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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    March 13, 2014

    Malaysia’s authorities must immediately halt the execution of a Nigerian national suffering from mental health problems, convicted of a murder committed around 18 years ago, said Amnesty International.

    Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon is due to be executed on Friday 14 March at 6am local time (Thursday 13 March at 10pm GMT). He was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia before his appeal in 2007 and has been receiving treatment for his mental health condition since then. He is currently being detained in Kajang Prison in Selangor state.

    “Malaysia’s authorities must immediately stop the execution of Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon. According to international standards, the death penalty should not be imposed against people with mental disability,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Malaysia researcher.

    “Defying international standards to execute a person suffering from mental health problems is just shameful. What makes this case even more shocking is that there has actually been some progress on the death penalty in Malaysia in recent years, with moves to review mandatory death sentencing.”

    February 07, 2014

    The Malaysian government’s move to halt an execution scheduled for today is positive but the lives of hundreds of others on death row are still at risk, Amnesty International said.

    Malaysian authorities had planned to execute murder convict Chandran Paskaran today, but after an outcry from human rights groups announced a stay on the execution today.

    “We are glad that Chandran Paskaran will not be put to death today, but his life is still at risk – his death sentence must be commuted immediately,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “It is shocking that it took an outcry from human rights groups for this postponement to happen. What about the other secretive executions Malaysia is planning to carry out, that do not get the same attention?”

    In breach of international law, Chandran’s death sentence had been imposed mandatorily, giving the judge no chance to consider mitigating circumstances in the case. A review of Malaysia’s mandatory laws was announced in 2012.  

    February 06, 2014

    Malaysian authorities must immediately halt plans to carry out yet another “secretive execution” this Friday, Amnesty International said.

    Amnesty International has learned that the Malaysian authorities plan to execute death row prisoner Chandran on Friday 7 February who has been imprisoned for murder for 11 years. 

    “The execution of Chandran would be an enormous step backwards on human rights for Malaysia – the authorities must put a stop to these plans immediately,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Malaysia Researcher with Amnesty International.

    “For Malaysia to try to carry out executions in near-total secrecy is shameful – the government is essentially trying to hide its human rights violations from the world. Chandran’s family was informed only yesterday, and they are at a complete loss as to what they can do.” 

    Against international law, Chandran’s death sentence was imposed mandatorily, giving the judge no chance to consider mitigating circumstances of the case. A review of Malaysia’s mandatory laws was announced in 2012. 

    January 24, 2014

    Pakistan must immediately and unconditionally release a man sentenced to death under the country’s blasphemy laws today, Amnesty International said.

    Mohammad Asghar, a UK citizen with a mental illness, living in Pakistan, was first arrested in 2010 after allegedly sending letters to various officials claiming he was a prophet.

    “Mohammad Asghar is now facing the gallows simply for writing a series of letters. He does not deserve punishment. No one should be charged on the basis of this sort of conduct,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are used indiscriminately against both Muslims and non-Muslims, and violate the basic human rights of freedom of religion and thought.

    “The blasphemy laws undermine the rule of law, and people facing charges risk death and other harm in detention. Pakistan must immediately release Mohammed Ashgar and reform its blasphemy laws to ensure that this will not happen again,” said Polly Truscott.

    January 22, 2014

    The Governor of Texas must stop the execution of Edgar Arias Tamayo, a Mexican national scheduled to be put to death this evening in violation of international law and despite a new finding that he was denied a fair trial, Amnesty International said.

    “Under Texas law, the state governor can stop this execution right up until the last minute, even though the clemency board has voted against mercy,” said Rob Freer, US researcher for Amnesty International.

    “Governor Rick Perry should promptly announce that he is calling off this execution and that he will ensure Texas meets its obligations under international law.”

    Edgar Arias Tamayo was sentenced to death for the murder of a Houston police officer in January 1994.

    He was not informed of his right to seek consular advice after his arrest. This assistance could have provided pivotal evidence in the case. Edgar Tamayo’s claim that he was prejudiced by this violation of international law has to this day never been reviewed by any court.

