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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    October 31, 2018

    Responding to the Pakistan Supreme Court’s decision to acquit Aasia Bibi, also known as Aasia Noreen, of blasphemy charges after she was sentenced to death by a trial court in 2010, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director, Omar Waraich, said:

    “This is a landmark verdict and an important victory for religious tolerance in Pakistan. For nearly eight years, Aasia Bibi, a poor Christian farmhand and mother of five, had her life languish in limbo. On the basis of no credible evidence, she was sentenced to death in 2010. The people who spoke up for her were threatened and even killed.

    “This was a case that was used to rouse angry and violent mobs, to justify the assassinations of two senior officials in 2011, and to intimidate the Pakistani state into submission. Mercifully, justice has prevailed. A clear message must now go out that the blasphemy laws will no longer be used to persecute Pakistan’s long-suffering religious minorities.”

    Background

    Aasia Bibi is a poor Christian farmhand and mother of five from a Punjabi village near Nankana Sahib.

    October 11, 2018

    Responding to the news that 17 people accused of carrying out three deadly church bombings in 2017, as well as attacks against security forces, have been sentenced to death by a military court in Alexandria today, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director Najia Bounaim said:

    “There can be no justification for the utterly reprehensible attacks which targeted worshippers in Coptic Christian churches across Egypt in 2017. There is no doubt that the perpetrators of these horrific attacks should be held accountable for their crimes. But handing out a mass death sentence after an unfair military trial is not justice and will not deter further sectarian attacks.

    “Egypt has a shocking track record of unlawfully trying civilians in its notorious military courts and sentencing scores to death after grossly unfair mass trials, often based on ‘confessions’ extracted through torture. Those accused of involvement in these heinous crimes must be retried in a civilian court in proceedings that comply with international human rights law and fair trial standards.”

    Background

    October 10, 2018

    Prisoners under sentence of death must be treated with humanity and dignity and held in conditions that meet international human rights law and standards, said Amnesty International on World Day Against the Death Penalty  today,10 October.

    The organization is launching a new campaign to pressure five countries, Belarus, Ghana, Iran, Japan and Malaysia, to put an end to inhumane conditions of detention for prisoners sentenced to death and move towards full abolition of the death penalty.

    “No matter what crime they may have committed, no one should be forced to endure inhumane conditions of detention. Yet in many cases, prisoners under sentence of death are kept in strict isolation, lack access to necessary medications and live with constant anxiety from the threat of execution,” said Stephen Cockburn, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Global Issues Programme.

    “The fact that some governments notify prisoners and their relatives a few days or, in some cases, a few moments before their execution is cruel.

    September 08, 2018

    Cairo Criminal Court today handed down 75 death sentences, 47 life sentences, and heavy prison sentences ranging from 15 to 5 years to 612 people, in a mass trial related to participation in the al-Rabaa sit-in on 14 August 2013. Among those sentenced was photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as “Shawkan”, who was sentenced to five years, which he has already served. Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International, said

    “These sentences were handed down in a disgraceful mass trial of more than 700 people, and we condemn today’s verdict in the strongest terms. The death penalty should never be an option under any circumstances. The fact that not a single police officer has been brought to account for the killing of at least 900 people in the Rabaa and Nahda protests shows what a mockery of justice this trial was. The Egyptian authorities should be ashamed. We demand a retrial in an impartial court and in full respect of the right to a fair trial for all defendants, without recourse to the death penalty.

    September 08, 2018

    In response to the news that three Iranian Kurdish men, Zaniar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi, were executed this morning in Raja’i Shahr prison, Karaj, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s  Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

    “We are horrified by the news that the Iranian authorities have executed these men, despite widespread condemnation of their death sentences and calls from UN human rights experts and other bodies to halt their executions.

    “The trials of all three men were grossly unfair. All were denied access to their lawyers and families after their arrest, and all said they were tortured into making “confessions”. In sentencing them to death despite these massive failings in due process, the Iranian authorities have once again demonstrated their brazen disregard for the right to life.

    August 31, 2018

    Amnesty International UK PRESS RELEASE

    39-year-old man executed by firing squad this morning - had originally received a life sentence

    First execution since 2016 is ‘a crushing setback to abolition hopes’

    Responding to the execution of a 39-year-old man in Taiwan today - the country’s first execution since President Tsai Ing-wen came to office in 2016 - Annie Huang, Amnesty International Taiwan’s Acting Director, said:

    “Today’s execution is a crushing setback to the abolitionist movement in Taiwan and an act that casts a shadow over Tsai’s presidency.

    “It is deeply disappointing that Taiwan has decided to resume the implementation of a cruel punishment, especially after President Tsai Ing-wen had stated clearly that her government aims to abolish the death penalty. That pledge now rings hollow.

    “We once again call on the Taiwanese authorities to establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty once and for all.”

    August 22, 2018

    Florida’s approach to the death penalty is deepening its outlier status on this human rights issue and has now added an extra layer of arbitrariness to its already discriminatory and error-prone capital justice system, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

    “While several US states have embraced abolition in recent years, Florida remains a diehard proponent of the death penalty and one of a handful of states that account for the bulk of executions in the USA,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Despite its capital sentencing law being found unconstitutional two years ago, Florida still has the second largest death row in the country. Its response to that ruling has been to dig in and defend the indefensible, including the execution of people with mental and intellectual disabilities.”

    Florida shows few signs of joining the USA’s 19 states that have already abolished the death penalty or the others that are rethinking it. It is ranked fourth in the number of executions carried out in the USA since 1976, when the US Supreme Court approved new capital laws.

    July 26, 2018

    Japan’s recent spate of executions will not make the country safer and fails to address why individuals were attracted to a cult which orchestrated a series of horrific crimes, Amnesty International said, following the executions of a further six members of the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo (Aum) on Thursday.

