the death penalty

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



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


Saudi Arabia: One of the World’s Most Prolific Executioners

Saudi Arabia remains one of the most prolific executioners in the world. Between January 1985 (the earliest year from when information on executions is available) and June 2015, it executed at least 2,200 people, almost half of whom were foreign nationals.
Over one-third of these executions were carried out for offenses that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty can be imposed under international law. Most of these crimes, such as drug-related offenses, are not mandatorily punishable by death according to the authorities’ interpretation of Sharia law.
Saudi Arabia also continues to sentence to death and execute individuals for crimes committed when they were below 18 years of age, in violation of the country’s obligations under international customary law and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Also in violation of international law, the death penalty in Saudi Arabia continues to be used against people with mental disabilities.
The death penalty is also used disproportionately against foreign nationals, the majority of whom are migrant workers with no knowledge of Arabic—the language in which they are questioned while in detention and in which trial proceedings are carried out. They are often denied adequate interpretation assistance. Their country’s embassies and consulates are not promptly informed of their arrest, or even of their executions. In some cases, their families are neither notified in advance of the execution nor are their bodies returned to them to be buried.
The authorities recurrently fail to abide by international standards for fair trial and U.N. safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. Too often trials in death penalty cases are held in secret, and their proceedings are unfair and summary with no legal assistance or representation through the various stages of detention and trial. Defendants may be convicted solely on the basis of “confessions” obtained under torture or other ill-treatment, duress or deception.
The Saudi Arabian authorities continue to claim that they apply the death penalty only for the “most serious crimes” and only following the most rigorous and thorough judicial proceedings. They have argued that the death penalty is an integral component of Sharia law that guarantees the rights of perpetrators and victims alike, and that the death penalty and public executions serve as a deterrent to crime. The authorities’ claims on the use of the death penalty contradict its practice in reality.

Foreign nationals, particularly migrant workers from disadvantaged economic backgrounds who moved to Saudi Arabia from countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, comprise a high and disproportionate number of those executed in Saudi Arabia. Of the total 2,208 executions recorded between January 1985 and June 2015, at least 1,072, or some 48.5 percent, were of foreign nationals. During their trial, their foreign nationality and the fact that they often lack Arabic language skills place them in a particularly disadvantageous position.

Source: Newsweek, Op-Ed, Amnesty International, August 24, 2015


Middle East: Gay People At Risk of Death After Ashley Madison Hack

Gay people who used the dating site could face the death penalty in some countries after their details were exposed by hackers.
People living under oppressive regimes who used the Ashley Madison adultery dating site to arrange secret liaisons could be at risk of prison or the death penalty.
The hacking of the site has exposed millions of people, including hundreds in Saudi Arabia where adultery is potentially punishable by death.
The site was predominantly used by people looking to cheat on their partner, but it is thought that many single gay people used the service to avoid detection by oppressive governments.
Homosexuality is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, while in Qatar – where 50 members of the site are registered – it carries a 5-year prison sentence.
Sky’s Technology Correspondent Tom Cheshire said one Reddit user based in Saudi Arabia has even fled the country after being exposed.
He said: “Ashley Madison was sold as a way to get casual hook-ups for cheating spouses, but some users in the Middle East say they used it as a discreet way of having meetings with homosexual men who didn’t want to be identified.
“There are 1,200 email addresses with the Saudi Arabia suffix where homosexuals face the death penalty.
“More than 50 accounts are from Qatar where homosexual relationships are punishable by 5 years in prison.
“And there are 1,500 from Turkey where homosexuality isn’t illegal but you can get kicked out of the country or banned from military services.”
Details of the site’s 37 million members were obtained by hackers in July, who demanded that the site be shut down.
This week, with the site still online, they released the data on the dark web.
Among those exposed are civil servants, senior military officers and university professors.
Source: Sky News, August 21, 2015


India’s Death Penalty

July 30 was a somber day for India — a day that called into question the application of the death penalty in a country whose criminal justice system is stacked against minorities, the poor and those who do not have the backing of powerful political interests.

On that day, Yakub Memon was executed. The same day last year, Maya Kodnani was released from jail. Just three years ago, Ms. Kodnani was sentenced to prison for 28 years for her role in an attack in Gujarat that left at least 94 people, all Muslims, dead during riots in 2002. She was also, however, a top lieutenant in the Gujarat state government once headed by the current prime minister, Narendra Modi. Mr. Memon had no such political connections. An accountant, he admitted to playing an accessory role in the 1993 bombings in Mumbai, masterminded by his brother “Tiger” Memon and Dawood Ibrahim, a Mumbai underworld boss. The bombings, which took the lives of 257 people and injured some 700 others, were set off in revenge for riots that engulfed the city in December 1992 following the destruction by Hindu militants of the Babri Mosque in the Indian city of Ayodhya. More than 1,000 people died in the Mumbai riots, most of them Muslims.

Mr. Memon’s execution has now set off a vigorous debate in India on capital punishment. While more than 1,300 Indians were condemned to die by Indian courts in the decade between 2004 and 2013, only three individuals have been executed. But the sentences reflect huge disparities in the treatment of the accused in the justice system. A study conducted by the National Law University in New Delhi, working with India’s Law Commission, has found that nearly all — 93.5 percent — of those sentenced to death are low-caste Dalits or members of other minorities. Most are poor. Many are illiterate. Few received adequate legal representation.

