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Iran: The death penalty is an inhumane punishment for death row prisoners, their families and society as a whole

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"Whether guilty or not, the outcome of the death penalty is the same. In Iran, the death penalty is by hanging, and it takes from several agonising seconds to several harrowing minutes for death to occur and for everything to be over."

Every year several hundred people are executed by the Iranian authorities.
According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and other human rights groups, death row prisoners have often no access to a defence lawyer after their arrest and are sentenced to death following unfair trials and based on confessions extracted from them under torture. 
These are issues which have been addressed in IHR’s previous reports. The current report is based on first-hand accounts of several inmates held in Iran's prisons and their families. The report seeks to illustrate other aspects of how the death penalty affects the inmate, their families and, as a consequence, society.
How does a death row inmate experience his final hours?
Speaking about the final ho…

European Parliament calls on Egypt to release Irish juvenile facing death sentence

The European Parliament, Strasbourg, France
The European Parliament, Strasbourg, France

The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling on Egypt to release Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish juvenile who faces a death sentence for attending protests.
 
In a vote this morning, an overwhelming majority of MEPs – 566 to 11 – voted for the resolution on Ibrahim’s case, which “calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him to the Irish authorities.” Ibrahim was 17 when he was arrested and tortured during the Egyptian military’s August 2013 breakup of protests in Cairo. He faces the death penalty in a mass trial of 494 people.
 
The resolution was passed with no amendments, despite apparent Egyptian efforts to block it earlier this week. In emails sent to a number of MEPs, Egyptian officials made a number of false claims about Ibrahim’s case. They include the suggestion that Ibrahim, now 20, may not have been a juvenile at the time of his arrest, in spite of a passport confirming his age; that he has been able to speak in court, when he has never had the opportunity to do so; and that he has not been subjected to physical abuse.
 
Today’s resolution repudiates these efforts, saying that the Egyptian authorities “have failed to recognise Ibrahim Halawa as a juvenile at the time of his arrest”, in violation of Egypt’s legal obligations, and that ”the prosecutor has failed to provide evidence that Ibrahim Halawa was involved in a single act of violence during the protests.” The resolution also “strongly condemns” Egypt’s the use of mass trials and the death penalty in relation to protests and the political opposition.

The vote follows Tuesday’s postponement of the mass trial for the 11th time in over two years. The trial is due to restart this Saturday (19th), amid concerns that it does not meet international fair trial standards. A series of chaotic hearings have seen defence lawyers prevented from taking part, and hundreds of the prisoners held in cages, where they are unable to see or hear the proceedings.

The Sisi government’s use of mass trials to hand down hundreds of death sentences to political protestors, journalists and others has provoked condemnation from the UN, the EU, and governments that are close to Egypt, including the US and the UK. Research by international human rights organization Reprieve, which is assisting Ibrahim, has found that the use of the death penalty has surged in Egypt since the suppression of protests began, with some 600 death sentences handed down in the last year alone.
 
Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: “Despite the Egyptian government’s efforts, the European Parliament has sent a loud and clear message to Egypt today – release Ibrahim Halawa, and end the disgraceful use of mass trials and death sentences. Instead of trying to quash the growing calls for justice in Egypt, the Sisi government must listen – and reverse the terrible abuses taking place in its prisons and courts.”
 
For further information about Ibrahim Halawa's case, see here.

The European Parliament resolution can be read in full here.

Reprieve's report on Egypt's use of the death penalty can be read here.


Source: Reprieve, December 17, 2015

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