11-year-old rape survivor gives birth as Paraguay upholds draconian anti-abortion law

Reports that an 11-year-old girl who became pregnant after she was repeatedly raped, allegedly by her step father, gave birth today are a tragic reminder of the urgent need for Paraguay to repeal its draconian anti-abortion law, said Amnesty International.

“We are very pleased to hear that both ‘Mainumby’ and the newborn are in good health but she is lucky to be alive. Only time will tell the true extent of the physical and psychological consequences of her tragic ordeal,” said Erika Guevara, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

“The fact that ‘Mainumby’ did not die does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities, who decided to gamble with her health, life and integrity despite overwhelming evidence that this pregnancy was extremely risky and despite the fact that she was a rape-victim and a child.”

“This young girl’s tragic story illustrates what is wrong with Paraguay’s human rights when it comes to poor, marginalized women and girls. From the fact that her mother’s complaints went unheard for weeks, to the denial of potentially life-saving treatment. It is terrifying that her story will remain all too common unless Paraguay does more to protect victims of sexual violence, decriminalize abortion and guarantee the availability of modern contraceptives and access to information about sexual and reproductive rights.”

“This girl has already suffered enough from the sexual abuse and a pregnancy resulting from rape. The authorities in Paraguay must now ensure she has access to all the health care services she needs, that she can continue her education, and that her immediate family receives the psychological, economic and social support needed in accordance with their wishes.”

Read more:
Paraguay: Raped 10-year-old girl continues to be denied the option of an abortion despite national and global outrage (News, 8 May 2015)

Amnesty international

august 11


Belize: 15 inmates escape death row, 9 freed from prison

It’s been a full 30 years since the state of Belize executed anyone for murder, and this week, the last man on death row, Glenford Baptist, 44, had that sentence overturned by the Supreme Court, which will either grant him life in prison or a definitive sentence.
Baptist was convicted in November 2001 along with Gilroy Wade and Oscar Catzim Mendez of the murder of Ozrin White. In 2006, the Privy Council commuted Wade’s sentence to life, but Wade, whose life had been threatened, was murdered inside prison the following year. Mendez’s conviction was quashed.
Central Prison CEO, Virgilio Murillo, told Amandala that the last time there was no one on death row at the prison was back in 2000.
Murillo told us that he has been reviewing the prison records and found that there are several inmates who were on death row who have either had their sentences commuted to life in prison or who have been given definitive sentences and have since been re-released into society.
Former death row inmate, Pasqual Bull, who escaped hanging at the 11th hour in 1995, now spending 6th year on parole
There are currently 36 persons serving life sentences, and 5 of those were formerly on death row. They are Earlin White, Andrew Kelly, Leslie Pipersburgh, Patrick Robateau, and Patrick Reyes.
Earlin White’s 2003 sentence for the murder of Dwayne Arnold back in 2002 was quashed and replaced with a life sentence, on the grounds that a psychiatric evaluation ought to have been done.
Leslie Pipersburgh and Patrick Robateau, who had been convicted in connection with the 2002 quadruple murder of 2 security guards, as well as a man and a woman, were subjected to a retrial on orders from the Privy Council, which had quashed their conviction. They were handed life sentences by the Belize Supreme Court in 2011.
9 persons formerly on death row have been freed: Adolph Harris, Norman Shaw, Wilfred Lauriano, Cleon Smith, Pasqual Bull, Alfred Codrington, Aurelio Pop, Linsford Logan, and Ellis Taibo, Murillo informed us.
In the case of Harris, his sentence was fixed at 20 years back in 2006, minus 11 years he had already served, by then Chief Justice Conteh.
Of all those sentenced to death who have gotten a 2nd chance at life, Bull came the closest to having been executed – but he is today a free man.
The state intended to execute Bull (and Herman Mejia) in August 25, 1995, but his attorney Simeon Sampson arrived within 20 minutes of the appointed time with a stay from the Privy Council. Bull had been charged for the April 15, 1993 double-murder of Juan Natividad and Hipolito Cowo at Mile 1 on the Gracie Rock Road, Belize District.
His conviction and death sentence had been upheld by the Court of Appeal. However, in 1998, Pasqual Bull’s 1994 death sentence was overturned by the Privy Council, and his murder conviction replaced by a conviction for manslaughter, for which he was later given a definitive sentence of 25 years.
According to Murillo, prison CEO, Bull was released on parole on August 28, 2009, and his parole supervision is due to end on October 20, 2019, which will mark the 25th year since his detention.
Persons sentenced to life in prison are not entitled to parole – a principle which is currently being challenged with the recent filing by Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay at the Caribbean Court of Justice on behalf of Gregory August, whose case is the first criminal appeal to be heard by the regional court. His case will likely set a precedent for the other 35 inmates serving life behind bars.
According to Murillo, it was the challenge filed for Patrick Reyes, whom he said had been convicted of the double murder of 2 cousins in a land dispute, which brought the change which has seen several other death row inmates escape the hangman’s noose.
Belize continues to be challenged by the UK to remove the death penalty, the mandatory sentence for murder, off its law books.
It seems unlikely that Belize will resume hanging 30 years after the execution of Bowers. Parliament only recently approved an optional protocol for the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984, which reaffirms “that torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited and constitute serious violations of human rights.” Belize acceded to that convention in 1986.
In 2012, a UN Special Rapporteur argued that “the evolving international standard which considers the death penalty as a violation of the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and the resulting illegality of the death penalty under article 1 and 16 of the Convention against Torture is developing into a norm of customary international law, if it has not already done so already.”
The protocol to the Convention recently approved by Parliament at its last sitting commits Belize to a regime under which it would grant an independent body access to persons who believe they are being unfairly deprived of their liberty and being treated cruelly by the State of Belize.
Source:, July 17, 2015

