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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    September 25, 2013

    The Iranian authorities must urgently halt the execution of six men on death row in Ghezel Hesar Prison near Tehran. Two of them have been transferred to solitary confinement today sparking fears they are at imminent risk of execution Amnesty International said.

    Hamed Ahmadi and Sedigh Mohammadi are among six Sunni Muslim men from Iran’s Kurdish minority who were sentenced to death after being convicted of vaguely-worded offences including “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth”.

    “The news of the transfer of two Iranian men to solitary confinement indicate the worst for the men. It is known as the execution waiting room for inmates sentenced to death,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment. For decades Iranian authorities have issued death sentences ruthlessly and on a regular basis.”

    September 25, 2013

    All executions in Iraq must be halted immediately, Amnesty International urged today after 13 men were executed in Baghdad.

    Today, the organization has been able to confirm the names of nine of the men, who were executed on 22 September following death sentences imposed after unfair trials and based on “confessions” allegedly extracted under torture. Four others were also executed that day, bringing the total number of executions in Iraq so far this year to at least 73.

    “The Iraqi authorities have chosen to defy repeated calls not to execute prisoners and to rely on tainted ‘confessions’ obtained under torture. That a death sentence could be imposed after obviously grossly unfair trials beggars belief,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.  

    September 24, 2013

    Amnesty International welcomes the news that Canadian-Iranian dual national Hamid Ghassemi-Shall was released from Evin prison in Iran on 23 September 2013.

    Ghassemi-Shall was arrested 24 May 2008 while visiting his elderly mother in Iran. His older brother, Alborz Ghassemi-Shall, had been arrested about two weeks earlier. Both brothers were held in solitary confinement without legal representation, in Tehran’s Evin prison for 18 months. On 29 December 2008 both men were sentenced to death following an unfair trial by a Revolutionary Court. They were convicted of moharebeh (enmity against God) for espionage and cooperation with the proscribed People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). In November 2009 the brothers were transferred to a section of the prison holding other prisoners.

    September 20, 2013

    The Iranian authorities must urgently halt the execution of four Sunni Muslim men from Iran’s Kurdish minority who could be executed within days, Amnesty International said.

    “The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment and represents a flagrant violation of human rights. The death sentences of these men must be immediately revoked and a re-trial in line with international standards must be ordered,” said Hassiba Hadj Saharoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    September 17, 2013

    Bangladesh should immediately commute the death sentence of Abdul Quader Mollah, Amnesty International said after the Supreme Court increased his sentence from life imprisonment to death following an appeal by the government.

    Mollah, a senior leader in the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party was first sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity by the Bangladeshi International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in February 2013. The tribunal was set up in 2010 to try those accused of committing war crimes during Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war.

    “We are very concerned about the Supreme Court’s ruling and the apparent relentless effort by the government to ensure that Mollah could be put to death. We urge Bangladeshi authorities to commute his death sentence, and to impose a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher.

    September 13, 2013

    Far-reaching procedural and institutional reform, and not the death penalty, is needed to tackle the endemic problem of violence against women in India, Amnesty International said today after four men convicted of the December 2012 gang-rape were sentenced to death by a court in New Delhi.

    The court found the four men guilty of gang-rape, murder and other related charges on September 13. A 17-year old convicted in the same case was sentenced to three years detention in a juvenile home on 31 August. Another accused was found dead in his prison cell on 10 March.

    “The rape and murder of the young woman in Delhi last year was a horrific crime and our deepest sympathy goes out to the victim’s family. Those responsible must be punished, but the death penalty is never the answer,” said Tara Rao, Director of Amnesty International India.

    August 08, 2013

    The Hamas authorities in Gaza must halt several executions they say they plan to carry out after this week’s Muslim religious festival of Eid al-Fitr, Amnesty International has urged.

    Hamas’ Attorney General said last week that several convicted “criminals” are set to be executed in public as a “lesson” to others.

    “This and other recent announcements by Hamas authorities that they will carry out further executions are deeply disturbing,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “We acknowledge the right and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences, but the death penalty is cruel and inhuman, and there is no evidence that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments.”

    One of those at risk is a 27-year-old man known as “H.M.A.” who, while detained in relation to another case, was apparently tortured to “confess” to the rape and murder of a six-year-old boy allegedly committed when H.M.A. was under18.

    August 06, 2013

    The first execution in Viet Nam in more than 18 months is outrageous and puts hundreds of death row prisoners at risk, Amnesty International said.

    Nguyen Anh Tuan, convicted for murder in 2010, was reportedly executed today in the Ha Noi Police prison through lethal injection – the first execution in the country since around January 2012.

    Tighter EU regulations on the export of the drugs needed for lethal injections meant that Viet Nam did not carry out any executions during this period, but a new law that came into effect on 27 June 2013 states that Viet Nam can now use drugs produced outside the EU or domestically.

    According to media reports, there are currently 586 people on death row in Viet Nam, of which at least 116 have exhausted their final legal appeals.

