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

EU Blasts Palestinian Use Of Death Penalty

European Union missions based in Jerusalem and Ramallah in the occupied West Bank condemned Friday a death sentence issued in the Gaza Strip earlier this week.
The sentence was the 5th issued since the beginning of the year by Palestinian courts.
On Monday, the Permanent Military Court in Gaza City – acting as a court of First Instance – sentenced a 37-year-old Palestinian from the al-Daraj neighborhood to death by firing squad after he was convicted of “collaboration with a foreign hostile entity,” the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reported.
Under Palestinian law, wilful, premeditated murder and treason as well as collaboration with the enemy – usually Israel – are punishable by death.
The EU called on authorities in Gaza – run by the Hamas movement – to refrain from enforcing capital punishment on the grounds that the practice is cruel, inhumane, fails to deter criminal behavior, and denies citizens human dignity.
PCHR said that Monday’s sentence brings the total number of death sentences issued by the Palestinian courts since 1994 to 161, over 80 % of which were carried out in the Gaza Strip.
The remainder took place in the occupied West Bank in courts run by the Palestinian Authority.
The majority of those facing the death penalty in the Gaza Strip have been executed since Hamas took control on 2007, PCHR said, adding that 19 have been executed since 2007 without ratification by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Under Palestinian law, capital punishment may only be carried out with the approval of the Palestinian president.
As the Hamas movement broke from the Palestinian Authority in 2007 and does not recognize the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip sidestep the president’s consent on cases of capital punishment.
The EU added that the authorities in Gaza must “comply with the moratorium on executions put in place by the Palestinian Authority, pending abolition of the death penalty in line with the global trend.”
While Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007 and the Palestinian Authority rules in the occupied West Bank, the death penalty is carried out by both parties in both territories.
Hamas executed 18 men in August for alleged collaboration with Israel during the 50-day Gaza war.
Palestine is 1 of 22 countries that carried out the death penalty last year.
The practice has been abolished in 140 countries – nearly 2/3 of countries around the world – and in 2012 over half of United Nations member states voted for a UN resolution to be passed for a global moratorium on the practice.
In 2014, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United States carried out the largest numbers of recorded death sentences.
Rights groups have criticized Palestinian authorities in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip for implementing capital punishment without due process.
Source:eurasiareview.com, August 28, 2015

India: Law panel drafts paper, favours abolition of death penalty

The Law Commission is set to recommend abolition of death penalty in India except for terror convicts, media reports said on Friday, a move rights activists say is long overdue in the country.
India is one of 59 countries in the world where capital punishment is still awarded and activists have been demanding its abolition, saying death penalty had no place in civilised society.
The issue had generated intense debate before and after the hanging in July of Yakub Memon, the sole Mumbai blasts convict to be executed.
A 272-page draft report of the Law Commission was in favour of speedy abolition of the death penalty from the statute books, except in cases where the accused is convicted of involvement in a terror case, the Indian Express reported.
The Law Commission had recommended retention of death penalty in 1962.
“The Commission suggests that the death penalty be immediately abolished for all crimes other than terror offences. At the same time, for terror offences a moratorium as regards sentencing and execution be immediately put in place. This moratorium can be reviewed after a reasonable period,” the report quoted the draft as saying.
The panel also hoped that the “movement towards absolute abolition will be swift and irreversible”.
The commission, headed by justice (retd) AP Shah, is likely to submit its report next week to the Supreme Court which had asked the panel to study the issue.
A copy of the report will also be handed over to the Union law minister as any call on changes in penal provisions has to be taken by Parliament.
The panel’s term expires on August 31. According to the report, the commission is of the view that death penalty has not served its intended purpose of acting as a deterrent to crimes or criminals.
“The quest for retribution as a penal justification cannot descend into cries for vengeance,” the draft paper said.
The panel had held wide-ranging discussions with many different sections including political parties.
Former president late APJ Abdul Kalam is among the people who had earlier supported abolishing death penalty while responding to a consultation paper of the Law Commission.
Ahead of Yakub Memon’s hanging after a dramatic late-night rejection of his final mercy, a group of activists had written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking a stay on his execution.
Source: Hindustan Times, 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

 

Pakistan hangs man convicted for multiple murders

Pakistan today hanged a death row prisoner convicted for multiple murders, taking the total number of convicts executed to 212 since the country lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in March this year.
Maqbool Hussain was hanged early this morning in Multan central jail in Punjab province.
Hussain was convicted for murdering 6 people in 1996 to avenge the killing of his brothers and his petitions were already rejected by higher courts.
Pakistan lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in all capital cases on March 10.
Executions in Pakistan resumed in December last year, ending a 6-year moratorium, after Taliban fighters gunned down 154 people, most of them children, at a school in Peshawar.
Hangings were initially reinstated only for those convicted of terrorism offences, but in March they were extended to all capital offences.
So far 212 convicts have been executed in total despite the criticism from United Nations, the European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
More than 8,000 prisoners are on death row in Pakistan and about 160 convicts have been executed since the Nawaz Sharif government lifted moratorium on death penalty.
Source: Press Trust of India, August 27, 2015

 

