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Showing posts from April, 2008

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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

San Quentin Inmates' Mail must not be neglected!

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Statistically, 90% of inmates lose all contact with family, friends and loved ones after 3 years.
And more often than not, losing contact with their friends and family, means to lose any positive social influence at all. Which, in the end, is a fact nobody will benefit from; neither the facility, nor the outside society. Least of all the inmates themselves.
Therefore, according to Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations (General Mail Policy) 'The department encourages correspondence between inmates and persons outside the correctional facilities.'
'Persons outside the correctional facilities' - those are the inmates' children, wives, parents, siblings. Those are their family and friends - such as us!
Now, it comes as no surprise that the possibilities to stay in touch with our loved ones in San Quentin State Prison are strictly limited.
The more important become the remaining means of communication, such as correspondence via letters.
Sadly, however, correspondenc…

CHINA HEARS DEATH ROW DEFENSE BY VIDEO FOR FIRST TIME

April 25, 2008: China's top court interrogated a death penalty defendant via a video link for the first time since a key legal reform aimed at cutting wrongful executions, Xinhua news agency said.

The reform, prompted by public outcries over a series of high-profile and wrong death sentences in recent years, had nevertheless greatly increased the workload of the top court, Chinese media have said.

"The Supreme People's Court judges have had to travel to places across the country to meet the defendants. It is both time-consuming and costly," Xinhua quoted an unnamed official from the top court as saying.

The top court questioned Jiang Huaquan, sentenced to death for drug trafficking in the southeastern province of Fujian, from Beijing through a video link, Xinhua said. "Distance interrogation can not only ensure face-to-face communication but also ... boost efficiency of the final review work maximally," the official said.

The questioning process would be record…

SAUDI BEHEADS PAKISTANIS, SYRIAN FOR DRUG SMUGGLING

April 25, 2008: two Pakistanis and a Syrian convicted of smuggling drugs were beheaded by the sword in Saudi Arabia, the official SPA news agency quoted the Interior Ministry as saying.

Pakistanis Ghul Khan Arghun Shah and Zarbadan Minajan were sentenced to death for bringing into the kingdom packets of heroin hidden in their stomachs.

They were executed in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. Separately, Syrian Ibrahim Hussein al-Jarkh, also convicted of drug smuggling, was beheaded in the northern city of Tabuk, the ministry said.

Source: Agence France Presse, 25/04/2008

IRAN. TWO HANGED FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING

April 27, 2008: two men were hanged for drug trafficking in the main prison of Qom, Iran.

The prisoners were identified only by their initials as 47-yeard-old M.N. and 56-yeard-old Gh. A.

Speaking with a Fars reporter on the death sentence of the two drug traffickers, Hadi Tarshizi, the head of the public relations department of Qom Public and Revolution Prosecutor Office, said "these two people were arrested in Qom province and charged with drug trafficking.

The sentence was carried out after being approved by the Country's Prosecutor-General. Tarshizi added "the sentence was carried out in the presence of representatives from the prosecutor-general's office and Law Enforcement Forces."

Source: BBC, NCRI, 27/04/2008

AFTER COURT RULING, STATES TO PROCEED WITH EXECUTIONS

April 23, 2008: States began moving forward with plans for executions this week after the US Supreme Court declined last Wednesday to review the appeals of death row inmates who had challenged lethal-injection methods in nearly a dozen states.

The court had issued orders staying several executions last year and earlier this year while it weighed whether Kentucky's lethal-injection procedure constituted cruel and unusual punishment. States had postponed at least 14 scheduled executions pending the high court's decision, creating a de facto moratorium on capital punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.

In a 7 to 2 vote last week, the justices said the three-drug cocktail used by Kentucky, which is similar to the one employed by the federal government and 34 other states, does not carry so great a risk of pain that it violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

With three executions already scheduled fo…

Cruel and Unusual History

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THE Supreme Court concluded last week, in a 7-2 ruling, that Kentucky’s three-drug method of execution by lethal injection does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts cited a Supreme Court principle from a ruling in 1890 that defines cruelty as limited to punishments that “involve torture or a lingering death.”

But the court was wrong in the 19th century, an error that has infected its jurisprudence for more than 100 years. In this nation’s landmark capital punishment cases, the resultant executions were anything but free from torture and prolonged deaths.

