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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    August 02, 2016

    A teenager was executed in Iran after being convicted of the rape of another boy, the first confirmed execution of a juvenile in the country this year. Amnesty International, which has been carrying out extensive research into the situation of juvenile offenders on death row in Iran, found that Hassan Afshar, 19, was hanged in Arak’s Prison in Markazi Province on 18 July, after being convicted of “lavat-e be onf” (forced male to male anal intercourse) in early 2015. The execution went ahead even though the Office of the Head of the Judiciary had promised his family that they would review the case on 15 September 2016.

    July 26, 2016

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as ‘Jokowi’ will be putting his government on the wrong side of history if he proceeds with a fresh round of executions, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International received credible reports that at least 14 people could be executed this week, who consist of four Indonesian and ten foreign nationals, including a Pakistani, an Indian, a Zimbabwean, a Senegalese, a South African, and five Nigerians.

    “President Widodo’s era was supposed to represent a new start for human rights in Indonesia. Sadly, he could preside over the highest number of executions in the country’s democratic era at a time when most of the world has turned its back on this cruel practice,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    July 14, 2016

    July 1976 proved to be pivotal in justice systems on both sides of the Canada/US border. On the 14th of July, Canada took a significant step forward for human rights and justice by removing the death penalty from its Criminal Code.  Yet only twelve days earlier, the US Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was constitutional (after a period of moratorium). Since that time, the United States has executed 1,436 people. After abolition, Canada’s per capita rate for homicide has steadily declined, it is now at the lowest murder rate since 1966. In contrast, the United States has not had a steady drop in the homicide rate until quite recently and it remains well above that of Canada. Notably, the homicide rate remains higher in states that execute than those that do not. When Canada abolished the death penalty in law it joined a small number of countries, but today they represent more than half of the world’s countries. More than two thirds of the world’s countries no longer execute.

    July 05, 2016

    Guinea’s National Assembly vote in favour of a new criminal code abolishing the death penalty is a significant step for human rights in the country, but the code contains provisions which will strengthen the impunity enjoyed by security personnel and repress the expression of dissent, Amnesty International said.

    The new criminal code removes the death sentence from the list of applicable penalties and criminalizes torture for the first time. But some of the most frequently used forms of torture are defined as cruel and inhuman treatment, for which the law carries no explicit penalties.

    “Fifteen years since it last carried out executions, the promulgation of the law will make Guinea the 19th country in Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, putting itself on the right side of history,” said François Patuel Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

    July 05, 2016

    Iraq’s execution of five prisoners is a brazen knee-jerk reaction to the abhorrent weekend Baghdad bombing and a worrying sign that the country is stepping up its use of the death penalty, Amnesty International said today.

    The Iraqi Ministry of Justice said that the five prisoners had been put to death on Tuesday as authorities vowed more executions would be carried out following Saturday night’s attack in Baghdad, which killed at least 213 people and injured a further 200, according to media reports.

    “The Baghdad bombing that targeted civilians in a busy shopping area is an unconscionable attack on the basic right to life and a war crime, and there can be no justification for such odious violence,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    The armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility.

    Amnesty International called for those responsible to be brought to justice in fair trials without resorting to the death penalty.

    June 01, 2016

    To mark 1 June – International Children’s Day – Raha Bahreini from our Iran team describes how Amnesty has managed to raise awareness about the death penalty and save juvenile offenders from the gallows in Iran.

    It starts with a panicked phone call.

    Our contact tells us that a juvenile offender (a person aged below 18 at the time of their crime) has just been transferred to solitary confinement – the final step before execution.

    This is often our first glimpse of this young person and the desperate situation they are in. Why? Because the families of those on death row often fear reprisals if they publicize the plight of their loved ones. They sometimes believe that international lobbying and public campaigning will only complicate the situation and hasten the execution. At times, the authorities themselves give families false assurances, claiming that if the family does not publicize the case, their loved ones might be spared.

    The moment we are prompted to intervene is often the moment when the authorities’ promises are exposed as hollow and the young person is just days or hours away from execution. 

    May 29, 2016

    An Egyptian military court has sentenced eight individuals, all civilians, to death and another 18 to lengthy prison terms, after a grossly unfair military trial that relied on “confessions” extracted under horrific torture including defendants being whipped with a burning cloth, said Amnesty International today.

    “This verdict is an affront to justice and must be quashed immediately,” said Magdalena Mughrabi-Talhami, Amnesty International’s Regional Deputy Programme Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Sentencing to death men who were tortured into ‘confessions’ is an egregious injustice, even by the degraded standards of Egypt’s justice system. They must receive a fair trial before an ordinary civilian court that meets international standards and excludes torture-tainted evidence, without the recourse to the death penalty.”

    May 20, 2016

    Amnesty International condemns the execution of Kho Jabing, a Malaysian national convicted of murder, mere hours after his last chance for a reprieve was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

    "It is disgraceful that Kho Jabing's was executed, particularly with such indecent haste, after his final appeal was denied this morning," said Josef Benedict, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

    “Clemency should have been granted, more so given the uncertainty and divided opinion surrounding Kho Jabing's fate over the past six years. Singapore is at a crossroads. It must decide whether it wants to join most of the world by protecting human rights and ridding itself of the death penalty, or remain among the minority of countries that insist on the implementation of this cruel and inhumane punishment."

