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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    January 15, 2015

    Indonesia must immediately halt plans to put to death six people – one Indonesian and five foreign nationals – by firing squad this week, Amnesty International said after the Attorney General’s office today confirmed the executions would be carried out on Sunday 18 January 2015.

    “These executions must be stopped immediately. The death penalty is a human rights violation, and it is shocking that the Indonesian authorities are looking to put to death six people this Sunday,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “Indonesia’s new government took office on the back of promises to improve respect for human rights, but carrying out these executions would be a regressive move. Rather than putting to death more people, the government should immediately impose a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition.”

    December 22, 2014

    Pakistan’s reported plans to execute 500 more people are “deeply disturbing” and would do nothing to protect civilians from the conflict with the Taliban, Amnesty International said today. 

    The reports come following the execution of six people in the past four days in the wake of the deadly Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar.

    “The planned execution figures being quoted are deeply disturbing and indicate a huge regression from a government which until last week maintained a moratorium on executions,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director. 

    “Pakistan suffered an horrific tragedy in Peshawar last week, but resorting to the death penalty and threatening to carry out large numbers of executions masks rather than addresses the underlying problems that need to be tackled by the government – namely that communities living in the north-west of Pakistan are gravely at risk from violence and human rights abuses.”

    December 19, 2014

    Resuming the death penalty is not the answer to combating terrorism in Pakistan and only perpetuates a cycle of violence, Amnesty International said as two people were executed in the country today for the first time since 2012.

    Two people who had been convicted over their role in two separate Taliban attacks were hanged in Pakistan today. They were the first executions since the government lifted a moratorium on executions for those tried of terrorism-related charges this week in response to the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that killed at least 142 people.

    “It is extremely disappointing that the government has given into fear and anger by executing two people today. As horrific as the attack on the Peshawar school was, more killings – this time by the government – is never the answer to combating terrorism and crime,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “This is a cynical reaction from the government. It masks a failure to deal with the core issue highlighted by the Peshawar attack, namely the lack of effective protection for civilians in north-west Pakistan.”

    December 17, 2014

    The Pakistani government must resist giving in to fear and anger in the wake of the Peshawar school tragedy and maintain its moratorium on executions, Amnesty International said today after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to restart executions for terrorism-related offences.

    “Yesterday’s attack was utterly reprehensible, and it is imperative that those responsible for this unimaginable tragedy are brought to justice. However, resorting to the death penalty is not the answer – it is never the answer,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Asia-Pacific.

    Sharif’s announcement came the day after at least 142 people – including 132 children – were killed by Taliban militants at an army-run school in the north-western city.

    “Pakistan is understandably gripped by fear and anger in the wake of the attacks. However, lifting the moratorium on executions appears to be a knee-jerk reaction which does not get at the heart of the problem – namely the lack of effective protection for civilians in north-west Pakistan,” said David Griffiths.

    December 16, 2014

    The Iranian authorities’ threat to expedite the execution of 10 men on death row in retaliation for going on hunger strike is deplorable, said Amnesty International as it called for the death sentences to be commuted immediately.

    One of the 10, Saman Naseem, was sentenced to death in 2013 for engaging in armed activities against the state after he allegedly participated in a gun battle while he was a child during which a member of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was killed. The 10 men are among 24 prisoners from Iran’s Kurdish minority who have been on hunger strike since 20 November 2014 in protest at the conditions of Ward 12 of Oroumieh Central Prison, West Azerbaijan Province, where political prisoners are held.

    “It is truly deplorable that the Iranian authorities are playing games with the lives of these men in such a manner. Resorting to death threats and other punitive measures to quell prisoners’ hunger strikes only serves to underscore how rotten Iran’s criminal justice system is,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    December 05, 2014

    The Indonesian government’s apparent plans to execute five people by the end of the year must be halted immediately, Amnesty International said today. The organization urged the government to impose a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition.

    Local media reports indicate that the five death row prisoners have now been moved into isolation, as preparations for their executions begin.

    Indonesia’s Junior Attorney General for General Crimes, Basyuni Masyarif, last week confirmed that the government is planning to execute five people before the end of the year.

    “The government must immediately halt plans to carry out executions. Given President Joko Widodo’s campaign commitments to improve respect for human rights, resorting to the death penalty would be a serious stain on the early human rights record of his adminsitration,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    November 28, 2014

    The State of Texas should immediately halt its shameful plans to execute a man with severe mental illness, said Amnesty International with the scheduled execution now less than a week away.

    Scott Panetti, a 56-year-old man whose mental illness predated and contributed to the 1992 double murder for which he was sent to death row, is scheduled to be executed in Texas soon after 6pm local time on 3 December.  His mental illness infected his trial and persists to this day. He has spent nearly 20 years on death row.

    “In the 21st century, a clear majority of countries have stopped executing anyone, let alone individuals with profound mental illness. While we believe that the death penalty is never just, even those who support judicial killing should see the manifest injustice evident here,” said Rob Freer, USA Researcher at Amnesty International.

    November 21, 2014

    The vast majority of the world’s countries today threw their weight behind a UN General Assembly resolution to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty globally, Amnesty International said.

    114 of the UN’s 193 member states today voted in favour of the resolution which will go before the General Assembly Plenary for final adoption in December.

