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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    January 11, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Release

    In response to the announcement that Dylann Roof was sentenced to death after being convicted in the killing of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA issued the following statement:

    “We have seen over the course of Dylann Roof’s trial and sentencing the horrific suffering he inflicted and the disgusting racial animus that motivated his actions. However, sentencing him to death is not justice. The death penalty is an ineffective punishment that strips all individuals of their human rights, and has itself embodied racism in the criminal justice system. It will not heal the deep racial wounds that continue to wreak violence in our nation.”

    For more than two decades, death sentences and executions have steadily declined in the United States because the punishment is costly, ineffective, and unjust. 2015 saw the fewest executions of any year since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976. Today’s sentence is a step in the wrong direction, away from human rights and true justice.

    December 14, 2016

    Responding to claims made by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that he “personally” killed suspected criminals while serving as mayor of the city of Davao, Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International's Director for South East Asia and the Pacific, said: 

    “President Duterte’s claim that he has personally killed suspected criminals takes the meaning of “state-sanctioned” violence to a whole new level. The climate of impunity in the Philippines has intensified even further since President Duterte began his brutal crackdown on suspected drug users and dealers in July, with a wave of unlawful killings claiming more than 5,000 lives across the country. By boasting about the blood on his own hands, President Duterte will further embolden police and vigilantes to blatantly violate laws and carry out more extrajudicial executions without fear of being held to account.

    December 06, 2016

    The condemning of 15 people to death by the Specialized Criminal Court today after a grossly unfair trial is a travesty of justice and a serious violation of human rights, said Amnesty International. 

    The men were among 32 people arrested across Saudi Arabia in 2013 and 2014 who were accused of spying for Iran. Fifteen others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to 25 years and two were acquitted.

    The men were charged with a series of offences including “high treason” with some facing several other ludicrous charges which should not be considered criminal offences such as “supporting protests”, “spreading the Shi’a faith” and “possessing banned books and videos”. 

    “Sentencing 15 people to death after a farcical trial which flouted basic fair trial standards is a slap in the face for justice. Time and again, Saudi Arabia’s justice system has been proven to be incapable of ensuring fairness and justice,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    November 30, 2016

    As many as three of the four men on death row in the Belarusian capital Minsk have been executed in a shameful purge since 5 November, Amnesty International revealed today after confirming with local activists.

    Hard on the heels of this news the organization is launching a new online petition and video aimed at stamping out the use of the death penalty in Belarus – the last country in Europe and the former Soviet Union to still carry out executions.

    “Purging death row of its prisoners is an appalling measure for any country to take. But it is additionally shameful in Belarus, where executions are typically shrouded in secrecy and carried out at a moment’s notice,” said Aisha Jung, Campaigner on Belarus at Amnesty International, who recently returned from Minsk.

    “This sudden spike in executions is especially surprising in Belarus, the death penalty’s final frontier in Europe, since many believed the country was on track to eliminate capital punishment for good.”

    November 18, 2016

    Reacting to the executions of Chijioke Stephen Obioha, a Nigerian national, and Devendran Supramaniam, a Malaysian national, by the Singapore authorities, Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “The Singapore authorities have brazenly violated international law with these shameful executions. The death penalty is a cruel and irreversible punishment that most of the world has turned its back on. Singapore continues to remain an outlier, executing people for crimes that do not meet the ‘most serious’ threshold to which the death penalty must be restricted under international law.

    November 17, 2016

    Iran’s authorities have used crude propaganda tactics to dehumanize death penalty victims in the eyes of the public and divert attention away from the deeply flawed trials that led to their death sentences, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    Broadcasting injustice, boasting of mass killing highlights how the Iranian authorities embarked on a media campaign following the mass execution of 25 Sunni men accused of involvement in an armed group on 2 August 2016, by flooding state-controlled media outlets with numerous videos featuring forced “confessions” in an attempt to justify the executions.

    November 16, 2016

    Singapore must immediately halt the execution of Chijoke Stephen Obioha, a Nigerian national on death row for possession of drugs, Amnesty International said today.

    On Wednesday, Chijoke Stephen Obioha’s family was informed that his appeal for clemency has been rejected. He is set to be executed on Friday 18 November 2016.

    “The Singapore government still has time to halt the execution of Chijoke Stephen Obioha. We are dismayed that clemency has not been granted in his case but remain hopeful that they won’t carry out this cruel and irreversible punishment against a person sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for a crime that should not even be punished by death,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    November 14, 2016

    The Singapore government must grant clemency to a Nigerian man set to be executed for drug trafficking next week, Amnesty International said.

    Chijioke Stephen Obioha will be hanged on 18 November unless President Tony Tan commutes his death sentence, which was imposed as the mandatory punishment for trafficking.

    “Singapore is a week away from brutally ending the life of Chijioke Stephen Obioha for a crime that international law and standards make clear should not be punished by death,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia.

    “Time is running out for President Tan to step in and prevent this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment from being carried out. He must use his power to grant clemency before it is too late.”

