 7
years in jail, the newspaper reported.

China is the world's largest consumers of copper, spurred by economic
growth which in 2007 is likely to hit double digits for the 5th
consecutive year.

(source: Agence France-Presse)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 26


EUROPE:

Europe Spearheads Drive to End Capital Punishment


Italy's leader urged United Nations member states to back a resolution
declaring a moratorium on the death penalty, saying the worldwide campaign
had reached a "decisive moment."

Prime Minister Romano Prodi told the General Assembly in New York City
Tuesday evening that the resolution "will prove that human beings today
are better than they were yesterday also in moral terms."

The resolution Italy is promoting with the European Union's support calls
for a universal moratorium on the death penalty, ahead of eventual total
abolition.

In an open letter published in Italian, French and Spanish dailies earlier
Tuesday, Prodi acknowledged that the campaign faced challenges. "We know
that we cannot harbor illusions. The battle against capital punishment is
a difficult one, because many countries still practice it."

To pass, the resolution will need the backing of two-thirds of the 192
U.N. member states, or 128 votes, and Prodi told the meeting that Italy
had been working hard to muster the necessary support.

According to Italy's mission to the U.N., an earlier Italian-led
declaration on the subject was signed by 85 nations last December and
another 10 subsequently. It called on countries with the death penalty "to
abolish it completely and, in the meantime, to establish a moratorium on
executions."

Amnesty International (AI) says 133 countries have abolished the death
penalty in law or in practice, while 64 other countries and territories
retain it.

In 2006, 25 countries carried out executions, the rights group says. It
recorded 1,591 executions last year, of which at least 1,010 took place in
China (although AI says the true figure in China could be as high as
8,000).

Elsewhere in 2006, "Iran executed 177 people, Pakistan 82 and Iraq and
Sudan each at least 65. There were 53 executions in 12 states in the
U.S.A."

Although any General Assembly resolution will not be legally binding on
member states, "it would carry a heavy moral and political weight of
united international pressure," according to AI.

'European values'

European institutions are at the forefront of the international campaign
to outlaw capital punishment, and the 47-nation Council of Europe (CoE)
says one of its top priorities is "to make abolition a universally
accepted value."

Having achieved a de-facto moratorium on the death penalty across Europe
(Belarus, a non-member, is the sole exception), the CoE says it is working
to extend the prohibition to countries that have observer status,
primarily the U.S. and Japan.

European politicians and officials frequently characterize an anti-penalty
stance as a "European value."

When Poland's conservative government this month went against the E.U.
consensus on the issue of the death penalty, left-wing critics in the
European Parliament questioned its commitment to "European values."

A year earlier, when Polish President Lech Kaczynski argued in favor of
reinstating capital punishment, E.U. Commission spokesman Stefaan de Rynck
reacted by declaring that "the death penalty is not compatible with
European values."

Yet in Europe, as in the U.S., opinion polls have for years reflected
significant levels of support for the death penalty.

At an Oct. 2006 press conference in Brussels marking the "world day
against the death penalty," CoE Secretary-General Terry Davis conceded
that "many Europeans are still in favor of the death penalty."

"This is not something we can ignore," he said. "We need to go out and
explain to people why the death penalty is wrong, why it has been
abolished and why it should stay abolished."

In a separate statement the same day, Rene van der Linden, head of the
CoE's parliamentary assembly, referred to member states having "the
political will and courage to abolish the death penalty despite the
potential unpopularity of the measure."

Soeren Kern, senior fellow in transatlantic relations at the Strategic
Studies Group in Madrid, Spain, says that although support for the death
penalty has been declining on both sides of the Atlantic, there is in fact
little difference between Americans and Europeans on the matter.

"Despite all the media hype, public opinion polls consistently show that
Europeans and Americans hold similar views on the death penalty," he said
Tuesday, adding that "roughly half" of Europeans and "roughly half" of
Americans support it.

Kern said there were questions about the basis to Europe's anti-death
penalty stance.

"Many analysts say that European opposition to the death penalty has
little to do with morality, and much to do with the desire by European
elites to build a European identity that is based on being different from
the United States," he said.

"Because there is no such thing as a pan-European identity -- unlike, say,
a French identity or a German identity -- Europeans, who for centuries
have been the primary champions of the death penalty, now say they are
purveyors of a superior morality in a contrived effort to be better than
the United States," he said.

(source: CNS.News.com)






LATIN AMERICA:

LATIN AMERICA: Broad Support for UN Moratorium


Many Latin American governments have not yet adopted a position, or have
not communicated one, but the majority trend in the region appears to be
to support the resolution for a moratorium on the death penalty proposed
by a number of countries to the United Nations General Assembly. The
motion in favour of a global suspension of executions, which Amnesty
International describes as only one step away from outright abolition of
capital punishment, will be supported by Brazil, according to a Foreign
Ministry statement received by IPS.

The communiqu says that Brazils position at the U.N. General Assembly will
be "above all to abolish the death penalty," as this country itself did in
1979. At present the maximum prison sentence in Brazil is 30 years.

Complete abolition of capital punishment is among the human rights goals
Brazil proposed to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Foreign
Ministry said.

But if this goal is not achieved, "Brazil will support the moratorium,"
and if this is not agreed either, Brazil "will keep a watching brief to
ensure that application of the death penalty follows international
standards, that is, international human rights law," said the statement
from the centre-left government of Luiz Incio Lula da Silva.

Perly Cipriano, deputy secretary for the defence of human rights at the
Special Secretariat on Human Rights of the Presidency of Brazil, told IPS
that this is indeed Brazil's strategy, and pointed out that the country
has historically maintained this stance at international forums.

However, Cipriano stressed that although the death penalty had been
officially abolished in Brazil, "hundreds of political prisoners were
killed during the dictatorship (1964-1985) in military and police
establishments, and those deaths were not officially recognised."

He said that only recently had the Lula administration published the book
"Direito Memria e Verdade" (The Right to Memory and Truth), in which for
the 1st time the state accepts responsibility for those deaths.

Argentina, where capital punishment was abolished for common crimes in
1984, appears to be following Brazil's lead as regards the moratorium,
proposed for consideration at the 62nd U.N. General Assembly, which opened
on Sept. 18, with general debate beginning Tuesday.

A source at the Argentine Foreign Ministry's office on human rights told
IPS that the resolution for a moratorium, sponsored by a number of
countries including leading EU countries, has not yet been sent to the
Nstor Kirchner administration, but added that Argentina "is totally
prepared to support it."

In Venezuela, where capital punishment was abolished by the constitution
for all crimes in 1863, no official position for the U.N. General Assembly
has yet been taken. However, sources consulted by IPS said the government
is leaning towards voting in favour of the international moratorium on
executions.

Caracas is also likely to give its support to Mexico City, which formally
abolished the last vestiges of the death penalty in the armed forces in
2005. In practice, though, no one has been executed in Mexico since 1961.

Sources at the Mexican Foreign Ministry told IPS that the question has not
yet been defined, but said at the same time that the administration of
Felipe Caldern "is completely against the death penalty."

The most likely outcome is that Mexico will support the proposal. At the
2nd summit between Mexico and the EU, held in Guadalajara, Mexico in May
2004, the parties signed an agreement, article 7 of which declared "a firm
mutual commitment" to the universal abolition of capital punishment.

Caldern belongs to the conservative National Action Party (PAN), which is
against capital punishment. The Mexican Supreme Court will not extradite
any person to a country where they might face the risk of being sentenced
to death.

However, in Peru, President Alan Garca has other ideas. He wants to bring
back the death penalty and has introduced a draft law to that effect in
Congress, where it has not yet been debated.

Activists therefore take the view that Peru will oppose the moratorium.
"If the governing party lawmakers are in favour of the death penalty, Peru
will vote against the moratorium at the U.N.," the president of the local
chapter of Amnesty International, Ismael Vega Daz, told IPS.

Cuba and Guatemala are the only countries in Latin America that retain the
death penalty for ordinary crimes. It has been abolished even for the
military courts by Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico,
Nicaragua, Panama, Uruguay and Venezuela.

But this is not the case in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador
and Peru, where the death penalty is retained for exceptional
circumstances, under the Military Code and for certain crimes in wartime.

The generalised opposition to capital punishment by governments in the
region does not, however, keep the issue from cropping up again during
periods of increased public insecurity, when certain sectors begin to
advocate reinstatement.

This happened in Argentina in the 1990s, when amid a wave of violent
robberies and kidnappings, then President Carlos Menem (1989-1999)
suggested reinstating the death penalty for cases of kidnapping in which
the hostages were subsequently murdered.

However, human rights organisations mobilised against the initiative and
it did not prosper.

In Brazil, too, the debate has been reactivated by the increasing sense of
urban insecurity. Eloisa Machado and Daniela Ikawa, of the Sao Paulo-based
Conectas Human Rights, told IPS that "the view that social problems will
be solved by stiffer sentences is widespread."

But that just appears to be "an easy way out, whereas its completely
inefficient as a solution for the problems that deeply afflict a large
part of Brazilian society, such as poverty, unemployment, poor quality
education, inadequate housing and the lack of human security," for which
structural solutions are needed, the human rights lawyers said.

In Mexico, in spite of the governments stance against the death penalty,
debate is stirring again, although without any changes in practice.

According to a February opinion poll by AP-Ipsos in Mexico, 71 % of
respondents were in favour of the death penalty and 26 % were against.
However, when the question was put differently and interviewees were asked
to select a penalty for a person found guilty of murder, only 46 % chose
capital punishment.

Meanwhile, Peru may join Cuba and Guatemala if the Garca administrations
draft law, reintroducing the death penalty for rapists of children under 7
who kill their victims, is passed.

The initiative will be debated again in the Constitutional Commission, the
commission chairman Javier Velsquez Quesqun told IPS, because "conditions
are now more favourable" for its approval.

Velsquez Quesqun pointed out that this was an electoral promise of Garcas,
as "the country wants tougher sentences for sex offenders."

Amnestys Vega Daz said he was concerned by the announcement. "When the
International Day Against the Death Penalty is coming up (on Oct. 10), its
very bad news that the governing party is insisting on its bill" to
reinstate it, he said.

In Guatemala the death penalty is on the books, but there have been no
executions since 2000 because of a legal vacuum which prevents condemned
prisoners from asking for a presidential pardon, and exhausting all legal
means of defence.

During the administration of Alfonso Portillo (2000-2004), Congress
repealed the 1892 Pardons Law. Since then the country has lacked
procedures for convicts to exercise their right to apply for a pardon, an
amnesty or a commuted sentence.

In order to overcome the impasse that has been keeping 21 death row
inmates in limbo, the rightwing Unionist Party (PU) submitted a draft law
to Congress in 2006 that would restore the procedure for applying for a
presidential pardon.

(source: IPS News -- With additional reporting by Marcela Valente
(Argentina), Diego Cevallos (Mexico), ngel Pez (Peru) and Humberto Mrquez
(Venezuela)).

INDIA:

Hanging delayed: Supreme Court stays domestic help's ganging


The execution of a domestic servant convicted of killing five of a family
here in 2003 will not take place as scheduled on Thursday, an official of
the city jail said Wednesday.

"The hanging has been stayed by the Supreme Court," said A. Minz, jail
superintendent of the Birsa Munda Central Jail here.

Minz said he received the copy of the court order Wednesday.

In April earlier this year, a special Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI) court here had convicted Pal of killing the 5 members of the family
he worked for, and gave him the death sentence. The Jharkhand High Court
on Aug 28 upheld the CBI court's verdict.

On Sep 5, the CBI court fixed Sep 27 as the date for hanging as the
accused had neither appealed in the Supreme Court nor sought any clemency
from the governor or the president.

Ajay Pal, a resident of Jhalda in West Bengal, killed the 5 members of a
family on June 2, 2003 by burning them alive. He was working as domestic
servant with the family of Dhirendra Kumar.

Pal was reportedly unhappy with behaviour of Kumar's wife. He first
poisoned the food, which the family members took in dinner. Later, when
they were sleeping, he burnt them alive by sprinkling petrol in the house.

Those killed included Dhirendra's wife, his son Harshit, niece Anmol,
nephew Ayan Kumar and domestic help Kaleshwar Mahto. When the incident
took place Dhirendra was then away from Ranchi.

(source: IANS)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 28


NIGERIA:

NGOs coalition asks N'Assembly to pass death penalty bill into law


A coalition of local and international non governmental organisations
(NGOs), yesterday called on the National Assembly to immediately pass into
law the draft Death Penalty Moratorium Bill, submitted to it by the Human
Rights Law Service in order to stop executions, pending abolition of the
death penalty.

President of Amnesty International, Senegal, Dr Louis Mendy, who spoke at
a briefing in Lagos on 'Death Penalty Moratorium and Abolition in
Nigeria', also called for the review of all cases of death row prisoners
and examine the cases of those who are older than 70 and those above 60
who have been on death row for more than ten years to see if they will be
suitable for release, as promised by the Obasanjos administration on May
16, 2007".

The coalition also called for the immediately abolition of the mandatory
death sentence, including under Shari'a penal laws, noting that mandatory
death sentences appear to especially target women. The coalition is made
up of Access to Justice, Amnesty International, Civil Liberties
Organisation, Cleen Foundation, Hurilaw, Human Rights Watch, Legal
Resource Consortium, National Coalition for Death Penalty Abolition,
Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, Project Alert and West
African Network for Peace Building Nigeria.

Nigeria's commitment to the internationally recognized and constitutional
right to life that all people in Nigeria should enjoy. On the occasion of
the Independence Day celebrations, we urge President Yar'Adua to bring
Nigeria into line with the global trend towards abolition of the death
penalty."

"Indeed, a momentum is gathering to end capital punishment in all
countries. 131 countries, from all regions of the world, have abolished
the death penalty in law or in practice and only 25 countries carried out
executions in 2006. Already in 1999, the African Commission on Human and
Peoples' Rights, in its resolution adopted at the 26th Ordinary session in
Kigali (Rwanda), called upon all States that still maintain the death
penalty to consider establishing a moratorium on executions."

"We call on the Nigerian government to join this trend by declaring a
moratorium - pending abolition of the death penalty for all offences - and
by commuting all death sentences under Nigerian criminal law or Sharia
penal laws. A resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions
will be introduced at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 62th
session which begins on 18 September 2007.

Supported by countries from all regions of the world, such a resolution
would be an important milestone towards the total abolition of the death
penalty in all countries," he added

(source: Vanguard)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 29


INDONESIA:

Govt won't appeal against Bali bombers' executions: Downer


Mr Downer says the bombers knew all along that murdering people in
Indonesia brings the death penalty. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says
the Government will not appeal to Indonesia to stop the execution of three
men convicted of playing key roles in the 2002 Bali bombings.

The Australian arm of Amnesty International is urging people to lobby
Indonesian authorities to save the men as part of an ongoing campaign
against capital punishment.

The 3 bombers will soon face a firing squad over the bomb attacks which
killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Mr Downer says the bombers are Indonesian citizens and the Australian
Government will not intervene.

"The sense of anger towards them knows no bounds and I think if they get
executed, well, they knew all along that in a country like Indonesia, if
you murder people that brings the death penalty."

(source: ABC Online Australia)






GLOBAL:

Italian FM says death penalty moratorium could succeed due to shift in
public opinion


Italy's quest for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty faces stiff
opposition from countries including the United States, but a shift in
international public opinion against capital punishment could lead to its
success, Italy's foreign minister said Friday.

"I think there is a change in mood, of public opinion," Foreign Minister
Massimo D'Alema said in an interview, noting that 130 countries have now
abolished the death penalty. "Over the years we have taken some great
steps forward, which means it's possible. There are international
pressures, a maturing of public opinion. Things are changing."

D'Alema spoke following a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General
Assembly during which representatives from 101 countries agreed to form a
task force to pursue the moratorium and draft a General Assembly
resolution. The resolution will need 97 votes in the 192-member U.N.
General Assembly to pass.

"This is a positive sign, it is not the solution," D'Alema cautioned,
noting that powerful countries that apply the death penalty, including
China, the United States and Singapore, are likely to lobby against it.

"It is one thing to attend an event, it is another to vote for it because
we can expect maybe, much lobbying against (the moratorium), and these are
countries that have a great influence," D'Alema said.

The meeting was hosted by Italy and Portugal, which holds the rotating
European Union presidency. It included representatives from South Africa,
Burundi, Senegal, Angola, Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, the Ukraine and
Russia. China sent an observer, D'Alema said. Human rights organizations
including Amnesty International also attended the event, and East Timor
President Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace prize winner, was among the
speakers.

Italy began a diplomatic push against the death penalty after the Dec. 30
execution in Iraq of Saddam Hussein and has been lobbying for months to
get support.

Past lobbying by Italy for U.N. action to strike down the death penalty in
1994 and 1999 was unsuccessful, partly because of opposition from the
United States, which has executed more than 40 people this year and about
1,100 people since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to
resume in 1976.

Earlier this week, Richard A. Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to
the United Nations, declined to speculate how the United States would vote
on a resolution calling for a moratorium, but said a decision about the
death penalty in the U.S. is best left to the state and federal
goverments.

Recently, many U.S. states have been examining their use of lethal
injection, and on Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a
challenge from two Kentucky death row inmates who claim lethal injection
amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. The court also halted Thursday
the execution of a Texas man convicted of killing his parents.

"There is a situation now where civilized societies, the world of culture,
of law, is questioning this topic of the death penalty," D'Alema said.

On Tuesday, Premier Romano Prodi called for the moratorium in his address
to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, saying it would guarantee
greater justice around the globe and an end to cultures of vengeance.

D'Alema said Italy aims to have a vote in December.

"Our objective, which was approved by the European Union ... is to come to
a vote during this 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations," he said.

(source: Associated Press)






JAPAN:

Supreme Court upholds gangster's death penalty for slayings


The Supreme Court upheld the death penalty Friday for a former gangster
who killed 2 people in 2 separate cases in 2000. Since defendant Ryoji
Goto, 49, confessed in October 2005 to his involvement in 3 other murders
after he appealed to the final court against a lower court-issued death
sentence for the 2 murder cases, his lawyers have demanded he be retried.

The top court's 2nd petty bench dismissed his appeal, finalizing the death
sentence.

According to the lower court ruling, Goto, a former senior member of an
underworld syndicate, conspired with another former gangster who has been
imprisoned for life, in killing a 33-year-old male acquaintance by dumping
him in a river in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, in July 2000.