The first of those landmark cases, the 1879 case of Wilkerson v. Utah, was cited by Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion in the Kentucky case. The court “had no difficulty concluding that death by firing squad” did not amount to cruel and unusual punishment, Justice Thomas wrote.

Wallace Wilkerson might have begged to differ. …

IRAN HANGS FIVE FOR MURDER

April 23, 2008: Iran hanged five men convicted of murder in Tehran's Evin prison, the Fars news agency reported.

Hamid, 29, Esfandiar, 35, and Mohammad, 40, were found guilty of killing other men in fights or robberies, Fars said. Mohammad, 32, was executed for murdering his wife after suspecting she was having an affair, and Ahmad, 38, stabbed a young couple to death in a burglary. Their full names were not given.

Source: Agence France Presse, 23/04/2008

JAPAN. COURT'S DEATH RULING A KEY VERDICT

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April 23, 2008: a ruling handed down by the Hiroshima High Court to a 27 year old man who killed a woman and her baby when he was 18 years old marks a change in precedent regarding the death penalty and opens the way for more capital punishment verdicts.

There are two noteworthy points about the ruling. The first is the number of victims involved. Courts have generally given death sentences to people found to have murdered three or more people. However, if a murderer killed fewer than three people, courts only order capital punishment after taking into account to what degree the crime was premeditated.

The Hiroshima High Court decision delivers the message that courts can and will hand down death sentences even when a murder is not premeditated, as was the case in the Hiroshima trial, unless there are mitigating reasons for the crime.

The second point is the court's conclusion that it need not take into account the fact the murder was carried out by a minor. When the man committed …

JAPANESE MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR MURDERS HE COMMITTED AS TEENAGER

April 22, 2008: a Japanese court overturned two earlier rulings and sentenced a man to death for a double murder he committed as a teenager, making him only the third person to be placed on death row for a crime committed as a minor since 1983.

The man, now 27, whose name is being withheld because he was a juvenile at the time of the crime, was found guilty of strangling and raping Yayoi Motomura, then 23, and killing her 11-month-old daughter, Yuka.

The Hiroshima High Court ruled that he had posed as a utility company employee to enter their home, indicating the crime was premeditated. Judge Yasuhide Narazaki said he found "no sufficient reasons to avoid the death sentence," public broadcaster NHK said.

In 2006, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial of the murders, committed in 1999 when the defendant was 18, because the life sentences handed down by two lower courts were too light.

Defense lawyers called the ruling unfair and said they would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Sources: …

STATELESS RESIDENT EXECUTED IN SAUDI ARABIA

April 22, 2008: a stateless resident was beheaded by the sword in Saudi Arabia after he was convicted of killing a fellow stateless resident, the interior ministry said.

Hmoud al-Anzi was found guilty of stabbing to death Adel al-Shammari with a knife and was executed in the northeastern region of Hafr al-Baten, the ministry said in a statement carried by the state SPA news agency.

Several oil-rich Gulf Arab monarchies have a number of longtime residents deprived of citizenship, who are generally known as "bidoon" or "without" in Arabic.
Many of those have settled in their countries of residence since the 1960s.

Source: Agence France Presse, 22/04/2008

IRAN HANGS MAN FOR MURDER

April 22, 2008: Iran hanged a man convicted of murder in a prison in the central city of Isfahan, the Fars news agency reported.

It identified the man as Hassan M. and said he stabbed a man by the name of Mostafa to death three years ago in the hills outside Isfahan.

Source: Agence France Presse, 22/04/2008

YEMEN EXECUTES TWO OVER BANDITRY MURDER

April 21, 2008: Yemen's Primary Specialist Court delivered its rulings on two Yemeni brigands, Ismaeel Ali Ahmed Hussein and Ahmed Abdu Ali, the state-run 26sep.net said. The two were sentenced to death after being found guilty of killing a citizen while trying to steal his car.

They also attacked another and stole about YR 133 thousand and other items that cost more than YR 1 million, in the Yarim district in Ibb province.

Sources: Sabanews.net, 21/04/2008

Justices Turn Down 11 Death Row Appeals

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday turned away appeals from 11 death row prisoners in seven states, including one who killed his adoptive parents and continued to live in their home as their bodies decomposed, then cleaned up the scene so he could have a party for friends.

The justices’ orders declining to review the cases were not unexpected, given the court’s ruling last week in a Kentucky case that the state’s procedure for lethal injections did not amount to unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. Barriers to executions in other states may also be lifted soon.

