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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    August 24, 2015

    Released 00:01 BST Tuesday 25 August 2015

    • Death sentences imposed after unfair trials lacking basic safeguards
    • At least 102 executed in first six months of 2015 compared to 90 in all of 2014
    • Average of one person executed every two days, most by beheading
    • Almost half of executions in recent years are for non-lethal crimes
    • At least 2,208 people executed between January 1985 and June 2015
    • Nearly half of those executed since 1985 were foreign nationals
    • Juvenile offenders, people with mental disabilities among those executed

    August 12, 2015

    There are mounting fears that a group of 41 suspects detained since early June are soon to face a military trial, including the risk of the death penalty, following their recent transfer into military custody, Amnesty International warned. 

    On 5 August the detainees were transferred to a military prison, following their arrest in a security clampdown two months ago after gunmen attacked Goma airport and other parts of the city on 2 June. They had been held for more than 60 days withou being brought before a civilian judge at the Agence Nationale des Renseignements (ANR) Detention Centre in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they were held incommunicado and forced to sleep on concrete floors.  

    “Arrested in the crackdown after the assault on Goma airport and charged with ‘insurrection’ and other offences, the detainees now run the risk of facing the death penalty in a trial conducted in a military court,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the East, Great Lakes and Horn of Africa. 

    August 07, 2015

    The Iranian authorities must immediately halt the implementation of a death sentence for juvenile offender Salar Shadizadi, and ensure that a new request for a judicial review made by his lawyers earlier this week is granted without delay, said Amnesty International.

    The execution of Salar Shadizadi, who was jailed and sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was just 15 years old, was originally scheduled for 1 August and then postponed to 10 August after an international outcry.

    “Carrying out the execution of Salar Shadizadi would be a deeply tragic blow to Iran’s obligations under international human rights law, which strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by persons under the age of 18. To carry out an execution while a judicial review of the case is being sought would also be a slap in the face of justice,” said Said Boumedouha, Acting Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    August 04, 2015

    Pakistan must immediately impose a moratorium on the death penalty after the execution of a man who was below 18 years old at the time of the crime, according to his lawyers, and who was tortured into a “confession” by police, Amnesty International said.

    Shafqat Hussain, who was sentenced to death for kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter in 2004, was this morning hanged in Karachi Central Jail. He was convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Act of Pakistan despite no known links to any terrorist organisation. His execution had been stayed four times since Pakistan lifted the moratorium on executions in December 2014.

    “This is another deeply sad day for Pakistan. A man whose age remains disputed and whose conviction was built around torture has now paid with his life – and for a crime for which the death penalty cannot be imposed under international law,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s South Asia Research Director.

    July 30, 2015

    The execution of Yakub Memon marks another disheartening use of the death penalty in India, Amnesty International India said today.

    Yakub Abdul Razak Memon was executed by hanging this morning at the Nagpur Central jail. The 53-year-old was convicted for his involvement in a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai in March 1993 which killed 257 people. In 2007, he was convicted and sentenced to death under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Act, a law that contained provisions incompatible with international fair trial standards. His mercy petition to the President of India was rejected in April 2014.

    Yakub Memon’s mercy petition to the Governor of Maharashtra and a second petition to the President were rejected on Wednesday. Early on Thursday morning, the Supreme Court rejected an application seeking the suspension of the execution for 14 days.

    “This morning, the Indian government essentially killed a man in cold blood to show that killing is wrong,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India.

    July 29, 2015

    A juvenile offender in Iran is at imminent risk of execution amid a horrifying rise in the number of executions in the country, Amnesty International said today.
    Salar Shadizadi, who is now 24, is due to be hanged on Saturday 1 August, after he was convicted of murdering a friend in 2007. He was 15 years old at the time of the offence.

    “To execute Salar Shadizadi, who was a child at the time of his arrest, flies in the face of international law. The Iranian authorities must immediately halt any plans to carry out the execution and ensure that Salar Shadizadi’s death sentence is commuted without delay,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The Iranian authorities’ pledges to respect children’s rights ring disturbingly hollow when they plan the execution of a juvenile offender just months before Iran’s review session at the UN Committee on the Rights of the Chid.”

    July 28, 2015

    Today’s convictions of more than 30 al-Gaddafi-era officials, including the imposition of nine death sentences, follow a trial marred with serious flaws that highlight Libya’s inability to administer justice effectively in line with international fair trial standards, Amnesty International said.

    Among the nine people sentenced to death for war crimes and other offences during the 2011 armed conflict are Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, and the former Head of Military Intelligence, Abdallah al-Senussi. Twenty-three other former officials were given sentences ranging from life imprisonment to five years in prison, four people were acquitted, and one was referred for medical treatment and not sentenced.

    “Instead of helping to establish the truth and ensuring accountability for serious violations during the 2011 armed conflict, this trial exposes the weakness of a criminal justice system which is hanging on by a thread in a war-torn country with no central authority,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    July 23, 2015

    Released 8AM BST Thursday 23 July 2015

    The Iranian authorities are believed to have executed an astonishing 694 people between 1 January and 15 July 2015, said Amnesty International today, in an unprecedented spike in executions in the country.

