AFRICA

Chad executes 10 Boko Haram members 1 day after verdict

Chad executed by firing squad 10 members of Boko Haram on Saturday, the security minister said, marking the 1st use of the death penalty since the country bolstered its anti-terror measures last month.
The 10 men were sentenced to death on Friday after being convicted of crimes including murder and the use of explosives.
They were killed at around 11 a.m., Ahmat Mahamat Bachir, the security minister, said Saturday.
Those killed included Bahna Fanaye, alias Mahamat Moustapha, who Chadian officials have described as a leader of the Nigeria-based group.
Chad has vowed to take a leading role in a regional force to fight Boko Haram that is also expected to include soldiers from Cameroon, Benin and Niger in addition to Nigeria. Boko Haram has targeted Nigeria’s neighbors in regular attacks this year.
In June and July Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, was rocked by a series of suicide attacks that killed dozens of people – the 1st such attacks since Boko Haram threatened the country earlier this year.
In 1 attack, suicide bombers on motorcycles targeted 2 buildings in the capital. In another, a man disguised as a woman wearing a burqa detonated a bomb outside the city’s main market.
Last September, Chad drew praise from rights groups for a draft penal code that abolished capital punishment.
The International Federation for Human Rights said at the time that the country had observed a moratorium on the death penalty since 1991 with the exception of 9 executions that took place in November 2003. But anti-terror measures approved by lawmakers last month in response to the recent attacks brought the death penalty back.
Source: Associated Press, August 30, 2015

 

Egypt court sentences 12 IS supporters to death

An Egyptian court sentenced to death 12 members of the Islamic State group Thursday for planning attacks against police and soldiers in the country, a judicial official said.
6 of those who were on trial are behind bars, while the rest are still at large, the official said.
They were convicted of having joined IS — which has declared a “caliphate” in parts of Iraq and Syria under its control — and of plotting to attack members of Egypt’s police force and military.
In Egypt, death sentences are forwarded to the country’s grand mufti, the official interpreter of Islamic law, who then issues a non-binding opinion.
The sentences issued will either be confirmed or commuted on September 12 by the court in the northern province of Sharkia, a court official said.
In a separate trial, 2 cousins were sentenced to three years in prison in the same province for using Facebook to promote the ideology of IS, the official added.

Source: al-monitor.com, August 28, 2015

Burkina Faso: Opportunity to abolish the death penalty must be seized

Burkina Faso must seize the opportunity to abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International said on the eve of parliamentary sessions which will culminate in an historic vote.
Tomorrow the national transitional parliament will start a series of discussions with organisations and interested parties regarding the abolition of the death penalty before putting a bill to the vote on 6 September. The government has already approved the text of the bill which has been sent back to the transitional parliament.
“This is a critical moment for Burkina Faso to put itself on the right side of history by acknowledging the inviolable nature of the right to life”– Alioune Tine, Amnesty International West Africa director.
“The eyes of the world will be on the country’s parliamentarians to see whether they will join the steady global movement away from the use of the death penalty and abolish this cruel punishment once and for all.”
The last known execution was carried out in Burkina Faso in 1988. If the law is adopted, Burkina Faso will join the 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa which have abolished the death penalty.
Progress in the region has been good. Over the course of the last 20 years, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo in West Africa, alongside Burundi, Gabon, Mauritius and Rwanda, have all abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Earlier in the year Madagascar became the latest country in Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, the guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the offender or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.
The death penalty violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. There is no convincing evidence to support the idea that the death penalty works as a deterrent to crime, or that it is more effective than other forms of punishment. This has been confirmed in many United Nations studies across different countries and regions.
Background
The parliamentary discussions will start tomorrow with the hearing of human rights organisations that have been campaigning against the death penalty in Burkina Faso. This will be followed on 4 September by the Report hearing. The plenary session for the parliament’s vote will take place on 6 September.
“The 1st article of the draft bill confirms that the country is an abolitionist in practice, the second introduces a reference to life sentence in respect of all texts applicable before the entry into force of the law.”– Amnesty International
The 3rd article states that death sentences already imposed are commuted into life imprisonment. The 4th article indicates that the law shall be enforced as a law of the State.
Burkina Faso’s laws currently provide for the use of the death penalty in the penal code, the military code of justice and article 4 of the railways police law.
Source: Amnesty International, August 27, 2015

 

Oscar Pistorius due to be released from prison after serving 10 months

Oscar Pistorius is set to be released from prison on Friday after serving just 10 months of a five-year sentence for the shooting death of his girlfriend, according to multiple reports.

