Capital punishment

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.

How India’s stand on death penalty changed between 2 killings

After the British executed Bhagat Singh and his comrades, the nation resolved to do away with capital punishment. The mood changed on January 30, 1948 – the day Gandhi was killed.
On March 23, 1931, when the British government sent Bhagat Singh and his comrades Sukhdev and Rajguru to gallows, millions all over India mourned. Angry condolence meets, hysterical processions and strikes in factories, schools and colleges crystallised a national consensus that Independent India would have no place for capital punishment.
The mood was reflected in a forthright stand that the Indian National Congress took a week later. In its three-day Karachi session that began on March 29, 1931, the Congress passed a series of resolutions on Fundamental Rights and Duties, Labour, Taxation and Expenditure, and Economic and Social Programme.
Clause XIII of the resolution on Fundamental Rights and Duties declared: “There shall be no capital punishment.”
The Karachi resolution, which was drafted by Jawaharlal Nehru and revised by Mahatma Gandhi, is significant because it provided the implicit socio-juridical basis upon which the modern Indian nation was to be founded and whose spirit reflected in the Indian Constitution. The All India Congress Committee that met on August 6-8, 1931 made this point clear by declaring that “any Constitution which may be agreed to on its behalf should provide for” the Karachi Resolution. Indeed, the Constituent Assembly, which deliberated between December 9, 1946, and November 26, 1949, incorporated most of aspects of the Karachi Resolution in the Indian Constitution.
But by the time the Constituent Assembly took up the issue of capital punishment, the adherents of Hindutva had sufficiently disoriented the mood of the nation by brutally killing Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948. The culture of compassion that had created a national consensus against capital punishment in 1931 got sabotaged by the assassination.
Sanctity of human life
Thus, when on November 29, 1948, ZH Lari, a Muslim League member of the Constituent Assembly from the United Provinces (as Uttar Pradesh was called then), moved an amendment to abolish the capital punishment, many of the Constitution makers were horrified. The assassination of Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, an adherent of Hindutva, had hardened the attitudes of many of the Congress leaders who in 1931 had so enthusiastically backed the resolution against capital punishment.
Moving the amendment in the Constituent Assembly on November 29, 1948, Lari laid out 3 reasons why capital punishment should be abolished:
“The 1st consideration is that human judgment is not infallible. Every judge, every tribunal is liable to err. But capital punishment is irrevocable. Once you decide to award the sentence, the result is that the man is gone. […] The 2nd consideration is that human life is sacred and its sanctity is, I think, accepted by all. […] A man’s life is taken away if there is no other way to prevent the loss of other human lives. But the question is whether capital punishment is necessary for the sake of preventing crimes which result in such loss of human lives. I venture to submit that at least thirty countries have come to the conclusion that they can do without it and they have been going on in this way for at least 10 years, or 20 years, without any ostensible or appreciable increase in crimes. […] The 3rd consideration is that this is a punishment which is really shocking and brutal and does not correspond with the sentiments which prevail now in the present century.”
While concluding, Lari said: “Lastly I would submit that the reformative element in punishment is the most important one, and that should be the dominant consideration.”
After Lari moved the amendment, Vice President HC Mookerjee, who was in the chair, adjourned the House for the day.
Voices of opposition
The next day, on November 30, 1948, two members of the Constituent Assembly – both from the Indian National Congress – spoke on the issue and opposed the amendment seeking abolition of death penalty. The 1st, Congress leader from Bihar Amiya Kumar Ghosh, kept his opposition muted, wavering between technical and substantive reasons for his opposition to the amendment. The 2nd speaker, K Hanumanthaiah from Mysore, minced no words and even referred to Godse while arguing against Lari’s amendment.
In his argument, Ghosh said: “I think that with the growth of consciousness, with the development of society, the state should revise a punishment of this nature but the proper place of doing such a thing is not the Constitution. We can do it by amending the Indian Penal Code where such penalty is prescribed for different offences.”
He then added: “We are now passing through a transitional period, serious problems are confronting us, different sorts of situation are arising every day, and so it is quite possible that at times the State may require imposition of such grave penalties for offences which may endanger it and the society.”