In August that year, Goto conspired with 5 others to confine four people,
including a 24-year-old woman, in an apartment in Utsunomiya, Tochigi
Prefecture, due to trouble within the gang. He then killed the woman by
injecting her with a large amount of stimulants and injured the other 3.

Of the 3 cases for which Goto filed a petition with the Ibaraki
Prefectural Police, one in which a 67-year-old company president was
killed for insurance money has been confirmed and backed up by evidence.
Goto was subsequently indicted in the case in February, but the other 2
remain unconfirmed.

The murder-for-insurance case occurred between the 2 incidents for which
Goto was sentenced to death, leading his lawyers to say that he should
therefore be retried.

Aside from Goto, 3 family members of the victim have been sentenced from
13 to 15 years in prison.

(source: Kyodo News)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Sept. 28



COUNCIL OF EUROPE:

Council of Europe backs observance against death penalty


The Council of Europe has declared October 10 the European Day against the
Death Penalty.

The Council of Europe, with 47 member-states and headquarters in
Strasbourg, is distinct from the European Union. A motion in the European
Union to designate a day of opposition to the death penalty was stymied by
objections from the government of Poland, which requested equal
consideration for opposition to euthanasia and abortion.

On September 27 the European Parliament approved an appeal to a future
Polish government to approve the continental observance. Parliamentary
elections in Poland are scheduled for October 21; the resolution was
addressed to an incoming leadership coalition.

(source: Catholic World News)






RWANDA:

Rwanda Calls for End to Death Penalty


Rwanda joined other countries Friday in appealing for a global moratorium
on executions, stressing that if it could abolish the death penalty while
perpetrators of the 1994 genocide still await sentencing, no country
should use it.

Diplomats and human right organizations met at the United Nations to push
for a global moratorium on executions with the goal of ending the death
penalty altogether.

Rwandan Minister for Cooperation Rosemary Museminali said that her
country, which outlawed the death penalty earlier this year, should serve
as a model for others.

She said that even though genocide perpetrators are still around, "we
still feel it is our moral obligation to preserve the right of life."

Rwanda got rid of capital punishment in part to encourage European and
other countries to extradite suspects in the genocide to Rwanda.

About 500,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were massacred in 100 days of
frenzied killing led by radical Hutus. The killing ended when Tutsi-led
rebels under current President Paul Kagame defeated the Hutu extremists in
July 1994.

The meeting was co-hosted by the Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema,
whose country began a diplomatic push to gain international support for a
moratorium following the Dec. 30 execution in Iraq of Saddam Hussein. The
moratorium was the focus of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi's speech
to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

The death penalty is no longer carried out in 130 countries, including the
27-nation European Union, which has fought for global abolition. The U.S.
and China, which both have the death penalty, oppose the moratorium. So
does the conservative government of EU member Poland, even though the
country has no capital punishment.

D'Alema said the group was realistic about the strength of the opposition,
which is why they are pushing for a moratorium before complete abolition.

"For the initiative to be genuinely transregional and mobilize worldwide
political support around a common purposed, our focus today should be on
the goal of a moratorium," he said.

In an interview with The Associated Press after the meeting, D'Alema said
representatives from 101 countries attended the meeting and agreed to form
a task force to pursue the moratorium and draft a General Assembly
resolution, which will need 97 votes - the majority in the 192-member U.N.
General Assembly - to pass.

He said he expected the U.S. and China to fight the moratorium, which he
hopes will come to the General Assembly floor for a vote in December.

"It is one thing to attend an event, it is another to vote for it because
we can expect maybe, much lobbying against (the moratorium), and these are
countries that have a great influence," D'Alema said.

According to Hands Off Cain, a Rome-based anti-death penalty group, more
people were put to death last year - 5,628 - than in either of the
previous 2 years, with China alone accounting for 5,000 executions. Iran
ranks 2nd with at least 215 people put to death.

The United has executed at least 40 people this year, according the Death
Penalty Information Center.

(source: Associated Press)






NIGERIA:

NGOs Coalition Asks N'Assembly to Pass Death Penalty Bill Into Law


A coalition of local and international non governmental organisations
(NGOs), yesterday called on the National Assembly to immediately pass into
law the draft Death Penalty Moratorium Bill, submitted to it by the Human
Rights Law Service in order to stop executions, pending abolition of the
death penalty.

President of Amnesty International, Senegal, Dr Louis Mendy, who spoke at
a briefing in Lagos on 'Death Penalty Moratorium and Abolition in
Nigeria', also called for the review of all cases of death row prisoners
and examine the cases of those who are older than 70 and those above 60
who have been on death row for more than ten years to see if they will be
suitable for release, as promised by the Obasanjo's administration on May
16, 2007".

The coalition also called for the immediately abolition of the mandatory
death sentence, including under Shari'a penal laws, noting that mandatory
death sentences appear to especially target women.

The coalition is made up of Access to Justice, Amnesty International,
Civil Liberties Organisation, Cleen Foundation, Hurilaw, Human Rights
Watch, Legal Resource Consortium, National Coalition for Death Penalty
Abolition, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, Project Alert and
West African Network for Peace Building Nigeria.

Nigeria's commitment to the internationally recognized and constitutional
right to life that all people in Nigeria should enjoy. On the occasion of
the Independence Day celebrations, we urge President Yar'Adua to bring
Nigeria into line with the global trend towards abolition of the death
penalty".

"Indeed, a momentum is gathering to end capital punishment in all
countries. 131 countries, from all regions of the world, have abolished
the death penalty in law or in practice and only 25 countries carried out
executions in 2006. Already in 1999, the African Commission on Human and
Peoples' Rights, in its resolution adopted at the 26th Ordinary session in
Kigali (Rwanda), called upon all States that still maintain the death
penalty to consider establishing a moratorium on executions".

"We call on the Nigerian government to join this trend by declaring a
moratorium - pending abolition of the death penalty for all offences - and
by commuting all death sentences under Nigerian criminal law or Sharia
penal laws. A resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions
will be introduced at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 62th
session which begins on 18 September 2007.

Supported by countries from all regions of the world, such a resolution
would be an important milestone towards the total abolition of the death
penalty in all countries", he added

(source: Vanguard)






JAPAN:

Lone Voices in a Land of Hardening Views


For years after his brother was killed in January 1982, Masaharu Harada,
57, says he grappled not only with the trauma of personal loss but also
with deep anger and hatred for the perpetrator.

Then the opportunity came to express his feelings. "I decided to visit the
murderer in prison to yell at him, telling him how much I hated him. But
when confronted with his anguished apologies, I felt my anger change to
inexplicable sadness for him. Suddenly, at that moment, I was filled with
a sense of relief," Harada told IPS.

That powerful, enduring change in his feelings is what Harada is now
trying hard to convey to the Japanese public. Anti-death penalty activists
welcome the move. They hope he will help soften what they see as hardening
support for the death penalty in a country shocked by recent gruesome
killings.

Harada is now a firm abolitionist. Not only did that fateful prison visit
in August 1993 change his mind about capital punishment, but his
experience afterwards strengthened his conviction. The convicted killer,
Toshihiko Hasegawa, 51, who became a Christian before he was hanged in
2001, wrote to him telling of the cruelty he endured on death row.

"I learned from Hasegawa how for months he waited out his hanging in
isolation. His family was barred from visiting him. My requests for more
meetings were turned down. Such treatment is inhuman and does not make me
feel better," he said.

Harada, who lives alone in Aichi Prefecture in central Japan, launched
this June the Japan chapter of Ocean, an organisation based in the U.S.
that works to bring together crime victims and the perpetrators in the
hope both can move "beyond the feelings of hatred".

"The kind of work done by Ocean is badly needed in Japan where meetings
between bereaved family members and the criminals are rare. We believe
face-to-face meetings will bring transparency to Japan's secretive death
penalty system," Misako Yagishita, heading Amnesty Japan's anti-death
penalty campaign, said.

Activists who have spoken to family members of hanged prisoners have
compiled a chilling picture of Japan's death row. Some of the inmates are
left languishing for decades on death row before being hanged. Executions
are carried out secretly. There is no prior warning of the day of
execution. Inmates are told they will be executed only hours before.
Embarrassed relatives rarely collect the bodies.

Harada said he supported such a system until his own experience, believing
in the traditional Japanese view that criminals should be ostracised from
society.

Another voice calling for a change of attitudes towards convicted killers
is Dr Masami Hirayama, a mental health specialist. He has long campaigned
for better rights for the mentally ill, accusing the government of failing
to provide psychological treatment for death row inmates. This is
tantamount to denying them a fair trial.

"There is obviously a huge need out there for criminals who have committed
murder because of their mental health problems. Handing down death
sentences on these people without giving them proper medical treatment is
wrong," he told IPS.

But more emotional support was needed for both sides of crime -- the
relatives of the victims, as well as the convicted, he said.

Hirayama runs a non-profit organisation, Grief Care Support, providing
counselling and advice for such people. Lack of similar such schemes in
Japan was an indication of the ignorance of the rights of people with
mental problems, he said.

Many other psychiatrists would agree.

As a clear example of a criminal with a mental disorder, they name Shoko
Asahara, the cult leader sentenced to death by hanging in 2004 for
masterminding the Tokyo underground attack. The deadly sarin nerve gas the
cult released on subway in 1995 killed 12 commuters and injured thousands.

Asahara's defence team have often raised the question of his mental
health. They appealed his death sentence on the grounds that he was
mentally ill. But in August last year, a court-appointed psychiatrist who
examined Asahara found he could be feigning mental illness and was fit to
stand trial.

Asahara's appeal against his death sentence was turned down by the
Japanese Supreme Court in September 2006. Several other cult leaders have
also been sentenced to death.

Anti-death penalty activists believe the case is the biggest single
barrier to the abolition of the death penalty in Japan. A 2005 survey of
public opinion showed that support for the death penalty has been rising
steadily. For the first time it topped 80 p%-- a rise of 23 % since 1975.

Since then, abolition activists have noted growing public sympathy for
Hiroshi Motomura, 31, a family victim of a capital crime, campaigning for
the death sentence. Motomura's wife was raped and she and her daughter
killed in 1999.

In May, the Japanese Supreme Court ordered the life sentence for the
convicted killer in the case to be reviewed by the Hiroshima High Court,
instructing it to take into consideration the death penalty.

Activists are watching with concern the workings of a new law that will
allow crime victims to testify in court against defendants. Many lawyers
believe that that the emotional testimony could work against the
defendants in capital cases and lead to more death sentences. The law was
approved by the Japanese Diet in June.

The appointment of Japan's new justice minister, Kunio Hatoyama is a
reflection of the current pro-death penalty trend in Japan, some activists
say. Hatoyama, a hawkish, open supporter of the death penalty, has
promised a safer society and a crackdown on crime.

There are currently 103 prisoners on death row, according to Amnesty
Japan. In April there were 3 hangings, followed by 3 more this August.

Japan and the U.S. are the only 2 major industrialised countries still
retaining the death penalty.

(source: IPS News)

****************

POLITICS----Justice minister Hatoyama says Kamei 'not human'


Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama said Friday he would not meet with
lawmaker Shizuka Kamei, who is opposed to the death penalty and described
the minister as not being human. On Wednesday, Kamei, the acting leader of
the People's New Party that wants to abolish the death penalty, said
Hatoyama "lacks the credentials as justice minister and as a human being."

Kamei was responding to Hatoyama's proposal from the previous day to omit
the procedure in which the justice minister signs an execution order for a
death-row inmate. In response to Kamei's comments, Hatoyama said Friday
that he would refuse a meeting with Kamei because "My character was
attacked 100%. I don't agree with abolishing the death penalty that would
allow a person to live no matter how many people he or she kills. My
standpoint is to eliminate heinous crimes that claim lives."

(source: Japan Today)






KUWAIT/PHILIPPINES:

RP assists 2 OFWs facing death penalty in Kuwait


The Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday it has provided the services
of "the best lawyers" in Kuwait to help 2 Filipino workers facing the
death penalty to appeal their convictions to a higher court in the Middle
Eastern country.

Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos Jr. said Manila
has been helping out in appealing the cases of May Vecina and Marilou
Ranario, migrant workers convicted of killing their employers.

The Kuwait appeals court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence meted out
to Vecina for killing her employer's son, an 11-year-old, and stabbing the
boy's 17-year-old sister after an argument with her bosses.

The case is up for automatic appeal to Kuwait's High Court.

Ranario, who had admitted killing her employer in January 2005 after her
boss allegedly berated Filipinos, meanwhile stands a chance for a lesser
sentence through an appeals process in the Kuwaiti Supreme Court, said
Conejos.

"We've instructed our lawyer to make the appeal... The most important
thing is that everything is being done by the government to provide legal
assistance to ensure that all of their rights are protected during these
judicial proceedings," Conejos said.

He said a lawyer has been directed to assist in Vecina's appeal while 3
"high-caliber" lawyers have been on top of Ranario's case.

"So I tell you, in the case of Ranario and all other cases of [migrant
workers] facing charges there, they are being represented by the best
lawyers," he said.

Conejos denied reports that Ranario's execution date has already been set.

"The case is still pending in the [Kuwait] Supreme Court so there is no
setting of any date for execution. Once the Supreme Court decides, and I
cannot tell you when, hopefully, we can get a reversal or a diminution of
sentence. We are also having contingency plans in the case they'll be
sustained," he said.

More than 30 Filipinos face the death penalty abroad and the cases are on
different stages of appeal.

(source: GLobal Nation)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 1


EUROPE:

Europe Pushes Ahead Plans for Anti-Death Penalty Day


Europe will mark an anti-death penalty day next week, but it won't be an
official European Union initiative. Efforts to involve the E.U. failed
when member state Poland refused to go along on the grounds that the death
penalty debate ignored broader right-to-life questions.

The conservative Polish government's objections ruined the E.U. plan, but
another European grouping, the 47-nation Council of Europe (CoE), has
decided to push ahead with a "European Day against the Death Penalty" on
Oct. 10.

The CoE groups most European countries, including those outside of the
E.U. It is independent of the 27-member E.U. and has been campaigning for
years against capital punishment.

Poland was able to veto the E.U. plan to formally recognize the day, but
at the CoE decisions are based on a majority view rather than unanimity.

In a statement that did not specifically mention Poland's stance, the
CoE's decision-making committee of ministers "expressed the hope that the
European Union will join the initiative as soon as possible."

CoE Secretary-General Terry Davis said the day would "be an occasion to
engage in a debate with those people in our 47 member states who continue
to support capital punishment" and to explain "why this inhuman and
degrading form of punishment is wrong."

With the exception of Belarus -- a member of neither the CoE nor the E.U.
-- no country in Europe has carried out an execution since 1997. European
governments are now leading a drive at the U.N. for a global moratorium as
a step toward eventual complete abolition.

They are lobbying for a resolution during the current General Assembly
session, and next Tuesday Portugal, which holds the rotating E.U.
presidency, will also host an international conference aimed at promoting
the initiative.

The CoE oversees the European Court of Human Rights and the European
Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which has a protocol providing for the
unconditional abolition of the death penalty during peacetime.

Four years before joining the E.U. in 2004, Poland ratified the
legally-binding protocol as a requirement for entering accession talks.
Although the current government in Warsaw says it has no plans to
reintroduce the death penalty -- a move that would impact on its E.U.
membership -- it does object to decisions on the issue coming from
Brussels.

"In the opinion of the Polish government deliberations regarding this
topic should remain only in the national competence of the member states,"
Justice Ministry spokesman Krzysztof Galimski told Cybercast News Service.

Just because capital punishment has been abolished in Poland and other
European countries, that does not mean the discussion is over, he said.

"We must admit that the issue of death penalty is a complex one. Many
societies are divided as to the approach to the capital punishment for the
most brutal murders or perpetrators of the most cruel felonies," Galimski
said. He also cited research in the U.S. asserting that the death penalty
has a deterrent effect.

Even though the Polish government does not intend to reverse its abolition
of the death penalty, he added, it believes that the subject "cannot be
deliberated apart from the right to life as a broad concept ... a right
from the conception to natural death."

Poland's conservative government faces an early election later this month,
and opinion polls show the ruling Law and Justice party in a close race
against the more liberal Civic Platform opposition.

Predominantly Catholic Poland instituted strict abortion laws in 1993,
four years after becoming a democracy. Under communist rule, the right to
abortion on demand was guaranteed.

Poland's stance has drawn criticism in the European Parliament, where
lawmakers members voted 504-45 last week in favor of a "European Day
against the Death Penalty."

The Euro-lawmakers also supported a resolution calling for an immediate
moratorium on executions to be presented at the General Assembly this
month. The measure could be voted on by a U.N. committee during October
and be put before the full assembly for a decision by December.

(source: CNSNews)






INDONESIA:

Firing squad ready for Amrozi's execution


The Bali police force has readied a group of 10 sharp shooters from its
ranks for the execution of convicted Bali bomber Amrozi bin Nurhasyim
after the Supreme Court's August 30 rejection for a case review.

The court's previous ruling saw him receive the death sentence.

"We will hold psychological tests for the 10 shooters as a regulatory
requirement," Bali Police chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Purwoko told detik.com
in Denpasar, Bali, on Saturday.

But Purwoko said he did not know the site for Amrozi's execution.

"I still have no idea about it.

"It will be more practical and efficient if the execution is held in
Nusakambangan (Central Java) than here (in Bali)," he said.

Amrozi is detained at a prison in Nusakambangan.

"A Java execution would also avoid the impression that Bali is seeking
vengeance by holding the execution on its island," Purwoko said.

(source : Jakarta Post)

*********************************

Indonesian firing squad ready for bomber execution

The Indonesian police have readied a group of 10 sharp shooters from its
ranks for the execution of convicted Bali bomber Amrozi bin Nurhasyim
after the Supreme Court's Aug. 30 rejection for a case review, local media
reported Monday.

The court's previous ruling saw him receive the death sentence.

"We will hold psychological tests for the 10 shooters as a regulatory
requirement," Bali Provincial Police chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Purwoko was
quoted by national newspaper The Jakarta Post as saying.

But Purwoko said he did not know the site for Amrozi's execution.

"I still have no idea about it. It will be more practical and efficient if
the execution is held in Nusakambangan (Central Java) than here (in
Bali)," he said.