    This July has now seen 13 people executed for their involvement in the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, which killed 13 people and injured thousands more, as well as other illegal activities. The last time Japan executed more than 10 people in a year was in 2008. It is also extremely rare for Japan to carry out two rounds of executions in the same month.

    “This unprecedented execution spree, which has seen 13 people killed in a matter of weeks, does not leave Japanese society any safer. The hangings fail to address why people were drawn to a charismatic guru with dangerous ideas,” said Hiroka Shoji, East Asia Researcher at Amnesty International.  

    July 03, 2018

    Amnesty International Malaysia welcomes the 2 July announcement by Datuk Seri Nadzri Siron, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Home Affairs, that the government of Malaysia has put the implementation of the death sentences of 17 prisoners on hold, pending the review of the country’s death penalty laws.

    The announcement comes only days after Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Deputy Prime Minister, confirmed the government’s commitment to consider abolishing the mandatory death penalty for all crimes.

    “We have long waited for the suspension of executions in Malaysia and yesterday’s announcement of a reprieve for 17 people fills us with hope for a new chapter in the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. This first step must promptly be followed by the total abolition of the death penalty for all crimes,” said Gwen Lee, Interim Executive Director at Amnesty International Malaysia.

    According to figures revealed by the deputy director of the Prisons Department, 1,267 people are under sentence of death in Malaysia, including 442 who have had their legal appeals finalized.

    June 17, 2018

    Iranian authorities must urgently stop the imminent execution of Mohammad Salas, a 51-year-old man from one of Iran’s largest Sufi orders, the Nemattolah Gonabadi order, and to immediately quash his death sentence, Amnesty International said today.

    “Amnesty International has received information that indicates a huge miscarriage of justice may be carried out if the Iranian authorities go through with this execution. We call on the authorities to immediately quash the death sentence of Mohammad Salas and to order a retrial that meets international fair trial standards without recourse to the death penalty,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at ‎Amnesty International.

    Prison authorities phoned Mohammad Salas’ family on the evening of 16 June and told them to go to Raja’i Shahr prison where he is imprisoned in Karaj, near Tehran, to visit him for the final time at 3.30pm local time on 17 June. This indicates that his execution is imminent, and could happen within days if not hours.

    May 23, 2018

    The trial of an Algerian blogger who faces the death penalty on trumped-up espionage charges based on online posts is yet another stain on the country’s human rights record, Amnesty International said today ahead of the opening hearing on 24 May.

    Merzoug Touati faces charges relating to a Facebook post and YouTube video that authorities claim encouraged civil unrest. He has been in detention since January 2017.

    Amnesty International has reviewed the court documents which list as “evidence” the posts published by Touati before his Facebook account and website were deleted, and found that there was no incitement to violence or advocacy of hatred, rather his posts were covered by freedom of expression in relation to his work as a citizen-journalist. Amnesty International therefore considers Merzoug Touati a prisoner of conscience held solely for expressing his peaceful opinions.

    May 01, 2018

    Ahead of the scheduled execution on Thursday of Ramin Hossein Panahi, a 22-year-old man from Iran’s Kurdish minority who was sentenced to death in January for “taking up arms against the state” after a grossly unfair trial and amid serious torture allegations, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

    “Ramin Hossein Panahi’s case has been a breathtaking miscarriage of justice from start to finish. After appearing at his trial reportedly bearing torture marks on his body he was convicted in less than an hour.

    “During the investigation period he was denied access to both his lawyer and his family, as well as to any details of the evidence against him. In a complete mockery of the judicial process, intelligence officials also repeatedly pressured him to make a televised ‘confession’ in exchange for the quashing of his death sentence. His refusal to submit to this pressure has seen him languishing in solitary confinement.

    April 11, 2018
    Positive steps seen across sub-Saharan Africa, with Guinea becoming 20th abolitionist state, substantial decreases in death sentences and ongoing legislative developments Executions and death sentences recorded globally declined after record-high peaks of previous years Iran and Malaysia adopted legislative amendments to reduce the death penalty for drug-related offences Disturbing trends still rife, as many countries continue to violate international law

     

    Sub-Saharan Africa made great strides in the global fight to abolish the death penalty with a significant decrease in death sentences being imposed across the region, Amnesty International said in its 2017 global review of the death penalty published today.

    March 22, 2018
    In response to the decision by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to commute the death sentences of prisoners who have been on death row for more than 10 years, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda, said: “President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s has taken a very progressive step in deciding to spare the prisoners from the hangman’s noose. His action is commendable, but he must build on this positive momentum by ensuring Zimbabwe abolishing the death penalty completely.   “Countries around the world, including in sub-Saharan Africa, are moving away from using the death penalty. There is no credible evidence that the death penalty has a greater deterrent effect on crime than imprisonment. We call on President Mnangagwa to move swiftly to establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing this cruel and inhuman punishment altogether.”   Background
    March 15, 2018

    Reacting to the news that the Aceh provincial administration in Indonesia is considering the introduction of beheading as a punishment for murder, Amnesty International Indonesia executive director, Usman Hamid said:

    “The Aceh local government must immediately drop any plans to introduce the gruesome punishment of beheading as a method of execution and should instead get rid of the death penalty all together. The Aceh administration’s argument that beheading could prevent murder is both baseless and unacceptable. There is no evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect on crime, no matter how shocking the method of execution is.

    “The Aceh administration cannot use its special autonomous status in order to introduce laws and policies that flagrantly violate human rights. The authorities need to focus on the root causes of crime and informed debates on the death penalty as a human rights violation, and swiftly move to abolish this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

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