Hanumanthaiah’s argument was straightforward. “If every man who takes away the life of another is assured that his life would be left untouched and it is a question of merely being imprisoned, probably the deterrent nature of the punishment will lose its value. […] Therefore, if a man who kills another is assured that he has a chance of being released after seven or eight or ten years, as the case may be, then everybody would get encouragement to pursue the method of revenge, if he has got any. For example, let us take this Godse incident.”
After a brief interruption by the Vice President, who asked him not to refer to “this particular individual”, Hanumanthaiah continued: “If a man who resorts to kill an important or a great man and if he is assured that he would be released after 7 years or 8 years, as the case may be, he would not hesitate to repeat what he has done, and conditions being what they are today, it would be very unwise from the point of view of the safety of the state and stability of society, to abolish capital sentence.”
Immediately after Hanumanthaiah concluded, Dr BR Ambedkar, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, declared that he did not “accept the amendment”.
The atmosphere, left vitiated by Gandhi’s murder, was no longer conducive to carry forward the pledge the nation had taken following the execution of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. It’s ironical that the assassination of the man who said an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind proved to be the turning point when India opted for capital punishment.
Source:, August 6, 2015
State trains hangmen for future executions
File photo of a gallows at the Old Central Jail in Bangalore
File photo of a gallows at the Old Central Jail in Bangalore
Prisons dept asked to prepare 3-4 constables for the job; Maha has 41 on death row.
The state home office has directed the prisons department to train at least three to four constables as hangmen to supplement the number of executioners available in the state, which has now dwindled to 1, and prepare for future hangings. The sole remaining executioner, whose last hanging was that of Ajmal Kasab, on November 21, 2012, was tasked with carrying out Yakub Memon’s death sentence, at Nagpur Central Jail last week.
“When hanging was common, we had many trained hangmen in our ranks, but they have since retired,” a senior home ministry official told Mumbai Mirror. “We’ve asked the prisons department to train more for future jobs. It’s a laborious process.”
Maharashtra has executed 19 convicts since independence, with a marked lull between August 26, 1995 when Sudhakar Joshi, convicted of robbery and triple murder, was executed at Pune’s Yerawada Jail, and Kasab’s hanging.
The home ministry official said the department had to “exercise a lot of caution during Kasab’s hanging as the executioner hadn’t carried out a death sentence for a very long time”. The state had transferred those officers who supervised the 26/11 terrorist’s hanging at Yerawada Jail to Nagpur so that Memon’s sentence could be carried out without trouble.
Senior superintendent of jails Yogesh Desai, who served in Yerwada, is now the senior superintendent of Nagpur Jail and Meeran Borwankar continues to hold the position of additional director of police (prisons). Both witnessed Kasab’s hanging and were acquainted with the procedure. However, the act of executing condemned prisoners lies in the ambit of just one man’s expertise, which led the home ministry to issue the directive seeking an increase in the number of executioners.
2 of Maharashtra’s jails are equipped for hanging convicts – Nagpur and Pune, while those at Dhule and Thane hold such facilities, but aren’t operational.
Anup Surendranath, of the Death Penalty Research Project, who resigned as the deputy registrar of the Supreme Court following Memon’s hanging, said the government should be joining the debate on how death penalty is administered in the country instead of sending out the message that it is in favour of capital punishment by training constables to serve as hangmen. “Even during the Yakub Memon process, the mood was very much in favour of death penalty,” he said. “But there are serious issues in terms of how we administer the death penalty. When a body like the Law Commission is seized of this issue, they should be joining the debate. This (training hangmen) will only send a message that we are going to hang more people in the near future. Now is not the time to say we are preparing to hang more people.”
Maharashtra has 41 people on death row, including 2 women. While some of them have been sentenced by lower courts and are awaiting appeals and mercy pleas, a few have expended all forms of judicial recourse. Among these are Renuka Kiran Shinde and Seema Mohan Gavit, known as the Gavit sisters, and the Shakti Mill rapists.
The sisters were convicted of kidnapping 13 children below the age of 5 and murdering at least 5. The president rejected their mercy plea in April 2014, but they approached the Bombay High Court in August 2014, citing “delay in execution”, after the Supreme Court commuted a few sentences citing this reason. The HC has stayed their execution.
The other prominent death row inmates are 3 men found guilty in the 2013 Shakti Mills gang rape case – they have appealed the sentence; Shivaji Shankar Alhat sentenced to death in 2003 for kidnapping and raping a minor over 20 times before strangling her to death in Junnar; and Rajendra Pralhadrao Wasnik, for raping and murdering a 3-year-old in March 2007.
Source: Mumbai Mirror, August 6, 2015


