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Death Penalty Information

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Peru threatens to reintroduce executions for child rapists
Peruvians divided on reinstating death penalty for child murder-rapists
By: CARLA SALAZAR, AP Worldstream

Published: Aug 23, 2006
Abigail Reyes was only 2 years old when she was raped and killed, her tiny body found in a sack in the doorway of her home in La Oroya, a smoke-choked Andean mining town.
Authorities accused a 17-year-old neighbor of the shocking crime, which has fueled an intense debate among Peruvians on whether the death penalty should be reinstated for those convicted of raping and killing children.

President Alan Garcia has made the issue a centerpiece of his new administration, announcing just days after he took the office on July 28 that he would push to re-establish the death penalty for those cases. But critics say the reinstatement of capital punishment could tarnish Peru's image and some contend the move is designed to distract the population from thornier issues facing the poor South American nation.
Reyes, who was killed in late July, was the 23rd child to be raped and murdered in Peru this year, according to a report by Caretas magazine _ though police could not provide statistics on such cases.

"Criminals need much more severe penalties and in the face of the horrendous crime of rape followed by murder of underage children, I think that these people don't have the right to live," said Garcia, who enjoys a 63 percent approval rating less than a month into his second administration.

Polls show he enjoys even greater support on the death penalty issue, with one recent survey saying that 82 percent of Peruvians back his stance.
But Garcia has run up against opposition in high places, with judges, human rights activists, Roman Catholic leaders and even his own vice president and six Cabinet officials speaking out against the idea.

"I believe that the death penalty shouldn't be instated in the country," said Walter Vasquez, Supreme Court president. "The international trend is to abolish capital punishment, not return to it."

Peru abolished capital punishment in 1979 for all crimes except treason in a time of war. Under current law, convicted rapists of children under 7 can receive life in prison and maximum sentences of 25 to 30 years for raping children under 14.
Opponents warn that the reinstatement of the death penalty could tarnish the country's image and set back the human rights in Peru _ where memories linger of the bloody Shining Path guerrilla insurgency in the 1980s and the brutal response by security forces.
And legal experts and activists worry the move could mean Peru will have to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

"This will leave Peruvians without a fundamental international mechanism to protect them if the state violates their human rights," the National Human Rights Coordinating Committee said. "This will also make Peru a pariah in the international community."
Activists also warn that the Peruvian justice system is so inefficient that it could erroneously sentence innocent people to death.
But the critics have been unable to sway Garcia, who has said he will ask Congress to pass the issue as a constitutional amendment _ or call a national referendum if lawmakers fail to muster the necessary two-thirds approval.
Political analyst Nelson Manrique said Garcia's vehemence on the death penalty is diverting Peruvians' attention from campaign promises that may prove more difficult to implement _ such as restoring the country's 1979 constitution, revising a free trade agreement with the United States and renegotiating contracts with foreign mining companies.
"We have local elections in November, and I think it's a way to gain backing by being energetic on a measure that is approved by 80 percent of those polled," Manrique said.
"It's a highly effective and well-designed smoke screen," he added. "And it's bringing Alan Garcia the results he hoped for."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Jordan moves to lessen the use of the death penalty
A welcome step in a region where little process has been made towards abolition of the death penalty.

The Amman Center for Human Rights Studies has a page dedicated to the Death Penalty Seminar it held in July with FIDH:

The FIDH statement on the moves to limit the death penalty in Jordan:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

USA report to the UN.

The UN Human Rights Committee has once again found the manner in which the USA administers the death penalty to be in violation of international law. Will the USA take action to correct the situation?

This is the link to the USA's state report to the Human Rights Committee:

Monday, August 14, 2006

Excellent debate on the death penalty
This is a transcript of a debate on the death penalty that includes a prosecutor bravely admitting that he may have been responsible for the execution of an innocent man. Also includes an advocate of the death penalty.
EU rejects Polish call for reinstatement of the death penalty

Monday, August 07, 2006

North Carolina establishes innocence review panel
With over 120 men and women released from America's death row having been exonerated, the execution of the innocent is of inceasing concern to many in the USA. Several hi-profile cases of men executed where there was serious doubt around their guilt has shaken many people's faith in the system administering capital punishment.,0,308492.story
Japan - public debate needed on the death penalty
Exonerated death row inmates tells his story
"Executions are brutal" - Pakistan Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has reacted to the recent wave of executions in the country.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Uganda - Government not ready to abolish death penalty
It is very common for governments to argue that there will be anarchy if the death penalty is abolished yet the countries that have got rid of capital punishment do not appear to suffer from chaos. New York State did not fall into chaos when it abolished the death penalty in 2004. The Philippines has not changed after abolition two months ago.....
Poland threatens to reintroduce the death penalty
Central Europe is a death penalty free zone. Poland's new government is threatening to break with the "rules" of the European Union and reinstate the death penalty. More to follow later.
Pakistan - surge in executions - thousands await the gallows
Also see Amnesty Pakistan section

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) -
[These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

1 - PAKISTAN: Thousands await gallows in jails
LAHORE, 2 August (IRIN) - More than 7,400 men and 36 women are waiting in 81 Pakistani jails to be hanged, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has confirmed.
In Punjab, the country's most populous province, more than 5,000 of its 53,000 prisoners face death. Many are serving their time confined to cells measuring just 10 sq metres. Intended for one prisoner, the cells often accommodate up to 10.