Amrozi is currently being detained at a prison on Nusakambangan island off
Central Java province.

"A Java execution would also avoid the impression that Bali is seeking
vengeance by holding the execution on its island," Purwoko said.

(source: Xinhua)

****************

6 JI face Indonesia death penalty


6 Indonesian Muslim militants, alleged members of the Jemaah Islamiyah
regional terrorist network, went on trial Monday and face the death
penalty if convicted.

Government prosecutors charged the six, who are believed to be followers
of captured JI military commander Abu Dujana, with conspiracy to commit
terrorism, storing explosive materials, and illegally possessing firearms
and ammunition.

The 6 defendants are Ahmad Syahrul, alias Faisal; Mahfudz Gomari; Sekas,
alias Karim; Amir Ahmadi, alias Ubu Jundy; Suparjo, alias Sarwo Edi; and
Maulana Yusuf Wibisono, alias Kholis. They are being tried in 4 different
trials at the Central Jakarta District Court.

They are being prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws enacted just weeks
after the October 2002 bombings of 2 nightspots on the Indonesian resort
island of Bali that killed more than 200 people. JI was blamed for those
attacks and several other bombings across Indonesia in recent years.

The 6 were arrested separately in March by a counterterrorism police unit,
Detachment 88, in Surabaya, East Java, in the Central Java district of
Sukoharjo and following a shootout in Yogyakarta, Central Java, that left
one of their group dead.

In the raids, police seized caches of weapons, thousands of rounds of
ammunition, explosives and chemicals that could be used to make a bomb
bigger that those used on Bali.

Their arrests directly led to the capture of Dujana, who was nabbed in
early June in Banyumas, Central Java, after a police raid on his hideout.

Indonesian authorities have said Dujana had replaced Malaysian explosives
expert Noordin M Top, another senior JI figure, as the nation's
most-wanted fugitive. Top narrowly escaped a police raid in March and
remains on the run.

JI is blamed for bombing tourist targets on Bali in 2002 and 2005; the
bombings of dozens of churches on Christmas Eve 2000; the JW Marriott
Hotel bombing in Jakarta in 2003; and the Australian embassy bombing in
Jakarta in 2004.

Dujana is believed to have played a major role in both Bali attacks and
the embassy blast and controlled JI's ammunition and explosives. He is
also accused of providing them to militants involved in sectarian violence
in Poso in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province.

(source: Bangkok Post)






UGANDA:

Kony Won't Be Hanged - Govt


LRA leader Joseph Kony will not get the death sentence when he faces trial
for crimes committed during the 2 decades rebellion in the North, the
Government has stated.

The chief government negotiator, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, said reconciliation
would be the overriding factor when implementing the comprehensive peace
agreement, which is expected to come out of the Juba peace talks.

"While sentencing, we should bear in mind reconciliation. Therefore the
death sentence should not be countenanced. When someone has gone to the
gallows, he has gone, he cannot reconcile," Rugunda said at the end of the
government consultations on accountability and reconciliation, held in
Speke Resort Munyonyo on Thursday.

Judges, Magistrates, lawyers, academics, police, army, prisons, opposition
parties and human rights activists attended the 2-day meeting.

Important for the Government, Rugunda stressed, was that the outcome would
satisfy the victims first, the people of Uganda second and the
international community last.

"Emphasis in the international community is to punish. If the perpetrators
are punished, you have met the standards. Yes, we want punishment. But
even more importantly, we want to be reconciled."

The minister was reacting to a report by Human Rights Watch, which
demanded for the death penalty to be scrapped in Uganda if the LRA rebels
were to be tried by national courts.

The Constitution and the Uganda penal code allow for the death penalty for
offences such as murder, rape, treason, defilement and aggravated armed
robbery.

"Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as an
inherently cruel and inhuman punishment," Elise Keppler said while
presenting the report at the government consultations.

The organisation reiterated its support to the International Criminal
Court (ICC) and the arrest warrants issued in 2005 against four LRA
commanders.

"These cases are a major opportunity to see that justice is done for some
of the atrocities committed," Keppler noted.

Any national alternative to the ICC should meet basic conditions, such as
"credible, impartial and independent investigation and prosecution,
rigorous adherence to international fair trial standards and penalties
that reflect the gravity of the crime."

It added that the risk of torture of suspects in custody, interference by
the Government and investigative and prosecutorial capacity for serious
crime trials posed serious challenges for Uganda in conducting LRA trials.

Other concerns noted were witness protection and support, victims'
participation and reparation.

(source: New Vision)

*************************************

Luzira Inmates to Be Transferred to Kirinya


WOMEN on death row at Luzira will be transferred to Kirinya Prison in
Jinja district.

The New Vision on Wednesday established that 15 of the 33 women currently
under death row at Luzira would be relocated to Kirinya.

"We have been having congestion problems, especially at the women's
condemn section in Luzira.

"Now that we have renovated these two rooms in condemn section at Kirinya,
we shall transfer some women currently under death row from Luzira to
Kirinya," said Wycliffe Kururagyire, the acting commissioner of prisons in
charge of inspectorate.

Kururagyire revealed this to The New Vision after officiating at the
graduation of 57 inmates at Kirinya.

They received training in functional adult literacy, tailoring and
computer skills. The project was funded by the Irish government and the
Women's prisoners Support Organisation.

Kururagyire said the relocation of inmates was aimed at creating a good
living environment for the prisoners.

He said the Luzira section, which was planned for 8inmates, now
accommodates 33.

There are currently 566 death-row inmates in various prisons countrywide.
At least 367 of them are in Luzira, while 199 are in Kirinya.

Internal affairs state minister Matia Kasaija said the Government was
committed to rehabilitating and socially re-integrating the prisoners into
crime-free and law abiding people.

The Irish ambassador, Aine Hearns, said the training was based on a
trainers approach, where the graduates would reach out to others.

(source: New Vision)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 2



NIGERIA:

Elechi Grants 34 Prisoners Amnesty


At least 34 persons who were either sentenced to death or life
imprisonment were yesterday granted unconditional pardon in the spirit of
the 11th anniversary of the creation of Ebonyi State by Governor Martin
Elechi, while 5 others hitherto sentenced to death, had their sentences
commuted to life imprisonment.

In an address, yesterday, Elechi also appealed to the families, kindred
and communities of those released to accept them with open arms and assist
them to begin life afresh.The governor, who said he was by the action
exercising his constitutional powers on the Prerogative of Mercy, having
accepted recommendations of the State Advisory Council on the Prerogative
of Mercy, said; "only God in his infinite wisdom and knowledge can punish
appropriately and adequately, the presumed guilt of man."

He said the council meticulously examined cases of "some of our
unfortunate brothers and sisters that had been languishing in prisons
either on death row or serving life imprisonment," adding that some of the
issues considered before arriving on the number included; length of stay
in prison, age of the prisoner, his health condition, circumstances of the
particular incident that led to his conviction, remorse shown, report on
the prisoner by the prison officials, Human Rights Commission and other
organisations.

(source: This Day)






FRANCE:

Death penalty call sparks anger at Paris bombs trial


Bombers behind a wave of deadly blasts on the Paris rail network deserved
the death penalty, an Algerian accused of helping to finance the attacks
said on Tuesday, angering the relatives of victims.

Rachid Ramda, who denies complicity in the attacks that killed 8 people
and injured 200, made his comments on the 2nd day of his trial at the
Paris Assizes Court.

"If it had been my father, I think my reaction would have been a little
extreme, I would have demanded the death penalty for the people who did
that," Ramda said of a man burned alive in the attack on the St Michel
suburban rail station in 1995.

France abolished the death penalty in 1981.

One woman, sitting with relatives of those killed or maimed in the
attacks, left the court in tears, covering her ears to block out Ramda's
voice.

Ramda, already serving a 10-year term for terrorist conspiracy connected
to the 1995 attacks, added: "I morally and spiritually support the
families of the victims, as I have always done."

That drew more protests from members of the public attending the trial.

Ramda faces life in jail if convicted of complicity to murder in the
attacks. He denies any role in the worst bombing campaign in mainland
France since World War Two.

8 people were killed and some 200 others maimed and wounded in attacks on
the St Michel and Musee d'Orsay suburban railway stations, and the Maison
Blanche metro station.

The blasts were claimed by Islamic militants as punishment for French
support of Algerian authorities, who scrapped multi-party elections in
1992 that an Islamist party had been poised to win.

Boualem Bensaid and Smain Ali Belkacem, who were convicted of two of the
three Paris bombings in trials in 2002 and jailed for life, are due to
give evidence to the trial. Ramda denies knowing them.

At his 1st trial in March 2006, prosecutors said evidence seized at
Ramda's London address, including documents relating to Algerian radicals
and a payment slip with his fingerprints, showed he sent 5,000 pounds
($10,150) to the Paris bombers.

Ramda told the Liberation newspaper on Monday he did not contest the
fingerprints, only the interpretation put on their discovery.

(source: Reuters)






GUATEMALA:

Candidates Pledge to Revive Death Penalty


The 2 presidential candidates who will face off in Guatemala's Nov. 4
runoff election have both stated that they will remove the current de
facto moratorium on capital punishment.

lvaro Colom of the centre-left National Union of Hope (UNE) says he will
do so because the death penalty forms part of the country's laws, and Otto
Prez Molina of the right-wing Patriot Party (PP) has pledged to do so out
of conviction.

Under the government of Alfonso Portillo (2000-2004), Congress revoked
1892 legislation known as the "pardon law", under which the president can
either pardon a death row convict or allow the execution to go ahead.

Since then, Guatemala has no procedure for death row inmates to seek a
pardon or the commuting of their sentence, which means a de facto
moratorium on executions has been in place since 2000, even though capital
punishment is still on the books.

Both candidates have made it clear that if they are elected they will ask
Congress to pass a draft law that will allow executions of those on death
row to go ahead.

The American Convention on Human Rights, which was ratified by Guatemala
in 1978, states that the death penalty cannot be applied as long as any
appeal is pending.

In August 2006, the right-wing Unionist Party (PU) submitted a draft law
to reinstate the presidential pardon power, which could be debated in
October.

"We are prepared to apply the death penalty," retired general Prez Molina
states on his web site. "For that reason, from our very 1st day in office
we will ask Congress to reinstate it, and for the law to be enforced and
the sentences of death row convicts to be applied."

Colom, an engineer and businessman, is also in favour of the application
of capital punishment because "it forms part of our laws, and our laws
must be respected."

He admitted to IPS, however, that he does not see the death penalty as the
solution to society's problems.

In the 1st round of presidential elections, on Sept. 9, Colom took 28 % of
the vote and Prez Molina 23 %.

In Guatemala, 21 inmates have spent between 5 and 11 years on death row,
in isolated wings of high security prisons.

In this impoverished, violence-wracked Central American country, the death
sentence is applicable to crimes like murder, kidnapping, rape of children
under 10, and some drug trafficking-related offences.

60 % of those on death row in Guatemala have been sentenced for kidnapping
(some of the cases involved the death of the victim), and 40 % for
homicide.

Official figures indicate that in the 1st half of 2007 alone, 2,857
murders were committed, most of them involving the use of firearms.

Opinion polls have shown that a majority of respondents are in favour of
the death penalty, as well as the so-called "social cleansing" or
vigilante justice carried out by on- and off-duty police officers and
private security guards, who often target young men suspected of belonging
to youth gangs.

Capital punishment "is a dissuasive factor that curbs the crime wave we
are facing," said Prez Molina in a televised debate among the leading
candidates prior to the Sept. 9 elections.

The retired general's promise to get tough on crime has been welcomed by a
populace fed up with violence and at the mercy of youth gangs and
organised crime, and with little faith in the country's institutions.

Guatemala has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world.

Mariano Rayo, one of the leading PU lawmaker in Congress, told IPS that
the proposal to reinstate the pardon law is aimed at eliminating the
uncertainty with regard to the application of sentences. He pointed out
that inmates have spent years on death row, having exhausted all legal
avenues of appeal, and that all that is lacking is the president's
decision to pardon them or allow the execution to go ahead.

In an open letter to Guatemalan legislators in May, the International
Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) expressed its concern over
several aspects of the draft law that would reinstate the presidential
pardon power. It also called for the abolition of capital punishment in
Guatemala.

The FIDH said the draft law runs counter to international human rights law
by establishing a timeframe of just 30 days for the president to decide on
death penalty cases. It also criticised the fact that if the president
fails to make a pronouncement on a case, the sentence automatically
proceeds to execution, based on the tacit denial of a pardon.

PP lawmaker Oliverio Garca told IPS that the draft law "has a few flaws
that must be revised" before it is passed, but predicted that as long as
the country is afflicted by such high levels of violence, the death
penalty will not be abolished.

When two men were executed by firing squad in 1996, one of the executions
-- which were televised -- was botched, requiring a coup de grace to
complete the job. The howls of outrage from the international community
prompted the government to switch methods.

The latest executions, one of which took place in 1998 and two in 2000,
were carried out with lethal injection, and went ahead despite appeals for
clemency lodged by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The head of the non-governmental organisation Security in Democracy,
Iduvina Hernndez, said it was "highly disturbing" that society and the
countrys political leaders are in favour of the death penalty.

"In Guatemala, it is politically incorrect to say you are against capital
punishment," said Manfredo Marroqun, the director of another
non-governmental organisation, Citizen Action. He said politicians want to
show a society that is sick and tired of violence that they are tough on
crime.

The vice presidential candidate for the centre-left UNE, Dr. Rafael
Espada, says he faces a dilemma. "The death penalty is constitutional. As
a doctor I am totally against it, but as a Guatemalan, I respect the law,"
he explained to IPS.

"It has been proven that capital punishment is not an effective deterrent,
but if the death penalty exists, it exists. That is what the law says," he
added.

For Colom, who is running for the presidency for the 3rd time, "the real
problem in Guatemala is the rampant impunity, and that is not solved by
killing people."

"The killing of people by the state not only affects the rights of those
people but also undermines the humanity of the rest of society. It merely
adds violence to violence," Marco Antonio Canteo, director of the
Guatemalan Institute of Comparative Studies in Penal Sciences, told IPS.

Canteo lamented that the countrys public policies against crime are
becoming more and more hard-line, and said that what are really needed are
proposals that focus on prevention and effective investigation of crimes.

In this Central America country of 13 million, where the official poverty
rate is 51 % (although unofficial estimates put the figure closer to 80
%), less than 10 % of homicides are clarified and lead to a conviction.

"What will it mean for Guatemala to apply the death penalty again, in the
present international context?" wondered Canteo, who advocates "new
security paradigms" that would not imply a return to the countrys
authoritarian past.

According to the London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International, 1,591
executions were carried out in 2006 in 25 countries, compared with 2,148
in 2005, and a total of 3,861 people were condemned to death, down from
5,186 the previous year.

Guatemala is in the midst of its sixth democratic electoral process since
1985, which marked the end of a series of military dictatorships ushered
in by a 1954 coup detat backed by the CIA (the U.S. Central Intelligence
Agency).

The country also suffered a civil war between government forces and a
leftist insurgency from 1960-1996, in which more than 200,000 -- mainly
rural indigenous -- people were killed. According to a United Nations
truth commission, the security forces were responsible for over 90 % of
the atrocities committed during the armed conflict.

Current President Oscar Berger is in favour of abolition of the death
penalty. But analysts say that, given the soaring levels of violence and
the majority support for capital punishment in Guatemalan society, whoever
succeeds him on Jan. 14 will be reluctant to assume the political costs of
failing to sign into law the bill that would allow executions to go ahead.

In 2002, then president Portillo submitted to Congress a draft law to
abolish the death penalty, but it was immediately voted down.

Guatemala is 1 of only 3 countries in the Americas, along with Cuba and
the United States, where the death penalty is still applicable to common
crimes.

Colom believes that Guatemala should move in the direction of doing away
with capital punishment, but stressed that "today the law must be
enforced, and people want to see justice done."

Jorge Herrera, in charge of the PP's security plan, told IPS that although
Guatemala should head towards abolition, the 1st step today is for the
draft law reinstating the president's pardon power to be signed into law,
to resolve the unjust situation in which death row convicts are living in
uncertainty as to what will happen to them.

(source: IPS News)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 3



GAMBIA:

Gambia sentences second person to death in a week


A court in Gambia sentenced a Guinean man to death on Wednesday for
murdering his housemate by beating him with an iron bar, the 2nd death
penalty handed down in the West African country in a week.

Kanifing Court found Sulayman Bah guilty of killing his housemate Mamudou
Jallow on Sept. 1 by bludgeoning him over the head following a dispute
over 10,000 dalasi ($457) in their apartment.

Magistrate Moses Richards said the court had taken strong action to
curtail a rising tide of violent crime by foreigners which he said was
alien to Gambian culture.

Last week, the same court sentenced a Senegalese woman, Tabara Samb, to
death for killing her husband by pouring boiling oil over him after she
grew suspicious the Muslim man was going to take a 2nd wife.

Death sentences in Gambia are rare and require the signature of President
Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled the country of 1.5 million people since
seizing power in a bloodless military coup in 1994.

Although permitted under the 1996 constitution, only 2 person has been
executed since independence from Britain in 1965.

(source: Reuters)






INDIA:

Ex-MP Anand Mohan gets death sentence in DM Krishnaiah murder case


The Justice delivery system at last pronounced the judgement after a long
wait of 13 years.

Patna sessions court awarded death sentence to ex -MP Anand Mohan along
with other 3 in G. Krishnaiah murder case.

Lynching happened thirteen years ago in 1994. Anand Mohan's wife Lovely
Anand gets Life sentenced for the same case.

They were alleged to have incited mob which killed the then DM of
Gopalganj. JDU MLA Akhlaq Ahmad also get death sentenced by the court.

Along with Anand Mohan and his wife former Vaishali MP, Lovely Anand,
JD(U) legislator Vijay Shukla alias Munna Shukla, former MLA Akhlaq Ahmad,
former MP and JD(U) leader Arun Kumar and JD(U) leaders S.S. Thakur and
Harendra Kumar were convicted in the case.

Ramsreshtha Rai, Additional District and Session's Judge has earlier ruled
the accused persons guilty under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to
murder) and 147 (rioting).

