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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    January 19, 2018

    Responding to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s threat to “hang” death row prisoners as a crime deterrent after more than a decade without an execution in the country, Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Adviser Oluwatosin Popola said:

    “President Museveni’s threat to resume executions to ‘prevent crime’ is misguided since there is no credible evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime. Rather, it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of the right to life.

    "While the backlog of criminal cases in Uganda is something that needs to be addressed and expedited, resorting to the death penalty as some kind of 'quick-fix' is not the answer.

    “Uganda’s refusal to carry out executions in recent years has been a credit to President Museveni, but resuming them now would destroy more than a decade of progress, not to mention buck the global trend towards abolition.

    “Rather than talking of hanging criminals, the President must instead lead Uganda to fully abolishing the death penalty, just as 19 other African countries have done.”

    Background

    January 03, 2018

    Responding to the news that Huthi authorities sentenced 52-year-old Yemeni prisoner of conscience Hamid Haydara to death for allegedly collaborating with Israel and forging official documents, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director said:

    “The Huthi authorities must immediately quash the death sentence against Hamid Haydara. He is a prisoner of conscience who has been tried on account of his conscientiously held beliefs and peaceful activities as a member of the Baha’i community.

    “This sentence is the result of a fundamentally flawed process, including trumped up charges, an unfair trial and credible allegations that Hamid Haydara was tortured and ill-treated in custody. It is also part of a wider crackdown on critics, journalists, human rights defenders and members of the Baha’i community that is causing entire families to live in fear for their safety and the safety of their loved ones.

    December 19, 2017

    The secretive judicial execution of two men on Tuesday reflects the Japanese government’s unrepentant contempt for the right to life, Amnesty International said.

    Teruhiko Seki, 44, who was convicted of murder and robbery, and Kiyoshi Matsui, 69, who was convicted of murder, were executed early on Tuesday morning at Tokyo Detention Centre. Seki was 19 years old when the crime was committed. Both were seeking retrials at the time of execution.

    "Today’s executions are an abhorrent and bloody stain on Japan's human rights record. Once again, the Japanese government has shown contempt for the right to life," said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    This month marks ten years since the UN General Assembly adopted its first resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. As the global momentum towards abolition continues unabated, Japan continues to ignore the trend.

    December 14, 2017

    Commenting after the Kenyan Supreme Court declared mandatory death sentencing unconstitutional, Oluwatosin Popoola, Amnesty International’s Adviser on the Death Penalty, said:

    November 09, 2017
    In response to today’s Appeal Court ruling in Mauritania releasing a blogger who had been sentenced to death for writing a ‘blasphemous’ post on Facebook, Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director said:   “The release of Mohamed Mkhaïtir, who has been jailed for nearly four years simply for peacefully expressing his opinions on Facebook, is a huge relief. This really is a day of triumph for him and his family, as well as all those who campaigned on his behalf since 2014.”   “Now that Mkhaitir is released, Mauritanian authorities must ensure that he lives without threat of physical attacks so that he can regain his dignity”.   “This ruling provides a golden opportunity for the Mauritanian authorities to change tack on this sensitive issue and halt their brutal crackdown on human rights activists. The authorities must now release Moussa Biram and Abdallahi Matallah the two anti-slavery activists currently jailed in a remote prison where they have spent nearly 500 days .’’  
    October 23, 2017

    The Iranian authorities must urgently quash the death sentence against Iranian-born Swedish resident and specialist in emergency medicine Ahmadreza Djalali, said Amnesty International today.

    The medical doctor and university lecturer had studied and taught in Sweden, Italy and Belgium. Since his arrest in April 2016, several European officials have called for his release.

    Zeynab Taheri, one of Ahmadreza Djalali’s lawyers, told Amnesty International that he was sentenced to death for the charge of “corruption on earth” (ifsad fil-arz), and has been given a 200,000 euro fine. The court verdict, which was shown to one of the lawyers, states that Ahmadreza Djalali worked with the Israeli government, who subsequently helped him obtain his

    residency permit in Sweden.

    “Ahmadreza Djalali was sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial that once again exposes not only the Iranian authorities’ steadfast commitment to use of the death penalty but their utter contempt for the rule of law,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    October 13, 2017

    The Iranian authorities must urgently stop the execution of a 17-year-old boy who was convicted of murder and rape, and commute his death sentence to imprisonment, said Amnesty International.

    Amirhossein Pourjafar is scheduled to be executed in a prison in Tehran on 19 October 2017. He was detained in April 2016 and sentenced to death six months later after being convicted of the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl, Setayesh Ghoreyshi, from Iran’s marginalized Afghan community.

    “There is no question that this was a horrific crime and the perpetrator should be held accountable. Amnesty International supports the demands for justice voiced by Setayesh’s bereaved family and the wider Afghan community in Iran, but executing a 17-year-old boy is not justice,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “The use of the death penalty against people convicted of crimes committed while they were under 18 is absolutely prohibited by international human rights law. If Iran goes ahead with the execution next week it will be another appalling breach of its international obligations.”

    October 11, 2017

    Singapore’s continued reliance on mandatory death sentences, which violate international law, has meant that dozens of low level drug offenders have been sent to death row in recent years, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

    Cooperate or Die also reveals how death penalty reforms introduced in 2013, while reducing the number of people sentenced to death, do not go nearly far enough and in particular have left life and death decisions in the hands of the public prosecutor instead of judges.

