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Showing posts from April, 2022

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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

Singapore | Indonesian maid facing death penalty after being charged with murdering 73-year-old man in Bishan

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SINGAPORE, April 30 (The Straits Times/ANN): A 49-year-old maid was charged in court on Saturday (April 30) with murdering a 73-year-old in a Bishan flat. According to court documents, Sumiyati, an Indonesian who goes by one name, allegedly murdered Low Hoon Cheong on Thursday (April 28) between 4pm and 8.45pm. The murder purportedly took place at an eighth floor unit at Block 222 Bishan Street 23. The police said on Friday that investigations revealed that the maid was employed in the victim's household. They were alerted to the case at about 8.50pm on Thursday and found him motionless inside the residential unit. He was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene. A neighbour, who had known Low’s family for 30 years, told The Straits Times on Friday that Low’s wife had pleaded with her to go to her flat to check on her husband. She found the man lying motionless on a mattress in the living room. According to neighbours, the maid was hired by the family around two years ago to look

Missouri Plans to Execute Prisoner Whose Death Sentence Was Reversed Three Times and Reinstated on a Technicality

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Carman Deck has been sentenced to death three times. Each of those death sentences were overturned — once by the U.S. Supreme Court — as a result of prejudicial constitutional violations in his trials. Nonetheless, he faces execution in Missouri on May 3, 2022 because a procedural technicality that overturned his third grant of relief, blocking him from presenting his claim that critical mitigating evidence calling for a sentence less than death had become unavailable due to the long delays between his first, second, and third trials. On April 1, 2022, Deck’s lawyers filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of his case. On April 12, 2022, he filed an application to stay his execution to permit that review to take place. Both issues are fully briefed and, as of April 29, remained pending before the Court. The stay application asserts that the constitutional right to a speedy trial applies to the penalty phase of capital trial. It argues that “[a

Israeli sentenced to death in UAE hopes execution not carried out

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43-year-old Haifa native Fida Kewan was sentenced to death for drug trafficking after being accused of possessing half a kilogram of cocaine. The Israeli woman sentenced to death in the United Arab Emirates for drug trafficking does not believe the sentence will actually be carried out, she said in an interview on KAN Reshet Bet published Friday. "I never thought I would be sentenced to death, but I do not think it will happen — it's a modern country," the woman, 43-year-old Haifa native Fida Kewan, told KAN Reshet Bet. However, she added that "It is a decree and is in the system. Execution is something I have read about in books and seen in films." Kewan, who moved to the UAE a year ago for work, has maintained her innocence against the accusations of possessing half a kilogram of cocaine but was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. A recording released by KAN showed Kewan telling her brother "I am not a drug dealer. I believe that justice will be

Japan | Death row inmate seeks retrial over mass murder at Sagamihara care home

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A 32-year-old Japanese man on death row over the mass murder of 19 people with mental disabilities living at a care home is seeking a retrial, Yokohama District Court officials said Friday. The death sentence for Satoshi Uematsu, a former caretaker at the Tsukui Yamayuri En care home in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, who also injured 26 people in the 2016 rampage, was finalized in March 2020. The Yokohama District Court will decide whether to hold a retrial after examining the petition, which was filed on April 1. Uematsu admitted to the charge in the trial, but his lawyers argued that he should not be held responsible for his actions due to mental incompetence. Prosecutors had demanded capital punishment. He was sentenced to death in the ruling on March 16, 2020, with the presiding judge recognizing his criminal responsibility, saying, “The grave consequences were incomparable to other incidents, with 19 lives being taken.” Although his defense team filed an appeal, his death senten

India | Bombay High Court permits 2 convicts on death row to pursue studies while in prison

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The Maharashtra government moved HC for confirmation of the death sentence, while Shinde and Bhailume moved HC challenging their conviction. The Bombay High Court permitted 2 convicts sentenced to death in 2017 for raping and killing a minor girl to pursue their studies through open university while in prison. In an order passed on April 18, a bench of Justices PB Varale and SM Modak said the convicts' desire to pursue education was "welcome" and directed Yerwada prison authorities, where the convicts are lodged, to "adopt a humanitarian approach," and "extend necessary assistance" to help them pursue their studies. Convicts Jitendra Shinde and Nitin Bhailume were sentenced to death by a trial court in November 2017 for raping and murdering a minor girl in 2016 in Kopardi in the state's Ahmednagar district. The Maharashtra government moved HC for confirmation of the death sentence, while Shinde and Bhailume moved HC challenging their conviction. Bo

