Month: June 2015

Ghana – Mahama frees 900 prisoners; 14 on death row sentence reduced

June 30, 2015

President John Mahama has freed some 900 prisoners ahead of tomorrow’s Republic Day holiday.

Tomorrow marks Ghana’s 55th year as a republic after it weaned itself from British colonial rule. The amnesty granted is a yearly activity exercised by the president.

Of the 900, 883 are first-time offenders who showed good behaviour after being sentenced. 14 out of the number who were on death row have also had their sentence reduced to life imprisonment.

A statement from the Interior Minister says the president expects them to be of good behaviour.

In 2013, some 900 prisoners were freed. Some 1104 others also gained their freedom in 2014.

The power to grant amnesty is stipulated under the Prerogative of Mercy in Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.

Article 72 of the Constitution states that “The president may, acting in consultation with the Council of State: grant to a person convicted of an offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful conditions; or discount low price

b. grant to a person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, from the execution of punishment imposed on him for an offence; or

c. substitute a less severe form of punishment for a punishment imposed on a person for an offence; or

d. remit the whole or part of a punishment imposed on a person or of a penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to Government on account on any offence.”

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Malaysian state spares Filipina on death row

June 30, 2015

The death penalty imposed on a Filipina in Malaysia has been commuted to life imprisonment, the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said Tuesday.

The embassy said Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Al-Haj, chairman of the State of Selangor Pardons Board, commuted the sentence meted on Jacqueline Quiamno on June 15, after the Philippine Embassy and her family requested for a clemency.

“The Embassy conveys its heartfelt appreciation to the Sultan of Selangor and the Selangor Pardons Board for this sterling manifestation of benevolence and compassion,” the Embassy said in a statement.

Quiamno was arrested in June 2005 for smuggling five kilograms of cocaine at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which was found in her luggage.

The Embassy said the Filipina did it on the bidding of an African drug syndicate based in Hong Kong.

In November 2010, the Shah Alam High Court found her guilty of drug trafficking and the verdict was affirmed by the Federal Court in July 2013.

The Embassy said the last execution of a Filipino in Malaysia was 22 years ago, in June 1993, when a Filipino was executed for the crime of murder in Sabah.

On April 29, Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, a convicted drug mule in Indonesia’s death row, was given a last-minute reprieve. IDL

READ: More Filipinos on death row in Malaysia, Saudi, China

Asia Bibi Still a Death Row Prisoner after Six Years; Said to Be ‘Close to Death’

PAKISTAN (June 28, 2015) — British Pakistani Christians have issued a new call for the release of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who faces the death penalty for blasphemy, six years after she was placed in prison.

She was sentenced to death in November 2010, following accusations of blasphemy from a group of Muslim women who refused to let her drink water from the same well. She has always denied the accusations. Pakistani authorities have ignored an international outcry and calls for her release.

“Six years have passed and the travesty of justice continues,” says Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), based in the UK. “For some time we have been told that there has been a moratorium on the death penalty because of pressure from Western donors, but even before this vanished at the end of last year, it has become clear that her treatment was in effect a slow death sentence by neglect and worse, all for allegedly committing a crime that should not exist-blasphemy.”

“Asia Bibi is by no means the only Christian on death row for blasphemy,” Mr Wilson added. “There are a number of others, and there are also other Christians who are in there for crimes they did not commit, and are in effect there because they are Christians. One man who had been imprisoned for over two decades from the age of 15 and who was well known to be innocent of the crime he was convicted of was executed two weeks ago.”

Pakistan-born Chowdhry said he hoped the British Government would do all it could to force Mrs. Bibi’s release.

“I call on the UK government to remonstrate with the Pakistani government in the strongest possible terms over this deadly game of bait and switch, and to free Asia Bibi and let her and her family escape to safety,” he said.

Already, the Mayor of Paris, France, has offered to take the Bibi family if Asia is released, as they realize it would be too dangerous for her to remain in Pakistan, where there have been calls for her assassination.

Earlier this month Mrs. Bibi’s family reported that the 50-year-old had been vomiting blood, according to reports from her family. Her family said she is suffering from intestinal bleeding and needs medical care. They say she is “so weak she can hardly walk.”