    “Singapore likes to paint itself as a prosperous and progressive role model, but its use of the death penalty shows flagrant disregard for human life. The country relies on harsh laws that overwhelmingly target drug offenders on the lower rungs of the ladder, many of whom will come from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Adviser.

    “The reforms introduced in 2013 were a step in the right direction and have allowed some people to escape the gallows, but in key respects they have been flawed from the outset.

    October 10, 2017

    States that retain and use the death penalty are increasingly isolated and should take steps to join the global trend, Amnesty International said today on the 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty.

    2017 marks 40 years since Amnesty International fostered the landmark Declaration of Stockholm, the first international abolitionist manifesto on the death penalty. Issued in 1977, the Declaration called on all governments to totally abolish the punishment:

    “When the state uses its power to end the life of a human being, it is likely that no other right is inviolate. The state cannot give life, it should not presume to take it away.”

    At the time of the declaration, only 16 countries — eight in the Americas and eight in Europe — had fully abolished the death penalty in law and practice. That number now stands at 105. A further 36 countries have either repealed the death penalty for ordinary crimes such as murder or effectively stopped using the punishment though it remains in their laws.

    October 02, 2017

    The Saudi Arabian authorities executed a man today, bringing the total number of people put to death so far in 2017 to 100, with 60 people executed in the past three months alone, said Amnesty International.

    “Since July 2017, the Saudi Arabian government has been on an execution spree with an average of five people put to death per week. This sets the country firmly on track to remain one of the most prolific executioners on the planet,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research for Amnesty International in the Middle-East.

    “If the Saudi authorities are truly intent on making reforms, they must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely.”

    Forty percent of the executions carried out so far this year were related to drug-related offences, which do not fall into the category of "most serious crimes". The use of the death penalty for such offences violates international human rights law.

    Unfair trials

    September 25, 2017

    Responding to the news that at least 42 people were executed in Iraq today on “terrorism” charges, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International said:

    “Today’s mass execution is a shocking display of the Iraqi authorities’ resort to the death penalty to try to show they are responding to security threats.

    “There can be no doubt that individuals who carry out deadly attacks against the civilian population should face justice, but the Iraqi authorities need to recognize that carrying out executions is not the answer and will not make the country or its people safer.

    “The Iraqi authorities have a deplorable track record when it comes to use of the death penalty. In many cases previously people have been put to death after deeply unfair trials and in some cases after being tortured to ‘confess’.

    “The death penalty is an irreversible and reprehensible punishment that should not be used in any circumstances and there is no evidence to show that it deters crime more than any other means of punishment.”

     

    August 25, 2017

    AI USA Release

    For the first time since the Supreme Court ruled against the state’s capital sentencing statute, Florida has executed a prisoner, killing Mark Asay via lethal injection.

    Amnesty International recently issued a report outlining the state’s response to the Supreme Court ruling.

    “There is no place in a just society for capital punishment, which is inherently cruel and arbitrary in application,” said Kristina Roth, senior program officer for criminal justice at Amnesty International USA. “The state of Florida should be ashamed for resuming its machinery of death.

    “It’s too late for Mark Asay, but Florida still has a chance to be on the right side of history by commuting the sentences of all other death row prisoners and ending capital punishment once and for all.”

    August 21, 2017

    Ahead of a planned resumption of executions in Florida on 24 August, 18 months after the last one, Amnesty International is issuing a paper on recent developments relating to the death penalty in the US state.

    “Death in Florida” outlines the state’s response to the January 2016 US Supreme Court decision that Florida’s capital sentencing law was unconstitutional, and the governor’s reaction to a prosecutor’s subsequent decision to reject the death penalty.

    When State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that she would not seek the death penalty due to its demonstrable flaws, Governor Scott immediately responded by ordering her replacement with a different prosecutor more willing to engage in this lethal pursuit. So far the Governor has transferred 26 cases to his preferred prosecutor.

    Racial discrimination was one of the death penalty’s flaws – along with its costs, risks and failure as a deterrent – cited by State Attorney Ayala, the first African American to be elected to that position in Florida.

    August 09, 2017

    The Iranian authorities must halt the imminent execution of Alireza Tajiki who was arrested as a child, said Amnesty International today, after learning that he was transferred to solitary confinement this morning and is due to be executed in less than 24 hours in Shiraz’s Adel Abad prison.

    Alireza Tajiki was just 15 at the time of his arrest and 16 when he was convicted and sentenced to death. He was transferred to solitary confinement in Adel Abad prison in Shiraz, Fars Province, on 9 August. His family were told to come to prison in order to make their final visit. The authorities did not inform his legal representatives, contrary to Iran’s own laws, which require lawyers to be informed of their clients’ scheduled execution at least 48 hours in advance.

    August 03, 2017

    By Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director

    The Maldives is one of the world’s most desired holiday destinations. This curl of islands in the Indian Ocean, renowned for its wondrous natural beauty, attracts more than a million people each year. The sweeping views of turquoise water, the white sand beaches shaded by sloping palm trees, and the warm hospitality of its people have earned it comparisons to paradise.

    This week, however, the country is drawing attention for the ugly actions of its government. The Maldives is poised to carry out its first executions in more than 60 years. Against the backdrop of a political crisis, the embattled government wants to send three men to the gallows in a feeble attempt to look tough and distract attention.

    If they are allowed to go ahead, the executions would violate the Maldives’ commitments under international law. There are serious questions about the fairness of the proceedings that consigned the three men to their fate. One of them, Hussain Humaam Ahmed, was convicted of murder on the basis of an apparently coerced “confession” that he later retracted.

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