Georgia sets execution for man convicted... 45 years ago

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A Georgia man convicted of killing an 8-year-old girl and raping a 10-year-old girl more than 45 years ago is scheduled to be executed next month, state officials said. Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Timothy Ward announced in a Wednesday news release that Virgil Delano Presnell Jr. is to be put to death at 7 p.m. on May 17 at the state prison in Jackson. Presnell, 68, is accused of abducting and attacking the 2 girls as they walked home from school in Cobb County, just outside Atlanta, on May 4, 1976. He was convicted in August 1976 on charges including malice murder, kidnapping and rape and was sentenced to death. His death sentence was overturned in 1992 but was reinstated in March 1999. Presnell staked out a Cobb County elementary school on May 3, 1976, and saw a 10-year-old girl walking home on a wooded trail. He returned the next day, and abducted the girl and her 8-year-old friend when they came walking down the trail, according to evidence at trial outlined in a

Iran | Annual Report on the Death Penalty - 2021

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Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); April 28, 2022: The 14th Annual Report on the Death Penalty Iran by Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO) and Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM) provides an assessment and analysis of the death penalty trends in 2021 in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  It sets out the number of executions verified by Iran Human Rights, the trend compared to previous years, the legislative framework and procedures, charges, geographic distribution and a monthly breakdown of executions.  Lists of the female and juvenile offenders executed in 2021 are also included in the tables. đź’¬ Read the Full Report Here 2021 Annual Report at a glance At least 333 people were executed in 2021, a 25% increase compared to 267 in 2020  55 executions (16.5%) were announced by official sources compared to an average of 33% in  2018-2020 83.5% of all executions included in the 2021 report, i.e. 278 executions, were not announced by the authorities At least 183 executions (55% of all executions) were for

Belarus eyes wider death penalty use after anti-war railway sabotage

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Belarus moved on Wednesday to make attempted acts of terrorism punishable by the death penalty after activists tried to sabotage parts of the railway network to make it harder for Russia to deploy forces into Ukraine for its invasion. The Belarusian lower house of parliament approved the change to the criminal code in 2 readings, the Belta news agency reported. The change now needs backing from the upper house and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko before entering force. "Destructive forces are continuing terrorist (and) extremist activity by trying to rock the situation in Belarus, provoking domestic instability and conflicts," house speaker Vladimir Andreychenko said, alluding to acts sabotage on the railway. "Actions are being taken to disable railway equipment and tracks, objects of strategic importance," He said. "There can be no justification for the actions of terrorists." Russia used ex-Soviet Belarus, a close ally, as a staging ground to launc

Iran | Executions Leapt 25 Percent in Raisi's First Year but Twice as Many Took Place in Secret, Report Finds

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Use of the death penalty in Iran shot up by 25 per cent in the last year ex-chief justice Ebrahim Raisi became president, an annual survey has found. At least 333 people were executed in Iran in 2021 compared to 267 in 2020, and 280 the year before the pandemic. The annual report on the death penalty in Iran , published by Iran Human Rights and Together Against the Death Penalty, also found at least 17 of the condemned were women, and two people were hanged for crimes committed when they were children. Iran also remained the world’s top executioner last year. “In Iran,” Iran Human Rights director Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam said, “we do not have due process. We do not have the independent judiciary. There is systematic use of torture to force confessions. “In almost all death penalty cases, sentences are issued based on confessions extracted from the prisoner. Basically, the judiciary can sentence anyone to death on any charges if they wish. “The Islamic Republic’s dreadful human rights an

Malaysia’s Death Penalty Hypocrisy

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When Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a Malaysian national, was facing the death penalty in Singapore on drug charges, Malaysia’s prime minister and foreign minister twice wrote to the Singapore government asking for clemency. According to a statement from the Foreign Ministry, they even offered to discuss transferring Nagaenthran to Malaysia. On April 27, Singapore hanged Nagaenthran in the face of massive international calls for clemency. After the execution, Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry put out a statement thanking all of those who had campaigned on his behalf. While the Malaysian government’s activism on behalf of its citizen is laudable, it is also hypocritical.   Nagaenthran was sentenced to death in 2010 for bringing 42.72 grams (approximately three tablespoons) of diamorphine – a drug made from morphine – into Singapore.  He likely would have faced the same death sentence had he been arrested in Malaysia.    Judges in Malaysia are currently required to impose the death penalty on almos