A mob carrying the body of Chotan Shukla, a don and a leader of Bihar
Peoples Party who was shot dead in a gang war. The mob led by Anand Mahan
and Lovely Anand stopped the G. Krishnaiah, an IAS officer's car on the
outskirts of Mujaffarpur .He was dragged out by the infuriated mob and was
thrashed badly.

Chottan's younger brother Bhutkan Shukla shot thrice in his head while he
lay on the street.

G. Krishnaiah was a native of Andhra Pradesh and was an IAS officer of
Bihar Cadre.

On that unfateful day he was on the way to Gopalganj from Hajipur via
Mujaffarpur after attending a meeting.

Recently the case was transferred to the session court in Patna for speedy
trial on the instruction of Patna High Court.

Uma Krishnaiah said on the conviction of all seven "They deserve no less
punishment than the death sentence. The court should award capital
punishment to them to send a message to society."

She said "At last, justice does not seem to be far away."

While the sentence will be challenged in other higher court, justice still
seems to be far away .

But pinning hope has become a way of life for those who believe in our
justice delivery system. In fact this is for the first time that a former
MP has been awarded the death penalty.

(source: Newstrack)






IRAQ:

Iraqi PM ponders execution delay ---- Majid was sentenced to death for
crimes against humanity


The Iraqi government may seek legal advice on delaying the execution of a
cousin of the late Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, the prime minister says.

Nouri Maliki said he did not want the execution of Ali Hassan "Chemical
Ali" al-Majid during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends next
week.

An Iraqi appeals court upheld Majid's sentence in September for the
killings of at least 100,000 Kurds during 1988.

A 30-day deadline set by the court was due to expire on Thursday.

2 others also face the death penalty for their role in the killings.

The Iraqi authorities may be hoping to avoid the controversy that arose
when Saddam Hussein was executed during the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha in
December, correspondents say.

Majid was found guilty of crimes against humanity in June for organising
what was known as the Anfal campaign against the Kurds of northern Iraq in
the late 1980s.

He acquired his nickname Chemical Ali during the operation after poison
gas was used.

Thousands of villages were also destroyed, as part of a systematic attempt
to wipe out the Kurdish people.

(source: BBC News)






FINLAND:

Historian claims number of executions of deserters during Continuation War
was deliberately understated----Director of Department of Military History
at Defence University accuses author of "stigmatization"


In his new book that was published on Tuesday, Emeritus Professor Heikki
Ylikangas indicates that the number of deserters from the Finnish armed
forces who were executed during the Continuation War (1941-44) was
considerably higher than can be seen from official documents.

According to Ylikangas, the number of executions was about 250. In his
view, dozens of them were illegal. The name list of the allegedly executed
soldiers is included in the new book, entitled Romahtaako rintama? ("Is
the Front Collapsing?")

Based on the official figures given by the Finnish Defence Forces, Finns
executed just 58 of their own soldiers during the Continuation War.

However, Ohto Manninen, Professor of War History at the Finnish National
Defence University, says that he himself has never noticed that the
Defence Forces would have wanted to conceal such information.

While admitting that he has not read Ylikangass new book in its entirity
as yet, Manninen seriously doubts that the Defence Command would have
ordered its archives to be systematically cleaned.

Some errors have already been found in the book. For example, one soldier
whom Ylikangas had mentioned as having died during the war had passed away
as recently as in the 1990s.

Ylikangas admits that some mistakes can found in his book, but says that
the aim of the book was to prompt a need to find out the exact number of
the executed soldiers and to look into the fate of those who vanished
during the Continuation War.

Previously Manninen and Jarmo Nieminen - the director of the Department of
Military History at the National Defence University - have proposed that
the fate of those soldiers who vanished during the wars over the period
from 1939 to 1945 should be looked into.

According to current information, the fate of as many as 5,311 Finnish
soldiers is still unclear.

During the launch of the book on Tuesday, Nieminen presented Ylikangas
with a written statement of his "twisting the facts" and of "stigmatizing"
the institution Nieminen is heading.

After reading the book, Nieminen regarded it as insufficient and lacking
in facts. He also believes that this book will arouse an academic debate
on the fate of those soldiers who vanished or were executed during the
war.

Ylikangas started his book by comprehensively rejecting the allegations of
the executions of hundreds of wartime deserters in Lappeenranta in the
summer of 1944.

The exhumation of remains in the cemetery at Huhtiniemi has continued for
some time: thus far the only bodies that have been found were shown to
date from the 19th century, and not from the 1940s.

Towards the end of the Continuation War, the Red Army launched a massive
infantry and artillery assault on Finnish positions in the Karelian
Isthmus in June 1944. The lines broke in various degrees of order and
disorder and the Finns retreated back towards the former border with the
Soviet Union.

This is the background to the allegations of mass desertions and field
courts-martial.

(source: Helsingin Sanomat)






NIGERIA:

Amnesty International, others call for abolition of death penalty


International and 11 other non- governmental organisations in Nigeria on
Thursday called on President Umaru Yar'Adua to abolish the death penalty
from the country's statute books.

"It is imperative for the President to drop the penalty to bring the
country in line with the global trend," Mr Louis Mendy, President of
Amnesty International in Senegal, said at a , briefing in Lagos.

Mendy, who spoke on behalf of the group, said that the sentence appeared
to be targeted at women and that there was a global call for its
abrogation.

"We are glad to note that about 131 countries have abolished it.

"The forthcoming celebration of Nigerias 47th bi rthday offers Y ar'Ad ua
the opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to the
internationally-recognised and constitutional right to life."

The group said the government should join the trend by declaring a
moratorium, pending the abolition of the death penalty for all offences
and to commute all death sentences to jail terms.

They also urged the Federal Government to review all cases of prisoners on
death row, especially the cases of those above 60, who have been on death
row for more 'than 10 years.

"The development will enable the government see if the prisoners will be
suitable for release, as promised by the previous administration on May
16, 2007," he said.

The human rights organizations pleaded that the government should ensure
that "all prisoners currently on death row, suffering from severe
illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or mental illnesses are given
:access to medical treatment and healthcare."

The groups called on the National Assembly to pass into law the draft
Penalty Moratorium Bill, submitted by HURILAWS, in order to stop
executions, pending the abolition of the death penalty.

The NGOs are Access to Justice, Liberties Organisation, CLEEN Foundation,
Human Rights Law Service, Human Rights Watch, Legal Defence and Assistance
Project and Legal Resources Consortium.

Others are the National Coalition for Death Penalty, Prisoner
Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, Project Alert on Violence Against Women
and West African Network for Peace Building Nigerian.

(source: The Tide)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 6


COUNCIL OF EUROPE:

CoE on abolition of death penalty ---- "EU at risk of duplicating Council
of Europe work:" Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe


The Council of Europe is making an all-out effort to abolish the death
penalty from the face of the planet and uphold the human rights of every
man and woman even in facing justice. Speaking to Tejinder Singh in
Strasbourg, Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe,
warned against risks of duplication of works in European institutions.

You took office in September 2004, 3 years down the road, how do you feel
the pace of progress?

We have come a long way in last 3 years. There have been reformative
changes in the administration of the Council of Europe. We have already
done a lot of reforms in resources with much more rigorous in our approach
to financial matters and we have been running some very successful
campaigns such as campaign against discrimination, campaign against
trafficking in human beings and campaign against domestic violence. We are
on a course, a process of becoming a campaigning organisation.

Death penalty: You are committed to its abolition and you commented
against Texas in strong words. What are your efforts to abolish the same?

I am personally against the death penalty. I voted against the death
penalty in the United Kingdom when I was a member of Parliament. At the
Council of Europe, we are united to oppose the death penalty. All our 47
countries have views against death penalty. In the USA, lets remember that
some states do not have it and when some states do execute.

I do comment on US executions as I do with Japan because they are observer
countries of the Council of Europe. Canada and Mexico are observer
countries as well but both Canada and Mexico have abolished death penalty.
Its still being used in Japan and some parts of US. Since its an agreed
policy of Council of Europe, I am authorised to comment when people are
executed in Texas.

You are cooperating with OSCE, UN and EU but it seems there is some
duplication in EU projects with regard to Council of Europe work. Will you
like to comment?

Our mandate is human rights, democracy and rule of law. We have activities
which support these and activities in education, in culture, in youth, in
sports and in social cohesion. These are what we call enabling factors and
its true we are very active in these fields. For example, sports, some
people are surprised at our activities in the area of sports. There is an
international organisation against doping and there is a doping agreement.

The Council of Europe organises the representation of Europe in that body
and it can not be done by the European Union because they only have 27
countries while we have 47. There is a great risk of duplication, I agree
and I am strongly opposed to duplication. Of course, there are some cases
where its not duplication but partnership.

There are many examples where we work in partnership but I will agree
there is a tendency, there is a risk of the European Union duplicating
what we do. Its against the interests of Europe, particularly against the
interests of taxpayers who will finally be paying twice for same work
being done.

You recently spoke of Commons Heritage of Europe. During a recent visit to
the Balkans especially Serbia, I found that Wahhabism, a fundamental form
of Islam that is exported out of Saudi Arabia, is spreading very fast
replacing centuries-old Turkish moderate form. Do you feel the threat of
terrorism taking roots in these areas and what will you like to suggest as
a remedy?

Terrorism comes not only from Islam or extreme fundamental form of it.
Lets be clear that terrorism comes from other sources also like the IRA or
some of the Basque people. We believe in intercultural dialogue. The
majority of Muslims are opposed to violence, opposed to terrorism. They
want to attract people to their faith, not impose it on them. Christians
share that point of view.

We need to have much more understanding at the local level, certainly to
encourage intercultural and inter-religious dialogues at national levels
but also at local levels. The fact is that a lot can be done by local
religious leaders, local priest, local rabbi and the local mullah working
together can lead the people who follow their faith to a greater
understanding of each other and to concentrate on real social evils.

You now mentioned intercultural dialogue. Will you like to comment that
some states like France are not allowing Sikhs to wear turbans?

As far as the wearing of turbans is concerned, we have the European
Convention of Human Rights and from time to time, people apply to European
Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe, complaining that the human
rights are not being protected by the authorities in one of the member
countries. Some of these decision do affect the wearing of turbans. I will
not comment on a case that is going on before the court.

You have been invited to join Global Rapid Reaction Force. What are its
goals and what will you contribute to it?

It's a programme organised by Jorge Sampaio, the former President of
Portugal and now representative of the UN Secretary General to put into
practice Alliance of Civilisations. We are going to comment quickly and
take rapid reaction to events which take place and are damaging to people.
For example, the recent march in Brussels Against Islamisation of Europe.
Also some authorities try to ban gay pride marches. I am against all
discrimination. My personal motto here is "All Different, All Equal!"

(source: New Europe)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 7



GLOBAL:

No


THE death penalty is never the solution.

The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment
and violates the fundamental right to life.

Amnesty International is universally opposed to the practice and has long
campaigned for its abolition.

We take a consistent and principled approach in opposing every execution,
whether it is homosexuals in Iran, political dissidents in Africa, drug
traffickers in Asia or convicted murderers in the US.

We are lobbying for clemency for the three Bali bombers, as we have in
other cases such as the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Australian drug
trafficker Van Tuong Nguyen and those of the Bali 9 on death row.

All must be held accountable for their actions.

But a life for a life is not justice.

An execution cannot be used to denounce a killing.

Modern societies must base themselves on different ideals from those they
denounce or they are no better than the criminals they condemn.

Nowhere has it been shown that the death penalty has any more ability to
deter criminals or terrorists than any other punishment. In fact, it is
even likely to inspire political martyrs whose death will become a
rallying point for their cause.

The majority of countries do not practise the death penalty.

At least 120 nations have abolished it in practice or in law and there
continues to be a worldwide trend for its abolition.

Australia has a public policy of being universally opposed to the death
penalty.

But the Federal Government's ability to argue for clemency in some cases
is seriously undermined by its selective opposition to the practice.

This Wednesday is World Day against the Death Penalty.

Amnesty International will join the call for a global moratorium on the
death penalty at the UN General Assembly.

(source: Tim Goodwin, Amnesty International, in the Melbourne Herald Sun)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 8


CHINA:

Issue Moratorium on Executions Before Olympics----Secrecy, Unfair Trials,
Overbroad Laws Still the Rule Despite Reform


China should impose a moratorium on all executions as a goodwill gesture
before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Human Rights Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch issued its call for a moratorium in advance of the
World Day against the Death Penalty on October 10. China is estimated to
execute more people than the rest of the world combined.

Human Rights Watch said that during the moratorium the Chinese government
should sharply reduce the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty,
make public the number of people executed and awaiting execution, and
institute changes in trial and appeal procedures to ensure that they meet
at least international minimum standards of fairness in all cases where
capital punishment is demanded by prosecutors.

"As the world focuses on China's poor human rights record in the run-up to
the Olympics, the Chinese government could avoid further embarrassment by
making a bold step to address its position as the world's leading
executioner of its own citizens," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human
Rights Watch.

The Chinese government classifies as "state secrets" all statistics
regarding capital punishment. Credible estimates suggest approximately
7,500 executions per year. State media claim that the number of people
executed decreased in 2007 after the adoption of a system of mandatory
vetting by the Supreme People's Court, Chinas highest judicial
institution, took effect on January 1, 2007. The government also cites 2
additional regulations aimed at "killing fewer, killing more cautiously,"
which were promulgated on February 27 and March 9, respectively. However,
while this new system provides an additional centralized administrative
review, it does not address serious systemic weaknesses in the trial
process.

"The reported decrease in the number of executions is welcome, but that is
no substitute for full transparency, fair trials, adequate defense
counsel, and judicial independence," said Adams. "Because of structural
deficiencies in the conduct of trials in China, no one executed in China
today receives a fair trial in line with international standards."

The Chinese criminal justice system recognizes neither the presumption of
innocence nor the right to remain silent, and places sharp limits on
defense counsel and the rights of the accused. Torture to obtain
confessions remains prevalent. A spate of wrongful convictions have
emerged in recent years, with the deputy procurator-general, Wang
Zhenchuan, estimating in 2006 that there are at least 30 cases every year
of wrongful convictions attributable to confessions extracted through
torture and that "nearly every wrongful verdict in recent years relates to
illegal interrogation."

Chinese scholars have also expressed doubts that the newly introduced
regulations can ensure justice in cases that have political implications.
In particular, they point to the extreme speed with which the Supreme
People's Court approved the execution of two former senior officials whose
cases had national repercussions. In the case of Guo Yanyu, the former
head of China's food and drug agency, who was charged with corruption, the
Supreme Court completed its review in 13 working days, while it took just
10 working days for Duan Yihe, a member of the Chinese Peoples Congress
from Jinan, Shandong Province, who was convicted of murdering his mistress
in a car explosion.

The desire to be seen as being tough on corruption and public order and to
"appease public indignation" is a repeated justification advanced by the
Chinese government to retain capital punishment.

Human Rights Watch said it was particularly concerned about official
announcements by top security officials that the authorities would carry
out anti-crime campaigns in the run-up of the 2008 Summer Olympics. These
campaigns are often directly linked with an increase in death penalty
sentences and executions.

In July, China's top law and order official, Luo Gan, announced that the
authorities would "crack down severely on all kinds of hostile forces and
troublemakers" bent on disturbing a "peaceful Olympics," and "severely
punish all kinds of crimes."

"The International Olympics Committee should publicly press China for a
moratorium on all executions during the Games," said Adams. "This would be
in line with the Olympic Charter, which aims to promote through sport 'a
peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.'"

The death penalty is currently mandated for no fewer than 68 crimes,
including embezzlement and corruption. Chinese legal experts have long
advocated that the most effective way of limiting the number of executions
would be to limit the death penalty to violent crimes. But the government
has shied away from such reform, because it does not want to appear as if
it is unwilling to punish severely corrupt cadres and party officials,
which is a growing cause of social discontent in China.

Although the death penalty has not been banned categorically in
international law, the strong trend is toward its eventual abolition.
Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as
inherently cruel, irreversible, and usually discriminatory in application,
and believes it violates the right to life and fundamental dignity that
all human beings possess.

(source: Human Rights Watch)






AFGHANISTAN:

Afghanistan carries out rare executions


Afghanistan has put 15 people to death for various crimes including
murder, government officials told AFP, in the first confirmed executions
in more than 3 years.

The convicted criminals were shot dead in a Kabul prison late on Sunday, a
senior official said on condition of anonymity.

"15 people who were convicted earlier were executed," the official said,
adding that most had been found guilty of murder.

The national head of prisons, Abdul Salaam Asmat, confirmed 15 were put to
death at Afghanistan's largest prison Pul-i-Charki. He refused to give
details.

The last known execution by the post-Taliban government of President Hamid
Karzai was in April 2004 when military commander Abdullah Shah was killed
with a single bullet after being convicted for a spate of murders.

A Supreme Court spokesman, Wakil Omari, told AFP that other people were
believed to have been executed in secret since then, but he had no
details.

Around 300 people are on death row, a judge told AFP on condition of
anonymity.

They had been sentenced for crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery,
kidnapping and "political crimes" such as bombings and anti-government
activities, he said.

Karzai has however been reluctant to sign their execution orders.

(source: Agence France-Presse)

***************

Top UN envoy speaks out against death penalty following Afghan executions


The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan today expressed concern at the
recent execution of 15 prisoners in the capital, Kabul the first time the
death penalty has been used in 3 years.

"The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has been a staunch supporter of
the moratorium on executions observed in Afghanistan in recent years,"
said UNAMA chief Tom Koenigs, recalling that the UN had previously stated
its concern over the use of the death penalty.

In a statement, he acknowledged the sovereign right of the Afghan people
and their Government to decide how to carry out their own laws, but called
for Afghanistan to "continue working towards attaining highest human
rights standards and ensuring that due process of law and the rights of
all citizens are respected."

"It is my personal view that the death penalty should be abolished
worldwide," he added.

Also today, UNAMA reported that more than 353,000 Afghans have returned to
their homes so far this year nearly 348,000 of them from Pakistan and
more than 5,000 from Iran with the assistance of the UN High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR).

Over 16,000 Afghans returned to their home country from Pakistan and Iran
last month, UNAMAs Nazifullah Salarzai told reporters in Kabul, adding
that the pace of returns is slowing down as winter approaches.

"We're now seeing return numbers averaging 200 per day down from a peak
of over 12,000 assisted returns per day in April," Mr. Salarzai stated.