Some reports have even said that she is “close to death.”

 

Pope Francis met Asia Bibi’s family in April, saying: “I pray for Asia, for you and for all Christians who are suffering.”

Asia Bibi’s problems began on June 19, 2009, when she was picking berries with a group of Muslim women in the area of her home village, and they asked her to go to a nearby well to bring them some water. She did this and on the way back, she was so thirsty, she took a drink of the water, and when they discovered this, they accused her of being an infidel and an intense discussion began between them.

Asia Bibi protest

The Muslim women became angered when, during a debate about their respective faiths, she responded by telling them that Jesus is alive, adding, “Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins…. Our Christ is alive.”

The Muslim women then began beating her and this led to a blasphemy accusation. In November 2010, Bibi was convicted under the blasphemy penal code, and sentenced to death by hanging. An appeal has been filed with the Supreme Court, but there’s no word on how soon the case will be heard.

The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) has now launched a petition for Asia Bibi to be released, and you can sign it by going to: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/justice4asia.

 

 

UAE woman gets death penalty for killing U.S. teacher

A United Arab Emirates court sentenced an Emirati woman to death on Monday after convicting her of the jihadist-inspired murder of an American teacher, Abu Dhabi newspaper The National reported.

See also: Abu Dhabi mall murder suspect found to be ‘mentally stable’

See also: UAE police detain suspect in U.S. woman killing

Alaa Bader al-Hashemi was found guilty of stabbing to death teacher Ibolya Ryan, 47, in a shopping mall toilet, as well as “creating a handmade bomb” she placed in front of an Egyptian-American doctor’s home, the paper said.

The ruling was made by the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi, which means it cannot be appealed.

The attacks took place within hours of each other in the UAE capital on December 1. Hashemi was arrested by Abu Dhabi CID during a raid at her home three days after the incident.

Hashemi “was also found guilty of sending money to Al-Qaeda in Yemen, knowing the funds would be used in terrorist acts,” The National said.

Hashemi, surrounded by four police officers, “showed no emotion as the verdict and sentence were announced,” the daily said.

“As she was led from court she smiled and waved at her father and brother, who were in court to witness the proceedings.”

International media have been denied access to her trial. which began in March.

Hashemi had asked the court to provide her with psychological help, saying she had “unreal visions” and would see “ghost-like people” due to a chronic mental illness.

The court ordered psychiatric tests which it said showed she was aware of her actions.

Nigeria: Kano Sharia Court sentences 9 to death for ‘blasphemy’

An Upper Sharia Court, Rijiyar Lemo, in Kano, has sentenced 9 persons: Abdul-Inyas, Hajiya Mairo and 7 others to death for blasphemy against the Prophet of Islam.
The trial was done in secret, and details of its proceedings are yet to be made public.
Even the name of the judge who conducted the trial is being kept secret.
The court initially said 2 people were convicted but a court official, who simply gave his name as Nasir (he declined to provide his full name) later said 9 people were sentenced.
He declined to provide the names of the 7 others.
The offence, committed in early June, triggered protest in Kano.
The demonstration was however promptly quelled by law enforcement agents. The court where the trial began was burnt down prompting the authorities to assign the case to another court.
A statement by the State Sharia Court of Appeal, signed by a man named Nasiru, said the 9 persons were found guilty under section 110 and section 382b of the Sharia Penal Court law year 2000.
“They are hereby sentenced to death,” the statement read.
The statement acknowledged that some Muslim faithful in Kano threatened violence if the accused were set free.
The court however freed Alkasim Abubakar, Yahya Abubakar, Isa Abubakar, and Abdullahi Abubakar, who were arrested alongside the nine convicted persons.
They were found not guilty by the court.
Already, news of the judgment has sparked jubilation by a section of Kano residents.
Source: Premium Times Nigeria, June 25, 2015

 

Saudi Arabia says it will support human rights as long as they can still kill gay people