Three of the cases that the high court refused to take on Monday were from Georgia, and three more from Ohio. Individual cases from Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Arizona and Texas were also turned away.

In Texas, Carlton Turner Jr. came close to being put to death last September, then was spared when the Supreme Court said it would consider the Kentucky case, in which two killers contended that Kentucky’s proce…

Justice Stevens Renounces Capital Punishment

WASHINGTON — When Justice John Paul Stevens intervened in a Supreme Court argument on Wednesday to score a few points off the lawyer who was defending the death penalty for the rape of a child, the courtroom audience saw a master strategist at work, fully in command of the flow of the argument and the smallest details of the case. For those accustomed to watching Justice Stevens, it was a familiar sight.

But there was something different that no one in the room knew except the eight other justices. In the decision issued 30 minutes earlier in which the court found Kentucky’s method of execution by lethal injection constitutional, John Paul Stevens, in the 33rd year of his Supreme Court tenure and four days shy of his 88th birthday, had just renounced the death penalty.

In an opinion concurring with the majority’s judgment, Justice Stevens said he felt bound to “respect precedents that remain a part of our law.” But outside the confines of the Kentucky case, he said, the time had come to…

The Supreme Court Fine-Tunes Pain

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The Supreme Court’s regrettable ruling upholding Kentucky’s use of lethal injection is a reminder of why government should get out of the business of executing prisoners. Rather than producing a crisp decision upholding the constitutionality of lethal injection, the court broke down into warring opinions debating the ugly question of how much unnecessary pain the state may impose. Most compelling were the dissenters, which wanted to know more about whether Kentucky was torturing inmates needlessly, and Justice John Paul Stevens’s challenge to capital punishment in all forms.

Kentucky is one of at least 30 states that execute people by lethal injection of a three-drug cocktail. This method was meant to be humane, but it can cause inmates to feel excruciating pain. Kentucky lacks proper safeguards, including adequate training, to avoid needless suffering.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for himself and two other justices, found that Kentucky’s procedures do not violate the Eighth Amen…

SAUDI ARABIA SENTENCES 30 SYRIANS TO DEATH

April 21, 2008: Saudi Arabia sentenced to death at least 30 Syrians in recent months for alleged drug possession and jailed hundreds more, relatives and human rights activists said.

Three Syrians were beheaded last week for possession of illicit pills, they said. Activists said they knew of no other Syrians executed in the last few years.

"This arbitrary punishment is based on wild interpretations of the Koran. Trials lacked any modicum of justice," lawyer Mohannad al-Hassani said after meeting Syrian officials to raise the plight of the inmates.

"I hope regular citizens do not end up paying the price for bad relations between two Arab countries." Several relatives say the sentences are politically motivated, with ties between Damascus and Riyadh worsening in the last three years due to political differences over Lebanon. Saudi Arabia is home to a large Syrian expatriate community.

Hassani said hundreds of Syrians were in Saudi jails for drug-related crimes. Many of th…

SAUDI ARABIA. TWO SOLDIERS PUBLICLY EXECUTED FOR RAPE

April 18, 2008: authorities in Riyadh executed Abdul Rahman ibn Saeed Al-Zahrani and Abdul Rahman ibn Qassim Al-Feefi, two soldiers convicted of raping a 20 year old expatriate woman, the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry said.

The soldiers, who worked for the Ministry of Defence and Aviation, stopped the victim who was riding in a car driven by her father. The soldiers showed the couple their military IDs, and told the man to disembark saying he was wanted for security reasons, the Saudi Press Agency said quoting a ministry statement. The statement said one of the soldiers then drove the woman to a desert area and raped her, while the other remained with the father.

A general court in Riyadh sentenced the two soldiers to death, and the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Judiciary Council endorsed the verdict. The execution was carried out in Riyadh in the presence of a large number of witnesses.

Source: Arab News, 20/04/2008

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS: DO NOT RATIFY THA’ER RMAILAT’S DEATH SENTENCE

On 6 April 2008, the Palestinian High Military Court in Jenin sentenced Mr Tha’er Mahmoud Husni Rmailat to death by firing squad. Mr Rmailat, an officer of the Palestinian Military Intelligence, was convicted for the murder of a member of the Palestinian National Security Forces.