Pakistan hangs three convicted killers

July 28, 2015: Three murder convicts were hanged in Pakistan between July 27 and 28 as executions resumed following a one-month break during the holy month of Ramazan that ended last week.
Farooq and Karim Nawaz, were hanged in Multan on July 27 amid strict security arrangements.
“Two prisoners, Farooq alias Farooqa and Karim Nawaz, who had been awarded capital punishment, have been hanged in central jail in Multan today,” Chaudhry Arshad Saeed, a senior government adviser for prisons in the Punjab province told AFP.
“Both of these convicts were awaiting the death penalty for murdering people in separate cases. They have been executed today after resumption of hangings following a temporary moratorium because of Ramazan,” he said.
Another senior official of the prisons department who is responsible for all operations confirmed the hangings.
In 1988, Farooq had murdered a person over a transaction whereas Kareem Nawaz had killed another in 1999 due to old enmity.
Akhtar were hanged on July 28 at Attock District Jail. He had killed a man named Saeed over an old enmity in 1999.
Since the de facto ban on capital punishment ended on 17 December 2014 184 people, including 25 convicted terrorists, have been executed across the country.
Sources: AFP, July 27, 2015; Dunya, July 28, 2015


Those who question Yakub Memon death penalty can go to Pakistan: Sakshi Maharaj

Yakub memon case, sakshi maharaj, yakub memon, asaduddin owaisi, yakub memon hanging, yakub memon hearing, yakub, mumbai attack, mumbai terror attack, mumbai blast attack, mumbai attack news, mumbai news, india newsSakshi Mahraj said the politics of communalism must be put to an end.

A row broke out over the death sentence for Yakub Memon in Mumbai blasts case with AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi today suggesting he met this fate because of his religion and BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj saying those who do not respect judiciary can go to Pakistan.

BJP also accused Owaisi of doing “communal politics” over terrorism and said that nothing can be “uglier” than this.

Triggering a controversy, Owaisi questioned the capital punishment awarded to Yakub, the lone convict in the Mumbai blasts case ordered to be sent to the gallows.

He sought to know whether the perpetrators of demolition of disputed structure in Ayodhya, communal riots of Mumbai and Gujarat and other such sinister cases would get a similar punishment. “Why have not perpetrators of demolition of Babri Masjid been convicted and will they also be given capital punishment as that is the original sin?” the Hyderabad MP asked while addressing a gathering in Hyderabad.

Alleging that the recommendations of Sri Krishna Commission have been put in cold storage both by the BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP governments in Maharashtra, he wondered how many have been convicted in the Mumbai riots of December, 1992 and January, 1993. “1,000 people killed in communal riots of December, 1992 and January, 1993. How many are convicted?” he asked.

“Will Sadhvi Pragya, Col. Purohit and Swami Aseemanand, whose name cropped up in connection with Malegaon blasts, would get capital punishment,” he said, adding “this is up to NIA to prove to courts.

” He questioned why the assassins of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi haven’t been awarded the same punishment.