    January 22, 2014

    Reports have emerged today of 12 secret executions carried out by the Iraqi authorities, bringing the number of prisoners put to death since Sunday to 38, Amnesty International said.

    “The increasing use of the death penalty in Iraq will only fuel more violence as many of those executed are often convicted after grossly unfair trials,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The only way to deal effectively with the security threats faced by the country is for the Iraqi authorities to address their deeply flawed justice system, in which ‘confessions’ extracted under torture are used as evidence in court and the execution of prisoners is routine.”

    On 21 January the Iraqi Ministry of Justice issued a statement confirming that the authorities had executed 26 men on Sunday, two days earlier. One of these was Adel al-Mashehadani, known to have carried out a number of sectarian attacks, according to the Justice Ministry.  

    Amnesty International has confirmed through independent sources that at least 12 further men were also executed.

    January 21, 2014

    A historic decision by India’s Supreme Court commuting the death sentences of 15 prisoners and setting out guidelines to safeguard the rights of prisoners on death row and their families is a positive step for human rights in the country, Amnesty International India said today.

    The Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of Suresh, Ramji, Bilavendran, Simon, Gnanprakasham, Meesekar Madaiah, Praveen Kumar, Gurmeet Singh, Sonia Chaudhury, Sanjeev Chaudhury, Jafar Ali, Shivu and Jadeswamy, on the ground of delay in the disposal of their mercy petitions by the President ranging between 5 and 12 years.  

    The Court commuted the death sentences of Sundar Singh and Magan Lal Barela on the ground that they suffer from mental illness.

    “While acknowledging the need to strike a balance between the rights of the accused as well as the victims, this momentous decision reaffirms the rights guaranteed to death row prisoners under the Constitution of India and international law and standards” said G Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, Amnesty International India.

    January 17, 2014

    The Texas authorities must halt the execution of Mexican national Edgar Arias Tamayo, set to take place on 22 January, which would violate an international court order, Amnesty International said today.

    “Texas has been shamefully insistent in scheduling this execution in the full knowledge that to carry it out will violate international law,” said Rob Freer, Amnesty International’s researcher on the USA.

    Edgar Arias Tamayo was sentenced to death for the murder of a Houston police officer in January 1994. The execution is set to go ahead despite an order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2004.

    Last September, US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote to the Texas Governor, Rick Perry, urging that an execution date not be set for Edgar Tamayo. The letter reiterated that the ICJ’s ruling “is binding on the United States under international law”.

    “The federal authorities, and officials around the country, should not let up on Texas. A Texas execution is a US execution. Even if Texas officials don’t care about this, those in the rest of the country should,” said Rob Freer.

    January 16, 2014

    Iran has carried out a total of 40 executions since the beginning of 2014, with at least 33 carried out in the past week alone, said Amnesty International today.

    “The spike in the number of executions carried out so far this month in Iran is alarming. The Iranian authorities’ attempts to change their international image are meaningless if at the same time executions continue to increase”, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    The death penalty is a violation of every human being’s right to life and is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

    “The Iranian authorities must urgently take steps to abolish the death penalty, which has been shown again and again not to have any special deterrent effect on crime,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said.

    Since the beginning of 2014, Amnesty International has recorded 21 executions which were officially acknowledged by the Iranian authorities, as well as 19 additional executions reported through reliable sources.

    December 12, 2013

    Today’s hanging of Islamist leader Abdul Quader Mollah is a disgrace, and Bangladeshi authorities must now ensure that people are protected against reprisal attacks, said Amnesty International.

    “The execution of Abdul Quader Mollah should never have happened. The death penalty is a human rights violation and should not be used to punish other alleged human rights violations,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher.

    “The country is on a razor’s edge at the moment with pre-election tensions running high and almost non-stop street protests. Mollah’s execution could trigger more violence, with the Hindu community bearing the brunt.”

    Mollah, a key figure in the Islamist opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed in Dhaka today. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in February for crimes against humanity by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), a court investigating Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war.

    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.


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