Capital punishment

Afghanistan – Death Row Prisoners Spending Years In Jail

Out of 750 prisoners sentenced to death some convicts have been on death row waiting for their execution orders to be signed for 16 years.

The Meshrano Jirga (the Upper House of Parliament) on Tuesday summoned officials from the directorate of prisons and detention centers, representatives of the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to respond to a report provided by the senate on the conditions of Afghanistan’s prisons and detention centers. 

The director of the prisons and detention centers directorate Abdul Halim Kohistani said of the 750 prisoners on death row, some were sentenced 16 years ago but until now their execution orders have not been issued.

Kohistani acknowledged there were challenges in the prisons and detention centers labeling health and hygiene as the biggest one.

“Public health ministry tells us to provide health services (to prisoners) because we fall under the interior ministry and it is our responsibility. When we ask the health department of the interior ministry to provide health services for the 30,000 prisoners, they say that we offer health services to the police but not to the prisoners,” said Kohistani.

Currently over 30,000 people are in prisons and detention centers – over 900 are women and over 300 are children. About 200 are foreign nationals.

Prisoners are being held in 36 prisons and 190 detention centers in the country and over 6,000 employees and guards are employed at these facilities.

“Approximately 750 individuals have been sentenced to death and some have been in prison for 16 years following the issuance of their sentence to death and this is a problem. When we speak with their lawyers or meet them in the prisons, they ask to be executed or to be freed because (they say) by keeping them in prison two punishments have been implemented against them,” Kohistani said.

“The reason that the death sentence is not being implemented on time is that it is a heavy punishment and it ends the life of the criminal. Thus special attention should be paid in this regard,” Abdul Fatah Azizi, from the AGO said.

Meanwhile a number of senators said some people use their influence and get the contract for construction of prisons but they do not build the buildings and facilities as it should be and that following the completion of the construction, prisoners face numerous problems such as a lack of space.

“An individual and our friend in the Meshrano Jirga had contracted a hospital in Kapisa province, but it has been 12 years and the hospital has not been built. Such cases are in Badakhshan,” senate deputy speaker Mohammad Alam Ezedyar said.

Kohistani said the lack of facilities is a big challenge in terms of addressing prisoners’ problems. He said in the last 14 years the prisons structures have not changed, but the number of prisoners has increased.


Japan executes two murderers, including teen killer on death-row since 1992

December 19, 2017

Japan Tuesday executed two convicted murderers, including one who committed his crime while in his teens, the justice ministry said, ignoring calls from international rights groups to end capital punishment.

The hangings of Teruhiko Seki and Kiyoshi Matsui bring to 21 the total number of executions since conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in late 2012.

Seki, 44, was convicted of killing four people in Chiba, southeast of Tokyo, in 1992 when he was 19, the ministry said.

It was the first execution of a death-row prisoner who committed crimes as a minor since 1997 in Japan, local media said.

People are considered adults at the age of 20 in Japan.

Matsui, 69, was sentenced to death for killing his girlfriend and her parents in 1994.

Both were seeking a retrial, local media said. Though not unprecedented, it is rare in Japan to put to death those appealing for a fresh trial.

“They were extremely cruel cases,” Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said.

“I ordered the executions after very careful consideration,” she said.

Japan and the United States are the only major developed countries that still carry out capital punishment.

The death penalty has overwhelming public support in Japan despite repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups.

Opponents say Japan’s system is cruel because inmates can be on death row for many years in solitary confinement and are only told of their impending execution a few hours ahead of time.

1993 Mumbai Blasts: Supreme Court Stays Execution Of Death Row Convict

NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the execution of death row convict Tahir Merchant in the sensational 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

The top court sought a response from the CBI in six weeks and called for the case records from the special TADA court in Mumbai, which had awarded death sentence to Merchant, Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan and life imprisonment to gangster Abu Salem.

Merchant was convicted among others in the second stage of trial in the case as he was absconding.

As many as 257 people were killed and 718 suffered grievous injuries, with some of them suffering disabilities, were killed in the serial blasts at 12 places in Mumbai on March 12, 1993.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and M M Shantanagoudar issued notice to the CBI and directed the registry to call for the lower court’s records.

“The State of Maharashtra is directed to compile the evidence in entirety and file the compilation in convenient volumes and also serve a copy thereof to the counsel for the appellant (Merchant),” it said.While staying the execution of the death sentence awarded to Merchant, the bench listed the matter for further hearing on March 14 next year.

 Merchant had challenged the September 7 order of the special TADA court which had held that he was among the main conspirators.

“The evidence proves the anguish, agitation and frustration expressed by Tahir due to situation prevailing in Bombay during the period of riots in January 1993,” it had noted.

He worked with (absconding conspirator) Tiger Memon and had participated in several conspiracy meetings in Dubai.

