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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    November 18, 2013

    The execution of a Pakistani man in Indonesia on Sunday, carried out in secret, is a shocking and regressive step, said Amnesty International.

    According to media reports, Muhammad Abdul Hafeez, 44, was executed by firing squad in the early hours of Sunday morning. Hafeez is the fifth person to be put to death this year since Indonesia resumed executions in March after a four year hiatus.  A further five individuals are believed to be at imminent risk of execution.

    Papang Hidayat, Amnesty International’s Indonesia Researcher, commented:

    “This latest death by firing squad highlights the deplorable and retrograde trend in Indonesia to shroud executions in secrecy. The complete lack of transparency is not only devastating for the individuals and their families; it can also prevent last minute appeals for a stay of execution.

    November 14, 2013

    The reduction of a death sentence to life imprisonment for a convicted drug trafficker in Singapore is a landmark step, but must now be followed by continued reforms, Amnesty International said today.

    Yong Vui Kong, a 25-year old Malaysian man, has been on death row in Singapore since he was arrested on drug charges six years ago . A High Court in Singapore today reduced his death sentence to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane.

    “This is a landmark ruling, and possibly the first time in history that someone sentenced to death under Singapore’s draconian drugs laws has had their sentence commuted,” said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s East Asia Research Director. 

    Under Singapore’s laws at the time of his sentencing, Yong Vui Kong’s possession of 47g of heroin amounted to drug trafficking and warranted the mandatory death penalty, which is prohibited under international law. 

    Legislative amendments to abolish the mandatory imposition of the death penalty under certain circumstances of murder and drug trafficking were adopted by the Singaporean Parliament on 14 November 2012.

    November 08, 2013

    A sharp increase in the use of the death penalty in Iraq has brought the number of known executions to the highest in the decade since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, with at least seven prisoners sent to the gallows yesterday, sparking fears that many more death row prisoners are at risk, Amnesty International said.

    “Iraq’s increased use of the death penalty, often after unfair trials in which many prisoners report having been tortured into confessing crimes, is a futile attempt to resolve the country’s serious security and justice problems,” said Phillip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “In order to actually protect civilians better from violent attacks by armed groups, authorities in Iraq must effectively investigate abuses and bring those responsible to justice in a system that is fair, without recourse to the death penalty.”

    November 08, 2013

    Vietnamese national media today reported that the government is asking the National Assembly to allow the use of execution by firing squad until 2015.

    An EU export ban on the chemicals needed for lethal injections has meant that Viet Nam has struggled to find drugs to carry out executions.

    Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director, said:

    "It is extremely disappointing that Viet Nam is yet again trying to find a way to kill, either by using domestically produced drugs or by reverting to an execution method the government itself has rejected as inhumane.

    “The current shortage of lethal drugs should be an opportunity for the Vietnamese authorities to show to the world their commitment to humane treatment of prisoners and their rejection of the death penalty.

    “The death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. It is the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a clear violation of a fundamental human right, the right to life.

    November 05, 2013

    Today’s death sentences handed down by a Bangladeshi court to 152 people involved in a 2009 mutiny are a perversion of justice, Amnesty International said.

    “Justice has not been served with today’s ruling, which, if carried out, will only result in 152 more human rights violations,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    Those sentenced were among hundreds of troops from the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) convicted of engaging in unlawful killings, hostage taking and other human rights violations committed during the February 2009 mutiny. Amnesty International has previously condemned the violence and called for those responsible to be brought to justice in fair trials.

    “There is no question that the 2009 mutiny was a brutal series of events that left in its wake scores of people dead and a traumatized population. It is understandable that the Bangladeshi authorities want to draw a line under this episode, but to resort to the use of the death penalty can only compound the suffering,” said Truscott.

    October 28, 2013

    Two death row prisoners from Iran’s Kurdish minority are at imminent risk of being executed after the Iranian authorities carried out 20 death sentences over the weekend, Amnesty International warned today.

    “This surge in executions shows that behind words and promises, the Iranian authorities continue to rely on state-sponsored killing, sparking fears that Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi, two Kurdish minority prisoners on death row, could be next,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “These and all other executions must be halted immediately. While the Iranian authorities have a responsibility to bring those suspected of criminal offences to justice, the death penalty should never be used, as it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.” 

    Iranian prisoners are routinely sentenced to death after unfair trials, and despite allegations of torture being used to extract “confessions” in pre-trial detention.

    October 24, 2013

    The President of the Republic of Belarus must introduce an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the use of the death penalty. Amnesty International reiterated its call while welcoming the fact that earlier this week the country’s Supreme Court overturned a death sentence.

    “A step in the right direction has been made. It has to be followed by the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty until this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is abolished,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s researcher on Belarus.

    “Amnesty understands that part of the court’s reasoning was based on fair trial concerns. If this is the case, the Supreme Court of the Republic Belarus has demonstrated the important role that the judiciary can play in ensuring strict adherence to fair trial standards. This is particulary important in a country that continues to  impose death sentences.”

    October 17, 2013

    The Japanese Supreme Court's decision to deny a retrial to an 87-year old death row prisoner who was convicted of murder based on a forced confession is a "travesty of justice", Amnesty International said today after his latest appeal was rejected.

    Okunishi Masaru, who has spent more than 40 years facing execution and is one of the oldest death row prisoners in the world, had his seventh request for a retrial turned down yesterday.  It means he is likely to die in prison despite doubts over the soundness of his conviction.

