Death Penalty: Support Abolition
Authorities in Benin must commute the death sentences hanging over 14 men following a 2016 Constitutional Court judgement that effectively abolished the death penalty for all crimes in the country, Amnesty International said today on the 5th anniversary of Benin’s accession to the UN treaty aiming at abolishing the death penalty.
The organization is also calling on the authorities to provide the death row prisoners with adequate food and medical care, and ensure that national legislation is reviewed and reformed in order to remove all provisions pertaining to the death penalty in all relevant laws, for all crimes.
“The judgment of the Constitutional Court last year which effectively abolished the death penalty for all crimes in Benin is remarkable and progressive. Despite this the status of 14 men who have been on death row in grim conditions for nearly two decades has not changed,” said Oluwatosin Popoola, Amnesty International’s Adviser on the death penalty
The Egyptian authorities must immediately stop the imminent executions of seven men sentenced to death in two grossly unfair trials, said Amnesty International calling on them to refer the case to the senior judges at Egypt’s highest appeals court, the Court of Cassation. The organization had recently warned that legal amendments passed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi limiting the appeal process before the court could contribute to an spike in death sentences and executions in the country.
At least six of the men were forcibly disappeared and tortured to obtain “confessions” that were later used by a criminal court in Mansoura to convict them of murdering a police officer and setting up a “terrorist” organization. The verdict was upheld by the Court of Cassation last week. In a separate case, another man is facing imminent execution after losing his final appeal before the same court. He was convicted, following a grossly unfair trial, of killing a man during a protest in Alexandria.
Responding to an Anti-Terrorism court’s decision to convict and sentence to death a man for allegedly posting content on Facebook deemed to be ‘blasphemous’, Amnesty International’s Pakistan campaigner, Nadia Rahman, said:
“Convicting and sentencing someone to death for allegedly posting blasphemous material online is a violation of international human rights law and sets a dangerous precedent. The authorities are using vague and broad laws to criminalize freedom of expression. He and all others accused of ‘blasphemy’ must be released immediately.
“Instead of holding people accountable for mob violence that has killed at least three people and injured several more in recent months, the authorities are becoming part of the problem by enforcing laws that lack safeguards and are open to abuse.
(Beirut) June 5, 2017 – Saudi Arabia should immediately quash the death sentences of 14 members of the Shia community for protest-related crimes, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The Court of Appeal of the notorious Specialized Criminal Court upheld the sentences in May, after they were handed down a year ago on June 1, 2016 following a grossly unfair trial of 24 Saudi Shia citizens. The Specialized Criminal Court is Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism tribunal.
“The rise in death sentences against Saudi Arabian Shia is alarming and suggests that the authorities are using the death penalty to settle scores and crush dissent under the guise of combating ‘terrorism’ and maintaining national security,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
Responding to reports that Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip will tomorrow execute three men accused of killing senior Hamas commander Mazen Faqha on 24 March, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Magdalena Mughrabi said:
“The three men scheduled to be hanged or shot in Gaza tomorrow were tried in a court that utterly disregarded international fair trial standards. If carried out, these cruel executions will constitute an appalling breach of international human rights law.
“It is not too late to save these men’s lives. We are urging the Hamas authorities to immediately halt these executions and ensure that the men are given a fair retrial. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which should never be used in any circumstances.”
Mazen Faqha, a commander in Hamas' military wing, was shot in the head and chest at the entrance of his Gaza City home on 24 March.
Responding to the killing by Papua New Guinea security forces of 17 prisoners who escaped Buimo jail as part of a mass breakout, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Champa Patel, said:
“The Papua New Guinea authorities must immediately order an independent and effective investigation into these killings. They must suspend any officers involved until the investigation is concluded, and hold suspected perpetrators to account through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty. It is alarming that the security forces’ first response was to use lethal force against unarmed people without any concern for their right to life.
“Poor sanitary conditions, overcrowding, and long remand periods have sparked mass breakouts before. Prison reforms and accountability mechanisms are crucial to stop these incidents from happening again. Whatever the crime committed by inmates, they have the right to be treated humanely.”
