"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Indonesia: Woman caught with 82 handbags filled with 12 kg of methamphetamines from China

North Jakarta Police Commissioner Susetio Cahyadi announced yesterday that his officers had seized 12 kilograms of methamphetamines, said to be worth Rp 18 billion, originating from Guangzhou, China.

As is often the case, the meth was concealed in an unusual container, or rather containers. Specifically, it was sewn into the lining of 82 ladies' handbags.

According to Susetio, the meth filled fashion accessories were seized at a boarding house on Jalan Jatayu in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta, on Tuesday, July 7.

"The meth was received by Jumi Yenita, a 26 years old," he said at his office yesterday, as quoted by Tempo.

Susetio said the meth was ordered from China by a Nigerian citizen named Jhon Ladiord Okori. After the meth arrived in Penjaringan, North Jakarta, Jhon contacted Jumi to pick it up.

After Jumi picked up the product, Susetio said police followed her and caught her with the narcotics in her room. Police later arrested Jhon on Thursday, July 9 at the same boarding house.

Jumi claimed she did not know the bags contained meth. "Jhon asked me to take the bags and paid me Rp 1 million." Jhon also denied ordering the drugs, saying he was just buying bags from China to sell here.

The head of North Jakarta's Drug Investigation Unit, Assistant Commissioner Apollo Sinambella, said each bag contains 12.5 grams of meth that was destined to be circulated throughout Jakarta.

For their actions, Jumi and Jhon have both been charged with drug smuggling with a maximum prison sentence of 20 years or the death penalty.

Source: Coconuts, July 28, 2015

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Kuwait court sentences 4 Egyptians to death

Triple execution in Kuwait in April 2013
Triple execution in Kuwait in April 2013
A court in Kuwait has sentenced 4 Egyptians to death over the killing of a Pakistani guard at a construction site.

The Egyptian nationals were sentenced on Tuesday. They were charged with murder using a hammer.

The 4 men confessed to killing the Pakistani national at the construction site where they stole 36 tons of steel, before selling it all for USD 18,000.

The verdict can be appealed.

3 other Egyptians were also sentenced to 7 years in prison for helping the four commit the crime.

In Kuwait, dozens of people are thought to be on death row over, mostly, murder and drug crimes, where execution is carried out by hanging.

Except for a return of the death penalty in 2013, execution has generally not been used in Kuwait since 2007.

Since the death penalty was introduced in Kuwait in the mid 1960s, some 71 people have been executed.

Source: Presstv, July 28, 2015

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Second Saudi execution after Ramadan pause

Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia beheaded one of its citizens for drug trafficking Tuesday, in the second execution after a pause for Ramadan.

Saif al-Hadissane was found guilty of smuggling a large amount of hashish.

He was executed in the Al-Ahsa region of eastern Saudi Arabia, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

SPA had reported no executions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday which followed it from July 17.

The latest beheading brings to 104 the number of executions in the kingdom this year, a sharp increase on the 87 recorded during the whole of 2014, according to AFP tallies.

This year's figure is still below the record 192 which human rights group Amnesty International said took place in 1995.

Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi authorities of waging a "campaign of death" by executing more people in the first six months of this year than in all of last year.

Echoing the concerns of other activists, the New York-based group said it had documented "due process violations" in Saudi Arabia's legal system that make it difficult for defendants to get fair trials even in capital cases.

Under the conservative kingdom's strict Islamic sharia legal code, drug trafficking, rape, murder, armed robbery, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

The Interior Ministry has cited deterrence as a reason for carrying out the punishment. It has also talked of "the physical and social harm" caused by drugs.

Source: Agence France-Presse, July 28, 2015

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Lindsay Sandiford's death row case raised by David Cameron in Indonesia

Lindsay Sandiford in her Kerobokan death-row cell
Lindsay Sandiford in her Kerobokan death-row cell
The Prime Minister, who is on a tour of Indonesia, raises case of British grandmother convicted of dug trafficking

David Cameron has raised the case of Lindsay Sandiford, the British grandmother on death row, with his Indonesian counterpart.

Mr Cameron discussed her case with President Jokowi of Indonesia at a meeting in Jakarta.

Sandiford, who is in her late fifties and originally from Redcar, Teesside, was sentenced to death in January 2013 in Bali after being convicted of trafficking drugs.

She was found with cocaine worth an estimated £1.6 million as she arrived in Bali on a flight from Bangkok, Thailand.

She can expect to be killed by firing squad.

Asked about the case, the Prime Minister said: “On the issue of prisoners, I always raise these issues wherever I travel around the world, and will do so here.

“I want to do it in a way I hope will help the family concerned, and obviously will listen to the concerns of the families and their views before doing these things. That is the right way to proceed - to try and help.”

Sandiford admitted the offences, but claimed she had been coerced by threats to her son’s life. She has appealed against the case without success.

In April the Indonesia authorities executed eight convicted drug smugglers, including two Australians, who had been jailed alongside Sandiford. She said she was “deeply saddened” by their “senseless, brutal” deaths.

