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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    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

    May 21, 2014

    The planned execution, on 22 May, of two members of the Ahwazi Arab minority who were forced to “confess” on TV and are being held in an unknown location is an absolute mockery of justice which must be stopped immediately, Amnesty International said.

    Ali Chebieshat and Sayed Khaled Mousawi were sentenced to death on 9 September 2013 by a Revolutionary Court in Ahvaz on the charge of “enmity against God” (moharebeh). They were forced to “confess” on TV in relation to the explosion of a natural gas pipeline close to their native village.

    “The harrowing stories of Ali Chebieshat and Sayed Khaled Mousawi show how justice in Iran is seriously flawed. People are routinely forced to ‘confess’ to crimes they didn’t commit and face deeply unfair trials before being marched to the gallows,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 15, 2014

    The decision of a Sudanese court to sentence a heavily pregnant Sudanese Christian woman to death by hanging for ‘apostasy’, and to flogging for ‘adultery’, is truly abhorrent said Amnesty International today.

    Meriam Yehya Ibrahim is eight months pregnant and currently in detention with her 20-month-old son. Her death sentence was handed down this morning after she refused to recant her religion.

    “The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent. Adultery and apostasy are acts which should not be considered crimes at all. It is flagrant breach of international human rights law,” said Manar Idriss, Amnesty International’s Sudan researcher.

    May 14, 2014

    A heavily pregnant Sudanese Christian woman who could be sentenced to death by hanging for ‘apostasy’, and to flogging for ‘adultery’ should be immediately and unconditionally released, Amnesty International said ahead of the ruling expected tomorrow.

    Meriam Yehya Ibrahim is eight months pregnant and currently in detention with her 20-month-old son.

    “The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is abhorrent and should never be even considered. ‘Adultery’ and ‘apostasy’ are acts which should not be considered crimes at all, let alone meet the international standard of “most serious crimes” in relation to the death penalty. It is flagrant breach of international human rights law,” said Manar Idriss, Amnesty International’s Sudan researcher.

    Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Christian Sudanese, was convicted on charges of 'apostasy' by a Khartoum court on Sunday and was given three days to recant her faith or face a possible sentence of death.

    April 30, 2014

    Last night’s “botched” execution in Oklahoma provides yet another stark reason why authorities across the USA should impose an immediate moratorium on judicial killing and work for abolition of this inescapably cruel punishment, Amnesty International said today.

    Witnesses have described how the condemned man, Clayton Lockett, began to gasp and writhe after he had been declared unconscious and when the second and third drugs began to be administered. At that stage, about 16 minutes after the lethal injection process had begun, officials drew a curtain across the viewing window, preventing witnesses from seeing what was happening. Almost half an hour later, Clayton Lockett was pronounced dead of a heart attack. A second execution scheduled for the same evening, of Charles Warner, was stayed.

    April 28, 2014

    Amnesty International today warned of grave flaws in Egypt's criminal justice system after a court in El Minya, Upper Egypt, confirmed death sentences for 37 people and imposed terms of life imprisonment to 491 in one case, and ruled that 683 individuals should be sentenced to death in another.

    “Today’s decisions once again expose how arbitrary and selective Egypt’s criminal justice system has become. The court has displayed a complete contempt for the most basic principles of a fair trial and has utterly destroyed its credibility. It is time for Egypt’s authorities to come clean and acknowledge that the current system is neither fair nor independent or impartial,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    April 08, 2014

    Texas Governor Rick Perry must stop Wednesday’s execution of Ramiro Hernández Llanas, a Mexican national with a mental disability, Amnesty International said today.

    The state has relied upon racial stereotyping and the views of discredited “expertise” to secure this death sentence – now due to be carried out shortly after 6pm, local time, on 9 April.

    After the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for Ramiro Hernández Llanas on Monday, his final hope for mercy is a reprieve from the state governor.

    “This case cries out for Governor Perry to use his power of reprieve. He must recognise that the state has relied upon shoddy ‘expert’ testimony to get Ramiro Hernández Llanas to the death chamber,” said Rob Freer, Amnesty International’s researcher on the USA.

    March 31, 2014

    A decision by India’s Supreme Court today to commute the death sentence of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, on the grounds of mental illness and delay in the disposal of his mercy petition, should lead authorities to reconsider the use of the death penalty in India, Amnesty International India said today.

    “With this ruling, the Supreme Court has now commuted 19 death sentences in 2014. Authorities should use the momentum generated by these decisions to establish a moratorium on executions and move toward abolishing the death penalty altogether”, said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director, Amnesty International India.  

    Devender Pal Singh Bhullar was sentenced to death in August 2001 for his involvement in a bomb attack in New Delhi in 1993 that killed nine people. His trial fell far short of international standards for a fair trial. The President of India rejected Devender Pal Singh Bhullar’s mercy petition in May 2011, eight years after the request was filed.

    March 31, 2014

    A decision by Japanese prosecutors to appeal against a court ruling to grant Hakamada Iwao a retrial will only add to the decades of psychological torture he has already endured, said Amnesty International.

    Hakamada, 78, spent more than four decades on death row before a court ordered a retrial and his immediate release last Thursday.

    “For 46 years Hakamada has lived under constant fear of execution, never knowing from one day to the next if he is going to be put to death. This appeal will only add to his suffering,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    The prosecution’s appeal was lodged with the Tokyo High Court on Monday. The court could take up to two years to rule.

    “This move by the prosecutors could deny an elderly man the retrial he unquestionably deserves. It appears to be a deliberate ploy to delay in the full knowledge that time is running out for Hakamada,” added Roseann Rife.

    “The prosecution’s case was completely discredited by the court’s ruling last Thursday. There are now serious questions as to why this appeal has been lodged.”

    March 27, 2014

    The Pakistani authorities should immediately release a Christian man sentenced to death under the country’s draconian blasphemy laws and quash his conviction, Amnesty International said today.

    Savan Masih, a Christian road sweeper from Lahore, was today sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy and fined 200,000 rupees. He was arrested on 6 March 2013 after a friend accused him of making blasphemous remarks during an argument.

    “This is a travesty of justice. There are serious concerns about the fairness of his trial, and an argument between two friends is not a basis for sending anyone to the gallows. Savan Masih must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    The vague formulation of the blasphemy laws, along with inadequate investigation by authorities and intimidation by mobs and some religious groups, has promoted vigilantism across Pakistan, especially in the northeastern state of Punjab.

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