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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    October 08, 2014

    The execution of five men in Afghanistan who had been convicted over a gang rape following a series of flawed trials is an affront to justice, Amnesty International said.

    Five men convicted of armed robbery and zina (sex outside marriage) in relation to the gang rape of four women in Paghman district outside of Kabul on 22 August were executed today in Pul-e-Charkhi jail. They were first sentenced to death on 7 September, a sentence later upheld in an appeals court (15 September) and by the Supreme Court (24 September), and confirmed by then-President Hamid Karzai.

    “There is no question that this was an appalling crime and the outcry and anger this case has caused is of course understandable. Amnesty International continues to campaign against rape and other sexual attacks globally and in Afghanistan. But the death penalty is not justice – it only amounts to short-term revenge,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

    September 29, 2014

    Iranian authorities have today confirmed that a woman convicted of killing a man whom she said tried to sexually abuse her will be hanged tomorrow morning at a prison west of Tehran, Amnesty International said.

    Reyhaneh Jabbari was sentenced to death in 2009 after a deeply flawed investigation and trial which failed to examine all of the evidence.

    “This abhorrent execution must not be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”

    “Under international human rights standards people charged with crimes punishable by death are entitled to the strictest observance of all fair trial guarantees.”

    September 15, 2014

    Pakistan should immediately scrap apparent plans to carry out the first civilian execution in almost six years and instead impose a moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a first step towards abolition, Amnesty International said.

    Shoaib Sarwar, a death row prisoner convicted on murder charges in 1998, is reportedly set to be hanged in a Rawalpindi jail on 18 September 2014. If carried out, it would be the first civilian execution in Pakistan since 2008 and the first execution in the country since 2012.

    “This execution should be halted immediately,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    September 05, 2014

    The threat by some Pacific island states to resume executions would tarnish the reputation of a region that has a near perfect record on the death penalty, Amnesty International said on the end of the International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa.

    “Moves by countries like Papua New Guinea and Kiribati to bring back the death penalty in law are deeply worrying in a region that had a near flawless record on the death penalty for a number of years, carrying out no executions and no new death sentences imposed over the past year,” said Kate Schuetze, Pacific Researcher at Amnesty International.

    SIDS brought together 109 countries to discuss a range of sustainable development issues and provided an opportunity for engagement on the issue of the death penalty.

    According to Amnesty International’s annual review of executions worldwide, the Pacific sub-region was almost completely death penalty free, with no executions carried out and only four countries maintaining the death penalty in law.

    August 29, 2014

    The execution of two men in Japan on Friday flies in the face of growing calls in the country to halt the use of capital punishment, said Amnesty International.
    Mitsuhiro Kobayashi, 56, and Tsutomu Takamizawa, 59 were hanged early on Friday morning. Kobayashi was executed at Sendai detention centre and Takamizawa at Tokyo detention centre. Both had been convicted of murder.

    “It is chilling that the Japanese authorities continue to send people to the gallows despite serious questions over the use of the death penalty in the country,” said Hiroka Shoji, East Asia Researcher at Amnesty International.

    A lack of adequate legal safeguards for people facing the death penalty in Japan has been widely criticized.  This includes defendants being denied adequate legal counsel from the time of arrest, a lack of a mandatory appeal process for capital cases and detention in prolonged solitary confinement.

    Several prisoners suffering from mental illness are also known to have been executed or remain on death row.

    August 22, 2014

    The current surge in executions in Saudi Arabia is continuing unabated with another beheading scheduled for Monday 25 August, said Amnesty International today.

    The planned beheading of Hajras al-Qurey will be the 23rd execution in the last three weeks -- although more could take place on Saturday and Sunday. Earlier this week the organisation called on the Kingdom to halt all executions after four members of the same family were beheaded for “receiving drugs”.

    “The execution of people accused of petty crimes and on the basis of ‘confessions’ extracted through torture has become shamefully common in Saudi Arabia. It is absolutely shocking to witness the Kingdom’s authorities callous disregard to fundamental human rights,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia is so far removed from any kind of legal parameters that it is almost hard to believe.”

    August 22, 2014

    A shocking video showing an execution-style killing by an armed group at a football stadium in eastern Libya highlights the authorities’ failure to prevent parts of the country from descending into violence and lawlessness, Amnesty International said today.

    An amateur video published on social media sites shows the purported execution of an Egyptian man apparently organized by an armed group called the Shura Council of Islamic Youth in the eastern city of Derna.

    “This unlawful killing realizes the greatest fears of ordinary Libyans, who in parts of the country find themselves caught between ruthless armed groups and a failed state,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “Such acts can only lead to further human rights abuses in Derna, where residents have no recourse to state institutions and therefore no means to seek justice or effective protection from abuses.

