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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    July 16, 2013

    (WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Brian Evans, director of Amnesty International USA’s Abolish the Death Penalty campaign issued the following statement in response to the Georgia Fulton County Superior Court granting Warren Hill a stay of execution based on a challenge concerning the secrecy of the lethal drugs the state of Georgia acquired and planned to use in Hill’s execution:

    “Warren Hill today was granted a stay of execution because of the secrecy surrounding the lethal drugs. Amnesty International welcomes this development and the chance for the courts to address these troubling questions of secrecy and medical ethics.

    “Beyond these important issues, Warren Hill has been determined to be ‘mentally retarded’ and thus his execution would have been unconstitutional, as the U.S. Supreme Court banned such executions in 2002. His petition on this important question is scheduled to be considered at a conference on September 30.

    July 15, 2013
    Slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin

    by Aubrey Harris, Coordinator, Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty

    The recent acquittal of George Zimmerman in Florida has understandably upset many. The facts as known broadly would to most people seem to indicate that the acquittal or at the very least the law, is unjust.

    Certainly the "Stand Your Ground" law, which takes self-defence to a confusing extreme (pre-emptive strike?), has resulted in many confusing verdicts (see this good analysis from the Tampa Bay Times). It pales in comparison to two other, extremely troubling aspects of Florida's legal system:

    Of states with the death penalty, Florida has the highest number by far of wrongful conviction in capital cases in the USA. Florida recently signed into law further restrictions on the right to appeal in capital cases 

    That means, despite the worst record on convicting the right person, Florida is accelerating the process to kill those people who may well be innocent.

    July 03, 2013

    The new Pakistani government must not resume executions and instead impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a first step towards abolition, Amnesty International said.

    Media reports in Pakistan over the past few days have suggested that the new government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, may be moving rapidly to resume state killings in response to the prevailing law and order situation in the country.

    "Any government green light to resume executions in Pakistan would be a shocking and retrograde step, putting thousands of people’s lives at risk,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process, and could now be facing execution.

    “The sheer number of people at risk makes the new government policy of turning back to the death penalty even more horrendous,” said Truscott.

    June 26, 2013

    Amnesty International is calling on the US state of Texas to halt its 500th execution since the reinstatement of capital punishment in the United States of America in 1976. In what it describes as a “shameful milestone”, Kimberly McCarthy, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection in Huntsville at 6pm local time barring a stay of her execution.

    The 52-year-old African American woman was sentenced to death in 2002 for murder.

    “Capital punishment in Texas has been arbitrary, biased and prone to error,” said Brian Evans, director of Amnesty International USA’s campaign to abolish the death penalty. “It is a profound and irreversible injustice. The death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading, and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said.

    June 25, 2013

    A death row prisoner in Nigeria is due to be executed by firing squad later this week after prison authorities dragged him to the gallows where they hanged four other men on Monday night, Amnesty International has learned.

    They were the first known executions in the country since 2006.

    Benin Prison authorities in Edo state had planned to hang the man along with the four others, but halted his execution after they realized his death sentence, imposed by a military tribunal, required that a firing squad carry it out.

    Amnesty International understands that neither the prisoners nor their families were told of the executions in advance. Secret executions, where prisoners, families and lawyers are not informed beforehand, violate international standards on the use of the death penalty.

    “Cruel and inhumane do not even begin to describe the nightmare situation facing this man – and it points to the spectacularly brutal nature of Nigeria’s sudden return to state-sponsored killing,” said Lucy Freeman, deputy Africa director at Amnesty International.

    June 24, 2013

    Amnesty International has received credible reports that authorities in the state of Edo in southern Nigerian have hanged four men in Benin City Prison on Monday – the first known executions in the country since 2006. 

    A fifth man remains at imminent risk of execution.

    Lucy Freeman, deputy director for Africa at the organization, said: “If confirmed, these executions mark a sudden, brutal return to the use of the death penalty in Nigeria, a truly dark day for human rights in the country. 

    “We again urge the Nigerian authorities to stop all executions immediately and return to the moratorium on executions in the country. We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception, as it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

    According to Amnesty International’s Death Sentences and Executions 2012 report, Nigeria sentenced 56 people to death last year, and approximately 1,000 people are reportedly on death row in the country.

     

    June 24, 2013

    The Nigerian authorities must spare the lives of five death row inmates at imminent risk of execution, Amnesty International urged after a court in the southern state of Edo allowed the execution by hanging of three men to proceed and the Governor of Edo state signed the execution warrants of two others.

    The Federal High Court in Benin City today rejected a lawsuit filed by local NGOs against three execution warrants signed by the Governor of Edo State in October 2012. Two other death row inmates – whose execution warrants were reportedly signed by the Governor in May 2013 – are also at imminent risk of execution.

    It is unclear when the authorities at the state’s Benin Prison plan to carry out the killings, but two executioners were reportedly called in on Monday morning and security around the prison is tight.

    “Today’s court decision is a major set back for justice and human rights in Nigeria,”said Lucy Freeman, deputy director for Africa at Amnesty International.

    “The Nigerian authorities must immediately halt the execution of these five men and allow them to appeal their cases in the courts.”