While UNHCRs voluntary repatriation operation from Iran will continue
throughout the winter, its operation from Pakistan will take a "winter
break" at the end of October and then resume next March.

Since 2002, some 5 million Afghan refugees have returned to their
battle-scarred homeland, mostly from Pakistan and Iran, a majority aided
by UNHCR. Most of the 3 million registered Afghans remaining in
neighbouring countries have been abroad for more than 2 decades.

(source: UN News Centre)






AUSTRALIA:

Labor to campaign against death penalty


A LABOR government would lobby Asian countries to abolish the death
penalty. In a speech in Sydney tonight, opposition foreign affairs
spokesman Robert McClelland said it was hypocritical for the Howard
government to oppose the death penalty for Australian citizens while
failing to speak out against its application elsewhere.

He singled out Prime Minister John Howard for supporting the executions of
the perpetrators of the Bali bombings, al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden
and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, when officially the Government
opposes capital punishment.

"This contradiction came increasingly into focus when Indonesian terrorist
Amrozi was condemned to capital punishment at the same time as Van Nguyen
in Singapore," Mr McClelland told the Wentworth Human Rights Forum.

Labor believes that supporting executions - even by a nation state - gives
justification to all kinds of fanatical lunatics to take the lives of
others in pursuit of their own warped ideologies.

"That is why, at the highest levels, Australia's public comments about the
death penalty must be consistent with policy."

(source: Melbourne Herald Sun)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 10


GLOBAL:

Dear Friends,


As people across the planet mark today, October 10, as World Day Against
the Death Penalty, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights issues this
statement calling for the member states of the United Nations to adopt a
resolution supporting a global moratorium on executions.


Statement of Renny Cushing, Executive Director of Murder Victims Families
for Human Rights on World Day Against the Death Penalty in Support of a
Global Moratorium on Executions

Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights is an organization of family
members of homicide victims and family members of people who have been
executed. As survivors with a direct stake in the death penalty debate,
and as people who believe in the value of basic human rights principles,
we join today in the call for a worldwide moratorium on executions.

The most basic of human rights, the right to life, is violated both by
homicide and by execution. We call today for a consistent human rights
ethic in response to violence: let us not respond to one human rights
violation with another human rights violation.

Let us recognize that justice for victims is not achieved by taking
another life.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inspired by victims,
demanded by victims. It grew out of the suffering of millions of civilians
murdered under the brutal regimes of the Second World War, and its
adoption on December 10, 1948 was a way to honor the loss of those lives
by asserting that such violations are neither moral nor permissible under
any nation or regime.

Now, almost 60 years later, let us recognize that violations of human life
in the form of the death penalty should not be permissible under any
nation or regime. We call for a moratorium on the death penalty because
the only way to uphold human rights is to uphold them in all cases,
universally.

Today, on World Day Against the Death Penalty, the United Nations General
Assembly is considering a resolution that will take us one step closer to
fulfilling the aspiration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As
victims, we urge the members of the General Assembly to adopt the UN
resolution for a universal moratorium on executions.

(source: Renny Cushing, MVFHR Executive Director)






NEW ZEALAND:

NZ backs worldwide ban on death penalty


New Zealand is working with other countries to put a resolution to the
United Nations seeking the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, Prime
Minister Helen Clark said today.

Miss Clark made the announcement at an event in Parliament, attended by
Amnesty International representatives, to highlight World Day Against the
Death Penalty.

New Zealand's last execution occurred 50 years ago, in 1957 and capital
punishment was removed from the statute books in 1961, except for the
crime of treason. That provision was finally repealed in 1989.

Miss Clark said 90 countries had abolished the death penalty for all
crimes, 131 had done so in law or in practice and 66 retained it.

"Capital punishment is the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment," she said.

"The death penalty violates the right to life...it is known to have been
inflicted on the innocent."

Miss Clark said the resolution would ask countries to implement a global
moratorium on executions as a first step towards the eventual abolition of
the death penalty.

In Parliament today Miss Clark and Amnesty International's New Zealand
director Ced Simpson, walked along the Death Penalty Timeline, laid out to
show the history of abolition initiatives.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust's spokesman Garth McVicar said while there
are no calls yet to re-introduce the death penalty in New Zealand, this is
simply another example of putting offenders' rights before those of
victims.

Mr McVicar said he is shocked because the trust deals with victims who
have had loved ones murdered, and there is no worse form of treatment than
that.

He noted that 2 countries New Zealand is working at achieving free trade
deals with - the United States and China - carry out the largest number of
executions each year.

The last person executed in New Zealand was farmer Walter James Bolton,
68, convicted of murdering his wife Beatrice.

He was hanged in Auckland Prison on February 18, 1957, the 54th person to
be legally put to death before capital punishment was abolished.

It was a messy business, and it was believed some of those in the death
chamber had to swing on his legs after the hangman miscalculated and
Bolton did not die instantly from a broken neck.

"The spectacle for those required to attend was so horrifying that they
indicated they would boycott any further execution," Auckland crown
prosecutor Simon Moore said in a speech to the Criminal Bar Association in
2000.

(source: New Zealand Herald)






TAIWAN:

Film festival to be held to call for an end to death penalty


The Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty will hold a film festival
starting Oct. 12 to call public attention to the issue of abolishing
capital punishment, officials said yesterday.

The Murder by Numbers Film Festival, the second of its kind since 2004,
will be held to mark the Oct. 10 World Day Against the Death Penalty and
to underline the violent nature of the death penalty, according to
alliance CEO Lin Hsin-yi.

The festival, scheduled for Oct. 12-14 in Taipei and Oct. 19-21 in
Kaohsiung, will feature 9 films from Taiwan, Italy, Sweden, France,
Denmark, India and the United States, Lin said, adding that the alliance
hope the films will help the public better understand the issue.

Liu Ching-yi, president of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, noted
that the issue of a moratorium on the death penalty has been included on
the agenda of the ongoing 62nd session of the United Nations General
Assembly and that the General Assembly is expected to adopt a resolution
on the issue in November.

Liu suggested that Taiwan proactively adopt the human rights values and
practices advocated by the United Nations if the country wishes to join
the world body.

Wu Chih-kuang, deputy convener of the alliance, pointed out that although
Taiwan remains one of the few countries where the death penalty has not
been abolished, no executions have been carried out over the past 2 years,
a situation which he said could be taken as the beginning of the end of
the death penalty.

Noting that 28 criminals are still on the death row in the country,
Judicial Reform Foundation CEO Lin Feng-cheng urged President Chen
Shui-bian to officially declare a moratorium on the death penalty and
grant amnesty or sentence commutations to criminals under sentences of
death.

Lin also suggested that the Minister of Justice Shih Mao-lin not sign any
execution orders, but rather work to amend related laws to pave the way
for the abolition of the death penalty.

(source: The China Post)






CHINA:

Organs from China death row inmates only for family: report


China will no longer transplant organs from executed prisoners except for
their immediate relatives, state media reported Tuesday citing the Chinese
Medical Association.

International rights groups have long accused China of harvesting organs
from executed prisoners for transplant without either their or their
family's consent.

Hospitals have also been regularly accused of secretly taking organs from
road accident victims and other dead patients without telling relatives.

The government has denied such charges, saying most organs are voluntarily
donated by ordinary citizens and executed criminals who gave consent
before their death.

The Chinese Medical Association, an official body which represents nearly
half a million doctors, promised at an international meeting in Europe
last week to strengthen management of human organ transplants to ensure
standards were implemented, the China Daily reported.

But it was unclear from the report if the association has the power to
make sure its requirements for prisoner organ donations would be followed.

If implemented, the rule could effectively signal an end to the transplant
of organs from executed prisoners, as it would be rare for a person in
severe need of a new organ to be closely related to someone on death row.

The number of transplants from executed prisoners has dropped
significantly this year, the China Daily said, citing Chen Zhonghua, the
deputy head of the Chinese association's sub-committee on organ
transplants.

At the same time, live donations from relatives, as well as donations from
other dead citizens, have increased.

This is partly due to stricter regulations on organ transplants that went
into force on May 1.

The regulations, issued by the State Council, or China's cabinet, prohibit
all organisations and individuals from trading human organs in any form.

(source: Agence France-Presse)



AUSTRALIA:

Howard stands by death penalty for terrorists


Prime Minister John Howard says it would be a major injustice if the Bali
bombers were not executed.

Mr Howard has reaffirmed his stance on the issue as Indonesia's death
penalty laws are being challenged in the country's Constitutional Court.

The Labor Party's viewpoint on capital punishment is under the spotlight
following comments by foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland, who
said the ALP would oppose the death penalty in principle, including for
the notorious Bali bombers.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd last night said terrorists should rot in jail and
a government led by him would only intervene diplomatically to try to save
the lives of Australians sentenced to death overseas.

Mr Howard has reiterated that he will not oppose the death penalty when it
involves terrorists.

Speaking on Southern Cross Radio, Mr Howard was asked about the
possibility that the Bali bombers will not be executed.

"I think that would be very, very bad, I accept that many people will
think it is inconsistent of me to say and I've acknowledged this before...
I personally don't support capital punishment in Australia," he said.

"It follows from that whenever an Australian is sentenced to death
overseas I'll argue for the remission of the sentence."

(source: ABC News)






AFGHANISTAN:

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE; For Immediate Release:


Amnesty International Dismayed by Execution of 15 in Afghanistan

Amnesty International condemned the executions of 15 people on Sunday
October 7, 2007 in Afghanistan. The 15 men were executed by firing squad
at the Pul-i Charkhi high security prison outside Kabul. They had been
charged with a variety of offenses including rape, murder, attacking
security posts, robbery and looting.

Amnesty International particularly regrets these executions at a time when
there is a global momentum toward the abolition of the death penalty. A
total of 133 countries from all regions of the world have abolished the
death penalty in law or practice and there is an overall decline in the
number of reported executions. On October 10, World Day against the Death
Penalty, people around the globe will be protesting against the use of the
death penalty. Later this month the United Nations General Assembly will
be voting on a resolution calling on all governments to support a global
moratorium on executions.

These executions mark an end to a three year moratorium on executions in
Afghanistan, and come shortly after the Taleban executed a 15 year old in
southern Afghanistan.

Amnesty International considers the death penalty a violation of the right
to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. As the
world continues to turn away from the use of the death penalty, the
execution of these 15 men is an anomaly. Such state sanctioned killing is
all the more unacceptable where, as in this case, there are serious doubts
about the fairness of trials.

The last execution in Afghanistan was that of Abdullah Shah in April 2004.
At the time of his trial in October 2002 the U.N. Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, following her observance
of his trial proceedings, stated there were concerns "that the safeguards
and restrictions according to international standards for imposing capital
punishment cannot be observed at this stage." In 2003, the U.N. Commission
on Human Rights called on the Afghan government to "declare a moratorium
on the death penalty in the light of procedural and substantive flaws in
the Afghan judicial system."

The death penalty is often discriminatory in its application, used
disproportionately against the poor and racial, ethnic and religious
minorities. It is often imposed after unfair trials. The risk of executing
the innocent has been persistently demonstrated. Further, executions have
never been proved to have any unique deterrent effect against crime.
Amnesty International believes that executions are brutalizing,
dehumanizing those that carry it out and devaluing the worth that society
places upon human life.

Amnesty International again calls on the Afghan government to immediately
impose an official moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

(source: Amnesty International)

********************

Kabul to continue with executions -- The executions in Afghanistan ended a
moratorium


The Afghan government has said it will continue to carry out death
sentences despite concern about the execution of 15 convicts in Kabul on
Sunday.

The executions - announced on Monday - were the 1st confirmed in
Afghanistan for 3 years.

Those executed had been found guilty of crimes such as murder, kidnapping,
rape, adultery and armed robbery.

A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said the executions would be a
lesson for those committing such crimes.

The executions in Kabul have proved controversial.

The chairman of Afghanistan's human rights organisation said human rights
groups had called for the cases of the executed men to be re-examined,
alleging shortcomings in the way they had been investigated.

The United Nations said it had been a staunch supporter of the moratorium
on executions observed in Afghanistan over recent years.

But the spokesman for the Afghan President, Humayun Hamidzada, said
Afghanistan had every right to carry out the death penalty.

"There was no understanding between the United Nations and the Afghan
government about executions. The Afghan government is doing what its laws
dictate," he said.

The executions were carried out at Kabul's Pul-e-Charkhi jail

"We of course respect the concerns raised by the international community,
the UN and others, but you know capital punishment is not only practised
in Afghanistan but in many many countries," Mr Hamidzada said.

"So what we do is what is best for our people... in light of our
constitution."

Italian reaction

One of those executed was a man convicted of involvement in the murder of
foreign journalists after the fall of the Taleban, including Grazia Cutuli
of Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Sergio Romano of Corriere Della Sera said the Italian press reflected
mixed feelings about his execution.

"For the time being of course, there is a certain amount of satisfaction,
although there are doubts about the validity of the verdict," he said.

"The inquiries conducted by the Italians in Afghanistan and Rome proved
that there were other people involved, who don't seem to have been taken
into consideration."

Mr Romano said the family of the murdered Italian journalist said they
would have appealed for mercy if they knew the executions were about to be
carried out.

He added that the case is embarrassing in some ways for the Italian
government, which is pushing, through the United Nations, for a moratorium
on the death penalty.

(source: BBC News)






TRINIDAD & TOBAGO:

Of crime and punishment


TODAY, when electoral politics for E-Day-November 5, will continue to
dominate media/public attention, there is one area of commonality that
distinguishes the contesting parties and on which focus is quite relevant.
It is their shared stand in favour of the emotional, gut-wrenching issue
of the death penalty for murder that continues to sharply divide opinions
in this and other Caricom societies as well as the wider international
community.

Among the 192 member countries of the United Nations, some 100 still
officially retain the death penalty for murder but with increasing numbers
moving towards abolition, or at least review of the practice other nations
have rejected as barbaric and inhumane.

According to Amnesty International-the primary international advocate for
abolition of capital punishment-since1990 a total of 90 countries have
abolished the death penalty for ALL crimes; 10 others for all, except for
war crimes; and 30 other nations, while maintaining a de facto
abolitionist position by retaining laws for capital punishment, have
carried out no executions in the last 10 years.

As regional human rights groups and advocates today join in the tenth
anniversary observance of "World Day Against the Death Penalty", the harsh
reality of our own Caribbean experience bears noting:

45 years after the dawn of political independence in this region, first in
Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, ALL of our Caricom states continue to
retain the death penalty for murder, but with NO government having ANY
significant progress report to offer in battling the epidemic of murder
and other serious crimes.

Or, more precisely, how the ultimate punishment of execution for murder
may have contributed to curbing rampaging killings in the worst affected
countries-Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Guyana, in that order-to
those with comparatively low but still alarming murder rates, such as The
Bahamas, Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Heads of Government and Attorneys General are prone to genuflect to the
emotional cries of the "hang them quickly" crowd by promising speedy
trials for murder accused and making pledges to execute murderers with
haste. But where is the example of curbing the murder rate by
implementation of the death penalty?

Ministers of National Security and Attorneys General of successive
administrations-particularly those unsympathetic to accessing the
Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our final appellate institution-often
compete to blame the Privy Council in London and successful members of the
national/regional legal fraternity for hurdles placed in carrying out
death sentences for murder.

Even now part of the election campaign here features the fighting rhetoric
of past and present cabinet ministers responsible for law and order and
the justice administration system who seek to market their capacity to
fight the criminals and implement the death penalty for murder.

Their sense of frustration could perhaps be appreciated in the face of
some of the most mind-blowing criminal acts of murder, armed robberies and
kidnappings.

What, however, seems lacking is an anti-crime strategy-one structured for
sustained widest-possible bi-partisan involvement by political parties and
social interest organisations-working in collaboration with the security
forces.

Of necessity, such an approach would entail curbing also the passion of
members of disciplined forces to shoot and/or brutalise first and ask
questions after; and, for their part, members of the public discarding
their own social/political prejudices and habit of treating law
enforcement agents as "enemies" rather than "friends". It must also entail
discouraging collusion with criminals by people who keep silent when they
should be proactive in helping to keep their respective neighbourhoods,
villages and urban communities safe from criminals-often linked to
narco-trafficking and gun-running networks.

When the November 5 general election is over, and whatever the composition
of a new government, it would be good to know whether any serious effort
may be forthcoming to abolish the death penalty.

And whether there is commitment-beyond glossy mainfestos-to pursuing new
bi-partisan, creative initiatives to arrest the plague of murder,
kidnappings and armed robberies now resulting in expanding national grief
and apprehension amid packed courts of accused and overcrowded prisons.

(source: Column, Rickey Singh, The Trinidad Express)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 11



AUSTRALIA:

Lawyer takes aim on death penalty


Prime Minister John Howard has contradicted Australia's position on the
death penalty for the sake of political expediency, says a prominent
lawyer.

Lex Lasry QC, who has represented executed drug trafficker Van Nguyen and
two members of the Bali Nine, said he was saddened the debate about the
death penalty had become politicised.

Labor's foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland sparked talkback radio
outrage when he suggested on Monday the Bali bombers should be spared the
death penalty.

He has apologised to the families of the Bali victims, as his speech came
just days before the 5th anniversary of the blasts.

Mr Howard attacked Labor over Mr McClelland's speech and said it would be
"very, very bad" if the Bali bombers' death sentences were not carried
out.

"That's completely at odds with Australia's declared position," Mr Lasry
told ABC television.

"We don't have the death penalty here in Australia, we haven't had it
since the 1970s.

"We don't execute terrorists; we support, internationally, the abolition
of capital punishment.

"You're either for that or you're not. It seems to me that the sort of
comments (Mr Howard made) ... are, in a sense, contrary to his declared
position."

Mr Lasry said he agreed with the content of Mr McClelland's speech and he
was worried about Labor backtracking on its stance on the death penalty in
the hotbed political environment before an election.

"The shame is that the debate's become politicised. There's a political
contest going on and there's an election coming up," he said.

"Regrettably, the principles which are at stake so far as capital
punishment are concerned are being somewhat lost.

"It would be a lot better if there was a bipartisan position which
supported Australia's declared position since 1990 - when we signed and
supported and ratified the international covenant on this, that Australia
is simply opposed to the death penalty in all cases and in all countries."

It was important to have a consistent policy on the death penalty so that
Australia's international moral authority was not compromised, he said.