Tahir made travel arrangements, financed the stay and travel of several co-accused and facilitated their training in Pakistan, the court had noted.

“The role of Tahir in conspiracy is prominent. He is one of the initiators of the conspiracy,” the court had said in its ruling on June 16.

On Tahir’s role, the court had observed that he was absconding and, by remaining in Dubai, he has deprived the investigating agency of necessary assistance to investigate the case.

Salem had escaped the noose and was handed down life imprisonment due to a provision in the Extradition Act.

Besides Salem, the court had sentenced Karimullah Khan to life imprisonment, while awarding 10 years in jail to the fifth convict, Riyaz Siddiqui.

The court had referred to the worldwide scenario and the menace of terrorism and said it was pertinent that a case relating to terrorism cannot be treated at par with other offences.

It had also imposed a fine on the five accused totalling Rs. 27.09 lakh. Firoz Khan was fined Rs. 4.75 lakh, Karimullah Khan Rs. 8.88 lakh, Tahir Merchant Rs. 4.85 lakh, Abu Salem Rs. 8.51 lakh and Riyaz Siddiqui Rs. 10,000.

The court had in June convicted six persons, including prime accused Mustafa Dossa and Salem, 24 years after the blasts had left 257 people dead. It, however, let off accused Abdul Quayyum for want of evidence.

Salem, a notorious gangster considered close to fugitive mob boss Dawood Ibrahim, escaped death sentence as the Extradition Act bars India from seeking capital punishment for an accused extradited from a country where the practice is not in force.

Before Salem’s extradition in 2004 following his arrest in 2002 in Portugal, India had assured Lisbon that he would not be awarded capital punishment if convicted.

All the seven accused faced multiple charges including criminal conspiracy, waging war against the government and murder.

The trial court, in its June 16 ruling convicting the six accused, had held that the prosecution had proved that Salem was one of the key conspirators and had delivered three AK-56 rifles and ammunition and hand grenades to actor Sanjay Dutt, who was convicted under the Arms Act in the earlier phase of the trial.

Salem, who was close to Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Anees Ibrahim and Dossa, took upon of himself to bring a part of arms and ammunition from Dighi to Mumbai, the court had said.

The trial of Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Karimullah Khan, Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui, Tahir Merchant and Abdul Quayyum was separated from the main case as they were arrested after the first set of trial had already started.

Dossa had died of cardiac arrest at J J Hospital in Mumbai, shortly after being convicted.

Death Penalty for rape in Madhya Pradesh

November 27,  2017

The Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal on Sunday, also passed a resolution that awards the death sentence to gang rape convicts.

The moves comes in the wake of rape incidents recently. “The Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan okayed the recommendation to hand down capital punishment for rape of girls aged 12 years or below,” MP Finance Minister Jayant Malaiya said.

“We are going to present a bill to this effect in the winter session of the assembly beginning tomorrow,” he said. He said the Cabinet also decided to give harsher punishment to those guilty of molesting, stalking and harassing women. Now, a fine of Rs 1 lakh will also be imposed on such offenders, he added.

Once cleared by the assembly, the bill for capital punishment for rape of girls aged 12 or below will be sent to the Centre which will send it to the President for his approval.

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


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.

Death Penalty for Heinous Crime Not Barbaric, Says Supreme Court

NEW DELHI:  In the wake of the debate over the death penalty following the execution of Mumbai attack convict Yakub Memon, the Supreme Court has said capital punishment is not inhuman or barbaric and will not violate the right to life and liberty in heinous crimes.

The observation came on Friday from a three-judge bench which was hearing the appeal from a murder case convict who has been given the death sentence.

Vikram Singh, who had been convicted for abducting and killing a 16-year-old, had challenged his death sentence, arguing that capital punishment is applicable only to terrorists.

The bench of Justices TS Thakur, RK Agrawal and AK Goel said, “A sentence of death in a case of murder may be rare, but if the courts have found it is the only sentence that can be awarded, it is difficult to revisit that question…”

What was important, the top court said, was that the punishment should be should be proportionate to the crime.

“Death penalty in a case of kidnapping or abduction will not qualify to be described as barbaric or inhuman so as to infringe the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the court said.

While death penalty is awarded in the rarest of the rare cases, the last few persons to be executed were people convicted on terror charges – Afzal Guru, who was convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack case and Ajamal Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist caught for the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

But it was Yakub Memon’s execution that not only triggered questions from the civil society about his punishment, but also on the larger debate on death penalty.

Vikram Singh had been arrested for the abduction and murder of school student Abhi Verma in 2005.

He was awarded the death sentence by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which was later confirmed by the Supreme Court.  He had challenged the death sentence given for the crime he was booked under – kidnapping for ransom (Section 364A).

Punishments under the section include death sentence, life imprisonment and a fine.