The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) is concerned that Mr Rmailat was not given the guarantees of a fair trial. In particular, his lawyer indicated that he was given only one day's notice before the hearing when the legislation of the Palestinian Authority requires that a written notice be sent 72 hours in advance; and that his client was denied a psychological evaluation.

The WCADP notes with satisfaction that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree on 22 June 2005 requesting that all death sentences pronounced by the State Security courts be retried in civilian courts as they were considered to fall short of international standards for fair trials and due process. It…

AFGHANISTAN. SUPREME COURT ISSUES 100 DEATH SENTENCES

April 15, 2008: The Supreme Court of Afghanistan has in the past few weeks confirmed 100 death sentences issued by provincial courts.

"These people, who have been accused of crimes such as murder and rape have been sentenced in the first petition and the second appeal and the punishment has also been confirmed by the Supreme Court," Abdel Rashid Rashed, a member of the Supreme Court told reporters.

Capital punishment has to be approved by the president before the sentence can be carried out in Afghanistan.

"The court proceedings are carried out behind closed doors, without the presence of defence attorneys, and often without the presentation of any proof on the part of the public prosecutor," said Wadir Safi, a jurist and law professor at the University of Kabul.

"In essence, we can say that justice in our country does not work and the accused do not enjoy any form of guarantee."

These charges have been rejected by Rashed, who said that "all death sentenc…

SAUDI ARABIA EXECUTES JORDANIAN FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING

April 17, 2008: the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry says a Jordanian man was beheaded after being convicted of trafficking in tranquilizers. The ministry said Mohammed bin Awadh al-Khalidi was executed in the town of Al Qarah in the northwestern Jawf area.

Source: International Herald Tribune, 17/04/2008

IRAN. THREE HANGED IN ISFAHAN

April 16, 2008: Iran hanged three prisoners identified as 60-year-old Rasool Mohammadi, 48-year-old Gholam Rahimi and 27-year-old Ismail Panjeh-Poor in the central city of Isfahan, reported the semi-official new agency Fars.

Source: NCRI, 16/04/2008

States abandon execution moratorium

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Many states wasted little time trying to get executions back on track following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the use of a three-drug lethal cocktail.

Almost immediately, Virginia lifted its death penalty moratorium. Mississippi and Oklahoma said they would seek execution dates for convicted murderers, and other states were ready to follow.

The ruling Wednesday "should put an end to the de facto moratorium on the death penalty caused by legal challenges to this method of execution," said Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a nonprofit group that supports the death penalty.

The chief prosecutor in Houston, Kenneth Magidson, whose surrounding Harris County sends more inmates to death row than any other, said he would seek execution dates for the six inmates awaiting execution "in due course."

The nation's high court voted 7-2 Wednesday to reject inmates' challenges to the procedure in Kentucky that use three dr…

A False Consensus on Lethal Injection

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The Supreme Court reopened the nation's execution chambers on Wednesday, rejecting a claim by Kentucky inmates — echoed by prisoners across the country — that lethal injection as it is widely practiced is cruel and unusual punishment.

This result came as no surprise to experts on the death penalty. Neither the case law nor the composition of the Supreme Court gave the inmates much hope. The surprise had come last fall, when the Court effectively halted all executions while it pondered the issue.

What was striking about the case, Baze v. Rees, was that after 36 years of extensive litigation over capital punishment, the Court is as scattered as ever. A case in which none of the justices ultimately found much merit nevertheless provoked seven separate opinions, controlled by a weak three-judge plurality.

"If it takes them seven separate opinions, controlled by a 3-vote plurality, totalling 97 pages, just to dispose of a case in which they basically all suggest that there's no t…

Justices Uphold Lethal Injection in Kentucky Case

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Kentucky’s method of execution by lethal injection, rejecting the claim that officials there administered a common sequence of three drugs in a manner that posed an unconstitutional risk that a condemned inmate would suffer acute yet undetectable pain.

While the 7-to-2 ruling did not shut the door on challenges to the lethal injection protocols in other states, it set a standard that will not be easy to meet. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in the court’s controlling opinion that challengers must show not only that a state’s method “creates a demonstrated risk of severe pain,” but also that there were alternatives that were “feasible” and “readily implemented” that would “significantly” reduce that risk.