Middle Eastern country faced criticism for acts of torture against LGBTI people
Saudi Arabia convicts homosexuality with anything from whipping to a death sentence.
Saudi Arabia has said it will support human rights as long as they can still kill LGBTI people.
Earlier this week, the country was heavily criticized during a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
It was pointed out that punishing homosexuality with life imprisonment, torture, chemical castration, whipping and the death penalty does not fit in with internationally recognized human rights protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
But government officials have said calls for Saudi Arabia to support LGBTI rights were ‘unacceptable’ and a ‘flagrant interference in its internal affairs’.
Faisal bin Hasan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s representative at the UN, said the country will not tolerate criticism of its human rights record.
According to Arab News, Trad said ‘some were attempting to portray the country in a bad light’.
The country’s Interior Ministry confirmed on Twitter: ‘Saudi Arabia opposes any resolution for gay rights. Saudi Arabia reaffirms its support for human rights, and respect towards all international conventions, as long as it is in accordance with Islamic law.’
The LGBTI community is forced to go underground in Saudi Arabia, mostly in the capital Riyadh. But the religious police are cracking down.
Several men were arrested in a raid on two ‘gay parties’ earlier this month. And last year, a 24-year-old was sentenced to jail and 450 lashings of a whip just because he was trying to meet other gay men on Twitter.
Source: Gay Star News, June 26, 2015

Saudi Arabia busts two gay parties

Several people arrested in swoops in Jeddah’s Harzat area

Manama: Authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested several people in the Red Sea city of Jeddah following raids on two parties in which most participants were homosexuals.

The raids were conducted simultaneously at dawn on Saturday in the Harzat area, known for its recreational facilities, local news site Sabq reported.

Security staff and members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice noted down the numbers on the licence plates of the cars parked near the party venues before they stormed the premises. The vehicle details were recorded so as to ensure that those who managed to escape the raid would be tracked down and arrested.

“The raids led to the arrest of several people, mainly gays, and netted locally produced alcoholic drinks and hashish,” sources said. “Those who were arrested were referred to a police station while those who fled the premises will be summoned since they were all identified.”

Homosexuality and cross-dressing are social and legal offences in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. Reactions from social media users to the raids mostly touched on the need to mete out tough punishment to those found to be involved so that it would act as a strong deterrent. Some users even suggested that those who took part in the party be secluded for five years in remote areas.

In November, a court in the port city of Dammam in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province sentenced a homosexual man to three years in jail for engaging in “immoral acts.” The man, in his 30s, was also ordered to pay a 100,000 Saudi riyal fine by the court.

According to a report in Sabq, the man was apprehended by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice after he posted pictures of himself naked on social media and offered to have sex for free with other men. “Offensive” pictures and chats with other people were found on his confiscated mobile phone, Sabq said.

In October, police in Kuwait arrested 23 cross-dressers and homosexuals after they busted a “wild party” held at a chalet in the south of the country.

Lawmakers have been pushing for a crackdown on homosexuality, including the adoption of tougher immigration measures against expatriate homosexuals, including their prompt deportation.

In 2013, a suggestion by a health official to bar homosexual and transgender foreigners from working in the GCC, as published in a local daily, raised a storm that eventually cooled off after officials clarified that the proposal was the personal view of the official and did not reflect the government policy.

Source: Gulf News, June 14, 2015

 

Japan: Death-row inmate hanged for 2007 murder

June 26, 2015

TOKYO — A man convicted of murdering a woman in 2007 in Nagoya was executed on Thursday morning, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said.
It was the first execution that Kamikawa has signed off on since becoming justice minister and the 12th since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December 2012.
Tsukasa Kanda, 44, was convicted along with accomplices Yoshimoto Hori and Yuichiro Hondo of killing 31-year-old Rie Isogai on Aug 24, 2007, in Aichi Prefecture.
The men, who met on a website set up to bring “crime-minded” people together, were convicted of abducting Isogai with the intention of robbing her. They then killed her to prevent her from testifying against them.
Kanda and Hori were sentenced to death. Kawagishi received a life prison term in return for having turned himself in and providing evidence that aided the police investigation. Hori’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison, following an appeal.
The case took an unusual turn when Isogai’s mother drew up a petition for the death penalty for Hori, that was signed by 100,000 citizens within 10 days. She presented the petition with some 150,000 names to the District Public Prosecutor’s Office of Nagoya. The number increased to 318,000 by December 2008. However, the Supreme Court rejected the request.
Source: Japan Today, June 25, 2015