Death Penalty: Support Abolition
The Iranian authorities must urgently quash the death sentence against Iranian-born Swedish resident and specialist in emergency medicine Ahmadreza Djalali, said Amnesty International today.
The medical doctor and university lecturer had studied and taught in Sweden, Italy and Belgium. Since his arrest in April 2016, several European officials have called for his release.
Zeynab Taheri, one of Ahmadreza Djalali’s lawyers, told Amnesty International that he was sentenced to death for the charge of “corruption on earth” (ifsad fil-arz), and has been given a 200,000 euro fine. The court verdict, which was shown to one of the lawyers, states that Ahmadreza Djalali worked with the Israeli government, who subsequently helped him obtain his
residency permit in Sweden.
“Ahmadreza Djalali was sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial that once again exposes not only the Iranian authorities’ steadfast commitment to use of the death penalty but their utter contempt for the rule of law,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The Iranian authorities must urgently stop the execution of a 17-year-old boy who was convicted of murder and rape, and commute his death sentence to imprisonment, said Amnesty International.
Amirhossein Pourjafar is scheduled to be executed in a prison in Tehran on 19 October 2017. He was detained in April 2016 and sentenced to death six months later after being convicted of the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl, Setayesh Ghoreyshi, from Iran’s marginalized Afghan community.
“There is no question that this was a horrific crime and the perpetrator should be held accountable. Amnesty International supports the demands for justice voiced by Setayesh’s bereaved family and the wider Afghan community in Iran, but executing a 17-year-old boy is not justice,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
“The use of the death penalty against people convicted of crimes committed while they were under 18 is absolutely prohibited by international human rights law. If Iran goes ahead with the execution next week it will be another appalling breach of its international obligations.”
Singapore’s continued reliance on mandatory death sentences, which violate international law, has meant that dozens of low level drug offenders have been sent to death row in recent years, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.
Cooperate or Die also reveals how death penalty reforms introduced in 2013, while reducing the number of people sentenced to death, do not go nearly far enough and in particular have left life and death decisions in the hands of the public prosecutor instead of judges.
“Singapore likes to paint itself as a prosperous and progressive role model, but its use of the death penalty shows flagrant disregard for human life. The country relies on harsh laws that overwhelmingly target drug offenders on the lower rungs of the ladder, many of whom will come from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Adviser.
“The reforms introduced in 2013 were a step in the right direction and have allowed some people to escape the gallows, but in key respects they have been flawed from the outset.
States that retain and use the death penalty are increasingly isolated and should take steps to join the global trend, Amnesty International said today on the 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty.
2017 marks 40 years since Amnesty International fostered the landmark Declaration of Stockholm, the first international abolitionist manifesto on the death penalty. Issued in 1977, the Declaration called on all governments to totally abolish the punishment:
“When the state uses its power to end the life of a human being, it is likely that no other right is inviolate. The state cannot give life, it should not presume to take it away.”
At the time of the declaration, only 16 countries — eight in the Americas and eight in Europe — had fully abolished the death penalty in law and practice. That number now stands at 105. A further 36 countries have either repealed the death penalty for ordinary crimes such as murder or effectively stopped using the punishment though it remains in their laws.
The Saudi Arabian authorities executed a man today, bringing the total number of people put to death so far in 2017 to 100, with 60 people executed in the past three months alone, said Amnesty International.
“Since July 2017, the Saudi Arabian government has been on an execution spree with an average of five people put to death per week. This sets the country firmly on track to remain one of the most prolific executioners on the planet,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research for Amnesty International in the Middle-East.
“If the Saudi authorities are truly intent on making reforms, they must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely.”
Forty percent of the executions carried out so far this year were related to drug-related offences, which do not fall into the category of "most serious crimes". The use of the death penalty for such offences violates international human rights law.
Responding to the news that at least 42 people were executed in Iraq today on “terrorism” charges, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International said:
“Today’s mass execution is a shocking display of the Iraqi authorities’ resort to the death penalty to try to show they are responding to security threats.
“There can be no doubt that individuals who carry out deadly attacks against the civilian population should face justice, but the Iraqi authorities need to recognize that carrying out executions is not the answer and will not make the country or its people safer.
“The Iraqi authorities have a deplorable track record when it comes to use of the death penalty. In many cases previously people have been put to death after deeply unfair trials and in some cases after being tortured to ‘confess’.
“The death penalty is an irreversible and reprehensible punishment that should not be used in any circumstances and there is no evidence to show that it deters crime more than any other means of punishment.”
AI USA Release
For the first time since the Supreme Court ruled against the state’s capital sentencing statute, Florida has executed a prisoner, killing Mark Asay via lethal injection.
Amnesty International recently issued a report outlining the state’s response to the Supreme Court ruling.
“There is no place in a just society for capital punishment, which is inherently cruel and arbitrary in application,” said Kristina Roth, senior program officer for criminal justice at Amnesty International USA. “The state of Florida should be ashamed for resuming its machinery of death.
“It’s too late for Mark Asay, but Florida still has a chance to be on the right side of history by commuting the sentences of all other death row prisoners and ending capital punishment once and for all.”
Ahead of a planned resumption of executions in Florida on 24 August, 18 months after the last one, Amnesty International is issuing a paper on recent developments relating to the death penalty in the US state.
“Death in Florida” outlines the state’s response to the January 2016 US Supreme Court decision that Florida’s capital sentencing law was unconstitutional, and the governor’s reaction to a prosecutor’s subsequent decision to reject the death penalty.
When State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that she would not seek the death penalty due to its demonstrable flaws, Governor Scott immediately responded by ordering her replacement with a different prosecutor more willing to engage in this lethal pursuit. So far the Governor has transferred 26 cases to his preferred prosecutor.
Racial discrimination was one of the death penalty’s flaws – along with its costs, risks and failure as a deterrent – cited by State Attorney Ayala, the first African American to be elected to that position in Florida.
The Iranian authorities must halt the imminent execution of Alireza Tajiki who was arrested as a child, said Amnesty International today, after learning that he was transferred to solitary confinement this morning and is due to be executed in less than 24 hours in Shiraz’s Adel Abad prison.
Alireza Tajiki was just 15 at the time of his arrest and 16 when he was convicted and sentenced to death. He was transferred to solitary confinement in Adel Abad prison in Shiraz, Fars Province, on 9 August. His family were told to come to prison in order to make their final visit. The authorities did not inform his legal representatives, contrary to Iran’s own laws, which require lawyers to be informed of their clients’ scheduled execution at least 48 hours in advance.
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.
Authorities in Benin must commute the death sentences hanging over 14 men following a 2016 Constitutional Court judgement that effectively abolished the death penalty for all crimes in the country, Amnesty International said today on the 5th anniversary of Benin’s accession to the UN treaty aiming at abolishing the death penalty.
The organization is also calling on the authorities to provide the death row prisoners with adequate food and medical care, and ensure that national legislation is reviewed and reformed in order to remove all provisions pertaining to the death penalty in all relevant laws, for all crimes.
“The judgment of the Constitutional Court last year which effectively abolished the death penalty for all crimes in Benin is remarkable and progressive. Despite this the status of 14 men who have been on death row in grim conditions for nearly two decades has not changed,” said Oluwatosin Popoola, Amnesty International’s Adviser on the death penalty