Iran regime continues spate of executions

NCRI – Iran’s fundamentalist regime on Thursday hanged a man in the central prison of Sanandaj, western Iran.
The man, identified as Jamal Jaafari, had been imprisoned for four years. He was accused of murder.
Six prisoners, including political prisoner Behrouz Alkhani, were hanged in Orumieh Prison, western Iran on Wednesday.
On Monday, the mullahs’ regime hanged a 25-year-old prisoner identified as Hossein Karimi in Bandar Abbas Prison, southern Iran. He was accused of a drugs related charge.
The regime’s prosecutor in Mazandaran Province, northern Iran, on Monday said a prisoner, only identified by the initials R.F., was hanged in Sari Prison on Sunday.
A statement by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on August 5 said: “Iran has reportedly executed more than 600 individuals so far this year. Last year, at least 753 people were executed in the country.”
Source: NCRI, August 27, 2015

 

The death penalty is in its final throes, but too many are still being executed – Clive Stafford Smith

History may be susceptible to few inexorable predictions. But we are on safe ground if we say that sacrificing a human being to the false god of deterrence, or for pure revenge, is not going to look civilised when we peer back from the 22nd century, any more than our own history books laud theSalem witch trials three centuries ago.

At one time or another, essentially every country has used capital punishment. Yet today, of the 195 states recognised by the United Nations, only 37 killer countries remain: just one in five. Of the rest, 102 have formally abolished, and 56 have either not executed for more than 10 years, or have imposed a formal moratorium. The death penalty is in its death throes.

However, just as a wild animal may be most dangerous when cornered, so the renegade states lash out. Pakistan is an example of this. Nine months ago, the moratorium imposed by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) six years earlier held firm. In 1979, the then PPP leader, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was hanged by the military regime; in other words, they had experienced the caprice of capital punishment first-hand.

At one time or another, essentially every country has used capital punishment. Yet today, of the 195 states recognised by the United Nations, only 37 killer countries remain: just one in five. Of the rest, 102 have formally abolished, and 56 have either not executed for more than 10 years, or have imposed a formal moratorium. The death penalty is in its death throes.

However, just as a wild animal may be most dangerous when cornered, so the renegade states lash out. Pakistan is an example of this. Nine months ago, the moratorium imposed by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) six years earlier held firm. In 1979, the then PPP leader, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was hanged by the military regime; in other words, they had experienced the caprice of capital punishment first-hand.

However, the current PMLN government, led by Nawaz Sharif, has vowed to execute everyone on death row – which, at 8261 people, is more than in any other country. This is meant to deter the terrorists who had carried out the hideousPeshawar school massacre in December 2014. (All the “jihadis” had willingly died in the attack, so the deterrent value of executions seemed questionable even then.)

Yet Pakistan is an example of a country where deterrence works – for politicians at least. For months, the PMLN government had been discouraged from carrying out executions, by an EU threat to take away favourable trading status, which is said to be worth some $1.3bn dollars a year. They have also been deterred by the terrorists themselves. While those who were said to be extremists made up at least 13 of the 25 hanged in the first seven weeks of the gallows, on 11 February this year the terrorists apparently issued their own secretive threat of retribution: if any more of their number should be hanged, they would target the politicians and their families personally.

Naturally, the politicians did not admit anything publicly, but they stopped executions for a month. The 189 executions since 13 March have included not a single member of these proscribed groups. In other words, the pretext for execution is simply false, and yet Pakistan is executing a flood of those with nothing to do with terrorism – from schizophrenics, paraplegics and juveniles, many of whom seem to be innocent.

Iran is another country where a recent bloodbath on the gallows may be subject to western influence. Iran has recently doubled the rate at which it hangs people for narcotics violations and these are, overwhelmingly, small-time mules.Iinvestigations by Reprieve show that UK support for Iranian drug police directly enabled 2,917 hangings, and a western-funded UN drugs programme has helped to put the necks of more than two drug mules in the noose each day this year.

Another pretext for using the death chamber is common to conservative Christians and Muslims alike – that the death penalty is somehow mandated by God. Their take on the lex talionis (“an eye for an eye”) is itself dubious, as such countries impose death for many crimes, including drugs and blasphemy. InSaudi Arabia the new ruler, King Salman, has more than doubled the number of prisoners beheaded this year, and more than half have been foreigners who generally do not speak Arabic and have little chance of defending themselves.

The United States still has more than 3,000 people on death row, but only five states have managed to conduct 19 executions between them this year, down more than two-thirds on 1999, with public support waning. However, the battle is far from over. The US is less susceptible to international pressure, and the conservatives take their shibboleths seriously. Recently, some states have had trouble obtaining lethal injection drugs, for the simple reason that pharmaceutical companies do not want their product used to kill people. In a recent supreme court challenge, the conservative five-justice majority voted to uphold the lethal execution process, insisting that a prisoner who objects to a particularly gruesome and painful method of execution must help the state by suggesting an alternative way to execute him.

China may be the ultimate challenge for abolitionists. Like the US, the regime is not impressed by international pressure. Despite this, Chinese officials have stated that abolition will come sometime in the future, when the time is right. Yet, ironically, they have created the conditions for the internal backlash they fear from the Chinese people: the population remains strongly (95%) in favour of the death penalty for the simple reason that official propaganda says that executions deter crime, and the regime stifles dissent. When the regime allows meaningful discourse, the facts will inevitably create the moment for abolition.

For those of us in the trenches of this battle, it is cold comfort that history will place us on the correct side of the argument. I have watched while six of my clients die: two in the gas chamber, two in the electric chair, and two on the gurney. Each time, I have come out of the chamber, and looked up at the stars, wondering how such barbarism has made the world a safer or more civilised place. For today, there are just too many individual, living human beings systematically killed, all for no good reason.