Source: The Telegraph, Matthew Holehouse, July 27, 2015

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Libyan court sentences Gaddafi son Saif, eight other ex-officials to death

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
A Libyan court on Tuesday sentenced Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, and eight others to death for war crimes including killings of protesters during the 2011 revolution that ended his father's rule.

The former Gaddafi regime officials sentenced to die by firing squad included former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and ex-prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, Sadiq al-Sur, chief investigator at the Tripoli state prosecutor's office, told a televised news conference in Tripoli.

The trial outcome drew swift criticism abroad, with Human Rights Watch and a prominent international lawyer saying it was riddled with legal flaws and carried out amid widespread lawlessness undermining the credibility of the judiciary.

Eight ex-officials received life sentences and seven jail terms of 12 years each, Sadiq said. Four of the 37 defendants were acquitted, others got shorter jail terms.

Muammar Gaddafi himself was killed by rebels who captured him after months on the run.

Sadiq did not spell out the charges on which the verdict was based, referring to the expected written ruling. Defendants had been accused of a range of offences including the use of deadly force against unarmed demonstrators, as well as corruption.

The verdict on Saif al-Islam was passed in absentia in Tripoli since he has been held since 2011 by a former rebel group in the mountainous Zintan region beyond central government control. Factional disorder and conflict now plagues Libya.

Saif appeared by video link only at the start of the trial. The Zintanis have refused to hand him over, saying they do not trust authorities in Tripoli to make sure he does not escape, but agreed to let him be tried there.

The sentences can be appealed and must be confirmed by Libya's Supreme Court, but legal experts and rights advocates said the proceeding was tainted and politicized from the start.

Source: Reuters, July 28, 2015

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Pakistan court grants stay of execution to paraplegic prisoner

A court in Pakistan today stayed the execution of a paraplegic man who was set to hang tomorrow (Wednesday).

Abdul Basit, 43, was convicted and sentenced to death for murder in 2009. In 2010, he contracted tubercular meningitis in prison, which left him paralysed from the waist down. Despite being unable to stand, and reliant on a wheelchair, a ‘Black Warrant’ issued last week scheduled his execution for July 29th.

The Lahore High Court today upheld an appeal by lawyers for Basit who argued that his execution would constitute cruel and unusual punishment, violating the fundamental right to human dignity enshrined in Pakistan’s Constitution.

The Pakistan Prison Rules of 1978 – the statute regulating executions – state that the rope for hanging must be the correct length, in order to avoid prisoners facing protracted strangulation (if it is too long) or decapitation (if it is too short). The rules state that the rope’s length is determined by measuring it from “the lower jaw of the condemned prisoner as he stands on the scaffold.” This and other procedures set out in the Prison Rules cannot be followed in Basit’s case, leaving open the possibility of a botched hanging.

The Court has now given the government two weeks to respond to the appeal with a hearing scheduled for August 17th.

Pakistan’s law makes provisions for mercy to be granted in cases where prisoners are suffering from severe “ill-health”. The Government’s failure to acknowledge this and commute Basit’s sentence appears to form part of a worrying trend involving the blanket dismissal of all mercy petitions considered since executions resumed in 2014. Over 180 prisoners have been hanged in Pakistan’s recent rush to the gallows and recent reports suggest that many more who have now had their mercy petitions dismissed without proper consideration may be next in line.

Among them is Shafqat Hussain, convicted and sentenced to death when under 18, who was yesterday issued with a ‘black warrant’. His execution has been set for August 4th despite widespread concerns over torture and the government covering up evidence – notably a school record – that could prove his age.

Kate Higham, caseworker at human rights NGO Reprieve, said: “We are enormously relieved by the court’s decision today. To allow Pakistan's government to continue with the hanging of a paraplegic man would have been in clear violation of Pakistani law, not to mention an affront to basic common decency. The government must now commute Basit’s sentence.”

Source: Reprieve, July 28, 2015

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The Four Best Charts From the Supreme Court's Death-Penalty Ruling

Justice Stephen Breyer
Justice Stephen Breyer
Breyer makes the case against "unusual" punishments

When the Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor a controversial lethal-injection drug, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote an impassioned dissent. He argued that not only was the specific drug combo unconstitutionally cruel, but the entire practice of lethal injection should be reconsidered. To back his argument, he brought charts.

"Cruel and unusual punishments" are expressly forbidden in the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The first three items above are Breyer's reasoning for why the death penalty is cruel: The methods are unreliable, the sentencing is arbitrary, and the years of uncertain waiting before execution are torturous. It's the fourth item—the declining use of capital punishment across the U.S.—that Breyer uses to argue the unusual nature of executions.

Argument #4. Geographic Concentration of Executions Is Narrowing

Of America's 50 states, 30 have either legally abolished executions or just stopped conducting them. Of the remaining 20 states, only 11 have had more than four executions in the past eight years. That, writes Breyer, is "a fairly rare event."