Such gross injustice should weigh heavily when India’s Supreme Court receives a full report on the death penalty expected from the Law Commission next month. In the meantime, the government should reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty while India works toward joining most of the world in abolishing state-sanctioned killing.

Death Penalty 2015: The Good and the Bad

July 27, 2015

The first 6 months of 2015 have seen starkly contrasting developments on the death penalty. While the bad news has been very bad, the good news has been very good.
1. Indonesia resumed executions.
The year began on a tragic note when Indonesia, ignoring pleas from around the world, put 6 people to death for drug trafficking. The executions were the 1st in Indonesia since 2013.
2. Pakistan may soon be counted among the world’s top executioners.
Pakistan is edging closer to membership of the unenviable club of the world’s top executioners (China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and USA). At least 150 people have been put to death since a freeze on executions was lifted in December 2014, following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar.
3. Indonesia and Pakistan used crime and terrorism as an excuse to bring back executions.
Both Indonesia and Pakistan justified bringing back the death penalty by claiming it is an effective response to crime and terrorism. But there is no evidence to show that the death penalty is more effective at addressing crime than a prison term, nor does abolition lead to a sharp increase in crime, as some fear.
4. Iran looks set to surpass its execution figures for 2014.
Iran has so far this year executed nearly 700 people – many of these executions were not officially acknowledged. In 2014, Amnesty recorded at least 743 executions in Iran over 12 months. That the country put more than 600 people to death just 6 months into this year is deeply troubling.
5. Saudi Arabia has already executed more people than it did in 2014.
Amnesty has recorded 102 executions in Saudi Arabia so far this year, exceeding the total number of executions (at least 90) for 2014. Almost 1/2 of these executions were for drug-related offences.
1. Three countries abolished the death penalty in the first 3 months of 2015.
In January Madagascar abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Fiji followed suit in February. And in March, the South American State of Suriname also removed the death penalty from its legal books. The abolition of the death penalty in 3 countries in the space of 3 months gives further momentum to a trend that has been evident for decades – the world is consigning capital punishment to history.
2. Another three countries are close to abolishing the death penalty.
The Mongolian Parliament is considering a draft penal code abolishing the death penalty. Burkina Faso and South Korea are also considering similar draft laws.
3. The trend towards abolition in the USA is picking up steam.
One more US state, Nebraska, has abolished the death penalty, becoming the 19th abolitionist state in the USA. And in February, Pennsylvania’s governor announced a suspension of all executions.
4. Those countries that execute are in the minority.
Over the last 5 years, the average number of countries that have carried out executions each year stands at 22.
5. More than 1/2 the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty.
In total, 101 countries have completely abolished the death penalty – that’s more than 1/2 the countries in the world. Another 33 countries are abolitionist in practice – meaning they have not executed anyone for at least 10 years and have a long-standing policy of not executing. Despite the sharp rise in executions in some countries, abolitionist countries still represent the clear global majority.
Source: Amnesty International, July 27, 2015

Tunisia parliament okays death penalty for ‘terror crimes’

Tunisia’s parliament approved Thursday imposition of the death penalty for “terrorist” crimes, despite opposition from rights groups and a de facto quarter-century moratorium on executions.
Lawmakers were voting during the 2nd of 3 days of debate on a bill aimed at beefing up powers to confront a jihadi threat following deadly attacks claimed by ISIS.
President Beji Caid Essebsi imposed a state of emergency after a student went on a shooting rampage at a beach resort last month, killing 38 foreign tourists, most of them Britons.
That incident came on the heels of one in March in which two gunmen attacked Tunisia’s national museum, killing 21 foreigners and a policeman.
Lawmakers voted heavily in favor of 3 articles imposing the death penalty.
Article 26 applies to anyone who “knowingly murders someone enjoying international protection,” a reference to such people as diplomats and international civil servants.
The following article applies to cases in which people die in hostage-taking or kidnapping situations, while Article 28 refers to people who commit rape during the course of a terrorism-related crime.
Sana Mersni, an MP with the Islamist Ennahda party, noted ironically that the death penalty would not deter “terrorists seeking death in order to go to paradise”.
The bill would replace the 2003 terrorism law, passed under the dictatorship of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, ousted 4 years ago, which was widely criticized as being a tool to crush dissent.
The death penalty already exists under Tunisian law, for such crimes as murder and rape, but no one has been hanged since 1991.
Rights groups had hoped parliament would leave it out of the current bill.
Among other things, the bill would make it easier for investigators to use phone-tapping against suspects and make public expressions of support for terrorism a jailable offense.
Advocacy groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have condemned the bill.
Describing it as draconian, they say its definition of terrorist crimes is too vague and that it fails to adequately safeguard the rights of defendants and could undermine freedoms.
“Tunisian authorities have legitimate concerns about the growing influence of extremist groups and individuals and the threat they pose to Tunisians and foreigners,” Eric Goldstein, HRW’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director, has said.
“But laws to counter terrorism should meet – not flout – international human rights standards,” he said in a statement.
Critics say the bill would allow the authorities to detain suspects for 15 days without access to a lawyer or being brought before a judge, as well as put harsh restrictions on journalists.
Ammar Amroussia, of the leftist Popular Front, said “we fear the fight against terrorism could be turned into a fight against social and popular movements.”
Labiadh Salem, an independent, was even more scathing.
“This law will not limit the phenomenon of terrorism; this law will fuel terrorism” as it “does not distinguish between social movements and protesters and terrorist act.”
Source: Agence France-Presse, July 23, 2015