    “It is deplorable that Viet Nam has resumed executions and reflects a ruthless determination by the authorities to continue using the death penalty,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    August 02, 2013

    Hundreds of former soldiers and supporters of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi are at increased risk of the death penalty, said Amnesty International, following the sentencing of a former minister in al-Gaddafi’s government to death.

    Ahmad Ibrahim, a former Education Minister in al-Gaddafi’s government, was sentenced to death by the Misratah Court of Appeals on Wednesday 31 July along with five other men. He was charged with incitement to discord and civil war and undermining state security during the conflict.  

    Thousands of detainees are being held in relation to the 2011 conflict, including members of al-Gaddafi’s former security forces and others perceived as loyalists. Many are in danger of receiving similar sentences as courts process their cases in the coming months.

    “While the victims of war crimes and human rights violations have the right to see justice being done, justice must not turn into revenge. The trials of former al-Gaddafi loyalists are a test for Libya’s judicial system,” said Philip Luther, Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    July 24, 2013

    Amnesty International has received worrying reports that Nigerian prison authorities on Tuesday moved a group of death row prisoners into cells closer to the gallows, including one man who narrowly escaped execution last month.

    “With these latest reports it appears that the authorities at Nigeria’s Benin prison may be gearing up to continue executing,” said Lucy Freeman, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Program.

    “In a cruel twist, one of the men who have just been moved within the prison was also amongst those brought to the gallows to be hanged last month, before the prison authorities postponed his execution after realizing his death sentence required a firing squad.

    “Many countries in West Africa and most of the world are moving away from the death penalty, but Nigeria insists on bucking this clear international trend – President Goodluck Jonathan must call for an end to all executions in the country and return to the moratorium that was previously in place.”

    July 17, 2013

    Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, a key member of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, was today sentenced to death for charges including abduction and murder at the International Crimes Tribunal in Dhaka. The tribunal is a Bangladeshi court.

    “It is extremely regrettable that Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed has been handed the death penalty. The war crimes tribunal is a historic opportunity for justice and reconciliation in Bangladesh, but punishing an alleged human rights violation with another is not the answer,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher.

    “The death penalty violates the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. We oppose it in all cases, without exception,” said Faiz.

    “We are already seeing violent protests in Bangladesh in response to these verdicts. There have been injuries on both sides in clashes between opposition parties and the police over the past two days. It is crucial that police do not use excessive force against demonstrators.”

    July 16, 2013

    (WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Brian Evans, director of Amnesty International USA’s Abolish the Death Penalty campaign issued the following statement in response to the Georgia Fulton County Superior Court granting Warren Hill a stay of execution based on a challenge concerning the secrecy of the lethal drugs the state of Georgia acquired and planned to use in Hill’s execution:

    “Warren Hill today was granted a stay of execution because of the secrecy surrounding the lethal drugs. Amnesty International welcomes this development and the chance for the courts to address these troubling questions of secrecy and medical ethics.

    “Beyond these important issues, Warren Hill has been determined to be ‘mentally retarded’ and thus his execution would have been unconstitutional, as the U.S. Supreme Court banned such executions in 2002. His petition on this important question is scheduled to be considered at a conference on September 30.

    July 15, 2013
    Slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin

    by Aubrey Harris, Coordinator, Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty

    The recent acquittal of George Zimmerman in Florida has understandably upset many. The facts as known broadly would to most people seem to indicate that the acquittal or at the very least the law, is unjust.

    Certainly the "Stand Your Ground" law, which takes self-defence to a confusing extreme (pre-emptive strike?), has resulted in many confusing verdicts (see this good analysis from the Tampa Bay Times). It pales in comparison to two other, extremely troubling aspects of Florida's legal system:

    Of states with the death penalty, Florida has the highest number by far of wrongful conviction in capital cases in the USA. Florida recently signed into law further restrictions on the right to appeal in capital cases 

    That means, despite the worst record on convicting the right person, Florida is accelerating the process to kill those people who may well be innocent.

    July 03, 2013

    The new Pakistani government must not resume executions and instead impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a first step towards abolition, Amnesty International said.

    Media reports in Pakistan over the past few days have suggested that the new government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, may be moving rapidly to resume state killings in response to the prevailing law and order situation in the country.

    "Any government green light to resume executions in Pakistan would be a shocking and retrograde step, putting thousands of people’s lives at risk,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process, and could now be facing execution.

    “The sheer number of people at risk makes the new government policy of turning back to the death penalty even more horrendous,” said Truscott.

    June 26, 2013

    Amnesty International is calling on the US state of Texas to halt its 500th execution since the reinstatement of capital punishment in the United States of America in 1976. In what it describes as a “shameful milestone”, Kimberly McCarthy, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection in Huntsville at 6pm local time barring a stay of her execution.

    The 52-year-old African American woman was sentenced to death in 2002 for murder.

    “Capital punishment in Texas has been arbitrary, biased and prone to error,” said Brian Evans, director of Amnesty International USA’s campaign to abolish the death penalty. “It is a profound and irreversible injustice. The death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading, and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said.

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