Read more:

Conspiracy theories abound on El Chapo arrest

february 23, 2014 (aljazeera)

Why was Mexican drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, who had been on the run for 13 years, taken down now?

There’s no way to know what led to the arrest of the world’s most wanted drug smuggler.

Joaquín “El Chapo” or “Shorty” Guzman escaped from prison in 2001 in a laundry truck – he lived among safe houses in Sinaloa state with tunnels criss-crossing the resort of Mazatlan on the Pacific. Most Mexicans say there’s no way he could have been a fugitive of justice for 13 years, without the support of high-ranking officials in government, police and the military.

But why was he taken down now? In Mexico, theories already abound.

One theory suggests that Mexican security forces were aiming to offer him up as a prize for Barack Obama who was here last week for a summit. In the hours before Obama arrived, there were reports Guzman, or his top lieutenant, had been caught in Sinaloa state.

People who believe this story point to an operation in Baja California in 2012, when authorities said they had Chapo surrounded at a vacation spot during a visit to the area by Hillary Clinton.

Then there are those on Twitter and in Mexico who say the timing of his arrest coincides in a suspicious way with incredibly flattering international media coverage for Mexico’s president.

According to this conspiracy theory, Time magazine was bribed for putting President Enrique Peña Nieto on the cover with the headline “Saving Mexico” (Note: This of course is speculation and rumour – but many people here actually believe that), and that this capture makes for even better PR now – “He’s actually saving the country from drug lords in Sinaloa and cartels in Michoacan!”

Along those lines there’s the theory that after more than a year of saying he had made Mexico safer, Peña Nieto had to actually deliver something that would catch the international media’s eye – so the fawning coverage could have a bit of substance.

It’s important to note that despite laudatory coverage abroad, the president has approval ratings below 50 percent at home.

Finally, some in Mexico speculate that after 13 years on the run, Chapo was no longer useful to the higher-ups in government and police, who he must have bribed for years to stay free.

It’s a new era, they say – marijuana is being legalised in parts of the US and elsewhere and this hillbilly cartel leader wasn’t needed anymore.

Multi-billion drug industry

Of course, these are all conspiracy theories and need to be taken with a grain – if not a mountain – of salt.

Still, all of these theories have one thing in common – they all take for granted that the only way Chapo was free for so long is because the government didn’t want to arrest him. That he had paid off the right people or that he was useful. That says a lot about Mexicans’ mentality, the state of their government, and the every day reality in a country that ranks among the world’s most corrupt nations.

Whatever the reason, he’s been caught. Many here will cheer the arrest – especially the president and his administration.

But will it put a dent in the billions of dollars worth of drugs that go north to the US every year and the thousands of weapons that come south to Mexico? Unlikely.

Chapo sat atop one of the most sophisticated criminal organisations in the world. There’s no shortage of men with decades of experience waiting to take his place.

Will they slip into that role without a fight, or will this spark a bloody feud for power?


MALDIVES – No grounds to reverse Nabeel’s death sentence: State

October 14, 2012

State today insisted that the death sentence by the Criminal Court against Mohamed Nabeel, 22, of Galolhu Reef, who was convicted of stabbing Abdulla Faruhad, 18 to death, need not be reversed as it had been issued in accordance to the judicial and constitutional principles.


The State said so at the High Court hearing held today to appeal the criminal court’s death sentence against Nabeel.

At the High Court session held today, State attorney Aishath Fazna said that at the lower court’s first hearing, Nabeel’s attorney had denied to murder in the first degree, however she said that his lawyer had admitted to his involvement in gang attack on Farhad. Hence she said that it is evident that it had happened and his involvement in the crime.

