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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…

Abdullah al-Zaher Spends Another Birthday on Death Row in Saudi Arabia

Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, Saudi Arabia
Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher turns 22 today - his 7th birthday spent in prison, and his 4th birthday spent on death row after he was arrested in 2012 because of his participation in a peaceful protest. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR) call on the government of Saudi Arabia to immediately release Abdullah, drop all charges against him, and institute a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view towards abolition.

Abdullah al-Zaher was only 15 years old when he was arrested by Saudi police on 3 March 2012 for his participation in a peaceful protest. Saudi authorities did not present a warrant. During his arrest, Saudi police shot at Abdullah before beating him in the street with their weapons. He was eventually taken to the General Directorate of Investigation in Dammam, where Saudi authorities held him incommunicado and solitary detention for 3 months. During his detention, Saudi police tortured Abdullah by beating him all over his body with an iron wire. They then forced him to sign a confession without allowing him to read it.

Authorities held Abdullah in pre-trial detention for nearly 2 years during which time authorities severely restricted his access to his lawyer. He was eventually brought before a judge prior to his trial, but only so that the court could provide him with the list of charges against him. Abdullah's lawyer was not present at the time. Throughout Abdullah's trial, his lawyer was unable to access the evidence against him. On 21 October 2014, Saudi Arabia's Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) sentenced Abdullah to death. He was 18 at the time of his sentencing, and is currently at risk of being executed at any time, although Saudi Arabia is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Article 37 of which calls on State Parties to ensure that "No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" and also that no child shall be sentenced to capital punishment.

"Abdullah al-Zaher was just a child when he was arrested and tortured into confessing to crimes he did not commit. Saudi Arabia is ignoring its obligations under the CRC to refrain from using torture or capital punishment against children - solely to punish a minor for reportedly participating in a peaceful protest," says Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. "This birthday marks yet another year Abdullah has been unlawfully detained and at risk of imminent execution. The international community must step up and hold Saudi Arabia accountable to its international treaty commitments and call for Abdullah al-Zaher's immediate release."

Abdullah must not be allowed to spend another year in prison awaiting an unjust death sentence. ADHRB and ESOHR call on Saudi Arabia to immediately release him and to drop all charges against him, we further call on Saudi Arabia to respect and uphold its international obligations, including those outlined I the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to institute a moratorium on capital punishment with a view towards its abolition.

Source: Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, March 24, 2018


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

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