    June 18, 2013

    The execution earlier today of two Egyptian nationals by the Kuwaiti authorities is a huge setback for human rights in the country, said Amnesty International.

    Hajjaj Al-Saadi, an Egyptian who became known as the “Hawally Monster” after he was convicted of raping 17 children, was hanged at a prison in Kuwait today, along with Ahmad Abdulsalam, a second Egyptian national, who had been found guilty of murder.

    The Kuwaiti authorities have ignored calls from Amnesty International and other human rights groups for executions to be halted in the country.

    “Amnesty International reiterates its call for the Kuwaiti authorities to end all executions immediately and reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program.

    “We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, or the individual’s guilt or innocence because it is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

    June 14, 2013

    The Kuwaiti authorities must urgently intervene to stop the execution of Hajjaj Al-Saadi, an Egyptian national sentenced to death, feared to be at risk of imminent execution, Amnesty International said.

    “All executions in Kuwait must stop immediately,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “However deplorable the crime, the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and must be abolished in Kuwait once and for all.”

    Al-Saadi, who is known as the “Hawally Monster”, was arrested in 2007 and convicted of raping 17 children.

    The organization has written to His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, to express its dismay at the resumption of the use of the death penalty in Kuwait this year.

    Three men convicted of murder were hanged in Kuwait on 1 April in the first executions carried out in the country since May 2007.

    “Kuwait must commute all death sentences and revise the law to prohibit capital punishment,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said.

    May 28, 2013

    Papua New Guinea’s new laws expanding the use of the death penalty to a wider set of crimes, and signalling a move towards resuming executions, are a horrific and regressive step, Amnesty International said today.

    The legislation was reportedly adopted by Parliament with little debate, during the same session that repealed the country’s controversial Sorcery Act which provided a defence for violent crime if the accused was acting to stop ‘witchcraft’.

    The death penalty now appears to apply to a longer list of crimes, including sorcery-related murder, rape and robbery, and provides for new methods of execution, including by lethal injection, hanging, electrocution, firing squad, and “medical death by deprivation of oxygen”. 

    “Papua New Guinea has taken one step forward in protecting women from violence by repealing the Sorcery Act, but several giant steps back by moving closer to executions,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia-Pacific.

    May 22, 2013

    Saudi Arabia must halt a “disturbing” rise in death penalty usage that has resulted in at least 47 state killings in the country already this year, Amnesty International urged after six more people were executed today.

    Five Yemeni men were beheaded and “crucified” this morning in the city of Jizan, while a Saudi Arabian man was executed in the south-western city of Abha.

    “Saudi Arabia’s increased use of this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is deeply disturbing and the authorities must halt what is a horrifying trend,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director.

    “The Kingdom must immediately establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing capital punishment.”

    Pictures today emerged on social media appearing to show five decapitated bodies hanging from a horizontal pole with their heads wrapped in bags.

    The beheading and “crucifixion” took place in front of the University of Jizan where students are taking exams.  

    May 16, 2013

    The authorities in Indonesia must immediately halt the execution of three men, expected imminently, Amnesty International said.

    If the men are executed it would be a major setback in the use of the death penalty, in a country that appeared to be moving away from the brutal practice in recent years..
     
    According to the Attorney General’s Office, Suryadi Swabuana, Jurit bin Abdullah and Ibrahim bin Ujang, are set to be executed this month.

    But there are indications they could be carried out as soon as this evening. The three men are now being held in isolation cells in the Nusakambangan island prison in Central Java, where they are due to be executed by firing squad.

    Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception.

    In Indonesia’s case, there is no clear indication why the country has decided to resume executions after a four year gap. That period was broken on 14 March this year when Malawian national Adami Wilson, 48, was put to death for drug-trafficking.

    May 03, 2013

    The Maldives authorities must commute the death sentences and stop the potential execution of two teenagers who yesterday received capital punishment for a murder allegedly committed when they were under 18, Amnesty International said.

    The two juveniles were convicted by the Juvenile Court in the capital Male' over a fatal gang stabbing incident in February. Both the accused, who have now reached 18, reportedly deny the charge.

    "The Maldives authorities are flouting international law - anyone convicted of a crime committed when they were under 18 is exempt from the death penalty," said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    Maldives is a State Party to two UN treaties, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which forbid capital punishment for crimes committed by persons below 18 years of age.

    "The authorities must immediately reverse these death sentences, and the prosecution must not try to uphold the death sentences in any appeals," said Polly Truscott.

    May 02, 2013

     Belarus authorities must stop the execution of a man who was this week sentenced to death for murder, Amnesty International said.

    The homeless man originally from Ukraine, who has not been named, is a jail inmate who was sentenced on 30 April for killing a fellow prisoner in Mahiliou, eastern Belarus.

    The death sentence enters into force on 3 May, and the man could be executed within months.

    Amnesty International has longstanding concerns about the right to a fair trial in Belarus, the only country in Europe and Central Asia that still carries out executions.

    Death row prisoners are not informed beforehand about the day of their execution.

    "Belarus' status at Europe's sole executor is shameful. The authorities must immediately commute this death sentence and establish an official moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing the death penalty," said David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    Two prisoners were sentenced on Tuesday in connection with the murder of a prisoner by a group of inmates.

    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.

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