    August 22, 2014

    The rare acquittal of a death row prisoner in China, who had languished in prison through six years’ of appeals, is another reminder of the need to immediately end all executions and abolish the death penalty in the country, Amnesty International said.

    Nian Bin, a former food stall owner, walked free today after a Fujian court acquitted him of "placing dangerous materials" due to insufficient evidenceafter he had lodged three appeals in six years.

    “This rare acquittal is yet another vivid example of why the death penalty should be abolished, and the ever present risk of executing innocent people is just one of many compelling arguments against the death penalty,” said Anu Kultalahti, Amnesty International’s China Researcher.

    “China’s justice system is deeply flawed and more needs to be done to promptly address the failures of this case, including allegations of torture. It’s appalling that Nian Bin and his family have had to suffer through six years with the threat of execution hanging over him despite the obvious lack of evidence in this case. ”

    August 18, 2014

    The Saudi Arabian authorities must halt all executions, Amnesty International said after four members of the same family were executed today as part of a “disturbing” recent surge in the use of the death penalty in the country.

    The two sets of brothers from the same extended family were killed this morning in the south-eastern city of Najran after being convicted of “receiving large quantities of hashish”, reportedly on the basis of forced confessions extracted through torture.

    It brings the number of state killings in Saudi Arabia in the past two weeks to 17 - a rate of more than one execution per day.

    “The recent increase in executions in Saudi Arabia is a deeply disturbing deterioration. The authorities must act immediately to halt this cruel practice,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    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.

    July 24, 2014

    The prolonged execution of a prisoner in Arizona yesterday represents another wake-up call for authorities in the USA to abolish the death penalty, said Amnesty International.

    “How many more times do officials need to be reminded of the myth of the ‘humane execution’ before they give up on their experiment with judicial killing?” asked Rob Freer, Amnesty International Researcher on the USA.

    At least three executions have not gone according to plan in the USA this year alone.

    Amnesty International does not believe that there is any such thing as a humane execution, or that the cruelty of the death penalty is confined to what goes on in the death chamber.

    Holding someone under a threat of death – for years or even decades – can hardly be described as the conduct of a state adopting a progressive approach to criminal justice or human rights.

    “However the state chooses to kill the prisoner – and whether the execution goes according to plan or not – does not change the fact that this is a punishment incompatible with fundamental human rights principles,” said Rob Freer.

    July 18, 2014

    Singapore has taken a reprehensible U-turn by executing the first two prisoners since 2011, Amnesty International and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) said today.

    Tang Hai Liang, 36, and Foong Chee Peng, 48, were executed today at Singapore’s Changi Prison Complex. They had been convicted and mandatorily sentenced to death for drug-related offences in January and April 2011 respectively under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

    “The executions by hanging of Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng represent a massive leap backwards for human rights in Singapore,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Singapore researcher.  

    “It is extremely disappointing that the authorities have taken a U-turn on a moratorium on executions and did not build on their clean record of no executions over the past two years to push for more reforms in the country.”  

    Non-lethal crimes such as drugs offences do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty may be imposed under international law.

    July 15, 2014

    The Iranian authorities must halt the execution of a young man who was still a child at the time of his alleged crime, and reverse a disturbing rise in the execution of juvenile offenders which has resulted in at least eight individuals being put to death in the first half of 2014, for crimes allegedly committed when they were below the age of 18, Amnesty International urged today.

    Rasoul Holoumi, now 22, was sentenced to death in October 2010 for the alleged killing of a boy during a group-fight in 2009, when he was 17 years old. The execution could be carried out at any time at the request of the victim’s family, under the Islamic law principle of qesas (retribution-in-kind).

    “It is cruel and inhumane to hang any person but it is particularly reprehensible for Iran to do so when the person was a child at the time of the alleged crime, and the execution takes place after a flawed investigation process that violates fair trial standards,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    June 24, 2014

    The decision by China’s Supreme People’s Court to overturn the death sentence of a woman convicted of killing her husband after suffering months of domestic abuse, highlights the urgent need for the authorities to do more to prevent violence against women, said Amnesty International.

    Li Yan, 43, from Sichuan province in Southwest China was sentenced to death in August 2011 for the murder of her abusive husband, Tan Yong, in late 2010. Li Yan’s brother received news that the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Sichuan Provincial High People’s Court for a retrial in May.

    "Justice was never going to be served by executing Li Yan. The decision by the Supreme Court to overturn her death sentence is significant and the right course of action," said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    June 21, 2014

    The conviction today of three Al Jazeera English journalists accused of “falsifying news” and belonging to or assisting the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt is a ferocious attack on media freedom, said Amnesty International.

    The three journalists – Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, all considered by Amnesty International to be prisoners of conscience – were sentenced to seven years in jail. Baher Mohamed received a further three years on a separate charge of possessing a bullet shell. They have been detained since 29 December 2013.

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