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Q&As: Kirsten Han, anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore

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In the third of the DPRU's (Death Penalty Research Unit, University of Oxford, Faculty of Law) series of Q&As with death penalty experts from around the world, Kirsten Han, an anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore, tells DPRU Research Officer Jocelyn Hutton about her current work and about her involvement in the case of the recently executed Nagaenthran Dharmalingam . Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do in relation to the death penalty? A lot of my contribution to the campaign to abolish the death penalty in Singapore has to do with storytelling, since that fits with the skills that I have as a writer and journalist, and because abolitionist perspectives, or any in-depth coverage of capital punishment, are missing from the local government-controlled mainstream media. I write about death row prisoners and the experiences of their families, try to humanise this issue. For many Singaporeans, it’s so distant and so abstract that it’s very easy to dismiss; so

Russian soldier gets life in prison in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial

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“What did you come to us for? You came to protect us? From whom? You ‘protected’ me from my husband, whom you killed.” A 21-year-old Russian soldier was found guilty Monday of killing an unarmed civilian in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial since Russia’s invasion. He was sentenced to life in prison. A court in Kyiv handed down the verdict after Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty last week to killing a 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the northeastern Sumy province but said he was following orders. Shishimarin pleaded guilty to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov, who was pushing his bicycle near the village of Chupakhivka, near the Russian border, during the early days of the invasion in late February. Shelipov “died on the spot just a few meters from his home,” according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova. Shishimarin’s charge, “violation of the rules and customs of war," is punishable by 10 years to life imprisonment. Shelipov’s widow last week said she would

Iran | Man Executed for Drug Offences in Zahedan, Man Executed for Drug Charges in Karaj Penitentiary, Man Executed for Murder in Isfahan

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Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); May 22, 2022: Esmail Shahbakhsh, a Baluch man sentenced to death for drug offences, was executed in Zahedan Central Prison.  According to Hal Vash, a Baluch man was executed in Zahedan Central Prison on the morning of May 21. His identity has been reported as 50-year-old Esmail Shahbakhsh who was sentenced to death for drug-related charges. Esmail Shahbakhsh was arrested for the drug charges in 2019 and sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court. He had denied all the charges against him in court.  At the time of writing, his execution has not been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran.  According to reports compiled by Iran Human Rights, at least 126 people were executed on drug-related charges in 2021, a fivefold increase compared to drug executions in the previous three years. None of the 2021 drug-related executions were reported by official sources.  Data gathered by Iran Human Rights also shows that Baluch prisoners accounted for 21% of al

Malawi | Expert trashes call for referendum on death penalty

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As debate on whether to abolish death penalty or not continues, one of Malawi’s legal expert has trashed a call by Malawi Law Society (MLS) for a referendum on death penalty. This comes following a public hearing on whether the country should abolish death penalty or not which was held on Friday May 20, 2022 in Blantyre, organized by the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC). Presenting his views on the matter, Malawi Law Society president Patrick Mpaka said his institution is of the view that Malawi Parliament should call for a referendum in 2025 where he said authorities could get the right direction on the matter. Mpaka indicated that section 196 (a) of the constitution of Malawi, states that some proposed amendments have to be put to a referendum, as the country is regarded as collective wisdom based country. “What we would suggest is to seek collective wisdom of the people. Section 196 points to the collective wisdom to seek a referendum in 2025. This issue should be presen

Nigeria | Court Sentences Danish National to Death by Hanging

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A Nigerian high court has sentenced a Danish national, Peter Nielsen, to death by hanging. Nielsen was convicted and sentenced Friday for the murder of his Nigerian wife and their young daughter in 2018. Rights activists, who have protested the murder, praised the court's ruling. Justice Bolanle Okikiolu-Ighile of the Lagos high court announced the verdict and the sentence for 54-year-old Peter Nielsen Friday at a hearing that lasted more than 5 hours. The justice said evidence from an autopsy revealed that Nielsen's wife, Zainab, and their three-year-old daughter died of head injuries and suffocation. He said analysis of Zainab’s fingertips showed she had struggled to free herself from her killer’s grip, and that traces of DNA found on her skin were consistent with Nielsen’s. Nielsen has been standing trial since June 2018 after he was arrested on charges of murdering his Nigerian wife, Zainab and their daughter in their home in Lagos.  Nielsen pleaded not guilty to the charge