    This is equivalent to executing more than three people per day. At this shocking pace, Iran is set to surpass the total number of executions in the country recorded by Amnesty International for the whole of last year.

    “Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “If Iran’s authorities maintain this horrifying execution rate we are likely to see more than 1,000 state-sanctioned deaths by the year’s end.”

    July 21, 2015

    Released Wednesday 22 July 2015 at 00:01 CAT

    • Authorities must declare formal moratorium on executions as first step towards abolition
    • 95 prisoners remain on death row in Zimbabwe
    A 10-year hiatus in executions is a milestone for the protection of the right to life and the eventual abolition of the death penalty in Zimbabwe, said Amnesty International as the country marked a decade without executions.

    Although the country carried out its last execution on 22 July 2005, there are still 95 prisoners on death row. Amnesty International is now calling on Zimbabwe to declare an official moratorium on executions and totally abolish the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

    “Ten years without an execution is a notable milestone on the road to the abolition of the death penalty, but the shadow of the gallows still looms for 95 prisoners currently on death row in Zimbabwe,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    July 16, 2015

    The decision by President Edgar Lungu to commute the sentences of 332 prisoners awaiting death by hanging to life imprisonment is a laudable first step and a ‘triumph’ for the right to life, said Amnesty International today.

    The organisation is now calling on President Edgar Lungu to abolish the death penalty completely, which violates the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime more than other forms of punishment.

    “President Edgar Lungu has taken a very progressive step by deciding to spare these 332 people the death penalty, the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. We commend him for this decision, but he must do more and totally abolish the death penalty in the country,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    Crimes such as murder, treason and robbery with a deadly weapon are punishable by death in Zambia. However, the country has not hanged anyone since 1997.

    July 13, 2015

    An Iranian juvenile offender whose fate and whereabouts had been unknown since he was due to be executed in February was able to call his relatives from prison over the weekend, ending five months of unbearable suffering by his loved ones, who did not know what had happened to him, Amnesty International revealed.

      SAMAN NASEEM:
    Not executed as feared, entitled to re-trial      

    Saman Naseem, 21, was sentenced to death in April 2013 after a deeply flawed trial that relied on self-incriminating evidence extracted under torture. The day before he was due to be executed, he was transferred to an unknown location, which has now been confirmed to be Zanjan Prison, north-west of Tehran. Neither his family nor lawyers were given any concrete information about his whereabouts until now.

    June 25, 2015

    The Japanese authorities are attempting to avoid public scrutiny by carrying out its first execution this year while the country’s attention is focused elsewhere, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

    Tsukasa Kanda, 44, was hanged in the early hours of Thursday morning at Nagoya detention centre. He was convicted in 2009 of robbery and homicide.
    The execution took place when the national political and media attention is on the government’s controversial plans to extend Japan’s military role.

    “With the country looking the other way, Japan’s authorities decided it was politically convenient to resume executions. To take a man’s life in this way is the politics of the gutter,” said Hiroka Shoji, East Asia Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The government is avoiding a full and frank debate on the use of the death penalty because the arguments it puts forward do not stand up to scrutiny.”

    June 19, 2015

    The Iranian authorities must urgently commute the death sentence of Ehsan Shah Ghasemi, a 24-year-old man who faces imminent execution amid a flawed trial that cast overwhelming doubts over his guilt, said Amnesty International.

    Ehsan Shah Ghasemi was sentenced to death for stabbing Ali Khalili in the neck in July 2011, causing injuries that allegedly led to his death almost three years later in April 2014. The Supreme Court approved Ehsan Shah Ghasemi’s execution despite the absence of any conclusive evidence that the stab wound caused Ali Khalili’s death. The Chief Justice of Iran is expected to endorse the death sentence in the next few days.

    June 16, 2015

    By sentencing Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi and 102 others, including senior Muslim Brotherhood members, to death today, the Egyptian authorities have once again demonstrated the appalling state of the country’s justice system, Amnesty International said.

    “This appalling outcome is sadly not surprising. It’s just another symptom of how horrendously broken Egypt’s justice system has become,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “This is nothing more than a vengeful march to the gallows. These entire legal proceedings have been a mockery of justice and the death sentences must be thrown out. Mohamed Morsi and his aides must be released or retried in civilian court in line with Egyptian law and international fair trial standards without recourse to death penalty.”

    June 10, 2015

    The shameful execution in Pakistan of a man who was just 15 years old at the time of the crime for which he was convicted highlights the many serious concerns around the country’s use of the death penalty, Amnesty International said.

    Aftab Bahadur was hanged in a Lahore jail this morning. In September 1992, aged 15, he was arrested and charged with the murder earlier that same month of a woman and her two sons.

    Aftab Bahadur was implicated in the crime by his co-accused Ghulam Mustafa, who later maintained that he was tortured into “confessing” their involvement in the crime while in police custody. Ghulam Mustafa’s execution was also scheduled for today but it was halted at the last minute.

    “This is a desperately sad day – Aftab Bahadur has spent more than two decades languishing on death row even as evidence of his apparent innocence emerged, and has now faced the gallows. He has always maintained his innocence and that he was tortured into a ‘confession’,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

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