Pakistan retains capital punishment by hanging for a range of offences, including murder, drug smuggling, rape, attempted murder, kidnapping and acts of terrorism.
But the number of death sentences handed out annually far exceeds the number of hangings, meaning prisoners could remain in the terrible conditions on death row for up to 10 years, according to cases documented by the HRCP.
Rao Abid Hameed, who heads HRCP's Vulnerable Prisoners Project, said those sentenced to death did not get the same rights as other prisoners.
"They are very restricted in terms of time for exercise and access to other facilities available to other jail inmates," Hameed said.
IA Rehman, HRCP's director, said capital punishment was "inhumane" and "brutalises society".
Rehman maintained that flaws in the country's judicial system meant many did not receive fair trails.
"It's really sad that there has not been more public concern about the fate of these people," Rehman said, blaming the situation on "an increased acceptance of violence".
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf recently turned down a number of appeals for clemency, paving the way for the eight hangings that have taken place in the past week.
This year 253 people, including three women, have been sentenced to death, with 42 hanged. Last year 477 people were sentenced and 52 hanged, while in 2004, 394 were sentenced and 15 hanged.
Although 36 women face the gallows they are unlikely to be executed. Daulat Bibi, the last woman to be hanged, was executed in 1985.
A fierce international debate has so far kept Mirza Tahir Hussain Khan, a British national, from death. He received the sentence for a 1988 murder, but an international campaign and appeals from the British government for clemency mean Musharraf is still considering his case.
Jawed Khan - who activists say was 14-years-old when he was found guilty of murder in 2003 - is being held in Faisalabad Central Jail awaiting his death sentence.
The Juvenile Justice Systems Ordinance (JJSO) bans death for persons under 18. However, as Amnesty International (AI) said in its appeal over Khan's case, the law is frequently ignored. In the absence of documentation age is often hard to prove.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Jordan - could this be the first steps towards abolition of the death penalty.
Along with other countries in the region, Jordan takes a hard line on the death penalty and regularly executes (via an unfair and unsafe legal system - see recent AI report).

This recent news article suggests the authorities are considering lessening the use of the death penalty as a first step towards eventual abolition.

Jordan takes step toward limiting death penalty

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Malaysian Bar Ass. calls for end to the death penalty
MEDIA RELEASE: Malaysia blindly accepts myths propagated by death penalty retentionists

Contributed by Charles Hector
Tuesday, 04 July 2006, 20:05
MADPET (Malaysians against the Death Penalty) is disappointed by the unsubstantiated and false statement made by Datuk M. Kayveas, a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department when he told Parliament that the death penalty deters serious crimes. This statement, as was reported by Bernama on 28/6/2006, is baseless and cannot be justified by any facts or statistical proof. On the other hand, there are studies conducted throughout the world over the past seventy years using various different methodological approaches have failed to find convincing evidence that capital punishment is a more effective deterrent of crime than long-term imprisonment. Studies conducted in Australia show that abolition of the death penalty had no effect on the homicide rate and in Canada there in fact was a sharp decline in the homicide rate after abolition;In the United States over the past twenty years, states with the death penalty in general have had a higher homicide rate than states without the death penalty;The Minister also went on to say that there will be no abolition of the death penalty as it “safeguards public interest”. Surely sending someone to death, especially when there is the real possibility that an innocent man can be killed is against the public interest.He is further reported to have said that "There are enough safeguards in the country's judicial system to ensure that death sentences are not meted out easily," What safeguards is the Honourable Deputy Minister speaking of? In Malaysia there is no immediate access to a lawyer upon arrest, immediate right to a phone call and no right to full pre-trial disclosure. Evidence, reports, statements and witnesses obtained during police investigations that may support the accused story or bring to light possible defences to the accused will most likely be suppressed as prosecution officers are only interested in prosecuting. Most jurisdictions in the Commonwealth and elsewhere have made it mandatory for immediate full disclosure to the accused person. It must be reiterated that even in jurisdictions where all these safeguards exist, the number of persons wrongfully condemned to death have been frighteningly high. Human justice is dangerously fallible, and the only acceptable choice for any civilized nation is to abolish the death penalty.The fact that a person has the right to appeal to the Court of Appeal and then the Federal Court, and thereafter to the Pardons Board for clemency is grossly insufficient to justify the keeping of the Death Penalty in our law books. It is laughable that the Deputy Minister even suggested, at this day and time in Malaysia, that thorough investigations carried out by an experienced and effective police force is yet another safeguard to prevent miscarriage of justice.In June 2006 President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed a law abolishing the death penalty in the Philippines. The number of countries that have done away with the Death Penalty now stands at 123. The worldwide trend has been towards abolition of the death penalty.The Malaysian government ought to have conducted a thorough study on the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the death penalty as a deterent to serious crime before having a Deputy Minister, who is a lawyer, stand up in Paliament and attempt to turn a myth into an empirical truth. A recent television poll done by RTM 2 during the Hello on Two programme on 7/5/2006 showed that 64% of Malaysians are for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia. Further, the Malaysian Bar, which comprises about 12,000 lawyers, is also calling for the abolition of the death penalty. MADPET calls for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition, and the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia.N. Surendran Charles Hectorfor Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)
Except from AI report on Jordan relating to the use of confessions extracted under torture
The report, "Your confessions are ready for you to sign" Detention and Torture of Political Suspects can be found at

