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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    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.

    June 25, 2013

    A death row prisoner in Nigeria is due to be executed by firing squad later this week after prison authorities dragged him to the gallows where they hanged four other men on Monday night, Amnesty International has learned.

    They were the first known executions in the country since 2006.

    Benin Prison authorities in Edo state had planned to hang the man along with the four others, but halted his execution after they realized his death sentence, imposed by a military tribunal, required that a firing squad carry it out.

    Amnesty International understands that neither the prisoners nor their families were told of the executions in advance. Secret executions, where prisoners, families and lawyers are not informed beforehand, violate international standards on the use of the death penalty.

    “Cruel and inhumane do not even begin to describe the nightmare situation facing this man – and it points to the spectacularly brutal nature of Nigeria’s sudden return to state-sponsored killing,” said Lucy Freeman, deputy Africa director at Amnesty International.

    June 24, 2013

    Amnesty International has received credible reports that authorities in the state of Edo in southern Nigerian have hanged four men in Benin City Prison on Monday – the first known executions in the country since 2006. 

    A fifth man remains at imminent risk of execution.

    Lucy Freeman, deputy director for Africa at the organization, said: “If confirmed, these executions mark a sudden, brutal return to the use of the death penalty in Nigeria, a truly dark day for human rights in the country. 

    “We again urge the Nigerian authorities to stop all executions immediately and return to the moratorium on executions in the country. We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception, as it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

    According to Amnesty International’s Death Sentences and Executions 2012 report, Nigeria sentenced 56 people to death last year, and approximately 1,000 people are reportedly on death row in the country.


    June 24, 2013

    The Nigerian authorities must spare the lives of five death row inmates at imminent risk of execution, Amnesty International urged after a court in the southern state of Edo allowed the execution by hanging of three men to proceed and the Governor of Edo state signed the execution warrants of two others.

    The Federal High Court in Benin City today rejected a lawsuit filed by local NGOs against three execution warrants signed by the Governor of Edo State in October 2012. Two other death row inmates – whose execution warrants were reportedly signed by the Governor in May 2013 – are also at imminent risk of execution.

    It is unclear when the authorities at the state’s Benin Prison plan to carry out the killings, but two executioners were reportedly called in on Monday morning and security around the prison is tight.

    “Today’s court decision is a major set back for justice and human rights in Nigeria,”said Lucy Freeman, deputy director for Africa at Amnesty International.

    “The Nigerian authorities must immediately halt the execution of these five men and allow them to appeal their cases in the courts.”

    June 18, 2013

    The execution earlier today of two Egyptian nationals by the Kuwaiti authorities is a huge setback for human rights in the country, said Amnesty International.

    Hajjaj Al-Saadi, an Egyptian who became known as the “Hawally Monster” after he was convicted of raping 17 children, was hanged at a prison in Kuwait today, along with Ahmad Abdulsalam, a second Egyptian national, who had been found guilty of murder.

    The Kuwaiti authorities have ignored calls from Amnesty International and other human rights groups for executions to be halted in the country.

    “Amnesty International reiterates its call for the Kuwaiti authorities to end all executions immediately and reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program.

    “We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, or the individual’s guilt or innocence because it is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

    June 14, 2013

    The Kuwaiti authorities must urgently intervene to stop the execution of Hajjaj Al-Saadi, an Egyptian national sentenced to death, feared to be at risk of imminent execution, Amnesty International said.

    “All executions in Kuwait must stop immediately,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “However deplorable the crime, the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and must be abolished in Kuwait once and for all.”

    Al-Saadi, who is known as the “Hawally Monster”, was arrested in 2007 and convicted of raping 17 children.

    The organization has written to His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, to express its dismay at the resumption of the use of the death penalty in Kuwait this year.

    Three men convicted of murder were hanged in Kuwait on 1 April in the first executions carried out in the country since May 2007.

    “Kuwait must commute all death sentences and revise the law to prohibit capital punishment,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said.


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