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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    May 02, 2013

    The US state of Maryland has joined the overwhelming global trend towards ending the death penalty, Amnesty International said today after Governor Martin O’Malley signed the abolition of capital punishment into law.

    The abolition bill, passed by the state legislature in March 2013, makes Maryland the 18th US state to relinquish use of the death penalty since the US Supreme Court approved new capital laws in 1976.

    “Maryland has abandoned a punishment that should have no place in a society that claims to respect human dignity, and that in the USA is riddled with discrimination and error,” said Brian Evans, Amnesty International USA’s Abolish the Death Penalty campaign director.

    “More than a third of US states have now abolished the death penalty, and we urge the remaining 32 states, and the federal government, to follow suit.”

    Amnesty International urges Governor O’Malley to commute the death sentences of the five men who remain on death row in Maryland despite today’s abolition bill. This would avoid the cruel prospect of the state applying a punishment that it has rightly rejected.

    April 26, 2013

    The execution of two death row inmates in Japan shows that a chilling escalation of death penalty use under the new Liberal Democratic government is continuing, Amnesty International said.

    Today, two men - Yoshihide Miyagi, 56, and Katsuji Hamasaki, 64 – were hanged in Tokyo. They were both convicted of murder after shooting rival gang members to death in a restaurant in Ichihara city in 2005.

    They are the fourth and fifth executions to take place in Japan since December 2012, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office. The other three executions took place in February 2013. In total, Japan has executed 12 people since March 2012 – before then, no executions had been carried out for 20 months.

    “This shocking news unfortunately reinforces our fears that the new government is increasing the pace of executions in an alarming way,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    “We have already seen five executions this year, and it shows that the government has no intention of heeding international calls to start a genuine and open public debate on the death penalty including abolition.”

    April 19, 2013

    aiwanese authorities executed six men on Friday night in what Amnesty International said was a cruel change of heart from their earlier stated commitment to abolish the brutal practice.

    Those put to death were: Chen Tung-Jung, Chen Jui-Chin, Lin Chin-Te, Chang Pao-Hui, Li Chia Hsuan, and Chi Chun-I.

    These latest executions come only a few months after Taiwan put to death six other inmates in December 2012, the only executions carried out in the country last year. 

    “A dozen executions in Taiwan in less than six months raises serious questions about the authorities’ pledges to abolish the death penalty,” said Catherine Baber, Asia-Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International. 

    “President Ma Ying-jeou should impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty to engage in a national debate about abolishing its use in the future.”

    April 09, 2013

    Posted at 0001hrs (GMT) 10 April 2013

    Despite some disappointing setbacks in 2012, the global trend towards ending the death penalty continued, Amnesty International found in its annual review of death sentences and executions.

    2012 saw the resumption of executions in several countries that had not used the death penalty in some time, notably India, Japan, Pakistan and Gambia, as well as an alarming escalation in executions in Iraq.

    But the use of the death penalty continues to be restricted to an isolated group of countries, and progress towards its abolition was seen in all regions of the world.

    Only 21 of the world’s countries were recorded as having carried out executions in 2012 – the same number as in 2011, but down from 28 countries a decade earlier in 2003.

    In 2012, at least 682 executions were known to have been carried out worldwide, two more than in 2011. At least 1,722 newly imposed death sentences in 58 countries could be confirmed, compared to 1,923 in 63 countries the year before.

    April 09, 2013

    By Aubrey Harris, Coordinator for the Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty

    My Neighbour: Hamid Ghassemi-Shall

    I live in Toronto's east end, a neighbourhood known as Leslieville. It's between The Beach and Riverdale (where Degrassi was set). My neighbourhood is typically urban. There are a lot of streetcars, buses and older houses. The local elementary school is old enough to have an honour roll of former students who paid with their lives during the Great War and World War II. I didn't grow up here (I grew up in London, ON) - but I quite like this neighbourhood - and I've lived in a few around Toronto.

    April 01, 2013

    The executionof three men in Kuwait this morning marks a real set back in a region where many countries show a shocking disregard for the right to life.

    “These are the first executions carried out in Kuwait since 2007 and mark a deplorable setback for human rights in the country,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's Deputy Program Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “In a region where executions are sadly all too commonplace, Kuwait marked a beacon of hope by declining to execute people for almost six years. That hope has been extinguished today. We deplore this resumption of executions, regardless of the crime.”

    “Kuwait should halt any further executions and should commute all death sentences and revise the law to exclude this most final of penalties.”

    The three menexecuted were convicted of murder and included one Pakistani and one Saudi national, as well as one Bidun (‘without’ in Arabic), one of the stateless minority in Kuwait. A news report had suggested that the executions would be shown live on TV but that does not appear to have happened.

    March 15, 2013

    The first execution in Indonesia in more than four years is a shocking and regressive step, Amnesty International said as it urged the government to not follow through on promises to put a further nine people to death in 2013.

    Last night, Adami Wilson, a 48-year old Malawian national who was convicted for drug trafficking in 2004, was executed by firing squad in Jakarta. It was the first execution in Indonesia since November 2008.

    The Indonesian Attorney General Basrief Arief said that the authorities planned to put at least a further nine death row inmates to death in 2013.

    “This is really outrageous news. We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, but Indonesia’s long period without executions and the pledge to put even more people to death, makes this even more shocking,” said Papang Hidayat, Amnesty International’s Indonesia Researcher.

    Wilson was first convicted for trafficking 1 kg of heroin in 2004 in Tangerang, south-western Banten province.

    March 14, 2013

    The bodies of two men executed a year ago in Belarus must be released to their relatives for burial or the burial site should be revealed, Amnesty International said today.