India | Supreme Court issues practical guidelines to collect death penalty mitigating circumstances

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The Supreme Court observed that the death sentences are most often imposed by the trial courts in a retributive to ensure that the circumstances of the accused should be considered while the case is at trial stage.  The Apex court has thus, talked of the practical guidelines to ensure that the mitigating circumstances of then accused are properly considered . The Court in it finding says that it is only at the appellate stage in most of the cases, that the information relating to the mitigating circumstances are collected which only relate to the post-conviction circumstances. The Court spoke about the absence of well documented mitigating circumstances at trial level can aggravates circumstances lead to imposing the death penalty, on the basis of an incomplete test. A bench comprising of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Bela M Trivedi said that there seems to be no “concrete framework” to measure and evaluate the possibility of reformation. Justice Bhat st

Defense demands retrial of Swedish-Iranian accused of spying for Israel

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Ahmedreza Djalali, sentenced to death for allegedly aiding Mossad in assassination of two nuclear scientists, was set to be executed last week to death for allegedly spying for Israel.  TEHRAN, Iran — Lawyers for Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali , accused of espionage and threatened with execution in Iran, have demanded a retrial for their client, his attorney Helaleh Moussavian told AFP on Sunday. Djalali was due to be hanged Saturday but his wife said that the execution did not take place. His sentence has been widely condemned by rights organizations and the Swedish government. He was sentenced to death in 2017 on charges of espionage for Israel, allegations denied by Sweden and his supporters. “We requested a retrial from the judicial authority a few days ago,” Moussavian said. “We provided evidence that our client played no role in identifying the nuclear scientists,” she added. Djalali was convicted over charges of passing information about two Iranian nuclear scientist

Iran | Baluch Inmate Executed for Drug Charges in Birjand

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Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); May 19, 2022: Ghobad Narouyi, a Baluch man sentenced to death for drug offences, was executed in Birjand Central Prison. According to the Baluch Activists Campaign, a Baluch man was executed in Birjand Central Prison on the morning of May 17.  His identity has been reported as Ghobad Narouyi from the village of Nasr Ababd in Zabol.  He was sentenced to death for drug-related charges by the Revolutionary Court. Ghobad Narouyi had been behind bars for around three years after being arrested in Birjand. At the time of writing, his execution has not been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran. According to reports compiled by Iran Human Rights, at least 126 people were executed on drug-related charges in 2021, a fivefold increase compared to drug executions in the previous three years.  None of the 2021 drug-related executions were reported by official sources.  Data gathered by Iran Human Rights also shows that Baluch prisoners accounted for 21% of all

While NY State rules out death penalty, federal option still exists in mass shooter case

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While the State of New York abolished the death penalty in 2004, capital punishment is still a federal court option, depending on potential charges. BUFFALO, N.Y. — The country's top federal prosecutor reiterated Friday that the U.S. Justice Department will be investigating the mass shooter case in Buffalo as a hate crime . And the big question that comes along with the potential federal case is whether the death penalty could be a part of it. With the suspect back in court Thursday, 2 On Your Side learned a grand jury already voted for an as yet still sealed indictment against him. That is even as he is being held without bail on a single state count of first degree murder. A conviction would carry a life in prison without parole sentence. But there might be more coming from federal prosecutors according to former U.S. Attorney Terrance Flynn. Flynn, who is now in private practice with the Harris Beach Law Firm, says, "Investigators from both of their offices will be talking