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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    May 28, 2013

    Papua New Guinea’s new laws expanding the use of the death penalty to a wider set of crimes, and signalling a move towards resuming executions, are a horrific and regressive step, Amnesty International said today.

    The legislation was reportedly adopted by Parliament with little debate, during the same session that repealed the country’s controversial Sorcery Act which provided a defence for violent crime if the accused was acting to stop ‘witchcraft’.

    The death penalty now appears to apply to a longer list of crimes, including sorcery-related murder, rape and robbery, and provides for new methods of execution, including by lethal injection, hanging, electrocution, firing squad, and “medical death by deprivation of oxygen”. 

    “Papua New Guinea has taken one step forward in protecting women from violence by repealing the Sorcery Act, but several giant steps back by moving closer to executions,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia-Pacific.

    May 22, 2013

    Saudi Arabia must halt a “disturbing” rise in death penalty usage that has resulted in at least 47 state killings in the country already this year, Amnesty International urged after six more people were executed today.

    Five Yemeni men were beheaded and “crucified” this morning in the city of Jizan, while a Saudi Arabian man was executed in the south-western city of Abha.

    “Saudi Arabia’s increased use of this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is deeply disturbing and the authorities must halt what is a horrifying trend,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director.

    “The Kingdom must immediately establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing capital punishment.”

    Pictures today emerged on social media appearing to show five decapitated bodies hanging from a horizontal pole with their heads wrapped in bags.

    The beheading and “crucifixion” took place in front of the University of Jizan where students are taking exams.  

    May 16, 2013

    The authorities in Indonesia must immediately halt the execution of three men, expected imminently, Amnesty International said.

    If the men are executed it would be a major setback in the use of the death penalty, in a country that appeared to be moving away from the brutal practice in recent years..
    According to the Attorney General’s Office, Suryadi Swabuana, Jurit bin Abdullah and Ibrahim bin Ujang, are set to be executed this month.

    But there are indications they could be carried out as soon as this evening. The three men are now being held in isolation cells in the Nusakambangan island prison in Central Java, where they are due to be executed by firing squad.

    Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception.

    In Indonesia’s case, there is no clear indication why the country has decided to resume executions after a four year gap. That period was broken on 14 March this year when Malawian national Adami Wilson, 48, was put to death for drug-trafficking.

    May 03, 2013

    The Maldives authorities must commute the death sentences and stop the potential execution of two teenagers who yesterday received capital punishment for a murder allegedly committed when they were under 18, Amnesty International said.

    The two juveniles were convicted by the Juvenile Court in the capital Male' over a fatal gang stabbing incident in February. Both the accused, who have now reached 18, reportedly deny the charge.

    "The Maldives authorities are flouting international law - anyone convicted of a crime committed when they were under 18 is exempt from the death penalty," said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    Maldives is a State Party to two UN treaties, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which forbid capital punishment for crimes committed by persons below 18 years of age.

    "The authorities must immediately reverse these death sentences, and the prosecution must not try to uphold the death sentences in any appeals," said Polly Truscott.

    May 02, 2013

     Belarus authorities must stop the execution of a man who was this week sentenced to death for murder, Amnesty International said.

    The homeless man originally from Ukraine, who has not been named, is a jail inmate who was sentenced on 30 April for killing a fellow prisoner in Mahiliou, eastern Belarus.

    The death sentence enters into force on 3 May, and the man could be executed within months.

    Amnesty International has longstanding concerns about the right to a fair trial in Belarus, the only country in Europe and Central Asia that still carries out executions.

    Death row prisoners are not informed beforehand about the day of their execution.

    "Belarus' status at Europe's sole executor is shameful. The authorities must immediately commute this death sentence and establish an official moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing the death penalty," said David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    Two prisoners were sentenced on Tuesday in connection with the murder of a prisoner by a group of inmates.

    May 02, 2013

    The US state of Maryland has joined the overwhelming global trend towards ending the death penalty, Amnesty International said today after Governor Martin O’Malley signed the abolition of capital punishment into law.

    The abolition bill, passed by the state legislature in March 2013, makes Maryland the 18th US state to relinquish use of the death penalty since the US Supreme Court approved new capital laws in 1976.

    “Maryland has abandoned a punishment that should have no place in a society that claims to respect human dignity, and that in the USA is riddled with discrimination and error,” said Brian Evans, Amnesty International USA’s Abolish the Death Penalty campaign director.

    “More than a third of US states have now abolished the death penalty, and we urge the remaining 32 states, and the federal government, to follow suit.”

    Amnesty International urges Governor O’Malley to commute the death sentences of the five men who remain on death row in Maryland despite today’s abolition bill. This would avoid the cruel prospect of the state applying a punishment that it has rightly rejected.

    April 26, 2013

    The execution of two death row inmates in Japan shows that a chilling escalation of death penalty use under the new Liberal Democratic government is continuing, Amnesty International said.

    Today, two men - Yoshihide Miyagi, 56, and Katsuji Hamasaki, 64 – were hanged in Tokyo. They were both convicted of murder after shooting rival gang members to death in a restaurant in Ichihara city in 2005.

    They are the fourth and fifth executions to take place in Japan since December 2012, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office. The other three executions took place in February 2013. In total, Japan has executed 12 people since March 2012 – before then, no executions had been carried out for 20 months.

    “This shocking news unfortunately reinforces our fears that the new government is increasing the pace of executions in an alarming way,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    “We have already seen five executions this year, and it shows that the government has no intention of heeding international calls to start a genuine and open public debate on the death penalty including abolition.”

    April 19, 2013

    aiwanese authorities executed six men on Friday night in what Amnesty International said was a cruel change of heart from their earlier stated commitment to abolish the brutal practice.