    Chijioke Stephen Obioha was found in possession of more than 2.6 kilograms of cannabis in April 2007, surpassing the amount of 500 grams that triggers the automatic presumption of trafficking under Singapore law.

    November 11, 2016

    Secretive executions can’t hide the fact that Japan is on the wrong side of history when it comes to the death penalty, Amnesty International said after a death row inmate was hanged on Friday.

    Kenichi Tajiri, 45, was executed at Fukuoka Detention Centre in the early hours of Friday. He was sentenced to death in 2012 for two murders committed in 2004 and 2011. 

    “The death penalty never delivers justice, it is a cruel and inhumane act. The Japanese government cannot hide the fact that it is on the wrong side of history, the majority of the world’s states have turned away from the death penalty.”

    The execution is the third to be carried out in Japan in 2016 and the 17th under Prime Minister Abe’s government.

    The hanging comes a month after the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations formally adopted a policy calling for an end to the death penalty. Among other things, the lawyers’ group highlighted the risk of wrongful convictions and the lack of evidence that the death penalty reduces crime.

    October 19, 2016

    In response to Canada’s announcement today that it will co-sponsor a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve said:

    “The announcement that Canada will, for the first time, co-sponsor the upcoming UN General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions, is a welcome indication that Canada is indeed committed to the worldwide campaign against the death penalty. Canada’s refusal, on the five previous occasions that this resolution has come before the UN in the last nine years, has been deeply troubling.  Around the world, momentum is growing towards ending executions and abolishing the death penalty.  Canada is now well-positioned to take on a key leadership role with respect to this important human rights issue.”

    BACKGROUND:

    The draft 2016 resolution on a “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty” is expected to be introduced at the beginning of November.

    October 13, 2016

    Indonesia’s authorities must immediately repeal provisions that allow sex offenders to be punished by forced chemical castration and even the death penalty, Amnesty International said today.

    “The sexual abuse of children is indescribably horrific. But subjecting offenders to chemical castration or executions is not justice, it is adding one cruelty to another,” said Papang Hidayat, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Indonesia.

    Chemical castration is a drug or hormone treatment to suppress sex drive. Imposing it by law without informed consent as a punitive measure would be a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

    “Forced chemical castration is a violation of the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under international law,” said Papang Hidayat.

    “The expansion of the scope of the death penalty is inconsistent with  Indonesia’s international obligations which protects the right to life. Further given the serious flaws in Indonesia’s justice system the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated.”

    October 11, 2016

    The Iranian authorities must urgently halt their plans to execute Zeinab Sekaanvand, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman who was arrested when she was just 17-years-old and convicted of the murder of her husband after a grossly unfair trial, Amnesty International said today.

    She is due to be executed by hanging as soon as 13 October.

    “This is an extremely disturbing case. Not only was Zeinab Sekaanvand under 18 years of age at the time of the crime, she was also denied access to a lawyer and says she was tortured after her arrest by male police officers through beatings all over her body,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “Iran’s continued use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders displays the authorities’ contempt even for commitments they themselves have signed up to. The Iranian authorities must immediately quash Zeinab Sekaanvand’s conviction and grant her a fair retrial without recourse to the death penalty, and in accordance with principles of juvenile justice.”

    October 10, 2016

    Countries are increasingly resorting to the death penalty in a flawed attempt to combat terrorism-related crimes, Amnesty International said today in a new briefing ahead of the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

    At least 20 countries sentenced people to death or carried out executions for terrorism-related crimes last year (Algeria, Bahrain, Cameroon, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, UAE and the USA). Although the use of the death penalty for such offences is often shrouded in secrecy, in recent years Amnesty International has documented a notable rise in its use.

    September 26, 2016

    Pakistan’s authorities must not execute Imdad Ali, a death row prisoner with a history of mental illness, Amnesty International said today.

    “With this warrant to execute Imdad Ali, Pakistan is clearly in breach of international human rights standards that protect people with mental illnesses and ensure that they are never subject to this cruel and irreversible punishment,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    Imdad Ali was convicted of the murder of a religious teacher in 2002. In 2012, he was diagnosed a suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia,” a condition the doctor who examined him described as “a chronic and disabling psychiatric illness.”

    Dr. Naeemullah Leghari, the head of psychiatry at Nishtar Hospital in the central Pakistani city of Multan, added that Imdad Ali’s illness “impairs the person’s rational thinking and decision-making capabilities.”

    September 03, 2016
    Reacting to the execution on Saturday of Mir Quasem Ali - a key financier of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami party, who was found guilty by the country’s International Crimes Tribunal in a flawed trial – Amnesty International said:   “The execution of Mir Quasem Ali, following a trial whose fairness was questioned by the UN, will not deliver justice to the people of Bangladesh. There is no question that the people of Bangladesh deserve justice for crimes committed during the War of Independence, but the death penalty is a human rights violation and will not achieve this. It is a cruel and irreversible punishment that most of the world’s countries have now rid themselves of,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

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    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn in media relations

    613-744-7667, ext 236

    email: jkuehn@amnesty.ca

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