4.3 The SSC and the death penalty
Eleven(27) people were executed in Jordan during 2005 and three further executions were carried out in the first five months of 2006. Some of those executed were convicted by ordinary courts, but at least four people convicted by the SSC have been executed since 2002, including two men who were executed in 2006 (see below). In 2006, up to the end of June, Jordanian courts imposed 25 death sentences, of which 22 were imposed by the SSC against defendants convicted of politically-motivated offences. At least seven of the 25 sentences have been commuted.
Amnesty International opposes and campaigns against the death penalty in all cases and wherever it is used, considering it a violation of the right to life and the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. In doing so, the organization in no way condones violent crime or questions the responsibility of governments to ensure that those who commit such crimes are brought to justice, though in carrying out this responsibility governments must abide by relevant international law and standards including the prohibition of torture.
With regard to the SSC, Amnesty International is greatly concerned that the court has imposed the death penalty on individuals it has convicted on the basis of "confessions" which they refuted in court and alleged had been extracted from them under torture or other duress while they were held incommunicado in pre-trial detention. This is all the more disturbing when it is considered that scores of defendants who were previously held in similar conditions of pre-trial detention, where they did not have or could not have had contact with one another, have made similar allegations to the court. The SSC has failed adequately to investigate the allegations even in the face of such a pattern.
The problems inherent in the death penalty are compounded where defendants may be subjected to torture and furthermore may be denied the right to a fair trial. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in her report to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2002, "[d]efendants facing the imposition of capital punishment must fully benefit from the right to adequate legal counsel at every stage of the proceedings, and should be presumed innocent until their guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. These safeguards must be implemented in all cases without exception or discrimination." (28)
5. CASESa) Six university studentsOn 9 April 2005, six university students of Palestinian origin were arrested by police officers when the supervisor of their hall of residence objected to one of the students, Firas al-Sheikh, from Nablus in the occupied West Bank, putting on his dormitory wall a picture of a Palestinian killed in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Two of the students, whose names are being withheld to protect their security, provided Amnesty International with the following account of what then occurred:
"We were arrested on arrival in the supervisor’s office by some police officers who were already waiting for us. They threatened that they would charge us with ‘participation in political activities against the state’ and then took us to the Public Security (Amn al-‘Am) centre in Wadi Sir, Amman. We were interrogated one-by-one about whether we had links to any political parties or ‘unauthorised organisations’, to which we all replied ‘no’. They said they would charge Firas with ‘membership of an unauthorised organisation’. None of us was beaten. Then they put us all in a cell with about 30 people. The cell wasn’t big enough to hold 10 and we could barely sit down. One of us got a tiny space next to the one squat toilet in the room, and spent the next eight hours there.
"Then we were all taken to the GID, where we spent the next 12 hours. They insulted us, beat us and kicked us all over our bodies, and put us under psychological pressure. Again we were interrogated, one at a time. Then they took us - handcuffed and blindfolded - back to Public Security, each one of us with an armed officer sitting directly behind.
"Shortly after, we were taken to the Governorate of the Capital [Muhafedha al-‘Asima] and transferred to Jweideh prison as administrative detainees.(29) Immediately on arrival we were forced to strip to our underwear, had our fingerprints taken and were then badly beaten by the guards. We were beaten for longer than other new detainees. We were hit with a wire cable, and then, for about three hours, subjected to further beatings and other physical punishment in the prison courtyard. For example, we had to stand a long time on one leg with both our hands in the air, and then had to stand on the other leg. Then we’d be forced to lie on the floor, or to crawl. All this time just wearing our underwear. Finally, at about 11pm, we were put into a shared cell, and some of the other prisoners gave us some clothes. At 2am the guards woke us up and made us do hard labour. We had to clean the prison kitchen, then the prison bakery and elsewhere, through until 6pm. For 18 hours, having barely slept. We were woken up two or three times each night by a military guard for a roll-call outside. We were kept with real criminals, not even political criminals, and suffered humiliations daily. We spent three nights, four days in Jweideh, and were released without charge. But we had to sign a guarantee of 10,000JD each [about $14,200] which we’ll have to pay if we get into trouble again. It’s worse for Firas, who was kicked out of the country and had his passport stamped with ‘forbidden from returning to Jordan’. This happened in his last semester at university. He won’t be able to study or work anywhere else outside the West Bank, because he would have to pass through Jordan."
The views expressed in these pages are those of individual AI campaigners or researchers, and do not necessarily reflect official AI policy.