(source: Sydney Morning Herald)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 12



AUSTRALIA:

No Bali executions will be a real 'let-down'


AUSTRALIANS will feel let down if the Bali bombers are not executed, Prime
Minister John Howard says.

Indonesia's Constitutional Court will hand down its decision on a
challenge to the nation's death penalty laws on October 30.

The challenge was launched earlier this year by members of the Bali Nine
heroin-smuggling ring on death row.

Their lawyers have argued the death penalty in Indonesia's narcotics law
is unconstitutional because the nation's constitution affords life as a
basic human right.

If the court rules the death penalty is unconstitutional, it could
potentially stall the impending executions of 2002 Bali bombers Imam
Samudra, Ali Ghufron (alias Mukhlas) and the so-called smiling assassin
Amrozi bin Nurhasyim.

"I think there would be a sense of let-down if that was the sentence
delivered, but not carried out," Mr Howard said on Southern Cross radio
today.

"I cannot bring myself to argue for the suspension of the death penalty
when you're dealing with people who have murdered 88 Australians."

Today is the 5th anniversary of the night club bombings which killed 202
people including 88 Australians.

Mr Howard said a move away from capital punishment had "been festering
inside" the Indonesian system "for some time".

(source: News.com)

****************

Rudd fails the test on human rights


Labor's leader will not stick to principles in his bid for election, write
Ben Saul and Anish Bhasin.

THE memory of the victims of the Bali bombings does not demand Australian
complicity in the execution of fellow human beings. Nothing is gained by
responding to the cult of death, which animated the Bali terrorists with a
culture of death of our own.

It also does a disservice to those who died at Bali to support killing in
their name.

This week Kevin Rudd has dispelled the romantic view of the Labor Party as
the party committed to human rights in Australia. The Labor leader
overruled the nuanced approach of his foreign affairs spokesman with the
crude assertion that "terrorists should rot in jail for the term of their
natural lives and then one day be removed in a pine box".

Rudd would not intervene in support of a terrorist's life, although his
government would still look after Australian citizens facing the death
penalty overseas. It is not clear whether that policy would also protect
an Australian terrorist on death row, where Rudd may be torn between his
desire to see terrorists executed and the need to take care of our own (as
in the case of David Hicks).

Australians should be abundantly clear about what a Rudd government would
now stand for. It would be OK to execute Asians, Africans, Americans or
Europeans but not Australians. It would be all right to execute
terrorists, but not war criminals, genocidaires, murderers, rapists or
drug traffickers.

While there is bipartisan opposition to the death penalty within
Australia, the Rudd policy is premised on the arbitrary and xenophobic
idea that Australian lives are worth more than the lives of foreigners. As
a policy it is breathtakingly vengeful, crude, counterproductive and
hypocritical.

It also entirely contradicts Rudd's previous position on the death
penalty. In December 2005, he said in a doorstop interview that "Australia
must work through the United Nations to abolish the death penalty
universally" and that "whether we are talking about individuals in Iraq or
Indonesia or elsewhere, our policy has to be consistent". In January this
year, Rudd properly opposed the execution of Saddam Hussein.

The about-face in policy shows that Rudd is a fair-weather friend of human
rights which is no friend at all. Human dignity is not something that can
be surrendered for bad behaviour, traded away in a vengeful political
climate obsessed by polling numbers, or eclipsed by a public sentiment of
toxic retribution.

Human rights law is based on the fundamental idea that every human life is
equally precious and entitled at all times to dignified treatment.
Politicians are not entitled to pick and choose who they will bestow with
rights and dignity, and from whom rights and dignity will be withdrawn.

A selective commitment to human rights, to the dignity of some but not
others, is fatally at odds with the very idea of human rights, which
values all human life equally. The bedrock of equal dignity explains why
we do not shoot the disabled, or murder Jews, or beat up monks or imprison
those with different political views. It also provides a sufficient moral
reason not to execute terrorists, even though they appear to have taken
themselves outside the bounds of all civilised behaviour.

Along with 60 other countries, Australia has signed an international
treaty that requires it to abolish the death penalty in Australia, in a
step towards protecting the human right to life. While there is no strict
legal obligation to oppose the death penalty overseas, it is within the
spirit of that treaty to do what we can to eliminate the death penalty
everywhere.

In the Asian region, the death penalty is actively retained by at least 14
countries, including Australia's good friends Indonesia, Japan, India,
Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and China. There is much scope for
Australian governments to play a quiet and constructive diplomatic role in
encouraging more countries in our region to abolish the death penalty,
without preaching.

Using our diplomats in this way may not increase our exports and create
investment or gain access to new markets. But being Australian is about
more than a commitment to economic growth and must surely include a
non-negotiable belief in protecting the value of human life, and
preventing governments from capriciously taking it away.

The failures of the death penalty are well known. As Rudd said in his 2005
interview, there is no "credible evidence" that it deters crime. It all
too often kills the innocent. It frequently discriminates against minority
races, juveniles, and those with a low IQ who may give false confessions.

It also deprives criminals of any chance of rehabilitation. Experience
overseas shows that some rehabilitated terrorists have been extremely
useful in re-educating other disaffected, vulnerable or radical young
people to shun terrorist recruiters and turn away from any involvement in
terrorist organisations.

Australians should be wary of a Labor leader willing to backslide on human
rights. Already Labor has conspicuously failed to oppose drastic
anti-terrorism laws, and continues to support the policy of mandatory
immigration detention introduced by a previous Labor government and which
has caused untold human suffering. It might be hoped that Rudd would offer
a leadership of principle, not a leadership of death.

(source: The Age--Ben Saul is director of the Sydney Centre for
International Law at Sydney University. Anish Bhasin is an intern at the
centre and worked on death penalty cases in Texas)






KENYA:

Death Row Inmates Suffer Over Lawyers' Strike


Murder suspects continue to languish in prison over the ongoing boycott of
pauper briefs by lawyers.

In Nakuru, 7 murder appeal cases, failed to take off on Thursday after
lawyers refused to appear in court.

High Court Judge, Ms Martha Koome, had to give the appellants new dates.

The lawyers have been boycotting briefs to protest at a decision by the
Chief Justice to have all judicial review matters heard in Nairobi.

Pauper briefs are cases where advocates are paid by the State to defend
those charged with murder, but who are too poor to hire their own counsel.

Early this month, appellate judges were also forced to adjourn some of the
hearings following the boycott.

Their cases will now be heard next year as the Court of Appeal only sits
in Nakuru twice a year.

(source: East African Standard)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 12


NIGERIA:

Q&A - "Inmates Who Are on Death Row Are Without Legal Representation"


Olawale Fapohunda is a leading human rights lawyer in Nigeria and managing
partner of the Legal Resource Consortium, a non-governmental organisation
(NGO) based in the economic capital of Lagos that provides free legal aid
to prison inmates.

He was secretary of the Presidential Commission on the Reform of the
Administration of Justice which early this year recommended the release of
many death row prisoners. He is also a member of the International
Advisory Board of Penal Reform International. In an interview with IPS
writer Toye Olori, he calls for a formal moratorium on executions and a
speedy end to capital punishment in Nigeria.

Rwanda and Gabon recently abolished capital punishment. What lessons can
they offer Nigeria?

Yes, these 2 countries have abolished the death penalty, and also Senegal,
three years ago. Nigeria will also have to act decisively on this issue of
capital punishment. It has been a subject of public discussion here since
2004. But now it is perhaps time for the government to take a lead and
show the way forward.

But is Nigeria really ripe for abolition, considering its very high crime
rate?

The debate on the death penalty in Nigeria is always an emotional one.
Sometimes it is rarely backed up by facts or proper reasoning. You
mentioned the high crime rate, yet that assertion does not match the
statistics. For example, our population is about 140 million. But the
total population of our prisons is 40,000, out of which 25,000 are
actually remand inmates. So either this crime rate is exaggerated or the
police are not catching the criminals. Whatever it is, the statistics do
illustrate a fundamental flaw in our criminal justice system.

We do actually have an unofficial moratorium on executions. The simple
reason for this is that the state governors who are required to sign death
warrants have shown a reluctance to do so. This is largely because of the
unreliability of the whole process from arrest to conviction.

Standing in the way of abolition, besides the perceptions on crime, is
religion. Many Nigerians have a hard-line attitude towards capital
punishment and this is influenced by their religious beliefs.

In my view Nigeria should abolish the death penalty, but I doubt if there
is the political will to do so.

Why are the courts still continuing to sentence people to death when there
is what you call an "unofficial moratorium"?

The death penalty is still retained in the laws of Nigeria. The
constitutionality of the death penalty has been affirmed by our Supreme
Court. Therefore courts are still able to hand down death sentences. This
will continue to be the case until there is law reform on this issue and
the death penalty is removed from our legal code.

What are rights activists doing to pressure the government to abolish
capital punishment?

The Nigerian NGOs have been consistent in lobbying on this issue. Our
efforts are ongoing. But it would be a mistake to assume that there is
consensus among all Nigerian NGOs on the death penalty. This is not so.

There is, however, a coalition of NGOs for the abolition of the death
penalty. This is seeking to build a consensus among governmental and
non-governmental institutions on this issue. There is also an effort to
get parliament to discuss the death penalty.

As NGOs, we need to do more in the area of public education. We also need
to back our advocacy with concrete facts and figures.

What has become of the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on
the Reform of the Administration of Justice on which you served as
secretary?

We presented 3 reports to the presidency, including a final one which
studied the prisons nationwide. A committee was then constituted to review
these reports and submit a white paper to the presidency.

The ministers of justice and of the interior have recently begun moves to
adopt the key recommendations from the reports, particularly those which
related to the prisons and conditions of prison inmates.

Your commission was particularly concerned about inmates on death row. You
recommended certain categories of these should be released. Has this
happened?

Yes, we were concerned about the deplorable conditions on death row. We
found that the average period spent on death row is between 10 to 15
years. We also noted that many death row inmates have been diagnosed as
having various physical and mental ailments.

We were persuaded by the report of the National Study Group on the Death
Penalty, set up by the federal government in 2004. This statement
encapsulated the findings of that report: "A system that would take a life
must first give justice."

In addition to identifying certain categories of inmates on death row for
immediate release, we also recommended an official moratorium on
executions until the Nigerian criminal justice system can ensure
fundamental fairness and due process in capital cases.

The call for an official moratorium on all executions is borne out by the
conviction that the federal government can no longer ignore the systemic
problems that have long existed in our criminal justice system. These have
been exacerbated by the limited funding of criminal justice agencies,
inadequate training of personnel and an inadequate legal aid scheme.

We also found that one of the most intractable problems in the
administration of the death penalty in Nigeria is the severe lack of
competent and adequately-compensated legal counsel for defendants and
death row inmates seeking appeals.

The limited funding of the legal aid scheme has seriously undermined the
support system for lawyers taking on these complex and demanding cases.

It is particularly noteworthy and of concern that the Legal Aid Council
presently does not provide legal assistance and advice for people facing
capital punishment. The direct consequence of this is that inmates who are
on death row in Nigeria's prisons -- almost all exclusively poor -- are
without legal representation.

The federal government has yet to implement our recommendations, including
our call for an official moratorium on executions and the release of
certain categories of inmates on death row.

(source: IPS)






JAMAICA:

Death is not a penalty


THE EDITOR, Sir:

OCTOBER 10 was recognised as 'World Day Against the Death Penalty'.
Several human rights groups, church groups and other organisations across
the world, continue to make their voices heard as it relates to their
disagreement with the death penalty.

The Gleaner editorial 'Human rights and the death penalty', had no
reservation in its support of the reintroduction/resumption of hanging in
Jamaica. This view is not limited to The Gleaner editorial. It is indeed
true that 'public opinion over the years has demonstrated overwhelming
support for the reintroduction of capital punishment'.

Spiralling murder rate

Many individuals and organisations call for hanging in Jamaica against the
background of the spiralling murder rate. They continue to 'bawl out' for
the death penalty with full knowledge that there is no real evidence in
support of the argument that capital punishment is a deterrent to
murderers.

My argument is that death is not a penalty. Death is the easy way out.
Besides, why should we kill a man for killing a man? Is there really any
difference between illegally taking a life and 'legally' taking a life? Is
the life of the killer any less valuable than the life of any other?

Put them to work

I believe that the convicted murderer should be deprived of fulfilling his
own dreams. He should not sit in prison and 'eat taxpayers money' but
should be made to work. The state should engage him in meaningful work.
There is so much that he can be made to do. Instead of paying others to
beautify our parks and roundabouts, let the murderers do it.

Let them work with the National Solid Waste Manage-ment Authority,
National Housing Trust, etc. Don't kill him. That is the easy way out. Let
him pay, bearing in mind that there is no such thing as paying with your
life.

I am, etc.,

DAREN S. LARMOND

Associate Pastor.

(source: Letter to the Editor, Jamaica Gleaner)






CHINA:

Legal body confirms new guidelines


The country's top procuratorate yesterday confirmed it had issued a
guideline to streamline and standardize how prosecutors handle appeals of
death sentences - a move to further ensure justice in such cases.

The guideline requires prosecutors across the country to keep detailed
records of the entire process of the appeals of those sentenced to death,
including the case acceptance and handling, as well as court hearing and
verdicts, the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) said.

Prosecutors are required to examine evidence and confessions to make sure
they are not collected through illegal means such as forced confessions or
threats.

"Any evidence or confession from an illegal means shall be invalid in
court," the guideline says.

In addition, it stipulates that the appeal of a death sentence should be
handled by at least 2 prosecutors at the same time, and a higher-level
procuratorate should offer guidance if the case involves serious
corruption or causes strong public sentiment.

The paper also makes it clear that prosecutors should take a close look at
whether the verdict of the 1st trial was based on sufficient evidence;
whether the application of the law was proper; whether the crime was so
serious that it deserved an immediate execution; and whether there were
any illegal practices in the investigation, prosecution and 1st trial.

It is the 1st document of its kind ever issued by the top procuratorate,
Fan Chongyi, director of the procedure law research center of China
University of Political Science and Law, told China Daily. Fan is also a
member of the advisory committee to the SPP.

He said the guideline details the provisions in the Criminal Procedure Law
and standardizes the procedure of how prosecutors handle appeals of death
sentences.

"It (the guideline) tackles some existing problems in the handling of such
cases, such as evidence examination, and it is very practical in use," he
said.

According to Chinese law, convicted felons have the right to appeal to a
higher-level court if their first trial concludes with a death sentence.
If the 2nd trial maintains the verdict, the sentence will be submitted to
the Supreme People's Court for final review.

Fan said the latest move of the SPP was part of a campaign in the judicial
system to improve justice in cases involving death sentences.

Last September, a regulation from the Supreme People's Court urged all
courts to hear the appeals of death sentences in an open courtroom to
improve transparency.

And in January, the top court also assumed all powers to review and
approve death sentences. Before that, high people's courts at the
provincial level were authorized to review certain death sentences.

(source: China Daily )





TAIWAN:

Abolish the death penalty


In full agreement with all my European colleagues in Taipei, I am sending
this public letter on the death penalty.

Wednesday was World Day Against the Death Penalty.

The EU considers abolition of the death penalty a contribution to the
enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human
rights. On this occasion, we therefore call on Taiwan to join the growing
list of those that have formally abolished the death penalty and to
commute the sentences of those who are on death row.

To date, 90 countries have abolished the death penalty and a further 40
are de facto abolitionists, having not carried out executions in the last
10 years. More than 50 countries have abolished the death penalty since
1990.

Taiwan, a democracy that has paid close attention to the issues of human
rights, should join this group. Taiwan's democracy has been a positive
example to others in the region. Abolition of the death penalty would
again show its leading place within the region as a defender of human
rights.

Taiwan has, in recent years, already taken a number of positive steps.

The death penalty is no longer mandatory for any crimes and no execution
has taken place since 2005.

We applaud and welcome this progress and urge Taiwan's legislators to take
the logical further steps toward full abolition.

To help reach this goal, a report titled Death Penalty in Taiwan: Towards
Abolition was published last year by the International Federation for
Human Rights, in cooperation with the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death
Penalty, with funds from the EU.

Many people point to the lack of public support for abolition as the main
obstacle to going further. But in nearly all countries (including many in
Europe) abolition did not take place with majority public support.
Politicians led and public opinion followed.

In the EU it would now be unthinkable for a country to return to using the
death penalty and the vast majority of EU citizens would not support such
a move.

Those who oppose abolition usually point to a combination of three
arguments: retribution, deterrent and cost.

A recent article in The Economist on capital punishment in the US
highlighted that the costs of the repeated appeals associated with death
row cases make death sentences more expensive than the alternatives.

We know of no comparable data for Taiwan, but we have witnessed the
continued, protracted proceedings surrounding such cases here.

The deterrent argument is also not clear-cut. The experience of 130
countries shows that dangerous offenders can be kept safely away from the
public without resorting to execution.

Moreover, to point to the deterrent effects of the death penalty, which is
focused on a very small number of offenders, is to forget the complex web
of factors that influence criminality.

The greatest deterrent to crime is the likelihood that offenders will be
apprehended, convicted and punished.

The final argument is that the death penalty is a form of retribution. But
the imposition of the death penalty is the ultimate denial of a person's
human rights by the authorities. Central to fundamental human rights is
that they are inalienable.

Human rights apply to the worst of us as well as to the best of us, which
is why they protect all of us. An execution cannot be used to condemn
killing; it is killing.

And the death penalty is non-reversible. Courts are not infallible and
mistakes do occur. The death penalty removes not only the victim's right
to seek redress for wrongful conviction, but also the judicial system's
capacity to correct its errors.

In short, none of the practical arguments that are used to justify the
death penalty are strong and the moral arguments against it are
fundamental.

We again acknowledge the progress that Taiwan has made, but reiterate our
call for it to take the further steps required to formally abolish the
death penalty.

Jean-Claude Poimboeuf

Director,

French Institute in Taipei

(source: Letter to the Editor, Taipei Times)




AUSTRALIA:

No Bali executions will be a real 'let-down'


AUSTRALIANS will feel let down if the Bali bombers are not executed, Prime
Minister John Howard says.

Indonesia's Constitutional Court will hand down its decision on a
challenge to the nation's death penalty laws on October 30.

The challenge was launched earlier this year by members of the Bali Nine
heroin-smuggling ring on death row.

