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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    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.

    March 27, 2014

    The Japanese courts have at last seen sense and granted a retrial to a prisoner who has spent over four decades on death row, said Amnesty International. The organization is now urging prosecutors to accept the court's decision.

    Hakamada Iwao, 78, was sentenced to death in 1968 and is believed to be the longest-serving death row inmate in the world. After an unfair trial, he was convicted of the murder of his boss, his boss’s wife and their two children.

    Shizuoka District Court granted his latest request for a retrial at a hearing earlier today. Prosecutors have four days to appeal the court’s decision.

    “It would be most callous and unfair of prosecutors to appeal the court’s decision. Time is running out for Hakamada to receive the fair trial he was denied more than four decades ago,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    “If ever there was a case that merits a retrial, this is it.  Hakamada was convicted on the basis of a forced confession and there remain unanswered questions over recent DNA evidence.”

    March 26, 2014

    Released  00:01am GMT THURSDAY 27 MARCH

    Iran and Iraq caused a sharp global spike in the number of executions carried out in 2013, bucking the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty, Amnesty International found in its annual review of the death penalty worldwide.

    Alarming levels of executions in an isolated group of countries in 2013 - mainly the two Middle Eastern states - saw close to 100 more people put to death around the world compared to the previous year, a jump of almost 15 per cent.

    March 26, 2014

    by Aubrey Harris, Coordinator, Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty @AmnestyCanadaDP Even Canadians are at risk while the death penalty remains in this world

    This time last year, Toronto resident and Canadian citizen Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, was in an Iranian prison, facing the prospect of execution by a regime that is notorious for use of the death penalty. Hamid was eventually one of the lucky ones. The tireless efforts of his wife Antonella and worldwide appeals by Amnesty International and other human rights organisations and governments making direct appeals to the Iranian government managed to save him from execution and overturn an unjust and fabricated case that could easily have cost him his life.

    On 10 October, World Day Against the Death Penalty coincidentally, Hamid returned home to Canada where his wife and supporters gathered at Toronto Pearson Airport to welcome him.

    March 26, 2014

    At least 778 people were executed in 22 countries in 2013. In 2012, Amnesty International reported at least 682 executions in 21 countries worldwide.

    Most executions took place in China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, USA and Somalia – in that order.

    China executed more people than the rest of the world put together – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as data is considered a state secret, and the figure of 778 excludes the thousands of executions carried out in China.

    There were stark rises in executions in Iran and Iraq. Iraq put at least 169 people to death, a 30% increase on 2012 (129). In Iran, officially acknowledged executions rose to at least 369 in 2013 – from at least 314 in 2012. But credible sources reported at least another 335 executions, bringing 2013’s total to at least 704.

    March 26, 2014

    In advance of the release of our 2014 Global Death Penalty Report tomorrow, here are 5 of the most common misconceptions about the death penalty.

    MYTH #1

    The death penalty deters violent crime and makes society safer.

    There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect.  

    More than three decades after abolishing the death penalty, Canada’s murder rate remains over one third lower than it was in 1976.

    A 35-year study compared murder rates between Hong Kong, where there is no death penalty, and Singapore, which has a similar size population and executed regularly. The death penalty had little impact on crime rates.

    MYTH #2
    The threat of execution is an effective strategy in preventing terrorist attacks.

    The prospect of execution is unlikely to act as a deterrent to people prepared to kill and injure for the sake of a political or other ideology.

    March 24, 2014

    Today’s mass death sentences handed down by an Egyptian court are a grotesque example of the shortcomings and the selective nature of Egypt's justice system, Amnesty International said.

    According to state media reports, in a single hearing this morning, the Minya Criminal Court sentenced 529 supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi to be executed for their alleged role in violence following his ousting in July last year.

    “This is injustice writ large and these death sentences must be quashed. Imposing death sentences of this magnitude in a single case makes Egypt surpass most other countries’ use of capital punishment in a year,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    "This is the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences we’ve seen in recent years, not just in Egypt but anywhere in the world.


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