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Amnesty International USA Release
The state of Arkansas executed Kenneth Williams tonight, ending a spate of eight scheduled executions that were set to take place over the past 10 days because the state’s supply of lethal injection drugs was set to expire. Four of the eight received stays of execution that extend beyond the drugs’ expiration date. Williams’ execution was preceded by those of Ledell Lee, Jack Jones and Marcel Williams.
“While the rest of the country and the world moves away from the death penalty, Arkansas has shown just how committed it is to running in the wrong direction,” said James Clark, a senior campaigner at Amnesty International USA. “While it is too late for Kenneth Williams, Jack Jones, Marcel Williams, and Ledell Lee, it is not too late to commute the sentences of all of those remaining on death row. Whether the state kills one person or eight, the death penalty is unacceptable anywhere that values human rights. It is time to end the death penalty in the United States for good.”
The authorities in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region must immediately halt plans to execute two boys sentenced to death by a military tribunal in February for their alleged role in the armed group Al-Shabaab’s killing of three senior administration officials, said Amnesty International.
The organization has learnt that Muhamed Yasin Abdi, 17, and Daud Saied Sahal, 15, could be put to death at any moment after five other boys -– all aged between 14 and 17 – were executed on 8 April for the killings.
“These five boys were executed following a fundamentally flawed process during which they were tortured to confess, denied access to a lawyer and additional protections accorded to juveniles, and tried in a military tribunal. The lives of the remaining two boys must be spared” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
Amnesty International USA Release
NEW YORK – Arkansas executed Jack Jones today, the second of four prisoners scheduled to be executed before the state’s supply of lethal injections expires at the end of the month. Jones was sentenced to death despite the fact that the jury was not told of his serious mental disabilities. The execution of Marcel Williams, also scheduled for tonight, remained under appeal at the time of Jones’ death.
“Tonight Arkansas continues its shameful backslide against prevailing trends away from the death penalty. The sentences of Jack Jones and Marcel Williams are another heinous example of how the death penalty is applied to people with severe mental impairments and history of abuse. This conveyer belt of death must stop immediately by commuting the remaining sentences, and abolishing the death penalty once and for all.”
Information gathered by Amnesty International confirms that members of Egyptian military are responsible for at least seven unlawful killings, including shooting dead at point blank range an unarmed man and a 17-year-old child.
The organization’s experts analysed leaked video footage of the killings and compared it with photographs and a Youtube video published by the Egyptian military, as well as interviewing Sinai-based sources and experts. The footage shows a member of the Egyptian military shooting the child dead alongside another man in military uniform, whose accent indicates that he is a Sinai local. The bodies of five other men who appear to have been killed earlier also appear in the video.
The Nigerian authorities must immediately scrap plans to execute death row inmates in Kirikiri prison in Lagos, Amnesty International said today amid macabre reports from inmates that the prison’s gallows were being prepared and one inmate had been isolated possibly in preparation for execution.
This follows a statement by the Attorney General of Lagos State during a press briefing on 18 April indicating that the state government would soon start signing execution documents.
“The indications that Kirikiri prison authorities may be gearing up for a string of executions are deeply alarming. The death penalty is an outdated and cruel punishment which violates the right to life,” said Damian Ugwu, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Researcher.
Amnesty International USA Release
NEW YORK – Arkansas executed Ledell Lee today, the first of four prisoners scheduled to be executed before the state’s supply of lethal injections expires at the end of the month. This was the first execution in the state since 2005. Lee’s final appeals had requested DNA testing that could potentially prove his innocence, but those appeals were denied.
A report released earlier this month by Amnesty International showed that for the first time since 2006, and only the second time since 1991, the U.S. is not among the world's five biggest executioners. The number of executions (20) in 2016 reached the lowest level recorded in any year since 1991. The number of executions has fallen every year since 2009, (except 2012, when it stayed the same).
"Today is a shameful day for Arkansas, which is callously rushing the judicial process by treating human beings as though they have a sell-by date,” said James Clark, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International USA.