The geography of executions is even more concentrated than these numbers imply.


Counties With Five or More Death Sentences




Breyer argues that it's not the number of states that are still executing prisoners that matters but the consistent decline. In the past two decades, no state has reinstated the death penalty. Just three states—Texas, Missouri, and Florida—accounted for 80 percent of executions last year.

Click here to read the full article

Source: Bloomberg, Tom Randall, June 30, 2015

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Tennessee lethal injection trial continues with dueling experts

The Tennessee Supreme Court says the death penalty is constitutional, so there must be a constitutional way to carry it out. But attorneys for 33 death row inmates say lethal injection isn't one of them.

In a trial that began July 7, the inmates' attorneys have been trying to prove the injection of deadly chemicals into a prisoner's veins carries an unacceptably high risk of extreme suffering and can cause a lingering death.

The case comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma's lethal injection procedure, which uses different drugs than Tennessee but considered some of the same broad issues.

Inmates' attorneys say the claim of lingering death is a novel one. It is based on the theory that an overdose of sedatives can put inmates into a death-like coma without truly killing them for hours.

One witness who is an expert in resuscitation told the Davidson County Chancery Court it might be possible to revive an inmate who had been declared dead half an hour later or more. Another witness who is an expert in anesthesiology suggested that an inmate could recover spontaneously.

Attorneys for the state say the idea of spontaneous recovery is pure speculation, and that there is no chance an inmate will be resuscitated once an execution has started. They say the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled inmates are not entitled to pain-free death. Nonetheless, they say that is what lethal injection generally provides.

Dr. Feng Li, Davidson County's acting chief medical examiner, offered testimony that a high dose of the sedative pentobarbital - Tennessee's current lethal injection drug - would leave a prisoner unconscious within seconds and dead within minutes. Once the inmate was unconscious, he or she would not feel any pain, Li said.

Experts for the two sides also have clashed over whether drugs made to order by a pharmacist are too risky to use. The only commercial producer of pentobarbital has placed restrictions on its distribution to prevent it from being used in executions.

The trial will continue on Aug. 3.

Tennessee has not executed an inmate for more than five years because of legal challenges and problems obtaining lethal injection drugs. In 2013 and 2014, state lawmakers tried to jump-start the process by moving from a 3-drug lethal injection method to a 1-drug method and reinstating the electric chair as a backup. But both of those changes brought new legal challenges, and all previously scheduled executions have been put on hold.

Faced with similar problems, Oklahoma enacted a law allowing execution by nitrogen gas as a backup to lethal injection. Utah reinstated the firing squad.

Source: Associated Press, July 27, 2015

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Iran: 27 executions in past week

NCRI – Nine prisoners were on Monday hanged collectively in a detention center in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran.

Also on Monday two other prisoners, identified as Saeid Ganji and Firouz Nouri-Majd, were hanged in Iran’s notorious Qezelhesar Prison in Karaj.

The hangings bring to at least 27 the number of prisoners that have been executed in Iran in the past week.

The nine prisoners executed at dawn on Monday in the Karaj detention center were identified as Omid Mohammadi-Dara, Mostafa Ghafarzadeh, Omidreza Karampour, Shahriar Hassan-Zadeh, Hossein Afghan, Yareh Hassan-Zadeh, Sasan Salari, Meysam Hosseini-Nejad, and Amanollah Baluch-Zehi.

Faced with escalating popular discontent and unable to respond to the rightful demands of the majority of the Iranian people who are living under the poverty line, the religious fascism ruling Iran - dubbed the ‘godfather of ISIS’ by the Iranian people - is ramping up suppression.

On Thursday, Amnesty International said that the Iranian regime has executed an astonishing 694 people between January 1 and July 15, 2015.

“Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of state carrying out premeditated judicially-sanctioned killing on a mass scale,” it said.

Since mullah Hasssan Rouhani took office as President, more than 1,800 prisoners have been executed in Iran.

Source: NCRI, July 28, 2015

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UK Government urged to come clean on Pakistan executions funding

The Home Office is refusing to reveal the true extent of secret funding to Pakistan which risks implicating the UK in a wave of executions currently underway.

Human rights organization Reprieve has brought proceedings before the Information Rights Tribunal (IRT) challenging ministers’ refusal to reveal whether Government guidelines were followed when funneling at least £12 million into anti-drugs efforts in Pakistan, largely carried out by the Pakistani Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF). The ANF is responsible for sending more than a hundred alleged drug mules to Pakistan’s 8,500-strong death row, and lists these numbers on its website as ‘Prosecution Achievements.’ Several British citizens are understood to be among those facing execution on drugs charges.

Pakistan has executed some 180 people since resuming executions in December 2014, having widened its hanging campaign in early 2015 to cover all prisoners on the country’s death row – including drug offenders, others convicted of non-violent offences, juveniles, and mentally ill prisoners.

