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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    January 02, 2016
    Members of the Shia Muslim community of Greece hold up placards and banners that show images of prominent Shiite cleric and activist Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration near Saudi Arabia's embassy in Athens on January 6, 2016, to condemn Nimr's execution by Saudi authorities. Photo: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Image


    Saudi Arabia’s authorities have demonstrated their utter disregard for human rights and life by executing 47 people in a single day, said Amnesty International today.

    Those put to death earlier today included prominent Shi’a Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was convicted after a political and grossly unfair trial at the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC). With the exception of the Sheikh and three Shi’a Muslim activists, the others were convicted of involvement with al-Qa’ida.

    December 17, 2015

    The Japanese authorities’ reprehensible use of the death penalty shows no sign of letting up as another two men were executed today, taking the total number of executions to 14 under the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Amnesty International said.

    Sumitoshi Tsuda, 63, was hanged in the early hours of Friday morning at Tokyo detention centre, the first execution of a person sentenced to death in a lay judge trial. He was convicted in 2011 of killing three of his neighbours. Kazuyuki Wakabayashi, 39, was executed at Sendai detention centre in north-east Japan. He was sentenced to death in 2007 for robbery and violence which left two people dead.

    “The Japanese authorities’ willingness to put people to death is chilling and must end now before more lives are lost. The death penalty is not justice or an answer to tackling crime, it is a cruel form of punishment that flies in the face of respect for life,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    “Japan should immediately introduce an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty.”  

    December 17, 2015

    Released 17 December 2015 at 00.01 GMT 

    The devastating response of the Pakistani government in the wake of the sickening Peshawar school massacre has set the country on a relentless and reprehensible course of executions, said Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
    In an open letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today, the organizations urge the Pakistani government to immediately establish an official moratorium on all executions with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty. Over the past 12 months, more than 300 people have been put to death in the country.

    “In the space of one year, Pakistan has become one of the world’s top three executioners – a dark and shameful development. The authorities must ensure that the relentless push to send death row prisoners to the gallows ends now before more lives are lost,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s South Asia Research Director.

    December 08, 2015

    Iran cemented its shameful status as the world’s top official executioner of juvenile offenders after two young men were re-sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were under 18 years old, Amnesty International said today.

    Sajad Sanjari and Hamid Ahmadi, who had been granted retrials because of their young age when the crimes occurred, will face execution after trial courts presiding over their separate cases concluded they had reached “mental maturity” at the time of the crime.  

    “This ruling lays bare the Iranian authorities’ contempt for the human rights of children, coupled with their appetite for the death penalty – a toxic combination that leaves numerous juvenile offenders facing execution,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    December 04, 2015

    Mongolia’s parliament became the latest to consign the death penalty to the history books, in a major victory for human rights in the country, said Amnesty International today.  

    On Thursday, lawmakers voted in favour of a new Criminal Code that abolishes the death penalty for all crimes. The new Criminal Code will take effect from September 2016, and would bring the total number of countries to have completely abandoned this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment to 102.

    “Mongolia’s historic decision to abolish the death penalty is a great victory for human rights. The death penalty is becoming a thing of the past across the world,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    “Mongolia has set an example which we hope will quickly ripple across Asia. The countries that continue to execute have been shown a clear path to follow to end this cruel and inhumane punishment.”

    Three countries - Fiji, Madagascar and Suriname - have already abolished the death penalty this year.

    November 26, 2015

    More than 50 people are at increased risk of imminent execution following reports in national media outlets close to the Saudi Arabian authorities that they will soon be put to death in a single day, warns Amnesty International.

    The mothers of five Shi’a Muslim activists who are among the prisoners have implored King Salman for clemency, after learning that preparations potentially associated with impending executions have taken place.

    “Saudi Arabia’s macabre spike in executions this year, coupled with the secretive and arbitrary nature of court decisions and executions in the kingdom, leave us no option but to take these latest warning signs very seriously,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “These executions must not go ahead and Saudi Arabia must lift the veil of secrecy around its death penalty cases, as part of a fundamental overhaul of its criminal justice system.”

    November 23, 2015

    Released 00.01 GMT, 24 November 2015

    Pakistan will imminently have executed 300 people since it lifted a moratorium on executions, shamefully sealing its place among the world’s worst executioners, Amnesty International said today.

    On 25 November, Pakistani authorities are set to execute Abdul Basit, a man with paraplegia who developed tubercular (TB) meningitis while on death row. His execution has been postponed several times, since the prison has no rules on how to hang someone who cannot stand on the scaffold.

    Amnesty International said the executions are a serious stain on Pakistan’s human rights record, compounding repeated violations of fair trial standards and other safeguards that must be observed in all death-penalty cases.

    “Pakistan’s ongoing zeal for executions is an affront to human rights and the global trend against the death penalty. Even if the authorities stay the execution of Abdul Basit, a man with paraplegia, Pakistan is still executing people at a rate of almost one a day,” said David Griffiths, South Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    November 23, 2015

    The execution of a 25-year-old man who has been sentenced to death after an unfair trial lacking basic safeguards would be both cruel and an aberration of justice, said Amnesty International today following an announcement that he will be hanged at Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj, near Tehran at dawn tomorrow.

    Alireza Shahi was sentenced to death in June 2012 under the Islamic legal principle of qesas (retribution-in-kind) for involvement in a fatal stabbing which took place during a fight among several young men in December 2008 when he was 18 years old. After his arrest he was placed in detention for two weeks where he says he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated to confess. He was also denied access to both a lawyer and his family.

