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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    August 03, 2017

    By Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director

    The Maldives is one of the world’s most desired holiday destinations. This curl of islands in the Indian Ocean, renowned for its wondrous natural beauty, attracts more than a million people each year. The sweeping views of turquoise water, the white sand beaches shaded by sloping palm trees, and the warm hospitality of its people have earned it comparisons to paradise.

    This week, however, the country is drawing attention for the ugly actions of its government. The Maldives is poised to carry out its first executions in more than 60 years. Against the backdrop of a political crisis, the embattled government wants to send three men to the gallows in a feeble attempt to look tough and distract attention.

    If they are allowed to go ahead, the executions would violate the Maldives’ commitments under international law. There are serious questions about the fairness of the proceedings that consigned the three men to their fate. One of them, Hussain Humaam Ahmed, was convicted of murder on the basis of an apparently coerced “confession” that he later retracted.

    March 21, 2017

    March 21 marks Mother’s Day in much of the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia. For the mothers of Abdullah al-Zaher, Dawood al-Marhoon, Ali al-Nimr and Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, four young Saudi Arabian men who were arrested as minors and sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials based on “confessions” they say were extracted under torture, Mother’s Day is a day of heartache. But it is also yet another day of hope and prayer for their sons’ release.

    This is what the mothers of the four young men, Fatima al-Azwi, Amina al-Safar, Nassra al-Ahmed and Amina al-Mustafa have to share today, on Mother’s day, on how they feel and what they wish for other mothers like them.  

     

    Fatima al-Azwi

    Abdullah al-Zaher’s mother

    June 01, 2016

    To mark 1 June – International Children’s Day – Raha Bahreini from our Iran team describes how Amnesty has managed to raise awareness about the death penalty and save juvenile offenders from the gallows in Iran.

    It starts with a panicked phone call.

    Our contact tells us that a juvenile offender (a person aged below 18 at the time of their crime) has just been transferred to solitary confinement – the final step before execution.

    This is often our first glimpse of this young person and the desperate situation they are in. Why? Because the families of those on death row often fear reprisals if they publicize the plight of their loved ones. They sometimes believe that international lobbying and public campaigning will only complicate the situation and hasten the execution. At times, the authorities themselves give families false assurances, claiming that if the family does not publicize the case, their loved ones might be spared.

    The moment we are prompted to intervene is often the moment when the authorities’ promises are exposed as hollow and the young person is just days or hours away from execution. 

    February 12, 2016

    By Nassra al-Ahmed

    Ali al-Nimr was just 17 when he was arrested on 14 February 2012, a few months after taking part in anti-government rallies in Saudi Arabia. He was sentenced to death, despite being a minor when he was arrested and following a deeply unfair trial based on “confessions” he says were obtained through torture. He now awaits his execution. His mother, Nassra al-Ahmed, tells their story.

    When I first heard the verdict to execute my little boy, I felt as if a thunderbolt was hitting my head. It rendered me bereaved and rid of the most cherished and beautiful things I have.

    His absence has exhausted my heart. My eyes shed tears automatically, yearning for him. I am overtaken by missing his angelic features. His smile never leaves my mind and memories prompt me to weep each time I see one of his pictures. 

    January 08, 2016

    Saudi human rights activist Samar Badawi was released from custody on January 13. But her arrest provides further damning proof of the Saudi authorities’ intent to suppress all signs of peaceful dissen. One year after Raif Badawi was publicly flogged, he and many other activists across Saudi Arabia urgently need your support.

     

    by Ella Knight, Amnesty International

    A year after the international outcry over his public flogging, Raif Badawi and dozens of activists remain in prison and at risk of cruel punishments in Saudi Arabia. More and more are being sentenced under a harsh counter-terrorism law, while Saudi Arabia’s allies shamelessly back the Kingdom’s repression in the name of the so-called ‘war on terror’. Join the fight back today – here are six ways you can demand action from Saudi Arabia.
     

    October 16, 2015

    By Mohammed al-Nimr, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia

    Every time I enter and leave my house through our garage, a bicycle in the corner catches my eye, shining brightly. 

    Looking at that bicycle brings back painful memories of my young son Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who has been sentenced to death and is facing imminent execution in my homeland, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    I remember Ali standing before me when I promised to buy him that bicycle if he passed sixth grade. I recall how happy he was when we went to buy it together. He was over the moon, just like any other young boy would be, to get his first bicycle.

    I remember how his elder brother taught him how to ride it, and how I would warn him to look both ways on the road and watch out for reckless drivers. What pain filled my heart every time he fell! I am his father after all.

    These scenes rush through my mind every time I walk in the streets of my beautiful home village, Awamiyya, and see children riding their bicycles. I always pray for God to protect them, but I cannot always hold back the tears.

    October 05, 2015
    Amnesty International petitions for Mohammad Ali Taheri

    On 1 August 2015 Mohammad Ali Taheri was sentenced to death in Iran for ‘spreading corruption on earth”

    His family in Canada live in shock and fear that the life of their son and brother could be brutally taken from them for nothing more than the peaceful expression of his beliefs.  The Taheri family in Canada have been cautious about making public statements.  For years they have lived in the hope that Mohammad Ali Taheri would be set free from his nightmare of imprisonment, solitary confinement and interrogation. They don’t want to do anything to jeopardize his safety and well-being. Now a death sentence is threatening to take away their loved family member and they are beginning to speak publicly.