     

    For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

    May 19, 2016

    The Singapore authorities should immediately halt the execution of Kho Jabing, a Malaysian national convicted of murder, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization calls on the President of Singapore to grant clemency immediately. Kho Jabing was granted a temporary stay on 19 May 2016, mere hours before he was scheduled to be executed the following morning.

    “Any execution would mark a regressive step at a time when Singapore has made significant strides in terms of reducing the implementation of the death penalty,” said Josef Benedict, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

    “By granting clemency, President Tony Tan would build on these gains and move Singapore closer to the global trend towards abolition of this cruel practice.”

    Kho Jabing’s next hearing will take place at 9am on 20 May 2016, when his lawyers will be presenting arguments for a constitutional challenge to elements of the mandatory death penalty.

    May 13, 2016

    President Joko Widodo should seize the opportunity to show that his government has the resolve to stand up for human rights by halting the imminent executions of up to 15 people, Amnesty International said today.

    The death row prisoners believed to at risk have been convicted of alleged drug offences and some did not receive a fair trial. Their cases are, like many others that Amnesty International monitored, emblematic of systemic flaws within the Indonesia justice system.

    “President Widodo has the chance to show true resolve by halting these executions and ordering a full independent review of all death penalty cases,” said Rafendi Djamin, Director of Amnesty International’s South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

    “It is unacceptable for a government to execute people, especially when they did not receive a fair trial and have been convicted of offences that are not among the ‘most serious crimes’ in clear violation of international law and standards.”

    May 12, 2016

    Amnesty International is alarmed at reports that Indonesia is planning to carry out executions in the immediate future. It urges the authorities to immediately halt any such plans and establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty. It also calls on them to review the cases of all prisoners currently under sentence of death with a view to the commutation of their death sentences and to address violations of international law and standards relating to the use of the death penalty in Indonesia.

    May 12, 2016

    The Iranian authorities must urgently halt the scheduled execution this Sunday of a teenager who was just 15 years old at the time of his arrest, said Amnesty International.

    Alireza Tajiki, now 19 years old, was sentenced to death in April 2013 after a criminal court in Fars Province, southern Iran, convicted him of murder and rape primarily on the basis of “confessions” extracted through torture which he repeatedly retracted in court. His execution is due to take place on Sunday 15 May in Shiraz’s Adel Abad Prison in Fars Province.

    “Imposing the death penalty on someone who was a child at the time of the crime flies in the face of international human rights law, which absolutely prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed under the age of 18. It is particularly horrendous that the Iranian authorities are adamant to proceed with the execution when this case was marked by serious fair trial concerns and primarily relied on torture-tainted evidence,” said James Lynch, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 11, 2016

    Amnesty International strongly condemns the execution of 22-year old Siarhei Ivanou in Belarus. He is the first person known to have been executed since November 2014.

    Siarhei Ivanou was executed on the night of 18 April. In March 2015 he was sentenced to death having been convicted of the murder of a 19-year old woman in 2013. The UN Human Rights Committee had requested a stay of execution while it considered his case.  Such requests are binding on state parties to the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Belarus acceded to in 1992. Despite that, and in contravention of Belarus’ human rights obligations, Siarhei Ivanou was executed.

    Siarhei Ivanou’s family only learned of his execution in May, after the sentence had been implemented. They were not given any warning or granted a final meeting with him. In keeping with Belarusian law, his body will not be returned to them for burial, nor will his place of burial be disclosed. His personal belongings have not yet been returned to them. They are now required to collect his death certificate from the Belarusian authorities.

    May 10, 2016

    The execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami today is a deplorable move by the Bangladeshi authorities which will not deliver justice to the victims of war crimes, Amnesty International said today.

    Motiur Rahman Nizami, the current chief of Bangladeshi political party Jamaat-e-Islami, was hanged at Dhaka Central Jail today. He was sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh in October 2014 after he was convicted of charges relating murder, torture, rape and the mass killing of intellectuals during Bangladesh’s War of Independence in 1971.

    “We are dismayed that Bangladeshi authorities have executed Motiur Rahman Nizami. The victims of the horrific events of the 1971 Liberation War are entitled to justice, but taking another life is not the answer,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director of the South Asia Regional Office

    May 09, 2016

    The death penalty will deliver neither the justice that victims deserve nor the security that Afghanistan seeks, Amnesty International said today.

    Six men were executed on 8 May 2016 after they were convicted for their  involvement in a series of high-profile violent attacks - including the 2011 killing of former President and head of the High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and an attack on a Kabul supermarket in the same year.

    The executions mark the first time the government of President Ashraf Ghani has resorted to this cruel, unjust and irreversible punishment this year. Since a bombing last month in Kabul that killed more than 64 people, the Afghanistan government has vowed to implement the death penalty more frequently.

    The families who lost loved ones in violent attacks deserve justice for these appalling crimes,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director. “But the death penalty merely serves as vengeance, perpetuates the cycle of violence, and fails to address any root causes.”

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