    “Today’s vote confirms that more and more countries around the world are coming around to the fact that the death penalty is a human rights violation and must end. It is also a clear message to the minority of states that still execute – you are on the wrong side of history,” said Chiara Sangiorgio, Death Penalty expert at Amnesty International.

    Since 2007 there have been four resolutions calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty, with support increasing each time. Overall, the votes in favour of this resolution increased by three since the last time a similar vote took place in 2012.

    November 03, 2014

    Bangladesh must immediately impose a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty and ensure that political interference does not mar judicial processes, Amnesty International said after the confirmation of two fresh death sentences over two days.

    Bangladesh’s Supreme Court today upheld the death sentence against Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, a senior leader of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party. Kamaruzzaman was first sentenced to death in May 2013, on charges of involvement in killings, by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), a Bangladeshi court examining the events of the country’s 1971 Independence War.

    “The relentless push to impose death sentences in Bangladesh is deeply worrying. After a hiatus of nine months since the last death sentence was announced, three more men have now been sentenced to the gallows in the space of less than a week,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher.

    “Far from bringing justice to the millions of victims of the Independence War and their family members, executions will only perpetuate a cycle of violence.”

    October 29, 2014

    The death sentence against a leading opposition figure in Bangladesh for war crimes will not bring justice to the millions of victims of the independence war, Amnesty International said.

    Additionally, the defence team has consistently raised concerns that trial proceedings have not followed fair trial standards.

    Motiur Rahman Nizami, head of Jamaat-e-Islami, the third largest political party in Bangladesh, was sentenced to death for war crimes today by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), a Bangladeshi court established to investigate the events of Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war.

    “Bangladesh must overturn the death sentence against Motiur Rahman Nizami and all others. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and can never be a way to deliver justice,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher.

    “The crimes committed during the independence war were horrific, and there is no question that victims deserve justice. But the death penalty only perpetuates the cycle of violence.”

    October 27, 2014

    The release of a man who spent 19 years on death row in Nigeria and was seconds away from execution last year painfully illustrates the inherent brutality and unfairness of the death penalty, said Amnesty International today.

    ThankGod Ebhos was released under an order issued by the governor of Kaduna State based on his age. He had been tried and sentenced to death by a military tribunal in Kaduna in May 1995, accused of an armed robbery that had taken place in 1988.

    Amnesty International raised questions about the fairness of military tribunals in Nigeria at the time.

    “The release of ThankGod Ebhos brings great hope to the many hundreds who are languishing on death row across Nigeria,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director, Research and Advocacy.

    October 25, 2014

    The execution of Iranian Reyhaneh Jabbari who was convicted after a deeply flawed investigation and trial is an affront to justice, said Amnesty International today.

    Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, was executed in a Tehran prison this morning. She had been convicted of killing of a man whom she said tried to sexually abuse her.

    “The shocking news that Reyhaneh Jabbari has been executed is deeply disappointing in the extreme. This is another bloody stain on Iran’s human rights record,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “Tragically, this case is far from uncommon. Once again Iran has insisted on applying the death penalty despite serious concerns over the fairness of the trial.”

    Amnesty International believes that the death penalty is an abhorrent form of punishment and should never be used under any circumstances.

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    October 24, 2014

    The Iranian authorities must stop the execution of a woman due to be hanged tomorrow morning after being convicted for the killing of a man whom she said tried to sexually abuse her, said Amnesty International.

    Reyhaneh Jabbari was sentenced to death in 2009 after a deeply flawed investigation and trial. Her execution was due to be carried out on 30 September but was postponed for 10 days.

    “Time is running out for Reyhaneh Jabbari, the authorities must act now to stop her execution,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The death penalty is a despicable punishment that is both cruel and inhumane. Applying such a punishment in any circumstances is an affront to justice, but doing so after a flawed trial that leaves huge questions hanging over the case only makes it more tragic.”

    October 16, 2014

    A Pakistani court’s decision to uphold the death sentence against a Christian woman convicted on blasphemy charges is a grave injustice, Amnesty International said.

    The Lahore High Court today rejected the appeal against the death sentence imposed on Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for allegedly making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.

    “This is a grave injustice. Asia Bibi should never have been convicted in the first place – still less sentenced to death – and the fact that she could pay with her life for an argument is sickening,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “There were serious concerns about the fairness of Asia Bibi’s trial, and her mental and physical health has reportedly deteriorated badly during the years she has spent in almost total isolation on death row. She should be released immediately and the conviction should be quashed.”

    Asia Bibi’s lawyer said after today’s verdict that he will file an appeal to the Supreme Court.

    October 09, 2014

    Released Friday 10 October 2014 at 00.01am UK time

    Countries around the world continue to sentence to death or to execute people with mental and intellectual disabilities, in clear violation of international standards, Amnesty International said ahead of the World Day against the Death Penalty (10 October 2014).

    Amnesty International has documented cases of people who suffer from such disabilities facing execution or being executed in countries including Japan, Pakistan and the USA. Unless these countries urgently reform their criminal justice systems many more people are at risk.

    “The international standards on mental and intellectual disability are important safeguards for vulnerable people. They do not seek to excuse horrendous crimes – they set parameters for the nature of the penalty that can be imposed,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Global Issues Director.

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