    Uladzslau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau were executed in March 2012 in Minsk, capital of Belarus. They had been sentenced to death on 30 November 2011 after being found guilty in connection to a bomb attack in Minsk that killed 15 people and wounded more than 300 in April 2011.

    Their trial has been criticized for failing to meet international fair trial standards.

    According to the death certificate received by his mother, Uladzslau Kavalyou died on 15 March 2012. On 16 March, she received a letter from the Belarusian Supreme Court informing her that her son had been executed.

    “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a human rights violation. Failing to return the bodies of these two men compounds that cruelty,” said David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    March 13, 2013

    The execution of seven men in Saudi Arabia after allegedly being forced to “confess” to charges of armed robbery is nothing but an act of sheer brutality, Amnesty International said today.

    The men were shot by a firing squad this morning in the city of Abha, in the south of the country.

    “We are outraged by the execution of seven men in Saudi Arabia this morning. We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, but this case has been particularly shocking,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    The seven men were arrested in 2005 and 2006 on charges of armed robbery.

    All of them reported that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in custody and forced to “confess” to the alleged crime. They also claimed their relatives were threatened with torture if they withdrew their “confessions”.

    “It is a bloody day when a government executes seven people on the grounds of ‘confessions’ obtained under torture, submitted at a trial where they had no legal representation or recourse to appeal,” said Luther.

    March 12, 2013

    Seven men who hit the headlines last week when it emerged that one of them faced “crucifixion” following execution in Saudi Arabia, look set to be shot on Wednesday morning, prompting Amnesty International to call for a halt to what would be nothing more than an act of “sheer brutality.”

    Those close to the men report that seven mounds of earth have appeared in a public square in Abha, the city in which they are detained, signalling what people believe is their imminent execution.

    “Executing these men would be an act of sheer brutality - it must be stopped immediately. All seven should be granted a new trial and torture allegations must be investigated,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    The seven men were arrested in 2005 and 2006 on charges of armed robbery.

    All of them reported that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in custody and forced to “confess” to the alleged crime. They also claimed their relatives were threatened with torture if they withdrew their “confessions”.

    March 05, 2013

    Plans to execute, next week, seven men convicted after being allegedly tortured into “confessing” to an armed robbery and then crucify the body of one of them confirm Saudi Arabia’s fundamentally flawed approach to law and order, Amnesty International said today.

    The men, including two who may have been juveniles at the time of the alleged crime, were convicted in 2009 after a short trial that used “confessions” allegedly extracted under torture as evidence against them. The men were not allowed legal representation and were denied the right to appeal the sentence.

    “Saudi Arabia’s legal system is fundamentally flawed. The fact that someone can be executed after, it seems, being tortured to ‘confess’ to a crime and as a result of a trial where no defence was allowed is, simply, illegal,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The execution of these men must be immediately stopped. They should be granted a new trial and the torture allegations must be investigated.”

    February 21, 2013

    The execution of three death row inmates is an ominous and regressive move by Japan’s new Liberal Democratic government, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

    The executions are the first since the administration took office in December and raises fears that the pace of executions may increase during Prime Minister Abe’s term.

    Masahiro Kanagawa, 29, was hanged at Tokyo Detention Centre on Thursday, along with Kaoru Kobayashi, 44, at Osaka Detention Centre and Keiki Kano, 62, at Nagoya Detention Centre. Kobayashi and Kano were executed despite both being in the process of preparing to apply for retrials.

    Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s East Asia Director, said: “These executions, carried out under a shroud of secrecy, are a callous act of premeditated killing. The authorities appeared alarmingly merciless in their willingness to execute during Shinzo Abe’s previous stint as Prime Minister. The fear is that this marks the beginning of a new wave of cold-blooded killing by the State. It raises serious questions whether such executions are carried out purely for political expediency.

    February 15, 2013

    The Bangladesh government must not let a proposed new legal amendment lead to a push for death sentences for those convicted in its ongoing war crimes tribunal, Amnesty International said.

    Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) was set up in 2010 to try people suspected of crimes under international law, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed during the country’s 1971 war of independence.

    On Sunday, Parliament is likely to pass an amendment to the law governing the ICT’s proceedings, which will enable prosecutors to appeal for the death penalty for those sentenced to imprisonment in the tribunal. Current procedures allow the defence the right to appeal in all circumstances, but permit the prosecution to appeal only against an acquittal.

    “Given the extremely tense situation in Bangladesh, there is a real risk that the government will use this amendment to push for those tried in the ICT to be sentenced to death,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh researcher.

    February 14, 2013

    India must immediately halt the impending executions of four prisoners whose mercy petitions – the final course of appeal in the country’s justice system were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee, Amnesty International said.

    Gnanprakasham, Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran are now at high risk of imminent execution.

    The President’s move came just days after the hanging of Afzal Guru – the second execution in India in fewer than three months following an eight-year hiatus.

    “This government has executed more people since November 2012 than in the previous ten years. To continue such a regressive trend would be truly shameful,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, chief executive of Amnesty International India.

    “Given the political climate and the two other recent executions, there is a real concern that these four men will be put to death soon. The Indian government must ensure that this does not happen.”

    February 14, 2013

    Angola must not send to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) nine detainees held on charges in connection with allegedly attempting to destabilise the government there, since there is a real risk they would face torture and other ill-treatment, and possibly the death penalty if sent to the DRC.

    Angola must also investigate allegations that the detainees have been tortured while held in incommunicado detention.

    The men, at least seven of whom are originally from the DRC, were arrested in the Angolan province of Cabinda on 22 November 2012. They were initially held incommicado in military barracks. Their families were not told where they were and they did not have access to a lawyer until 22 December.

    Amnesty International also received information that while they were held in the military barracks, the detainees were beaten with firearms, kicked with military boots, slapped and punched. None of the men received any medical care for the injuries sustained as a result of this torture.

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