    Those put to death were: Chen Tung-Jung, Chen Jui-Chin, Lin Chin-Te, Chang Pao-Hui, Li Chia Hsuan, and Chi Chun-I.

    These latest executions come only a few months after Taiwan put to death six other inmates in December 2012, the only executions carried out in the country last year. 

    “A dozen executions in Taiwan in less than six months raises serious questions about the authorities’ pledges to abolish the death penalty,” said Catherine Baber, Asia-Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International. 

    “President Ma Ying-jeou should impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty to engage in a national debate about abolishing its use in the future.”

    April 09, 2013

    Posted at 0001hrs (GMT) 10 April 2013

    Despite some disappointing setbacks in 2012, the global trend towards ending the death penalty continued, Amnesty International found in its annual review of death sentences and executions.

    2012 saw the resumption of executions in several countries that had not used the death penalty in some time, notably India, Japan, Pakistan and Gambia, as well as an alarming escalation in executions in Iraq.

    But the use of the death penalty continues to be restricted to an isolated group of countries, and progress towards its abolition was seen in all regions of the world.

    Only 21 of the world’s countries were recorded as having carried out executions in 2012 – the same number as in 2011, but down from 28 countries a decade earlier in 2003.

    In 2012, at least 682 executions were known to have been carried out worldwide, two more than in 2011. At least 1,722 newly imposed death sentences in 58 countries could be confirmed, compared to 1,923 in 63 countries the year before.

    April 09, 2013

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

    My Neighbour: Hamid Ghassemi-Shall

    I live in Toronto's east end, a neighbourhood known as Leslieville. It's between The Beach and Riverdale (where Degrassi was set). My neighbourhood is typically urban. There are a lot of streetcars, buses and older houses. The local elementary school is old enough to have an honour roll of former students who paid with their lives during the Great War and World War II. I didn't grow up here (I grew up in London, ON) - but I quite like this neighbourhood - and I've lived in a few around Toronto.

    April 01, 2013

    The executionof three men in Kuwait this morning marks a real set back in a region where many countries show a shocking disregard for the right to life.

    “These are the first executions carried out in Kuwait since 2007 and mark a deplorable setback for human rights in the country,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's Deputy Program Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “In a region where executions are sadly all too commonplace, Kuwait marked a beacon of hope by declining to execute people for almost six years. That hope has been extinguished today. We deplore this resumption of executions, regardless of the crime.”

    “Kuwait should halt any further executions and should commute all death sentences and revise the law to exclude this most final of penalties.”

    The three menexecuted were convicted of murder and included one Pakistani and one Saudi national, as well as one Bidun (‘without’ in Arabic), one of the stateless minority in Kuwait. A news report had suggested that the executions would be shown live on TV but that does not appear to have happened.

    March 15, 2013

    The first execution in Indonesia in more than four years is a shocking and regressive step, Amnesty International said as it urged the government to not follow through on promises to put a further nine people to death in 2013.

    Last night, Adami Wilson, a 48-year old Malawian national who was convicted for drug trafficking in 2004, was executed by firing squad in Jakarta. It was the first execution in Indonesia since November 2008.

    The Indonesian Attorney General Basrief Arief said that the authorities planned to put at least a further nine death row inmates to death in 2013.

    “This is really outrageous news. We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, but Indonesia’s long period without executions and the pledge to put even more people to death, makes this even more shocking,” said Papang Hidayat, Amnesty International’s Indonesia Researcher.

    Wilson was first convicted for trafficking 1 kg of heroin in 2004 in Tangerang, south-western Banten province.

    March 14, 2013

    The bodies of two men executed a year ago in Belarus must be released to their relatives for burial or the burial site should be revealed, Amnesty International said today.

    Uladzslau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau were executed in March 2012 in Minsk, capital of Belarus. They had been sentenced to death on 30 November 2011 after being found guilty in connection to a bomb attack in Minsk that killed 15 people and wounded more than 300 in April 2011.

    Their trial has been criticized for failing to meet international fair trial standards.

    According to the death certificate received by his mother, Uladzslau Kavalyou died on 15 March 2012. On 16 March, she received a letter from the Belarusian Supreme Court informing her that her son had been executed.

    “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a human rights violation. Failing to return the bodies of these two men compounds that cruelty,” said David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    March 13, 2013

    The execution of seven men in Saudi Arabia after allegedly being forced to “confess” to charges of armed robbery is nothing but an act of sheer brutality, Amnesty International said today.

    The men were shot by a firing squad this morning in the city of Abha, in the south of the country.

    “We are outraged by the execution of seven men in Saudi Arabia this morning. We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, but this case has been particularly shocking,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    The seven men were arrested in 2005 and 2006 on charges of armed robbery.

    All of them reported that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in custody and forced to “confess” to the alleged crime. They also claimed their relatives were threatened with torture if they withdrew their “confessions”.

    “It is a bloody day when a government executes seven people on the grounds of ‘confessions’ obtained under torture, submitted at a trial where they had no legal representation or recourse to appeal,” said Luther.

    March 12, 2013

    Seven men who hit the headlines last week when it emerged that one of them faced “crucifixion” following execution in Saudi Arabia, look set to be shot on Wednesday morning, prompting Amnesty International to call for a halt to what would be nothing more than an act of “sheer brutality.”

    Those close to the men report that seven mounds of earth have appeared in a public square in Abha, the city in which they are detained, signalling what people believe is their imminent execution.

    “Executing these men would be an act of sheer brutality - it must be stopped immediately. All seven should be granted a new trial and torture allegations must be investigated,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    The seven men were arrested in 2005 and 2006 on charges of armed robbery.

    All of them reported that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in custody and forced to “confess” to the alleged crime. They also claimed their relatives were threatened with torture if they withdrew their “confessions”.


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