The UK’s Overseas Security and Justice Assistance (OSJA) guidance requires ministers to consider the potential risk to human rights of government overseas assistance. However, the Government is refusing to reveal crucial details of its decision-making about the funding, despite the recent resumption of hangings. The Home Office is arguing that publishing the information would both damage its relations with Pakistan, and reveal information which could “relate to” the British security services.

At the Government’s request large portions of the hearings so far have been heard in secret, without the presence of Reprieve, its lawyers, or a Government-appointed security-cleared lawyer known as a ‘Special Advocate’. Reprieve is currently seeking permission to appeal the judge’s decision to refuse the presence of a special advocate.

Commenting, Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said:

"The British public deserves to know how much of its money is funding hangings in Pakistan, particularly as the country continues its aggressive execution spree. If the UK is contributing to putting vulnerable drug mules – including British nationals – on death row in countries like Pakistan, this is a matter of huge public interest. The Home Office should stop hiding behind spurious national security arguments in an effort to dodge taxpayer scrutiny, and instead come clean about the true extent of its aid for executions”.

Source: Reprieve, July 18, 2015

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Islamist militants in minority in Pakistan execution drive, deterrent effect debated

When Pakistan resumed executions after the massacre of 134 pupils at an army-run school last December, the government promised hangings would help deter Islamist militants.

A Reuters analysis of 180 people hanged since late December, however, shows that fewer than 1 in 6 were linked to militancy.

Hangings are set to resume this week after a hiatus for the Muslim month of fasting, and the findings raise questions over whether Pakistan's capital punishment is having the desired effect.

Lawyers and rights groups say several cases that ended in execution had serious legal shortcomings, and although the campaign is broadly popular at home it has drawn condemnation from international partners.

Within 6 months, Pakistan has become the world's 3rd-ranking country in terms of executions, behind China and Iran.

Of 180 people executed since January, 29 were convicted of assassinations or assassination attempts, sectarian murders, a hijacking or killing of security officials - falling under a broad definition of militancy.

Almost all were hanged immediately after the massacre. Since then, most executions were of murderers with no militant links.

Officials say the death penalty has deterred militant attacks.

"You've seen the number of terrorist attacks going down drastically," the prime minister's special assistant for law, Ashtar Ausaf Ali, told Reuters. "One of the reasons is fear. Fear of being executed."

LINK IN DOUBT

He did not provide figures, but the executions coincide with a steady fall in militant attacks since 2010, when the military began seizing territory from Taliban insurgents. A further crackdown launched a year ago was another factor.

There was no dramatic decline this year, however, suggesting the link to executions was "not major", said Muhammad Amir Rana, head of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, which runs a database on militant attacks.

That showed 976 people died in the first 6 months of 2014, 747 in the 2nd 6 months of 2014 and 612 in the first 6 months of 2015.

The Taliban and other militants scoffed at the idea that hanging might stop them.

"When we can blow up ourselves to hit targets and embrace martyrdom, how can hangings scare us?" one militant asked.

The interior ministry did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

One senior security official said the death penalty was designed to quench public thirst for vengeance after the school massacre, while at the same time leaving militant groups deemed useful untouched.

Some militants have historic links with Pakistan's powerful armed forces and intelligence, which used them as proxy forces against arch-rival India. Several banned groups still operate freely and hold public rallies.

"It was never meant for militants, and if it was, it was only for those few who were no longer dancing to our tune," said the official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The military did not respond to requests for comment, but has denied operational links to militants.

Ali said many jailed militants had appeals pending, and they would be executed if the appeals failed.

About 100 cases have gone to secret military courts set up after the Peshawar attack and 27 judgments have been passed, Ali said. The case files are secret.

Pakistan's antiquated and overburdened justice system does not have public data on executions, the number of people on death row and the crimes for which they are being held.

Reuters analysed databases of news reports collated by legal aid group Reprieve and rights group Amnesty International. Not all the reports were verified.

"STAGGERING INCOMPETENCE"

European legislator Richard Howitt said the hangings were "a cause of great European concern" and could endanger a tax break for Pakistan linked to human rights.

The "GSP plus" status gives Pakistani manufacturers favourable access to European markets and generated more than a billion dollars in increased trade for Pakistan last year.

"I want to appeal to Pakistan to refrain from further executions which could indeed impinge renewal of trade preferences with the EU," he told Reuters. Human rights lawyer Saroop Ijaz has worked on dozens of death penalty appeals, and says an overwhelming number show "staggering incompetence" in the criminal justice system.

Police rarely gather evidence, he said, instead relying on witnesses who may be bribed or intimidated. Some defendants are tried in a language they do not speak, and some say they were tortured into confessing.

Poor defendants are represented by public defense lawyers, typically paid 10-14,000 rupees ($100-$140) a month. They often don't show up.

Naval officer Zulfiqar Ali Khan was hanged after being convicted of a double murder 16 years ago. His lawyers said he was defending himself during a robbery.

