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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    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.

    June 14, 2014

    Iranian authorities must immediately halt the execution scheduled for tomorrow of four Sunni death row prisoners who were convicted after grossly unfair trials, Amnesty International said.

    The fourmen - Hamed Ahmadi, Jahangir Dehghani, Jamshid Dehghani and Kamal Molaee – are set to be executed on charges of “enmity against God” (moharebeh ) on 15 June.

    “The execution of these men must be stopped immediately. The Iranian authorities are executing them over charges that appear to be fabricated and after grossly unfair trials where basic safeguards, such as rights of defense, were ignored,” said Hassiba Hadj Saharoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa

    “This is just another example of the Iranian authorities using the death penalty to deal with minorities rather than guarantying the rights of all Iranians.”

    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.

    May 31, 2014

    Iranian authorities must urgently halt theexecution of Gholamreza Khosravi Savadjani, who was sentenced to death in an unfair trial on the charge of “enmity against God” (moharebeh), said Amnesty International amid fears that he may be executed as soon as Sunday 1 June.

    The family members of Gholamreza Khosravi were informed by prison officials on Saturday 31 May that they must go to Raja’i Shahr Prison, near Tehran, in order to meet him outside the regular visitation hours, sparking fears that his execution may be imminent. He is currently held in solitary confinement. Death row prisoners are generally transferred to solitary isolation units before their executions take place.

    “Yet again Iranian authorities are about to execute a man who did not even receive a fair trial in total disregard of both international law and the Iranian law,” said Hassiba Hadj Saharoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    May 29, 2014

    The deplorable mass sentencing of 55 people at a stadium in China’s north-western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region [XUAR] is no solution to addressing public security fears, said Amnesty International.

    Fifty five people, believed to be mostly Muslim Uighurs, were sentenced for terrorism, separatism and murder. Three were sentenced to death.

    “Those responsible for the recent violent attacks have shown a callous disregard for human life and must be held to account. But speedy show trials will not deliver justice for the victims. Hastily sentencing people after unfair trials will only exacerbate tensions in the region,” said William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International.

    The sentencing took place in front of more than 7,000 people, state media reported on Wednesday. 

    All of those sentenced are believed to be at risk of torture in detention. The local Communist Party leader, Zhang Chunxian said recently that suspected criminals should be “severely punished” before trial.

    May 22, 2014

    Lawyers have confirmed to Amnesty International that an appeal has been lodged against the conviction of a pregnant Sudanese Christian woman, who has been sentenced to death for her religious choice and to 100 lashes for ‘adultery’.

    << Sign Amnesty's petition to Sudan's Minister of Justice


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