Their lawyers have argued the death penalty in Indonesia's narcotics law
is unconstitutional because the nation's constitution affords life as a
basic human right.

If the court rules the death penalty is unconstitutional, it could
potentially stall the impending executions of 2002 Bali bombers Imam
Samudra, Ali Ghufron (alias Mukhlas) and the so-called smiling assassin
Amrozi bin Nurhasyim.

"I think there would be a sense of let-down if that was the sentence
delivered, but not carried out," Mr Howard said on Southern Cross radio
today.

"I cannot bring myself to argue for the suspension of the death penalty
when you're dealing with people who have murdered 88 Australians."

Today is the 5th anniversary of the night club bombings which killed 202
people including 88 Australians.

Mr Howard said a move away from capital punishment had "been festering
inside" the Indonesian system "for some time".

(source: News.com)

****************

Rudd fails the test on human rights


Labor's leader will not stick to principles in his bid for election, write
Ben Saul and Anish Bhasin.

THE memory of the victims of the Bali bombings does not demand Australian
complicity in the execution of fellow human beings. Nothing is gained by
responding to the cult of death, which animated the Bali terrorists with a
culture of death of our own.

It also does a disservice to those who died at Bali to support killing in
their name.

This week Kevin Rudd has dispelled the romantic view of the Labor Party as
the party committed to human rights in Australia. The Labor leader
overruled the nuanced approach of his foreign affairs spokesman with the
crude assertion that "terrorists should rot in jail for the term of their
natural lives and then one day be removed in a pine box".

Rudd would not intervene in support of a terrorist's life, although his
government would still look after Australian citizens facing the death
penalty overseas. It is not clear whether that policy would also protect
an Australian terrorist on death row, where Rudd may be torn between his
desire to see terrorists executed and the need to take care of our own (as
in the case of David Hicks).

Australians should be abundantly clear about what a Rudd government would
now stand for. It would be OK to execute Asians, Africans, Americans or
Europeans but not Australians. It would be all right to execute
terrorists, but not war criminals, genocidaires, murderers, rapists or
drug traffickers.

While there is bipartisan opposition to the death penalty within
Australia, the Rudd policy is premised on the arbitrary and xenophobic
idea that Australian lives are worth more than the lives of foreigners. As
a policy it is breathtakingly vengeful, crude, counterproductive and
hypocritical.

It also entirely contradicts Rudd's previous position on the death
penalty. In December 2005, he said in a doorstop interview that "Australia
must work through the United Nations to abolish the death penalty
universally" and that "whether we are talking about individuals in Iraq or
Indonesia or elsewhere, our policy has to be consistent". In January this
year, Rudd properly opposed the execution of Saddam Hussein.

The about-face in policy shows that Rudd is a fair-weather friend of human
rights which is no friend at all. Human dignity is not something that can
be surrendered for bad behaviour, traded away in a vengeful political
climate obsessed by polling numbers, or eclipsed by a public sentiment of
toxic retribution.

Human rights law is based on the fundamental idea that every human life is
equally precious and entitled at all times to dignified treatment.
Politicians are not entitled to pick and choose who they will bestow with
rights and dignity, and from whom rights and dignity will be withdrawn.

A selective commitment to human rights, to the dignity of some but not
others, is fatally at odds with the very idea of human rights, which
values all human life equally. The bedrock of equal dignity explains why
we do not shoot the disabled, or murder Jews, or beat up monks or imprison
those with different political views. It also provides a sufficient moral
reason not to execute terrorists, even though they appear to have taken
themselves outside the bounds of all civilised behaviour.

Along with 60 other countries, Australia has signed an international
treaty that requires it to abolish the death penalty in Australia, in a
step towards protecting the human right to life. While there is no strict
legal obligation to oppose the death penalty overseas, it is within the
spirit of that treaty to do what we can to eliminate the death penalty
everywhere.

In the Asian region, the death penalty is actively retained by at least 14
countries, including Australia's good friends Indonesia, Japan, India,
Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and China. There is much scope for
Australian governments to play a quiet and constructive diplomatic role in
encouraging more countries in our region to abolish the death penalty,
without preaching.

Using our diplomats in this way may not increase our exports and create
investment or gain access to new markets. But being Australian is about
more than a commitment to economic growth and must surely include a
non-negotiable belief in protecting the value of human life, and
preventing governments from capriciously taking it away.

The failures of the death penalty are well known. As Rudd said in his 2005
interview, there is no "credible evidence" that it deters crime. It all
too often kills the innocent. It frequently discriminates against minority
races, juveniles, and those with a low IQ who may give false confessions.

It also deprives criminals of any chance of rehabilitation. Experience
overseas shows that some rehabilitated terrorists have been extremely
useful in re-educating other disaffected, vulnerable or radical young
people to shun terrorist recruiters and turn away from any involvement in
terrorist organisations.

Australians should be wary of a Labor leader willing to backslide on human
rights. Already Labor has conspicuously failed to oppose drastic
anti-terrorism laws, and continues to support the policy of mandatory
immigration detention introduced by a previous Labor government and which
has caused untold human suffering. It might be hoped that Rudd would offer
a leadership of principle, not a leadership of death.

(source: The Age--Ben Saul is director of the Sydney Centre for
International Law at Sydney University. Anish Bhasin is an intern at the
centre and worked on death penalty cases in Texas)






KENYA:

Death Row Inmates Suffer Over Lawyers' Strike


Murder suspects continue to languish in prison over the ongoing boycott of
pauper briefs by lawyers.

In Nakuru, 7 murder appeal cases, failed to take off on Thursday after
lawyers refused to appear in court.

High Court Judge, Ms Martha Koome, had to give the appellants new dates.

The lawyers have been boycotting briefs to protest at a decision by the
Chief Justice to have all judicial review matters heard in Nairobi.

Pauper briefs are cases where advocates are paid by the State to defend
those charged with murder, but who are too poor to hire their own counsel.

Early this month, appellate judges were also forced to adjourn some of the
hearings following the boycott.

Their cases will now be heard next year as the Court of Appeal only sits
in Nakuru twice a year.

(source: East African Standard)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 13



INDONESIA:

Drug mule's parents say death never the answer


LEE and Christine Rush are the 1st to acknowledge the grief suffered by
the families of the Australians killed in Kuta in 2002.

But the couple, whose 21-year-old son Scott has been sentenced to death by
firing squad in Bali for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia, insist
that it is never a bad time to speak out about the death penalty bombing
anniversary or not.

Mrs Rush described it as "extremely unfortunate" that the debate about the
death penalty had turned into a "debacle" this week after Opposition
foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland was widely criticised for
pledging consistency in a Labor government's opposition to capital
punishment whether for foreign terrorists or Australian drug smugglers.

The Rushs argue that executing the Bali bombers won't deter others from
carrying out terrorist attacks. "It's extremely sad that 88 Australians
lost their lives under terrorism, but regardless it is proven that putting
someone to death doesn't deter similar activities," Mr Rush said.

Asked how he would explain his anti-death penalty stance to families of
the Bali bombings victims, Mr Rush said: "It's a democratic country. We're
lucky to be able to make our own decisions on how we live our lives. I
respect other people for that reason; I wish they'd take the time out to
respect my decision."

The Brisbane couple have become fierce campaigners against the death
penalty for anyone in the world, and say the Bali bombers should be given
life sentences.

"We will persist until we get a change. This must never happen to an
Australian kid again," Mrs Rush said. The family is now waiting on the
Constitutional Court in Jakarta to rule on October 30 whether imposing the
death penalty for a drug crime is unconstitutional.

(source: The Age)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 15


GLOBAL:

Death penalty in the Bible


The Editor, Sir:

Associate Pastor Daren S. Larmond, in a Gleaner letter, argued, "Death is
not a penalty. Death is an easy way out" and asking, "why should we kill a
man for killing a man?" He added the perennial adage that, "no evidence
exists that capital punishment is a deterrent to murderers".
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
NOTE-----My postings to this list will resume on Monday, Oct. 22




Oct. 19


JAPAN:

Death penalty sought again in murder-rape case


Prosecutors during their closing argument at the Hiroshima High Court on
Thursday again sought the death penalty for a 26-year-old former company
employee charged with raping and killing a woman and strangling her baby
in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in 1999.

The murder case in which the former company employee stands accused of
strangling 23-year-old Yayoi Motomura with his hands and raping her, and
also killing her 11-month-old daughter, Yuka, in their home was returned
to the high court by the Supreme Court to review its previous ruling of
life imprisonment.

The trial will conclude after the defense counsel's final argument,
scheduled on Dec. 4. The ruling is expected next spring.

During the trial, the defendant, whose name is being withheld because he
was 18 at the time of the crime, reversed his earlier admission of
intending to rape and murder the woman.

However, the prosecution countered by saying, "The defendant is trying to
escape the death penalty by distorting the truth."

The prosecution also said: "He has never shown remorse for his actions,
but has kept making excuses, which has caused more pain and suffering for
the bereaved family. The only fitting punishment for him is the death
penalty."

Regarding the assertion that he raped the woman as part of a "resurrection
ceremony," the prosecution said the claim was unscientific and
unbelievable.

The prosecution also claimed that he has reflected on his actions only
superficially and has repeated the irrational explanation, insulting the
bereaved family who sincerely hope to learn the truth.

During an hourlong argument by the prosecution, the defendant, who was
dressed in a dark blue jacket and beige pants, looked straight at the
judge.

The victim's husband, Hiroshi Motomura, 31, sometimes closed his eyes as
he listened to the prosecution and held a portrait of his wife and
daughter.

(source: The Yomiuri Shimbun)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 23



PAKISTAN:

Petition seeks death penalty for contempt of all prophets


The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) on Monday directed the federal government
to file comments on a petition seeking implementation of an FSC judgment
with regard to section 295-C, Pakistan Penal Code.

Ilyas Masih Monem, Advocate, Chairman Minorities Human Rights Association,
submitted that the law and parliamentary affairs ministry be directed to
take step for the implementation of a judgment of the FSC on October 30,
1990 vis-a-vis provision of death punishment for the offence of contempt
in respect of other prophets as implemented in contempt of Prophet
Muhammad (PBUH).

The petitioner submitted that every point of law regarding the subject
matter has been discussed by the court at length and the judgment is very
much clear on the point of contempt in respect of other prophets according
to the Quraan and Hadith and it is necessary to add the death sentence in
section 295-C, regarding contempt of other prophets.

As the matter was taken up before the FSCs bench headed by Chief Justice
Haziqul Khairi, adjournment was sought to seek comments from the ministry
concerned. The court adjourning the matter till October 30 called comments
from the respondent.

(source: The News)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 24




ST. KITTS and NEVIS:

Cannonier Found Guilty in Slain Officers Murder Prosecution Seeks Death
Penalty


Romeo Cannonier, of Parsons Village was found guilty at 4:45 p.m. today,
Tues. Oct. 23 for murdering 32-year-old no. 454 Police Constable Delvin
Nisbett on Sunday, July 25, 2004 at Dieppe Bay.

In a verdict handed down about 3 hours after the jury went into
deliberation, the jury was not unanimous in their findings with an 11 to 1
in favor of guilty.

SKNVibes was the only media that spoke to Cannonier briefly as the police
escorted him to the Police vehicle and in an angry voice said that he will
appeal the matter.

"How do I feel? I feel set up!" he said. "The trial was not fair and Im
going to appeal."

Director of Public Prosecution Paulina Hendrickson told His Lordship
Francis Belle in court when asked about the type of sentencing, requested
the death penalty.

The trial began last Monday, Oct. 15 with over 20 witnesses including
important witnesses Makenya Lawrence, an ex-girlfriend, Gavin Gilbert
(deceased) and Lionel Warner who were both friends of Cannonier.

Those witnesses were said to have confessions and messages from the
accused concerning the "murder weapon" according to their testimony.

Lawrence testified and said that on the morning after the murder,
Cannonier came to her home and told her that he had killed the police. She
said he was acting nervous and in an unusual behavior.

Gilbert's testimony said that Cannonier told him where to locate the "gun"
and who to give it to and also to be careful with the gun as it was he
used to kill the police with.

Warner was describe by the Prosecution as the messenger of death as he
told the court Cannonier told him to give messages to two people about
getting rid of Lawrence and Gilbert.

Serologists Caroline Zerbos, Rhonda Craig Forensic Examiner of the FBI Lab
in Washington and Forensic Pathologist Dr. Stephen Jones were the
witnesses that supported the Prosecution's theories of scientific evidence
in the case.

Sir Richard Cheltenham of Barbados assisted the Director of Public
Prosecution in the case and acted as lead counsel for the prosecution.

Cannonier was represented by Lawyer Hesketh Benjamin whose defense was not
enough to have the jury deliver a verdict of 'not guilty.'

Benjamin in his summation stressed on 2 points.

"No one said they saw his client committing the murder" and a 5 dollar
note after forensic examining was found with the deceased's blood on it.
The said five dollar was said to have been taken from the accused by the
Police on the day he was arrested and Benjamin sought to plant in the
jurys mind that the note did not belong to his client.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 12.

(source: SKNVibes.com)






INDONESIA:

Execution of Bali bombers not final


Justice and Human Right Minister Andi Mattalata said he was still waiting
for the time and location of the execution for three of the 2002 Bali
bombers.

Andi on Tuesday told Detik.com he was waiting for the Attorney General's
Office (AGO) to decide on the execution.

"Once the AGO has decided on the execution, we can then talk about
location, time and other technicalities," Andi said.

The 3 Bali bombers on death row include Amrozi, Muklas and Imam Samudra.

They are currently being held at the Nusakambangan super maximum security
prison in Central Java.

The bombers have exhausted all legal efforts at the court and have refused
to request a presidential pardon as their last avenue.

(source: The Jakarta Post)






CANADA:

Canada set to back world moratorium on executions


Canada is expected to sign on to a world moratorium on the death penalty
that the European Community plans to put before the UN General Assembly
next month.

In the 1990s, 2 attempts to have the General Assembly endorse a full ban
on executions failed in the face of fierce lobbying by the United States,
Singapore and other countries where capital punishment is still practised.

The 27-member EU has now revived the issue with a draft moratorium and is
seeking the support of Canada and all other UN members. Portugal, as EU
president, is spearheading the drive.

The EU declared in May it would renew the push for a world ban.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister and European Council
president at the time, argued: "The time is right ... to have another
stab."

Unlike Security Council resolutions, those of the General Assembly are
non-binding, but abolitionists say a moratorium would send a strong
message that abolition is the trend.

"We believe people in countries where the death penalty still exists will
see this is the norm, and that will encourage their governments to make
the change," said Aubrey Harris, an Amnesty International official in
Canada.

To pass, the draft moratorium requires the support of a simple majority of
97 of the UN's 192 member states. The numbers appear to be moving in the
abolitionists' favour.

But while 133 countries have abolished the death penalty in practice, only
93 have abolished it in law, suggesting success for the abolitionists is
far from certain.

According to Amnesty International, only 6 countries accounted for about
90 % of the known executions last year: China, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan
and the United States.

As with many contentious issues that come to the United Nations, the
moratorium campaign also fell victim to wheeling and dealing. One concern
was that the initiative would appear too "western."

Portugal, therefore, asked 2 countries from each of the UN's 5 regional
blocs to back the draft.

"We needed a cross-regional initiative," said an official with Portugal's
UN mission. Portugal filled one of the slots for western countries, and
chose New Zealand to fill the second, shutting Canada out.

"We thought Canada was important, but we thought it's maybe better to have
a small country that could bring also the Pacific islands," the official
said. "This was more or less to ... see what the other groups were
thinking."

Pro-abolitionist countries from the other blocs were Angola and Gabon;
Brazil and Mexico; Croatia and Albania, and Philippines and Timor-Leste.

"There is a lot of opposition in Asia, but now that it is cross-regional,
the risk is diminished they would see it as purely western," said Yvonne
Terlingen, Amnesty International's representative at the UN.

(source: The National Post)


INDIA:

Scrap death penalty: eminent citizens ---- Urge the Prime Minister to
support the resolution in the U.N General Assembly


As part of Amnesty International India's (AII) campaign for abolition of
death penalty, a group of citizens, led by the former Supreme Court judge,
Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, has urged the government to support the
resolution in the United Nations General Assembly that seeks a global
moratorium on executions.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the signatories said:
"We, the concerned citizens, urge your government to support the
resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions at the 62nd
session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Supported by
countries from all regions of the world, such a resolution would be an
important milestone towards abolition of the death penalty in all
countries."

Signature collection

AII said, "As a part of the campaign, AI India, through its members and
supporters, collected more than 42,000 signatures, on a memorandum to the
Prime Minister. This was done through a wide range of public actions in
small towns and cities in 16 States. The signatures will be handed over to
the Prime Minister in the coming days."

The letter said:

"We oppose the death penalty believing it to be a violation of the right
to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading
punishment. The death penalty legitimises an irreversible act of violence
by the State and will inevitably claim innocent victims, as has been
persistently demonstrated. A momentum is gathering to end capital
punishment in all countries: 133 countries, from all regions of the world,
have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice and only 25
countries carried out executions in 2006.

"By adopting a resolution on a moratorium on executions, the UNGA will
take a further, important step towards the fulfilment of the established
U.N. goal of abolition of the death penalty, set out by the UNGA in 1977
(resolution 31/61 of December 8, 1977.) The vote on this resolution
affords India the opportunity to support the eventual abolition of the
death penalty at the international level and strengthen world opinion
against capital punishment. A step towards abolishing death penalty would
go well with the principles of Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, of which
the whole country is proud."

It requested the Prime Minister to take note of this growing trend and not
to lose this opportunity.

The other signatories are: Justice Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of
Himachal Pradesh; Justice Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice, Delhi
High Court; Justice S.M. Daud, former judge, Mumbai High Court; Admiral L.
Ramdas, former Navy Chief; Mohini Giri, former Chairperson, National
Commission for Women; Upendra Baxi, former Vice- Chancellor, Delhi
University; Shyam Benegal, film-maker and Member of Parliament; Medha
Patkar, social activist; Mahasweta Devi, litterateur; Asghar Ali Engineer,
Muslim scholar; Aruna Roy, social activist; Lalita Ramdas, president,
Greenpeace India; Indra Sinha, litterateur; Ashis Nandy, former Director,
Centre for the Study of Developing Societies; Rahul Bose, actor; Harsh
Mander, former civil servant; Jean Dreze, development Economist; S.
Parasuraman, director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences; Anand
Patwardhan, documentary filmmaker; and Naresh Dadhich, director, IUCAA,
Pune University.