“Rajiv Gandhi and Beant Singh killers have backing of respective political parties, that is why they have not been given capital punishment,” Owaisi said.

Hitting back at Owaisi, Sakshi Maharaj, a BJP MP, sparked another controversy.

“I think those who cannot respect this nation, cannot respect the national flag, cannot respect India’s Constitution, cannot respect the judiciary such people do not have the right to live in India. The way is open, they can easily go to Pakistan,” he said outside Parliament House.

Sakshi Maharaj said the politics of communalism must be put to an end.

“This country is not run by Owaisi. He(Memon) has been found guilty by courts not us. A terrorist is a terrorist. This politics of communalism should be stopped,” he added.

Union Minister and senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said Owaisi has done “communal politics” over terrorism. “There can not be an uglier form of communal politics. Owaisi sees religion in everything. The decision for execution is taken by the Supreme Court not government,” Javadekar told reporters in Delhi. –

Mary Jane Veloso: A powerful argument vs death penalty revival

Monday, July 13, 2015

The large number of Filipinos facing the death penalty overseas provides a powerful argument against the revival of capital punishment here at home, Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said in a news release Sunday.
“There’s no question our abolition of the death penalty has given us greater leverage to appeal to foreign governments on humanitarian grounds for the lives of our own citizens who are facing execution abroad,” Romulo said.
“We now have the moral high ground. Otherwise, it would be extremely difficult for us to beg for mercy if we ourselves are putting our convicts here to death – if we ourselves have little or no regard for the sanctity of human life,” Romulo said.
Romulo’s remarks came shortly after a group of Filipino migrants expressed fears that Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipino on death row in Indonesia, may be executed soon after the end of Ramadan, following a 10-week reprieve.
The Indonesian government is expected to release after July 17 a new list of convicts set to be executed by firing squad, and it may include Veloso, according to Migrante International.
But Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it was still verifying the report with Indonesian authorities.
“We have millions of citizens working or travelling abroad. Many of them are in countries that still carry out executions. These Filipinos may be vulnerable when they get into trouble with the law in their host countries,” Romulo warned.
Romulo said 57 countries around the world still subscribe to capital punishment, and many of them are actively putting convicts to death.
Besides Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China, the United States, Kuwait, and Thailand, he said the other countries still performing executions and hosting many Filipino citizens include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Oman, Taiwan, Japan, and Singapore, among others.
“The problem with the death penalty is that once the convict is killed, there’s absolutely no room for correction. We can’t resurrect a dead prisoner, even if somebody else later confesses to having committed the crime for which the convict had been condemned,” Romulo said.
Veloso, 31, was supposed to be executed on April 29, 2015, but obtained a last-minute reprieve after the Philippines asked Indonesia that she be allowed to provide testimonial evidence against her alleged human trafficker, Maria Kristina Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao.
The Philippine government has since scrambled to build a strong case showing that Veloso was a mere victim of human trafficking, and that she had been exploited by a West African drug syndicate to smuggle 2.6 kilos of heroin into Jakarta.
Philippine authorities hope to persuade their Indonesian counterparts to reopen Veloso’s case and further suspend her execution by firing squad.
Besides Veloso, at least 88 other Filipinos are known to be on death row abroad — in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China, the US, Kuwait, and Thailand.
Of the 88, the DFA said 41 were convicted of drug offenses while the rest were condemned for murder.
Congress reinstated the death penalty for 13 heinous crimes in 1993, only to get rid of it in 2006 due to mounting flaws.
That year, then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban belatedly admitted that a “judicial error” had caused the wrongful execution of incestuous rape convict Leo Echegaray in 1999.
Panganiban said it was proven during trial that Echegaray was not “a father, stepfather, or grandfather” of the victim, and that while the house painter may have been “a common-law spouse of the mother of the victim,” this circumstance was never alleged in the complaint.
The law at that time imposed the death penalty on “rape committed when the victim is under 18 years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the 3rd civil degree, or the common-law-spouse of the parent of the victim.”

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