His court-appointed lawyer did not meet him once outside of court, present evidence in his defensse or properly challenge witness statements, said legal aid group Justice Project Pakistan.

"Poverty did not allow us to hire a private lawyer at any stage," said Khan's brother Abdul Qayyum, a low-paid clerk. "I cannot forget the moment I received the body of my brother... I will take the sense of loss and helplessness to my grave."

Source: Reuters, July 27, 2015

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2 Baluchi men hanged in southern Iran prison

Public execution in Iran
2 Iranian men were hanged on Sunday in the main prison in Bandar Abbas, southern Iran.

The 2 men, originally from Iran's Sistan-va-Baluchestan Province, south-eastern Iran, had been imprisoned in Bandar Abbas for the past 2 years.

Their hanging followed the execution on Saturday of 3 men in a prison in the city of Ilam, western Iran.

The 3 men, only identified by their initials A.K., R.E. and N.S., were hanged in the central prison of Ilam, the regime's judiciary in Ilam Province said on Saturday.

On Wednesday (July 22), in a criminal act, the inhuman regime collectively hanged 10 prisoners in Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran. Another prisoner was hanged on the same day in Esfahan Prison, central Iran.

These atrocities were committed simultaneous with a major protest by Iranian teachers last week outside the regime's Majlis (Parliament) demanding freedom for their imprisoned colleagues and their basic rights.

Faced with escalating popular discontent and unable to respond to the rightful demands of the majority of the Iranian people who are living under the poverty line, the religious fascism ruling Iran - dubbed the 'godfather of ISIS' by the Iranian people - is ramping up suppression.

On Thursday, Amnesty International said that the Iranian regime has executed an astonishing 694 people between January 1 and July 15, 2015.

"Iran's staggering execution toll for the 1st half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of state carrying out premeditated judicially-sanctioned killing on a mass scale," it said.

Since mullah Hasssan Rouhani took office as President, more than 1,800 prisoners have been executed in Iran.

Turning a blind eye by the international community, especially the European Union and the United States, regarding the catastrophic human rights situation in Iran emboldens the mullahs' regime to step up suppression and slaughter the Iranian people. Any relations with the Iranian regime must be contingent upon an improvement of the situation of human rights in Iran, including the release of all political prisoners.

Source: NCRI, July 27, 2015


Another 2 hanged in Iran, 10 more on death row

2 more prisoners were hanged Monday morning in Iran's notorious Qezelhesar Prison in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran.

The 2 prisoners were identified as Saeid Ganji and Firouz Nouri-Majd.

Ganji, Nouri-Majd and at least 1 other prisoner in Qezelhesar Prison were transferred to solitary confinement on Sunday in preparation for their execution, and their relatives were contacted to meet with them in the prison for a final time.

There are reports that the number of prisoners awaiting imminent execution in the jail could in fact be higher.

Another 10 death-row prisoners in Iran have been transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for their execution.

9 prisoners, being held in a detention center in Karaj, west of Tehran, were transferred to solitary confinement on Saturday in preparation for their execution. On Sunday, their relatives were told to come to the jail to meet for a final time with their loved ones.

The 9 prisoners were identified as Omid Mohammadi-Dara, Mostafa Ghafarzadeh, Omidreza Karampour, Shahriar Hassan-Zadeh, Hossein Afghan, Yareh Hassan-Zadeh, Sasan Salari, Meysam Hosseini-Nejad, and Amanollah Baluch-Zehi.

At least 18 prisoners have been executed in Iran in the past 6 days.

Source: NCRI, July 27, 2015

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Death Penalty 2015: The Good and the Bad

The first 6 months of 2015 have seen starkly contrasting developments on the death penalty. While the bad news has been very bad, the good news has been very good.

THE BAD

1. Indonesia resumed executions.

The year began on a tragic note when Indonesia, ignoring pleas from around the world, put 6 people to death for drug trafficking. The executions were the 1st in Indonesia since 2013.

2. Pakistan may soon be counted among the world's top executioners.

Pakistan is edging closer to membership of the unenviable club of the world's top executioners (China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and USA). At least 150 people have been put to death since a freeze on executions was lifted in December 2014, following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar.

3. Indonesia and Pakistan used crime and terrorism as an excuse to bring back executions.

Both Indonesia and Pakistan justified bringing back the death penalty by claiming it is an effective response to crime and terrorism. But there is no evidence to show that the death penalty is more effective at addressing crime than a prison term, nor does abolition lead to a sharp increase in crime, as some fear.

4. Iran looks set to surpass its execution figures for 2014.

Iran has so far this year executed nearly 700 people - many of these executions were not officially acknowledged. In 2014, Amnesty recorded at least 743 executions in Iran over 12 months. That the country put more than 600 people to death just 6 months into this year is deeply troubling.

5. Saudi Arabia has already executed more people than it did in 2014.

Amnesty has recorded 102 executions in Saudi Arabia so far this year, exceeding the total number of executions (at least 90) for 2014. Almost 1/2 of these executions were for drug-related offences.

