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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    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.

    February 09, 2013

    Today’s execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru indicates a disturbing and regressive trend towards executions shrouded in secrecy and the resumption of death penalty use in India, said Amnesty International.

    “We condemn the execution in the strongest possible terms. This very regrettably puts India in opposition to the global trend towards moving away from the death penalty”, said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.

    Indian authorities hanged Mohammad Afzal Guru at 0800 hrs in Tihar Jail, New Delhi on 9 February 2013. His execution is the second in India in three months after an eight-year hiatus.

    Mohammed Afzal Guru was sentenced to death in December 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy to attack the Parliament of India, waging war against India and murder in December 2001.  He was tried by a special court designated under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), a law which fell considerably short of international fair trial standards and has since been repealed, in 2004, after serious allegations of its widespread abuse.

    February 08, 2013

    Reports by Zimbabwean state media that a new hangman has been appointed raises fears that the country may be preparing to start executions again after a seven year hiatus, Amnesty International said today.

    Zimbabwe hasn’t conducted any executions since 2005, the same year that the country’s last hangman retired.

    “This macabre recruitment is disturbing and suggests that Zimbabwe does not want to join the global trend towards abolition of this cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.

    “The death penalty is a violation of the right to life which is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments to which Zimbabwe is a state party.”

    Zimbabwe’s new draft Constitution, which will be put to referendum in the next few months, exempts women, men under 21 at the time of the crime and the over 70s from the death penalty. It also prohibits the imposition of the death penalty as a mandatory punishment.

    January 30, 2013

    Despair and hopelessness pervade in a Yemeni prison where scores of children are on hunger strike to protest at their conditions and about a fellow inmate's recent death sentence, activists have told Amnesty International.

    Since Sunday, 77 alleged juvenile offenders have refused to eat their prison meals at the central prison in the capital Sana'a until the authorities comply with a list of demands made in a handwritten signed statement.

    They launched the hunger strike in response to the sentencing to death of Nadim al-‘Azaazi on 26 January for a crime he is accused of committing when he was reportedly 15.

    “Executing juvenile offenders is expressly prohibited in Yemen's Penal Code and international human rights law – the Yemeni authorities must live up to their obligations and overturn this death sentence immediately,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    January 23, 2013

    A Chinese woman who beat her husband to death with a gun after suffering months of domestic violence should not be executed, Amnesty International urged on Wednesday.

    Li Yan, 41, from Sichuan province in South West China could be executed any day between now and the Chinese New Year in early February.

    “Justice is not served by executing Li Yan.  Amnesty International calls upon the Chinese authorities to commute her death sentence to a term of imprisonment,” said Roseann Rife, Head of East Asia at Amnesty International. Li was sentenced to death in August 2011 for the murder of her husband, Tan Yong, in late 2010.

    Tan inflicted frequent beatings on his wife, he cut off one of her fingers, stubbed cigarettes out on her face and during the freezing Sichuan winters locked her outside on the balcony of their apartment for several hours with little clothing.

    The prolonged violence at the hands of her husband began not long after the couple were married in early 2009.

    Li Yan contacted the authorities, including the police, on several occasions to seek protection and required hospital treatment after one attack.

    January 18, 2013

    The execution in Iran this week of a 21-year-old man for a crime he allegedly committed while apparently still a juvenile shows a deplorable disregard for international law, Amnesty International said.

    According to state-run media agency Mehr, Ali (Kianoush) Naderi was executed in Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran on Wednesday.

    He had been sentenced to death for his alleged role in the murder more than four years ago - when he was apparently still only 17 years old - of an elderly woman during the course of a burglary.

    Those under the age of 18 at the time of their alleged offence are considered to be children under international law and their execution is strictly prohibited

    Two other youths involved in the robbery received 15 years’ imprisonment each for theft convictions.

    “Ali Naderi’s execution shows Iran’s deplorable disregard for international standards on the death penalty,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    January 09, 2013

    Today’s beheading of a Sri Lankan domestic worker in Saudi Arabia for a crime she allegedly committed while still a child shows once more that the Gulf kingdom is woefully out of step with international standards on the death penalty, Amnesty International said.

    Rizana Nafeek was executed in Dawadmi, a town west of the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, on Wednesday morning. Her death sentence had been handed down by a Dawadmi court on 16 June 2007, based on allegations that she murdered an infant in her care when she herself was 17 years old.

    Earlier this week Amnesty International and the Sri Lankan government had urged Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah – who ratified her death sentence – to show clemency in her case, given her young age at the time of the alleged crime as well as concerns she had received an unfair trial.

    January 08, 2013

    A young Sri Lankan woman is at imminent risk of execution in Saudi Arabia for a crime she allegedly committed whilst under the age of 18, prompting Amnesty International to urge the country’s King to prevent the sentence being carried out.

    Rizana Nafeek, a domestic worker, has been held at Saudi Arabia’s Dawadami Prison since 2005 on charges of murdering an infant in her care. She says she was 17 at the time.

    “It would be outrageous if Rizana Nafeek were to be executed for this. It appears that she was herself a child at the time and there are real concerns about the fairness of her trial,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

    As a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Saudi Arabia is prohibited from imposing the death penalty on persons who were under 18 years old at the time of the offence for which they were convicted.

    On 16 June 2007, Nafeek was sentenced to death by a court in Dawadmi, a town west of the capital Riyadh.

    The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice. It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner.

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