    "It is a travesty of justice that Okunishi Masaru was again denied the retrial his case unquestionably merits,” said Catherine Baber, Asia Pacific Director for Amnesty International.

    The octogenarian has been on death row since 1969, after being convicted of the murders of five women. He “confessed” to the crime after being interrogated by police for many hours over five days and with no lawyer present.

    During his first trial he retracted his “confession” and was acquitted due to lack of evidence. However, a higher court reversed the verdict and sentenced him to death.

    October 16, 2013

    Iran must stop the execution of man who was found alive at a morgue a day after being hanged, Amnesty International urged today after authorities said the prisoner would be hanged for a second time once his condition improves.

    The 37-year-old, identified as “Alireza M”, was hanged in Bojnourd prison in north-east Iran last week after being convicted of drug offences.

    According to official state media, a doctor declared him dead after the 12 minute-hanging, but when the prisoner’s family went to collect his body the following day he was found to still be breathing.

    He is currently in hospital, but a judge reportedly said he would be executed again “once medical staff confirm his health condition is good enough”.

    “The horrific prospect of this man facing a second hanging, after having gone through the whole ordeal already once, merely underlines the cruelty and inhumanity of the death penalty,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    October 10, 2013

    After five years in Iran’s Evin prison and with an execution order on his life, Hamid Ghassemi-Shall today returned to Canada a free man, and was greeted by his wife Antonella Mega.

    His long journey back from Tehran has been an incredible ordeal. Hamid was arrested on May 24, 2008 while visiting his elderly mother in Iran. His older brother, Alborz Ghassemi-Shall, had been arrested two weeks earlier.  Both brothers were held in solitary confinement without legal representation in Tehran’s Evin prison for 18 months. On December 29, 2008 both men were convicted of espionage and sentenced to death following an unfair trial by a Revolutionary Court. In January 2010, Alborz Ghassemi-Shall, who was suffering from stomach cancer, died in prison.

    October 10, 2013

    The Iraqi authorities must immediately halt all executions, Amnesty International said after 42 people were executed in the last two days.

    “The escalation in the number of executions in recent days is an extremely alarming development,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    ”Death sentences continue to be imposed after grossly unfair trials. ‘Confessions’ obtained under torture on which convictions are based make it very likely that innocent people have been put to death in Iraq.”

    According to a statement by the Ministry of Justice, the 41 men and one woman executed were all convicted under the country’s draconian Anti Terrorism Law, adopted in 2005.

    Hundreds of civilians continue to be killed every month in violent attacks by armed groups. School children and Shi’a pilgrims were targeted in the latest wave of bombing attacks.

    October 10, 2013

    By Aubrey Harris, Coordinator for the Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty

    Today, 10 October, is World Day Against the Death Penalty. This year abolitionist groups from around the world are focussed on efforts to abolish the death penalty in the Caribbean. Amnesty International released a report today also detailing one of the biggest myths of death penalty supporters - the claim of deterrence.

    In Canada though we have another special reason to celebrate this October 10th. It is the first October 10th in five years in which Canadian citizen Hamid Ghassemi-Shall is not facing possible execution.

    October 10, 2013

    Politicians need to stop presenting the death penalty as a quick-fix to reduce high crime rates and instead address problems in the criminal justice system, Amnesty International said.

    “Politicians need to stop playing to the gallery and show leadership on public security. There is simply no convincing evidence that the death penalty acts as a special deterrent. Instead they need to focus on effective solutions to address crime,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    To mark World Day Against the Death Penalty, a new briefing by Amnesty International “Not Making Us Safer” highlights the lack of evidence to support the claim that the death penalty reduces serious crime.

    A minority of countries have resumed or are planning to resume executions, often as a knee-jerk reaction to high or rising crime rates or to especially heinous murders.

    The past year has seen a resumption of executions in Gambia, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria, Pakistan, and, most recently, Viet Nam.

    October 02, 2013

    The Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip must urgently halt the execution today of man who was under 18 at the time of one of his alleged crimes, said Amnesty International.

    “The authorities in Gaza must urgently stop the execution scheduled for today. It is deeply disappointing that the Hamas de facto administration is returning to using the gallows after a brief reprieve in the summer,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director of Amnesty International.

    The organization has received credible information that Hani Muhammad Abu Alian, who was sentenced to death in 2012, is likely to be executed this afternoon.  There are serious concerns regarding his trial, including allegations he was tortured or otherwise ill-treated during his interrogation to extract a confession.

    "It is shocking that Hani Abu Alian is facing execution, particularly as it was a crime committed when he was a under 18, and imposed by a court which according to his lawyer relied upon a forced confession,” said Philip Luther.

    October 01, 2013

    The death sentence imposed against a Bangladeshi MP convicted of crimes against humanity is not the way to bring justice to the many victims of the country’s war of independence, Amnesty International said today.

    “The many victims of horrific abuses during Bangladesh’s independence war and their families have long deserved justice but the death penalty is not the answer. One human rights abuse cannot make amends for another,” said Abbas Faiz, Bangladesh Researcher at Amnesty International.
     
    “Bangladesh must overturn the death sentence against Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and all others. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment and can never be a way to deliver justice.”

    Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, six-time Member of Parliament from the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, was found guilty of crimes including genocide and torture committed during Bangladesh’s war of independence with Pakistan in 1971.

    His family has said that he will appeal the sentence.

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