THE GOOD

1. Three countries abolished the death penalty in the first 3 months of 2015.

In January Madagascar abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Fiji followed suit in February. And in March, the South American State of Suriname also removed the death penalty from its legal books. The abolition of the death penalty in 3 countries in the space of 3 months gives further momentum to a trend that has been evident for decades - the world is consigning capital punishment to history.

2. Another three countries are close to abolishing the death penalty.

The Mongolian Parliament is considering a draft penal code abolishing the death penalty. Burkina Faso and South Korea are also considering similar draft laws.

3. The trend towards abolition in the USA is picking up steam.

One more US state, Nebraska, has abolished the death penalty, becoming the 19th abolitionist state in the USA. And in February, Pennsylvania's governor announced a suspension of all executions.

4. Those countries that execute are in the minority.

Over the last 5 years, the average number of countries that have carried out executions each year stands at 22.

5. More than 1/2 the world's countries have abolished the death penalty.

In total, 101 countries have completely abolished the death penalty - that's more than 1/2 the countries in the world. Another 33 countries are abolitionist in practice - meaning they have not executed anyone for at least 10 years and have a long-standing policy of not executing. Despite the sharp rise in executions in some countries, abolitionist countries still represent the clear global majority.

Source: Amnesty International, July 27, 2015

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Poll finds Colorado voters oppose tougher gun laws

The poll also found that Colorado voters support the death penalty

A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday shows Colorado voters oppose tougher gun control laws, especially among men and Republicans.

The poll showed voters oppose such laws 56-39 %, with a 80-18 % opposition among Republicans. Independent voters oppose tougher laws by 59-35 % while Democrats support tougher laws 76-19 %.

According to the poll, men oppose tougher laws 69-27 %, while women support them 51-44 %.

The poll, completed as part of a swing state gauge that also included Iowa and Virginia, questioned 1,231 Colorado voters with a margin of error of 2.8 % points.

The poll also found Colorado voters approve 51-40 % of Gov. John Hickenlooper's work. The voters also approved of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet by 41-34 % approval rating though the poll showed voters say 40-32 % that he does not deserve reelection in 2016.

Voters gave U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner a 48-28 % approval rating, according to the poll.

"With wide partisan and gender gaps, only 26 % of Colorado voters say the death penalty should be abolished and replaced with life in prison with no chance of parole," according to a Quinnipiac University news release Monday. "67 % say continue the death penalty."

The finding comes as jurors in the Aurora theater shooting case weigh whether or not to execute James Holmes for his 2012 attack on an Aurora movie theater that left 12 dead and 70 injured. The jury convicted him earlier this month.

The poll found Colorado voters support 63-32 % the death penalty rather than life in prison without parole for Holmes.

"With James Holmes awaiting sentencing for the movie theater massacre, there is barely a thread of sentiment in Colorado for abolishing the death penalty," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll, said in the release.

Source: Denver Post, July 27, 2015

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Pakistan issues execution warrant for Shafqat Hussain

Pakistan today set an execution date of August 7th for Shafqat Hussain, who was convicted as a juvenile following days of police torture.

Shafqat was under 18 when he was convicted and sentenced to death in 2004 having been tortured into giving a false ‘confession’. The Pakistan government has refused to back a judicial inquiry into his age, instead withholding a number of documents, notably his school record, which reportedly provide proof that he was under 18.

Last week the Sindh Human Rights Commission, a statutory watchdog headed by a retired judge, called for a halt to Shafqat’s execution so that the allegations of torture and his juvenility might be examined.

In its opinion, the commission wrote that “there are no eye witnesses [to the alleged offence] but only [the] confession of the accused with [an] allegation of torture.” They went further in criticising the way the case was dealt with in the first instance, writing “we fail to understand why [there was] such a careless handling of a serious case where [the] life of a human being is at stake,” and asking whether Shafqat can “be executed when there is so much confusion and the evidence is lacking.” They also criticised the initial government inquiry, carried out by the government’s Federal Investigation Authority, concluding that it was ‘not admissible’.

This is the fifth execution warrant that has been issued for Shafqat Hussain since the Pakistan government resumed executions in December of last year following a moratorium on executions that had been in place since 2008. So far, around 180 people have been hanged in Pakistan. There was a brief hiatus in hangings over Ramadan but as that ended the government began issuing execution warrants again. Among those were warrants for paraplegic Abdul Basit who is due to be killed on Wednesday, and another for mentally ill prisoner Khizar Hayat, whose execution has now been temporarily stayed.

The Pakistan Government initially claimed it resumed executions to counter terrorism, with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar saying in June, “we are up to our necks – terrorists set a war on us”. But a Reuters article published today has analysed figures provided by human rights organisation Reprieve, and Amnesty International, to reveal that fewer than 1 in 6 of those executed were in any way ‘linked to militancy’.

