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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

UN Rights Experts Urge Iran to Halt the Imminent Execution of Juvenile Offender Hamid Ahmadi

Hamid Ahmadi
GENEVA (2 February 2017) – A group of United Nations human rights experts has appealed to the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately halt the execution of juvenile offender Hamid Ahmadi, who is scheduled to be executed by hanging on Saturday, 4 February. This is the third time that Mr. Ahmadi’s execution is scheduled to take place. In the two previous instances, they were halted at the last minute.

Mr. Ahmadi was 17 years old when he was sentenced to death in 2009 for the fatal stabbing in 2008 of a young man during a fight between five boys. The court relied on confessions reportedly obtained under torture and ill-treatment at a police station, where Mr. Admadi was denied access to a lawyer and his family.

“To our knowledge, in the case of Hamid Ahmadi, the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process contained in international human rights instruments have been disrespected and, the allegations of torture and confessions extracted under duress were not taken into consideration nor did the lead to any investigation,” the human rights experts said.

“Any death sentence undertaken in contravention of a Government’s international obligations, and particularly when a conviction is based on confessions extracted under torture, is unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution,” they stressed.

Despite this, the Iranian Supreme Court, which in November 2009 had overturned the death sentence due to some doubts about the testimony of several key witnesses, ultimately upheld the verdict a year later. Following the adoption in 2013 of the new juvenile sentencing provisions of the Islamic Penal Code, Mr. Ahmadi was granted a retrial but was eventually re-sentenced to death by a Provincial Criminal Court in December 2015.

“We strongly deplore that executions of juveniles continue to be scheduled and even conducted at an unprecedented rate in Iran since the beginning of the year,” the experts said.

“On 17 January, we already intervened to halt the execution of another juvenile,” they noted. “Since then, we have learned that two other juveniles have been hanged on 15 and 18 January. Arman Bahr Asemani and Hassan Hassanzadeh were both juveniles at the time they allegedly committed the offence for which they were sentenced to death.”

The human rights experts underlined that international standards unequivocally forbid the imposition and execution of the death penalty on persons below 18 years of age. “Iran must observe its international obligations by putting an end to the execution of juvenile offenders once and for all,” they said.

“The scheduled execution of Hamid Ahmadi must be immediately halted and his death sentence annulled. Moreover, a moratorium on juvenile executions must be adopted without any further delay,” the UN human rights experts stated.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. It also monitors the Optional Protocols to the Convention, on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; as well as a third Optional Protocol which will allow individual children to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights.

Source: NCRI, February 2, 2017

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