    “It is always cruel and inhumane to take away an individual’s life by hanging but the cruelty is compounded when the execution follows an unfair trial which has relied on coerced confessions, and ignored allegations of torture and other ill-treatment,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    November 09, 2015

    At least 151 people have been put to death in Saudi Arabia so far this year –the highest recorded figure since 1995 – in an unprecedented wave of executions marking a grim new milestone in the Saudi Arabian authorities’ use of the death penalty, said Amnesty International.

    So far in 2015, on average, one person has been executed every other day. Annual execution tolls for Saudi Arabia in recent years have rarely exceeded 90 for the entire year. The latest execution took place on 9 November.

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities appear intent on continuing a bloody execution spree which has seen at least 151 people put to death so far this year - an average of one person every two days,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    According to Amnesty International’s records, the last time Saudi Arabia executed more than 150 people in a single year was in 1995, when 192 executions were recorded. In 2014 the total number of executions carried out was 90 – meaning that so far there has been a 68% increase in executions over the whole of last year.

    October 29, 2015

    The Singaporean authorities must immediately halt the imminent execution of 31-year-old Malaysian national Kho Jabing amid concerns his death sentence was re-imposed at the last stage and on the basis of a disputed reconstruction of the circumstances of the crime, Amnesty International said today.

    “We urge the President of Singapore to immediately halt Kho Jabing’s execution and reconsider the decision to reject his clemency application. The decision to take his life is based on disputed facts and even the country’s Apex Court was divided on the life and death decision in his case. With no legal avenues left, clemency is the only way to safeguard Kho Jabing’s life,” said Josef Benedict, Campaigns Director for South East Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International.

    In 2010 Kho Jabing and a co-defendant were charged with murder, punishable at the time by the mandatory death penalty. After Singapore reviewed its mandatory death penalty laws in 2012 and allowed sentencing discretion for unintentional murder, the High Court resentenced Kho Jabing to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane, but the prosecution appealed.  

    October 27, 2015

    Two opposition politicians face imminent hanging for crimes committed during the 1971 Independence War after serious flaws occurred in their trial and appeal processes, Amnesty International said today.

    In 2013 Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury were sentenced to death by the country’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) on charges of war crimes and genocide at trials that failed to meet international standards for fair trial.

    Both men had their convictions and sentences upheld on appeal in June and July this year respectively, and in the government’s haste to see more war crimes convicts executed, both have now had their appeals process sped up. The UN has stated the ICT fails to meet international fair trial standards.

    The two men will have their review petitions, which are effectively their last appeals, heard on 2 November. If their convictions are upheld there is no legal way to overturn their death sentences.

    October 16, 2015

    By Mohammed al-Nimr, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia

    Every time I enter and leave my house through our garage, a bicycle in the corner catches my eye, shining brightly. 

    Looking at that bicycle brings back painful memories of my young son Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who has been sentenced to death and is facing imminent execution in my homeland, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    I remember Ali standing before me when I promised to buy him that bicycle if he passed sixth grade. I recall how happy he was when we went to buy it together. He was over the moon, just like any other young boy would be, to get his first bicycle.

    I remember how his elder brother taught him how to ride it, and how I would warn him to look both ways on the road and watch out for reckless drivers. What pain filled my heart every time he fell! I am his father after all.

    These scenes rush through my mind every time I walk in the streets of my beautiful home village, Awamiyya, and see children riding their bicycles. I always pray for God to protect them, but I cannot always hold back the tears.

    October 16, 2015

    There are rising fears about the impending executions of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr and two other young Shi’a activists in Saudi Arabia who were arrested as juveniles after participating in anti-government rallies, Amnesty International said today after learning that they had been moved to solitary confinement.

    The organization has been able to confirm that Ali al-Nimr, Dawood Hussein al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher were moved to solitary confinement in al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh on 5 October. They were arrested at different times in 2012, when they were all under the age of 18, and sentenced to death in 2014. All three death sentences were upheld by Saudi Arabia’s appeal court and the Supreme Court earlier this year.

    Pro-government media reports that Ali al-Nimr could face crucifixion after his beheading have sparked a global outcry. On 14 October, his mother appealed to US President Barack Obama to step in to save her son.

    October 15, 2015

    Released Thursday 15 October 2015 at 08:00 BST / 14:00 Indonesia time

    Death row prisoners in Indonesia are routinely denied access to lawyers and are coerced into “confessions” through severe beatings, while foreign nationals facing the death penalty had to deal with a judicial system they hardly understand, Amnesty International said in a new report today.
    Flawed Justice exposes how the government under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has made a mockery of international law by carrying out 14 executions since taking office, while the lives of scores more prisoners now on death row could be at risk.
    “Indonesia’s callous U-turn on executions has already led to the death of 14 people, despite clear evidence of flagrant fair trial violations. The government might claim to be following international law to the letter, but our investigation shows the reality on the ground is very different with endemic flaws in the justice system,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Campaigns Director.

    October 14, 2015

    Reports have emerged of a second execution of a juvenile offender in Iran in just a few days Amnesty International said today, which reveal the full horror of the country’s deeply flawed juvenile justice system.

    Fatemeh Salbehi, a 23-year-old woman, was hanged yesterday for a crime she allegedly committed when she was 17, only a week after another juvenile offender, Samad Zahabi, was hanged for a crime he also allegedly committed at 17.

    Fatemeh Salbehi was hanged in Shiraz’s prison in Fars Province despite Iran being bound by an absolute international legal ban on juvenile executions, and severe flaws in her trial and appeal. She had been sentenced to death in May 2010 for the murder of her 30- year- old husband, Hamed Sadeghi, whom she had been forced to marry at the age of 16.  

    An expert opinion from the State Medicine Organization provided at the trial had found she had had severe depression and suicidal thoughts around the time of her husband’s death. However the death sentence was upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court later that year.


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