    April 01, 2015

    By Aubrey Harris, Amnesty Canada's volunteer coorindator for the Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty

    “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” boomed the Wizard… This scene in the Wizard of Oz can of course be applied to many situations but it is particularly apt when it comes to the death penalty. Despite continued global progression towards universal abolition – and progression in transparency in a few states, a number of the world’s death penalty states keep attempting to draw the curtain closed. They do not want their population to know how ineffective the death penalty is, or how many people are executed – or even HOW the state executes prisoners. Why the secrecy? In general the more the public sees and learns about the death penalty, the less they like it.

    March 30, 2015
    by Samantha Bartlett 30 March 2015, 10:59AM, originally posted by Amnesty International Australia
      Myth 1: Only evil people who have committed horrific crimes are executed

    FACT: The death penalty applies to a number of different crimes worldwide, not all of which are horrific. In many countries, such as Iran and Sudan, authorities execute their political opponents. In North Korea, citizens have been publicly executed for communicating with individuals outside of their country.

    Regardless of the crime committed, there is more to an individual than their worst offence. Many of the prisoners on death row in the US suffered horrific abuses prior to committing violent crimes; and are a product of their environments.

    March 16, 2015

    by Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International, Director of Global Issues

    A couple of weeks ago, on 13 February, we woke up to the good news that Fiji had joined the ranks of countries to abolish the death penalty for all crimes. There are now 99 countries who have completely scrapped the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment from their laws – exactly half of all states in the world.
     

          "The historic milestone of 100 death penalty free countries is within close reach."    

    The historic milestone of 100 death penalty free countries is within close reach.  The parliaments in both Suriname and Madagascar have recently approved bills abolishing executions – all that is left is for the countries’ presidents to sign them into law, although it remains to be seen who gets there first.

    July 31, 2014
    Aubrey Harris, Campaign against the death penalty coordinator, Amnesty International Canada

    Another ‘botched’ execution in the United States. There have been several this year – the most recent last Wednesday when Arizona spent two hours torturing Joseph Wood to death. The time has come to acknowledge these executions cannot possibly be called ‘botched’ anymore. This torture can only be described as deliberate.

    “Botched” means that a process was ‘fouled up by incompetence or carelessness.’ Arguably carelessness is one possible explanation – but it is well known that the two drug combination used Wednesday in Arizona would result in prolonged and painful death. The US Supreme Court and others seem so willing to ignore evidence and expert testimony that there is no longer any reason to believe that a “humane” execution is intended or possible.

    June 02, 2014

    By Jackie Hansen, Women’s rights campaigner

    Meriam Yehya Ibrahim is a Sudanese citizen sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging. She was convicted by a Sudanese court for marrying someone supposedly of another faith and for refusing to renounce her faith. In Sudan, a Christian cannot marry a Muslim. Meriam’s mother is Christian and her father is Muslim. She was raised in the Christian faith. Because her father is Muslim, the Sudanese government considers Meriam to be Muslim and therefore will not recognize her marriage to a Christian.

    So is Meriam’s case all about freedom of religion?

    In part. But Meriam’s case is really about being a woman.

    March 26, 2014

    by Aubrey Harris, Coordinator, Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty @AmnestyCanadaDP Even Canadians are at risk while the death penalty remains in this world

    This time last year, Toronto resident and Canadian citizen Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, was in an Iranian prison, facing the prospect of execution by a regime that is notorious for use of the death penalty. Hamid was eventually one of the lucky ones. The tireless efforts of his wife Antonella and worldwide appeals by Amnesty International and other human rights organisations and governments making direct appeals to the Iranian government managed to save him from execution and overturn an unjust and fabricated case that could easily have cost him his life.

    On 10 October, World Day Against the Death Penalty coincidentally, Hamid returned home to Canada where his wife and supporters gathered at Toronto Pearson Airport to welcome him.

    March 26, 2014
    GLOBAL FIGURES

    At least 778 people were executed in 22 countries in 2013. In 2012, Amnesty International reported at least 682 executions in 21 countries worldwide.

    Most executions took place in China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, USA and Somalia – in that order.

    China executed more people than the rest of the world put together – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as data is considered a state secret, and the figure of 778 excludes the thousands of executions carried out in China.

    There were stark rises in executions in Iran and Iraq. Iraq put at least 169 people to death, a 30% increase on 2012 (129). In Iran, officially acknowledged executions rose to at least 369 in 2013 – from at least 314 in 2012. But credible sources reported at least another 335 executions, bringing 2013’s total to at least 704.

    March 26, 2014

    In advance of the release of our 2014 Global Death Penalty Report tomorrow, here are 5 of the most common misconceptions about the death penalty.

    MYTH #1

    The death penalty deters violent crime and makes society safer.

    FACT
    There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect.  

    More than three decades after abolishing the death penalty, Canada’s murder rate remains over one third lower than it was in 1976.

    A 35-year study compared murder rates between Hong Kong, where there is no death penalty, and Singapore, which has a similar size population and executed regularly. The death penalty had little impact on crime rates.

    MYTH #2
    The threat of execution is an effective strategy in preventing terrorist attacks.

    FACT
    The prospect of execution is unlikely to act as a deterrent to people prepared to kill and injure for the sake of a political or other ideology.

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