Commenting, Reprieve caseworker Kate Higham, said: “Pakistan’s relentless attempts to hang Shafqat Hussain are outrageous enough given he was convicted and sentenced as a child following days of brutal torture. That the government is intent on killing him in the face of massive condemnation over their handling of his case by a statutory human rights body is truly shocking. Moreover this comes days after they have set an execution date for a paraplegic man and another for a man suffering from schizophrenia. Pakistan must stay all executions so that all instances of torture and juvenility can be fully investigated.”

Source: Reprieve, July 27, 2015

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Iraq: Huge crowd gathers to watch ISIS throw gay man off building

New photographs have emerged showing Islamic State militants throwing yet another man off a building accused of being gay.

In the images, which have not been verified, hundreds of other militants carrying weapons gathered on the main street in the Iraqi town of Mosul to watch the execution. 

In one photo, several children can be seen at the front of the crowd in khaki robes.

In another, four jihadis in white robes and black tactical vests stand in a line behind the accused who is blindfolded and keeling on the ground, while a judge reads out a statement condemning the man to his death over a microphone system.

It is unclear how the man was discovered to be gay.

The terrorist group did not release images of the moment they threw him off the building, as they have done previously. Instead, the last image shows his dead body crumpled on the ground.


And to ‘celebrate’ the legalization of gay marriage nationwide in the US last month, ISIS posted photos of militants throwing four gay men off a building in Raqqa, Syria with the hashtag #LoveWins.

ISIS have killed dozens of gay men, whom they have branded the ‘worst of creatures,’ since the beginning of the year.




Source: Gay Star News, July 27, 2015

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Australia: Labor condemns Indonesian death penalty

Labor has formally condemned Indonesia's execution of Bali 9's Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

The party's national conference on Sunday passed a resolution that "condemns these executions in the strongest possible terms" and commits a future Labor federal government to push for a global moratorium on the death penalty.

Drug smugglers Chan and Sukumaran were executed by firing squad in late April amid an outcry from Australia at Indonesia's continued use of the death penalty.

Source: news.com.au, July 26, 2015

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Iran: Three hanged for rape

Three prisoners were hanged to death in a compound at Ilam Central Prison on Saturday morning, according to the Public Relations Department of the Province of Ilam quoting Ilam's Chief Justice. 

The prisoners, announced as A.K., R.A., and N.SH, were reportedly executed for the mutual kidnapping and rape of a woman. 

Their execution sentences were reportedly confirmed by Branch 22 of Iran's Supreme Court.

Source: Iran Human Rights, July 26, 2015

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Saudi Arabia: Death-row Indonesian maid 'nearing release'

"The Indonesian government has fought a long battle to save the maid and
had managed to get the execution delayed several times since her conviction."
The much-publicized case of Satinah binti Jumadi Ahmad, 41, an Indonesian maid jailed in Saudi Arabia since 2009 for killing her employer's wife and stealing money, could be nearing an end soon.

"Indonesian Embassy officials will visit Buraidah next week to check the status of the case," said Dede Achmad Rifai, an embassy official, here Saturday.

The maid is lodged in a jail in Buraidah. The Indonesian government has formally appealed to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to pardon her after it paid SR7 million in blood money to the victim's family. "The employer's family has already pardoned the maid, thus settling the private claims," said Rifai.

He, however, said that the public rights issue need to be settled before Satinah is finally set free.

The maid has been awaiting her death sentence since 2011 when she was found guilty of killing her employer's 70-year-old wife and stealing SR37,970 in 2007.

The Indonesian government has fought a long battle to save the maid and had managed to get the execution delayed several times since her conviction.

Rifai said: "There are 18 workers, mainly housemaids, who have been awarded death penalty by various courts." This includes nine female workers in the Western Province alone for their alleged involvement in various crimes. The embassy has been trying to seek clemency in most of the cases.

In one case, according to a report published by Jakarta Post, an Indonesian daily newspaper, 5 Indonesian migrant workers sentenced to death in a murder case have been released by the court after receiving forgiveness from the victim's family.

The 5 workers have been identified as Saiful Mubarak, Samani Muhammad, Muhammad Mursyidi, Ahmad Zizi Hartati and Abdul Aziz Supiyani. Charges against these 5 people were for killing a Saudi national, Zubair bin Hafiz Ghul Muhammad, in 2006.

The Indonesian diplomatic missions in Riyadh and Jeddah are still trying to resolve several cases ranging from petty crimes to death penalty matters.

Source: Arab News, July 26, 2015

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Days from an execution, India faces questions over death penalty

Yakub Memon
Yakub Memon
India's Supreme Court said Friday that it would hear a last-ditch appeal by a death-row prisoner whose case has renewed questions about capital punishment in the world's 2nd-most populous nation.

The court said it would hear arguments for clemency Monday in the case of Yakub Memon, who is scheduled to be hanged Thursday in connection with a series of bombings that killed hundreds of people in Mumbai, India's financial capital, 2 decades ago.

Indian authorities say Memon, now 53, assisted the 2 masterminds of the blasts, who are believed to be hiding in neighboring Pakistan.