(source: The HIndu)

*********************

RPF claims hand for death penalty


Claiming responsibility, the proscribed outfit Revolutionary People's
Front (RPF) has stated that Prashad (35) who worked as an agent of
Mithamana, Zarda and Kheini at Ningthoukhong was awarded capital
punishment yesterday at around 6.30 pm for failing to heed to the repeated
warnings of the outfit.

In a statement, assistant secretary, communication and publicity of the
outfit Lily Leima said that Prashad had been working as an agent of Zarda,
Kheini and Mithamana in the State for the last 15 years.

Inspite of the ban imposed on Zarda and Kheini by the outfit long ago and
the subsequent ban on Mithamana since October 15 this year, Prashad
continued to supply these harmful substances with complete disregard to
the warnings given to him, the statement said, while explaining that he
was punished out of necessity.

While acknowledging the co-operation of the people in the ongoing drive
against consumption and selling of harmful tobacco products, RPF
categorically stated that the agents of Zarda, Kheini and Mithamana should
give up their trades before they met with similar fate like that of
Prashad as no more warning would be given in this regard.

Meanwhile, the outfit intercepted a truck load of Mithamana brought in
through the Indian Airlines from near the Imphal market at around 4 pm
today and later destroyed the same in front of mediapersons somewhere in
Imphal West district.

According to a spokesperson of the department of CNP of the outfit, the
said consignment of Mithamana belongs to one Gupta and the monetary value
of the destroyed Mithamana is estimated to be around Rs 15 lakhs.

Asking him to surrender to the outfit within 5 days from today, the
spokesperson that Gupta would be given capital punishment if he fails to
do so.

The outfit has also given last warning to Indian Airlines as well as to
other transport agencies against helping in bringing in such banned
substances into the State in future.

The outfit has also taken serious note of the alleged indulges of the
State Police Commandos in helping the agents to lift the banned substances
from the airport to the market.

On the other hand, Kakching Bazar Business Welfare Association has
informed that a large quantity of tobacco products handed over voluntarily
by the shopkeepers during a drive at Kakching Bazar has been set flame and
destroyed at Kakching Bazar Naohallai ground this afternoon.

(source: The Sangai Express)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 24



GLOBAL:

BIANCA JAGGER CALLS FOR GLOBAL ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY


Bianca Jagger, the Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador for the Fight
against the Death Penalty, supported the decision of the Council of Europe
to declare the 10th of October European Day against the Death Penalty.

"If today Europe is a death penalty free zone, it is largely thanks to the
arduous efforts of the Council of Europe. In early 1980, the Council of
Europe became a pioneer for the abolition of capital punishment; it
regarded the death penalty a grave violation of human rights.

"The Organisation's Parliamentary Assembly gradually persuaded governments
to make Europe become the 1st region in the world to permanently outlaw
the death penalty and in 1982 the Council of Europe adopted Protocol No. 6
to the European Convention on Human Rights.

"It came into force on 1 March 1985 and became the first legally-binding
instrument abolishing the death penalty in peacetime. The Protocol has
been ratified by 46 of the Councils 47 member states, with one exception
Russia ," said Ms Jagger.

Since Protocol No. 6 didn't exclude the death penalty in respect of acts
committed in time of war or of imminent threat of war, the Council of
Europe made the final step in order to abolish the death penalty in all
circumstances by adopting Protocol No.13, which entered into force on 1
July 2003.

So far Protocol No. 13 has been ratified by 39 countries. Ms Jagger
welcomed France's decision to ratify this important instrument in
Strasbourg on 10 October 2007.

Nominated Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador in December 2003, Ms
Jagger has campaigned against the death penalty throughout the world.

"I call on all European countries which have not yet ratify Protocol No.
13 to do so and help pave the way to a global abolition of the death
penalty," she said.

"Our role is to convince countries throughout the world to follow the
European model, outlaw the death penalty and make abolition a universally
accepted value. Governments cannot ignore that it is impossible to ensure
that innocent people are not executed; since the reinstatement of the
death penalty in the US , 124 people have been released from death row
after having been wrongfully convicted.

"Capital punishment does not deter crime, it is disproportionately used
against the poor, minorities and political opponents", said Bianca Jagger.

(source: MaximsNewsNetwork)






INDONESIA:

Melbourne man facing death penalty in Bali


A 50-year-old Melbourne man is facing the death penalty in Indonesia after
being charged in a Bali court with intending to sell marijuana and
hashish.

Barry Wilfred Hess was arrested at his Kuta home in August.

Hess comes from Melbourne, but in recent years he has called Kuta on the
Indonesian island of Bali his home.

It was there he was arrested in August for allegedly possessing 3 packets
of marijuana weighing 2.7 grams, and 2 packets of hashish weighing 14.4
grams.

Originally he was charged with drug possession, which carries a maximum
penalty of 10 years in jail.

But today at his 1st court appearance the 50-year-old learnt he was also
charged with possessing drugs with an intention to sell - an offence which
in Indonesia can be punished by the death penalty.

(source: ABC News)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 30



INDONESIA:

Lives on the line - court to rule on death penalty in Indonesia


6 Australians could be saved from firing squads by a landmark decision to
be handed down in Indonesia's Constitutional Court today.

A successful appeal against the death penalty by the Australians would
reshape Indonesia's justice system and could halt the execution of
terrorists on death row, depending on the scope of the court's verdict.

With the Indonesian Government strongly supporting the execution of drugs
traffickers during the hearing, rejecting their executions would ignite
substantial controversy.

Even a victory in the cases of Scott Rush, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew
Chan - and joined by three Indonesian offenders - would not automatically
spare their lives.

The verdict would become the basis for a final appeal to the Supreme
Court, which has at times refused to impose Constitutional Court decisions
retrospectively.

It could also come too late for the other three members of the Bali heroin
smuggling gang on death row, as they have already lodged their final
appeals and did not join the constitutional challenge.

Colin McDonald, QC, the Darwin barrister acting for Rush, said yesterday
that a victory in the Constitutional Court would provide powerful grounds
for overturning the sentence. It would also place immense pressure on the
Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to grant clemency, he
said.

It would "have far-reaching implications for the development of Indonesian
criminal law, and would be one of the most significant decisions in the
region in more than 30 years for the abolition of capital punishment," Mr
McDonald said.

The case was initially seen as having little chance of success, with broad
public and political support for the death penalty. However, comments from
the bench and a decision to extend hearings have raised the prospect of a
controversial ruling against the death penalty.

An Indonesian human rights lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, said the court had
demonstrated it was seriously considering "an immensely difficult
decision". He said the constitution clearly opposed capital punishment,
but refused to comment on the likely verdict.

During the final day of evidence Chief Justice Jimly Asshidiqqie said the
verdict was "about life and the future of the Indonesian legal system.

"This is very important. We haven't made a decision yet."

The court has several options. It could dismiss the appeal, rule all
executions to be unconstitutional, rule against the death penalty for
drugs traffickers or even refer the issue back to parliament.

Expert witnesses have argued that executions breach the country's
constitution and its international obligations, as it has signed an
international treaty supporting abolition of capital punishment.

(source: Sydney Morning Herald)
Rick Halperin
1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
Permalink
Oct. 31



GLOBAL:

Death Penalty Threatens to Split World Body


The 192-member U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote, perhaps by early
or mid-November, on one of the most divisive political issues before the
world body: a moratorium on the death penalty.

The 27-member European Union (EU), backed by virtually every single major
international human rights organisation, will introduce a draft resolution
on the death penalty which is expected to split the General Assembly right
down the middle.

The EU is confident it will have a majority on its side of the aisle --
perhaps helping adopt the resolution, which is not legally binding, by a
narrow margin.

But there is also strong opposition to the resolution by the Organisation
of Islamic Countries (OIC), the League of Arab States, and also by China
and some of the Caribbean and Asian countries, where capital punishment is
still in statute books.

Singapore, which has been a consistently vocal proponent of the death
penalty, thinks the EU resolution will be "divisive."

Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon of Singapore says that when the EU tables the
draft resolution, it will be resisted by many countries which have the
death penalty on their statutes and which are of the view that this is not
a human rights issue but one dealing with law and order.

"Under these circumstances, it is best for the EU not to try to push ahead
with their draft," Menon told IPS.

He argued such a resolution will only "sour the atmosphere" in the Third
Committee (which will discuss and vote on the resolution before it goes to
the General Assembly) and "cause unnecessary divisiveness in the house."

"It is not clear to me what the EU hopes to gain with this resolution. It
may give them a sense of moral satisfaction but it is not going to change
the positions of countries that maintain that the death penalty serves to
deter serious crimes," he added. "This attempt by the EU to impose its
values will also be seen in a very poor light by many countries," Menon
warned.

An EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS that the
draft is being "co-authored" by 36 member states, including the 27 EU
members. But the number of countries "co-sponsoring" the draft resolution,
he said, would be around 70.

Asked if the EU is confident of obtaining a majority among the 192 member
states, he said "it is hard to predict" because the draft is still being
discussed and is yet to be finalised.

An Arab diplomat, who is opposed to the EU resolution, said he had heard
that some of the non-EU states are "not very comfortable" with the
existing draft and have asked for amendments, thereby delaying the tabling
of the resolution.

But within the EU, there is a split as to whether it should accommodate
some of the amendments proposed by non-EU sponsors.

"There are also rumours of arm-twisting and cheque-book diplomacy to win
support for the resolution from developing nations," the Middle Eastern
diplomat said.

Since the draft is still being debated, the EU has not officially released
it, leading to further speculation.

Addressing the conference on "Europe Against the Death Penalty" in Lisbon
in early October, the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
laid down the official line: "The European Union is unreservedly opposed
to the use of capital punishment under all circumstances and has
consistently called for the worldwide abolition of this punishment."

"The death penalty is against human dignity. We want to give visibility to
the efforts of the many non-governmental organisations and individuals who
strive, day after day, towards the abolition of the death penalty," he
added.

According to the EU, a growing number of countries are abolishing the
death penalty: 133 countries have done so in practice or in law.

The European Commission also admits it has funded around 30 anti-death
penalty projects worldwide since 1994, with an overall budget of about 15
million euros.

In a pre-emptive strike -- and before the draft resolution is to be
introduced in the Third Committee -- Ambassador Menon of Singapore set the
ball rolling Tuesday when he raised the issue of death penalty during a
discussion on "promotion and protection of human rights."

"My delegation is extremely disappointed, but hardly surprised, that the
European Union has once again decided to introduce a resolution on the
death penalty."

He said delegations will recall that the last time the EU tried to foist
such a resolution on the Committee was in 1999.

"Delegations may also recall how divisive this experience was. The
sponsors of this draft resolution are certainly entitled to their views on
the death penalty," Menon added.

Singapore understands and respects the position of countries which oppose
the death penalty as a matter of principle, he added.

"That is their prerogative. It appears, however, that these countries are
incapable of extending the same courtesy to countries that have chosen to
retain the death penalty".

He said: "My delegation would like to remind this committee that capital
punishment is not prohibited under international law. Yet it is clear that
the sponsors of this draft resolution have decided that there can only be
one view on capital punishment, and that only one set of choices should be
respected."

For a large number of countries, including Singapore, the application of
the death penalty is first and foremost a criminal justice issue, not a
human rights issue, he argued.

"It is an important component of the administration of law and our justice
system, and is imposed only for the most serious crimes and serves as a
deterrent. We have proper legal safeguards in place to prevent any
miscarriage of justice."

"Every state has the sovereign right to choose its own political,
economic, social and legal systems based on what is in their own best
interests," he said.

(source: IPS News)

**********************

Cardinal: Christians Called to Fight Torture


Christians are called to defend human rights, and particularly work for
the abolition of the death penalty, says the president of the Pontifical
Council for Justice and Peace.

Cardinal Renato Martino affirmed this during a Friday meeting with the
president of the International Federation of Action by Christians for the
Abolition of Torture, Sylvie Bukhari-de Pontual, a communiqu from the
Vatican dicastery reported.

The cardinal said: "Christians are called to cooperate for the defense of
human rights and for the abolition of the death penalty, torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against the human
person in time of peace and in case of war."

"These practices are grave crimes against the human person, created in the
image of God, and a scandal for the human family in the 21st century."

(source: Zenit News)






SAUDI ARABIA----executions

5 Saudis executed for raping and killing boy


5 Saudi men were beheaded by the sword on Wednesday for raping and killing
a young boy, in one of the highest number of executions in a single day in
Saudi Arabia, the interior ministry said.

Khaled bin Humaid al-Sahli, Ali bin Ahmad Ayyashi, Jazi bin Semayel
al-Meraashi, Hani al-Ofi and Aesh al-Mohammadi were executed in the Muslim
holy city of Medina, it said in a statement cited by the official SPA news
agency.

The 5 had been found guilty of "forcibly abducting a young boy, raping
him, and jointly killing him by stabbing him with a knife and decapitating
him," the ministry said.

The 5, who threw the head and body of their victim in a stream in a
valley, also stole cars, drank alcohol and used drugs, it added.

Saudi Arabia has executed 137 people so far this year, including 6 people
on a single day last August when 5 Pakistanis and a Nigerian were put to
death for drug smuggling and armed robbery.

The previous highest number of executions in a year was 113 for the whole
of 2000. Last year 37 people were executed.

Executions are usually carried out in public in ultra-conservative Saudi
Arabia, which applies a strict form of sharia, or Islamic law.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry
the death penalty in the oil-rich kingdom.

(source: Agence France Presse)






INDIA:

"Against Death Penalty"


In one of his first interviews after stepping down from the Presidential
post earlier this year, former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam has told
TIMES NOW while speaking of the Afzal Guru case, that he is personally
against the death penality.

Kalam during his office arguably topped the list of ex-presidents but has
also been fiercely guarded on where he stood on 2 of the biggest
controversies of his time - the death penalty, for Parliament bomber
Mohammad Afzal, and the Office of Profit Bill.

Kalam's "personal opinion"

In an exclusive interview with TIME NOW's Editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami,
the latter asked Kalam where he stood on the issue of the death penalty
and at first Kalam was guarded.

"I will go with whatever the type of law needs. As far as the Azfal case
is concerned, the case has not come to me, so that question does not
arise," said Kalam.

But, when pushed further, Kalam did admit openly, for the 1st time, that
he is personally against the death penalty.

"Definitely I have a personal opinion about death penalty, and it needs a
debate in Parliament - that is all I can say," said Kalam.

Did Kalam's own views on the death penalty affect his indecision on Afzal?
We will never know.

What is clear though is that when Kalam sent back the Office of Profit
bill to Parliament, it was deliberate and aimed at sending a message to
politicians at large.

Kalam returned the bill on May 25 and it was passed again by Parliament in
the last week of July. It was sent again to Mr. Kalam on August 9 for his
assent, which he finally gave. But not before the Lok Sabha had adopted a
motion to constitute a 15-member Joint Parliamentary Committee to look
into the comprehensive definition of "office of profit."

The JPC's terms of reference precisely seek to address the concerns voiced
by Mr. Kalam - over the lack of "unambiguous" definition of "office of
profit" and that it be applied across all the States and the Union
Territories in a uniform manner.

"Yes, I wrote a letter about why I am sending it (OOP Bill) back.
Definitely they formed a team to evolve principles, that also I am aware
of. In the history of Parliamentary system that we have in the Government,
it was the 1st time that such a Bill - the Office of Profit Bill - has
been returned with a note. I had to do it, and I did it," Kalam asserted
to Arnab Goswami on 'Frankly Speaking'.

Clearly, behind his disarming smile, there is a very sharp political mind.

(source: TIMES NOW)






INDONESIA:

Aussie death penalty charge 'rubbish'


An Indonesian prosecutor admitted there was no evidence to charge an
Australian man with a drug crime that carries the death penalty.

Former Australian airline executive Barry Wilfred Hess, 50, is standing
trial in Bali's Denpasar District Court after police allegedly discovered
14.4g of hashish and 2.7g of marijuana in his Kuta home.

Prosecutors last week upgraded their charges against the former Ansett
manager and Air Paradise general manager to include trafficking, which
carries the death penalty.

But prosecutor Ni Gusti Ayu Sasmita told AAP after Wednesday's court
hearing that there was no evidence Hess was distributing drugs.

"That was just our suspicion," she said.

"Barry had various kinds of drugs so we wanted to be sure he wasn't a
dealer.

"We have no witnesses or proof."

Key prosecution witnesses told Wednesday's hearing that Hess showed no
sign of being a distributor of drugs.

"Based on my experience, drug dealers usually have many packages with
different labels on them, but this was not the case at Barry's house that
day," said police officer Made Eriyasa, who searched the Australian's home
on August 19 following a tip-off.

Several plastic film roll and vitamin containers police claim to have
seized at the home - and which allegedly contained marijuana, hashish and
prescription drugs - were presented to the court.

Hess, formerly of Melbourne but a Bali resident for the past 14 years, has
also been charged with three other articles including drug possession,
which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, drug use and
being a drug addict who failed to report to police.

If he can prove he is a drug addict he would face a maximum 6-month prison
term.

A tense, anxious looking Hess told the court he was seeking treatment for
his addiction.

"I want to recover from my addiction," he said.

He said he had been receiving treatment from a doctor in Bali,
psychiatrist Denny Thong, who has also visited him in Kerobokan prison to
administer the drug Xanex, used to treat panic attacks and stress.

Thong told the court he had been treating Hess for symptoms of drug
addiction since August 2005, and believed there was hope for his recovery.

Outside the court, defence lawyer Daniar Trisasongko described the death
penalty charge as "rubbish".

"The prosecutors showed no evidence that my client was planning to
distribute drugs," Trisasongko said.

"He has been an addict for 11 years and has never supplied anyone else
with drugs."

The trial was adjourned until next week, when prosecutors are expected to
submit their final arguments and sentencing request.

If Hess is convicted, the 3 judges hearing the case will have to decide
which of the 4 charges to apply in sentencing.

Hess declined to comment as he left the court to return to Kerobokan,
where he is being held along with members of the Bali 9 heroin ring and
convicted marijuana trafficker Schapelle Corby.

(source: The Age)

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