In addition, the State attorney said that Nabeel had proclaimed his involvement in the crime at court on three separate occasions on which he had been taken to extend his detention period. The State attorney stressed that Nabeel had confessed to the crime during the police investigation and that Nabeel had stated at the lower court that his statement had not been influenced and was given on his own consent. She also stressed that anyone in the right frame of mind would find it hard to believe that Nabeel would blame himself for a crime and give a falsified statement to police.

State attorney said that even if Nabeel said that he signed the confession without reading it, a video footage of the investigation room reveals Nabeel staring at the confession for a long time before signing it.

In addition she said that Nabeel’s defense did not challenge the statements produced by witnesses against him at the lower court and that there is sufficient evidence beyond doubt as stated in Article 51 of the penal code.

Hence Fazna requested the court to declare that the lower court’s decision against Nabeel need not be reversed as the sentence was delivered in accordance to judicial and constitutional principles.

Abdulla Rabiu from the team of state attorneys stated that Farhad’s father’s statement had not been taken as he had deceased afterwards, however he said that Farhad’s father had given his statement to the police stating that he wanted the death sentence to be issued for his son’s murder.

In addition, Rabiu said that even if Farhad’s father’s statement was considered or not, the lower court’s decision would not change. Rabiu said that if his father’s statement is not to be considered, the next heir of the victim would be his mother and that she had already stated at the court that she wants the death penalty to be implemented against Nabeel.

Nabeel was sentenced to death after he was convicted of the stabbing murder of Faruhad, 18, of Seenu atoll Hulhudhoo Lilymaage at the criminal court on November 22, 2010.

Faruhad was stabbed on Majeedhee Magu in March 2009 and died shortly while receiving treatment at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).


Puerto Rico Jury Deliberates Death Penalty Case

September 26, 2012

A jury in Puerto Rico was deliberating Wednesday whether a convicted drug dealer should be executed for killing a girlfriend who was an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

It could be a landmark case for the U.S. territory, where the death penalty is constitutionally illegal and where the last execution occurred in 1927 by hanging.

Although the local jury has the last word, the case against Edison Burgos Montes is being tried in a federal court, which allows for the death penalty.

If the jury opts for capital punishment, Burgos would be executed on the U.S. mainland in a state selected by the Bureau of Prisons, said Lymarie Llovet, spokeswoman for Puerto Rico’s U.S. Attorney’s Office. If the jury rejects the death penalty, Burgos would be sentenced to life imprisonment, she said.

Burgos was found guilty in late August of killing Madelyn Semidey Morales in July 2005.

The jury began deliberating Tuesday morning and requested clarification Wednesday on several aggravating factors presented by prosecutors. In addition, an alternate juror replaced one juror who was dismissed for medical reasons.

As they deliberated, dozens of people held a vigil outside the federal courthouse to protest the case. Among those are members of the United Evangelical Church, which condemned the death penalty.

“Today we are allergic to forgiveness and to the respect for life,” the church said in a statement.

The case also has stirred anger among Puerto Ricans who resent U.S. involvement in what they say are local affairs. Julio Muriente, co-president of a political party that favors independence, accused U.S. authorities of ignoring Puerto Rico’s constitution.

“The U.S. government unilaterally imposes its will through the federal court,” he said.

The victim’s mother, Georgina Morales, told El Nuevo Dia newspaper when the trial began in April that she does not believe in capital punishment.

“It’s not sufficient punishment for me,” said Morales. “I want the justice system to impose the punishment, but I want it to be prison.”

Morales and other relatives have since declined to speak to the media, though the victim’s father, Carlos Semidey, gave news outlets a handwritten note this week lamenting that his daughter’s body had not been found. “If anyone knows where we can find her remains, please contact the necessary agencies so we can give her a Christian burial,” it said.

Madelyn Semidey also left behind three young daughters.

Puerto Rico juries previously rejected death sentences for federal cases in 2005 and 2006.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office expects that two other death penalty cases will go to trial in January, Llovet said.

In an effort to fight crime, Puerto Rico’s government has asked federal authorities to assume prosecution of certain cases, including carjackings, drive-by shootings and weapon possessions. The island of nearly 4 million people reported a record 1,117 homicides last year.

Puerto Rico banned the death penalty in 1929, two years after farmworker Pascual Ramos was hanged for beheading his boss with a machete. Prior to that, the U.S. military government had executed 23 people, all black and most of them poor or illiterate, after troops seized the island in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

When Puerto Rico approved its first constitution in 1952, it reiterated that capital punishment was illegal and constituted a human rights violation.

But federal prosecutors have continued to seek the death penalty in certain cases.

In 2000, Puerto Rican Judge Salvador Casellas ruled that applying the death penalty would violate Puerto Rico’s constitution as well as the federal statute concerning its status as a self-governing entity. His decision was overturned in 2001 by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which ruled that Puerto Rico is subject to federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that decision.

Puerto Rico joins 17 U.S. states that do not apply the death penalty.