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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    September 21, 2015

    Pakistan must halt tomorrow’s scheduled hanging of a paraplegic man who developed tubercular (TB) meningitis while on death row, and immediately impose a moratorium on all executions, Amnesty International said.

    Abdul Basit, who is paralysed from the waist down, was convicted of murder six years ago but has always maintained his innocence.

    His execution was originally due to be carried out on 29 July 2015, but the Lahore High Court stayed his execution at the 11th hour after a petition was filed by his lawyers arguing his hanging would constitute cruel and inhuman punishment. The Court rejected the petition and gave the prison authorities a green light for the hanging to go ahead on 22 September.

    “Instead of debating the logistics of how to put a man in a wheelchair to death, the authorities in Pakistan should grant reprieve to Abdul Basit,” said Sultana Noon, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher.

    September 15, 2015

    Seven death sentences handed down by a Kuwait City court today are a misguided response to the bombing of Imam Sadiq Mosque in June this year and must be overturned, Amnesty International said.

    The armed group calling itself the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Shi’a mosque, in which a Saudi Arabian man blew himself up during Friday prayers, killing 26 others and wounding 227. It was the worst act of violence in Kuwait since the 1991 Iraqi invasion.

    The Kuwaiti authorities announced that they arrested 29 people in early August in connection with the bombing.

    “These death sentences are a misguided response to what was an utterly heinous and callous criminal act,” said James Lynch, Acting Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “The death penalty is not the way to tackle terror, and these sentences do nothing to build a culture of rule of law and tolerance which Kuwait needs now more than ever. They must be overturned.”

    Death sentences are subject to appeal in Kuwait.

    September 07, 2015

    The Iranian authorities must immediately halt the execution of Mahmoud Barati, a teacher who was convicted of drug-related offences following an unfair trial that is believed to have included a confession obtained through torture and other ill-treatment, Amnesty International said.
    According to contacts in Ghezel Hesar prison, Mahmoud Barati has been transferred to solitary confinement and is scheduled to be executed at dawn tomorrow morning (8 September 2015).

    “Mahmoud Barati’s execution must immediately be halted. International law does not allow for the use of death penalty for drug-related offences. The Iranian authorities must immediately quash his death sentence,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    “The Iranian authorities must end their unprecedented killing spree – more than 700 people have been executed so far this year, most of them convicted on drug-related charges.”

    August 27, 2015

    Burkina Faso must seize the opportunity to abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International said on the eve of parliamentary sessions which will culminate in an historic vote.

    Tomorrow the national transitional parliament will start a series of discussions with organisations and interested parties regarding the abolition of the death penalty before putting a bill to the vote on 6 September. The government has already approved the text of the bill which has been sent back to the transitional parliament.

    “This is a critical moment for Burkina Faso to put itself on the right side of history by acknowledging the inviolable nature of the right to life,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International West Africa director.

    “The eyes of the world will be on the country’s parliamentarians to see whether they will join the steady global movement away from the use of the death penalty and abolish this cruel punishment once and for all.”

    The last known execution was carried out in Burkina Faso in 1988. If the law is adopted, Burkina Faso will join the 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa which have abolished the death penalty.

    August 26, 2015

    Behrouz Alkhani, a 30-year-old man from Iran’s Kurdish minority, was executed early this morning local time, said Amnesty International, despite the fact that he was awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal.

    The organization has also learned that the authorities have so far refused to return Behrouz Alkhani’s body to his family.

    “Today's execution of Behrouz Alkhani, who was still waiting for the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal against his sentence, is a vicious act of cruelty by the Iranian authorities and a denigration of both Iranian and international law. It is appalling that they have imposed further pain and suffering on Behrouz Alkhani’s family by refusing to return his body for burial," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    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.

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