Pistorius, the former Paralympic runner, was convicted of killing Reeva Steenkamp onValentine’s Day in 2013. Pistorius, who said he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder, was found guilty of culpable homicide after a trial.

According to CNN, the parole board often considers correctional supervision because South Africa’s prisons are overcrowded and underfunded. The board has the authority to place Pistorius on correctional supervision after serving one-sixth of his sentence because he was sentenced under a specific section of the Criminal Procedure Act.

He’s expected to serve the rest of his sentence at the home of his uncle outside Pretoria.

Pistorius served the 10-months at Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, South Africa. Upon release, he will have to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Whether Pistorius will remain free is uncertain. Prosecutors pushing for a murder conviction against Pistorius filed papers Monday at South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal, according to court registrar Paul Myburgh. A Supreme Court appeal hearing is set to take place in November. If the conviction is elevated, the runner will be subject to at least 15 years imprisonment, according to the Library of Congress.

Egypt’s Sissi Signs Anti-Terror Law

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi signed a new anti-terrorism law Sunday that calls for the death penalty and life sentences for some offenses while also threatening hefty fines for “false reporting” on terror attacks.
Sissi promised in June to strengthen Egypt’s anti-terror laws after a bomb killed the country’s top prosecutor. He blamed that attack on the Muslim Brotherhood, a group his government has labeled as a terrorist organization and cracked down upon since he led the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Under the new law, those who form or lead a terror group face punishment up to death. Financing terrorism can bring a life sentence, while inciting a terrorist act or preparing to incite an attack are also subject to prison terms.
For journalists, going against the official version of an attack can mean fines of between $25,000 and $64,000. The original draft of the law called for jailing journalists, but that portion was scrapped after an outcry from critics.
Amnesty International called the law “draconian” and said it “represents a flagrant attack on the rights of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists sent a letter to Sissi last month urging him not to sign the restrictions, and to set free all journalists being held in jail in connection with their work.
The highest profile of those cases is due to come to a conclusion on August 29 with an Egyptian court delivering its verdict in the retrial of 3 Al-Jazeera journalists charged with supporting the Brotherhood. The verdict was originally expected earlier this month, but the court has repeatedly delayed the process since Canadian national Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste were arrested in December 2013.
The journalists, along with Al-Jazeera, have repeatedly insisted they were doing their jobs reporting the news.
The crackdown against the Brotherhood included violent responses to the protests that followed Morsi being pushed from office, leaving more than 1,000 people dead. Authorities have also arrested much of the group’s leadership, including Morsi, and put them on trial in mass proceedings that have included death sentences.
Egypt has also seen a rise in militant attacks in the Sinai Peninsula in the past few years along with the emergence of attacks linked to the Islamic State group.
Source: VOA, August 17, 2015

 

Ibrahim Halawa: Irish teenager’s mass trial in Egypt adjourned until October

The trial of a Dublin teenager held in an Egyptian prison for almost 2 years has been adjourned until 4 October.
Ibrahim Halawa, the son of the most senior Muslim cleric in the Republic of Ireland, was arrested during a siege on the Al-Fath mosque in Cairo in 2013.
The mass trial of Mr Halawa and more than 400 others began in March after being postponed 5 times since his arrest.
Mr Halawa, 19, could face the death penalty if he is convicted.
Mr Halawa was on a family holiday to his parents’ homeland when he and three of his sisters were arrested by Egyptian security forces during a crackdown on protests in the country’s capital.
He was 17 at the time.
His family said he had taken refuge in the building during violent clashes between supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi and the security forces.
His sisters were allowed to return to Dublin in November 2013.
Disappointment
On Sunday, a court in Cairo postponed the mass trial of more than 400 defendants, including Mr Halawa, until 4 October.
Mr Halawa’s trial has now been postponed 8 times.
RTE reports that Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has expressed his disappointment that Mr Halawa’s case has been further postponed because of the non-attendance of a number of witnesses.
He said he had regularly emphasised to his Egyptian counterpart Same Shoury the importance of due process in the case and the Irish government’s concern at the continued detention of an Irish citizen while awaiting trial.
In Cairo, to attend the trial, were Mr Halawa’s sister Khadija, his solicitor Darragh Mackin and MEP Lynn Boylan, but they were not inside the courtroom.
Mr Mackin said he and colleague Gavin Booth, who are both from the Belfast-based law firm firm KRW Law, were told they were not allowed access to the court.
“Not allowing a lawyer to access his client’s hearing is gravely concerning and belies any suggestion that fair trial requirements are being met,” he said.
“Our client, Ibrahim Halawa, has now been held for almost 2 years without trial.
“We are concerned that there has been yet another delay, this time of a further two months. Ibrahim was aged 17 when arrested – he is now 19.”
Source: BBC news, August 3, 2015