An accountant, Memon was convicted of handling finances for the 1993 attack, in which 13 bombs exploded across the city then known as Bombay, killing 257 people and wounding more than 700.

Critics say that Memon, the only person sentenced to death for the bombings, is being made a scapegoat because Indian authorities have been unable to nab the two suspected masterminds: Memon's older brother, Mushtaq "Tiger" Memon, and Dawood Ibrahim.

10 men convicted of planting the bombs in the Bombay Stock Exchange, luxury hotels, bazaars and other busy areas had their death sentences commuted to life in prison when the Supreme Court ruled 2 years ago that they were pawns of the main conspirators.

Hanging Memon "will only give the impression that the lone man available among the many brains behind the ghastly act of terrorism is being singled out," The Hindu newspaper wrote in an editorial.

Memon, who fled to Pakistan with his family before the attacks, was arrested in 1994. While Indian authorities said he was captured in New Delhi, Memon said he turned himself in to prove his innocence.

While in custody, Memon reportedly persuaded 6 family members to return to India from Pakistan to face charges. 3 were sentenced to prison for aiding the conspirators.

Memon also supplied investigators with what they said was evidence of Pakistan's involvement in the attack, including the names of Pakistani officials who furnished the Memons with travel documents and watched over them in the port city of Karachi. Pakistan denies involvement in the attacks.

"He has been in jail for 20 years and has given the courts some vital information," said Abha Singh, a senior lawyer and activist. "Now if we hang him ... the international community will never be in favor of extraditing any terrorist to India."

The bombings were said to be in retaliation for communal bloodletting that began months earlier after Hindu extremists destroyed a mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya. Hundreds of people, both Hindus and Muslims, died in riots in Mumbai and other cities.

Memon's case also has raised accusations that India is quicker to apply the death penalty in terrorism cases, particularly when Muslims are involved.

India did not carry out any executions for nearly a decade until November 2012, when Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving assailant in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, was hanged in secret. Months later, Mohammed Afzal Guru, convicted for an attack on the Indian parliament a decade earlier, was also executed.

4 members of the Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebels who were convicted in the 1991 assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had their death sentences reduced to life in prison after pressure from political parties in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Asaduddin Owaisi, a Muslim lawmaker, said Friday that Memon was being hanged because he was Muslim. A lawmaker from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has close ties to Hindu nationalist groups, responded that those who don't respect the Indian judiciary can "go to Pakistan."

National Law University in New Delhi recently reported that of several hundred Indians on death row, about 3/4 belonged to religious minorities and underprivileged castes.

Manoj Joshi, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said the death penalty was beginning to resemble "a whimsical lottery" biased against Muslims.

"Heinous criminals get away with barbaric crimes, terrorists who are politically convenient are given the benefit of doubt, but to make up for it, peripheral players in Islamist terrorist conspiracies feel the full might of the law," Joshi wrote on the Wire, an online news site.

Source: Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2015


SC to hear Yakub Memon's plea challenging the death penalty on Monday

The Supreme Court will hear on Monday the plea by 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts convict Yakub Memon, challenging the death warrant issued against him and seeking the stay of his execution set for July 30.

"I have already assigned the bench. It will come by Monday," said Chief Justice H.L. Dattu as senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina mentioned the matter before the bench, which also comprised Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy, on Friday.

Memon has moved the court contending that death warrant for his execution on July 30 was issued even before he could have exhausted the legal remedies that were available to him and when his curative petition was pending consideration by the apex court.

The apex court on July 21 had rejected Memon's curative petition saying that it was void of merit.

On the same day, Memon filed a mercy petition before the Maharashtra governor seeking commutation of his death sentence into life imprisonment.

Memon, in his petition before the apex court, has relied on the apex court's May 27, 2015, verdict where it had quashed the death warrant issued for the execution of Shabnam and her paramour Salim, both convicted for multiple murders of members of the girl's family members including a 10-month-old child, on the grounds of it being illegal as procedure was not followed.

Quashing the death warrant, the court had held that the "Right to live under Article 21 does not end with the confirmation of the of the death sentence by the Supreme Court".

Holding that "even when death sentence has to be executed, the human dignity is protected", the court had said: "That is the reason there are many judgments as to the manner in which the execution is carried should be as painless as possible."

It had held issuance of death warrants by the sessions judge within 6 days of the apex court upholding the death sentence of Shabnam and Salim was "unwarranted".

Memon and 11 others were slapped with the death penalty by the special TADA court in July 2007 for 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts in which 257 people were killed and 712 were injured.

The apex court by its March 21, 2013 verdict uphold his death sentence while commuting the death sentence of 10 others (one having died subsequently) to life imprisonment.

The apex court on April 9 had dismissed Memon's plea for the review of death sentence verdict for the 2nd time as it had earlier dismissed his similar plea seeking the recall of March 21, 2013 verdict.

Source: mid-day.com, July 24, 2015

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