 

10 nations where the penalty for gay sex is death

79 countries where homosexuality is illegal

Ten nations with large Muslim populations have laws providing for the death penalty for same-sex activity. How many actually impose the death sentence is a difficult question.
According to the 2015 State-Sponsored Homophobia report from ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association:
In relation to death penalty, eight States officially legislate for it, but only five (Mauritania, Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) actually implement it. …
Further, some provinces in Nigeria and Somalia officially implement the death penalty.
Nigeria and Somalia bring the total to 10, as cited in this article’s introductory sentence: “Ten nations with large Muslim populations have laws providing for the death penalty for same-sex activity.” That total would be extended to 13 by adding Brunei Darussalam (law scheduled to take effect in 2016), Iraq (executions imposed despite the lack of a law allowing for them) and the Islamic State (executions imposed by an entity that acts as a nation but without international recognition as such).
However, news coverage in each of those nations is unreliable at best, so specific evidence of executions for same-sex intimacy is rare. In some countries, the death penalty for homosexual behavior may only be threatened, not carried out.
In Sudan, the death penalty is in frequent use, but there are no recent reports of executions for same-sex intimacy. Sudan ranked at No. 6 worldwide in number of executions (23+) in 2014, just below the United States, with 35, according to Amnesty International.
Similarly, Yemen is No. 7 in frequency of executions overall, but the death penalty apparently has not been imposed recently for homosexual activity. Researchers for Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board reported more than 10 years ago, “Information on whether such sentences have been carried out was not found.” More recently an article on Yemen’s gay community in The Tower magazine stated, “Traditionally, that death penalty is not enforced, but citizens have been imprisoned for their sexual orientation.”
Saudi Arabia is No. 3 among the world’s most avid executioners, with 90+ in 2014. At least in the past, beheadings were imposed for homosexual behavior, including three men in 2002. Imprisonment and lashings are a more common punishment for same-sex activity.
Iran is No. 2 in the world for frequency of executions, behind China. Those include executions for homosexual activity, although the facts are often unclear or misrepresented in such cases. (See, for example, “Bogus hanging in Iran, bogus tweets in Egypt” and “Series of public hangings in Iran, including 2 for sodomy.”)
Evidence is a bit clearer about two war-torn areas — Iraq and the territory controlled by Daesh/the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). The ILGA report notes that “a sixth State, Iraq, although [the death penalty is] not in the civil code, clearly has judges and militias throughout the country that issue the death sentence for same-sex sexual behaviours. … We are also aware that in the Daesh(ISIS/ISIL)-held areas the death penalty is implemented (although a non-State actor, it is listed in the report). ” For examples, see:
In some nations, the death penalty is on the books but is not imposed. ILGA states:
Brunei Darussalam is due to activate the death penalty for same-sex sexual acts in 2016, but it seems likely that like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Qatar although it is on the statute, it will not be implemented.
According to the U.S. Department of State, Mauritania belongs in this category too. A U.S. Department of State cable from 2009, released by WikiLeaks in 2011, indicated that Mauritania has never imposed the death penalty for homosexual activity or any other crime.
Here is a summary of all the information above in list form — a best-information-available list of 13 countries/regions where executions for homosexual activity are carried out or are provided by current or future law:
Nations with such laws on the books; executions have been carried out
Nations with such laws on the books; no recent executions reported
Nations with such laws on the books in part of the country; executions have or may have occurred
Nations with such laws on the books; no executions reported
Nation where such a law is scheduled to take effect in 2016
Nation with no such a law on the books; executions are carried out by militias and others
Not recognized as a nation; carries out executions
For more information:

Source: 76crimes, August 10, 2015