“A slightly or marginally safer alternative” would not suffice, the chief justice said. He added: “Simply because an execution method may result in pain, either by accident or as an inescapable consequence of death, does not esta…

Challenges Remain for Lethal Injection

Executions in Texas, Alabama and other Southern states with large death rows are likely to resume shortly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday upholding Kentucky’s method of putting condemned prisoners to death.

But the fractured decision may actually slow executions elsewhere, legal experts said, as lawyers for death row inmates undertake fresh challenges based on its newly announced legal standards.

“The decision will have the effect of widening the divide between executing states and symbolic states, states that have the death penalty on the books but rarely carry out executions,” said Jordan M. Steiker, a law professor at the University of Texas.

George H. Kendall, a lawyer with Holland & Knight in New York who is an authority on capital litigation, said the effect of the Kentucky decision, Baze v. Rees, “is going to vary greatly.”

“I bet you by this time next week there will be execution dates in Texas and Alabama,” Mr. Kendall said. “But nothing is going to happ…

Bali Nine Case - Test For Aussie Policy

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MELBOURNE, Apr 15 (IPS) - The recent downgrading of the sentences for three Australian drug smugglers from death to life terms has been largely welcomed here. But with three other members of the 'Bali Nine' group still on death row, the role played by Australia’s federal police in their arrests remains contentious.

The Indonesian Supreme Court’s decision in early March to commute the death sentences of Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman and Si Yi Chen to life imprisonment was described by Stephen Smith, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, as "very welcome news", a sentiment also expressed by human and civil rights organisations around the country.

The three’s initial life sentences were reduced to 20 years on appeal but then upgraded to death following prosecutors’ counter-appeals. The three men were arrested -- along with the condemned ringleader Myuruan Sukumaran -- with 350 grams of heroin in a suitcase at a Bali hotel in 2005.

They can hope that with good be…

IRAN SAYS NUMBER OF EXECUTIONS IS 'NOT HIGH'

April 15, 2008: the number of executions in Iran is "not high", the judiciary said in response to an Amnesty International report that listed Iran as the world's second most prolific executioner in 2007.

European governments and Western rights groups have criticised Iran for an increasing number of hangings since authorities launched a clampdown on "immoral behaviour" in July. Asked to comment, judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said: "Whether Iran has had that number of executions I don't know, but the number is not high. The bulk of executions in Iran have to do with retribution ... and they can be retracted with the consent of the next of kin."

Amnesty International said in its annual report that the Iranian regime had executed at least 317 people during the year 2007.

According to Hands Off Cain, at least 355 people were executed in 2007.

Sources: Reuters, 15/04/2008

WORLD TREND DOWN BUT SECRECY SURROUNDS CHINA EXECUTION FIGURES

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Warning: Graphic content!

April 14, 2008: Amnesty International called for secrecy surrounding the death penalty to be lifted as it published new figures showing that over 1,250 people were executed in 2007.

Up to 27,500 people are now estimated to be on death row across the world. Execution figures show a drop from 2007 (down from 1,591), but death penalty information is veiled in secrecy in several countries, notably in China. China still executed more than any other country (at least 470), but the real execution figure is likely to be several thousand.

There were large rises in executions in Iran (at least 317 people, up from 177), Saudi Arabia (at least 143, up from 39), and Pakistan (at least 135, up from 82). Just five countries - China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the USA - carried out the overwhelming majority (88%) of known executions in the world.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said 'yet again China has executed more people than any country in the worl…

CHINA DEFENDS USE OF DEATH PENALTY

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April 15, 2008: China defended its use of the death penalty and said it planned to continue "prudent" use of capital punishment.

"At present, there are more countries with the death penalty than countries without the death penalty," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in response to a report by Amnesty International, which said China still executed far more people than any other nation last year.

"It is not the right time for China to abolish the death penalty, to abolish it would not be acceptable to the Chinese people," Jiang told reporters.
"We take prudent measures to ensure that the death penalty only applies to small numbers of criminals who committed serious crimes," she said.

Jiang did not answer a question asking whether China would address calls for greater transparency. Beijing treats death penalty figures as a state secret.

Source: Earth Times, Ap, 15/04/2008

Press Release from the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty/Communiqué de la Coalition Mondiale Contre la Peine de Mort

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La Coalition mondiale contre la peine de mort condamne la décision de la Cour suprême américaine datée du 16 avril 2008, qui confirme le caractère légal de l'injection létale comme méthode d'exécution d'une personne condamnée à mort.

La peine de mort est l'illustration la plus flagrante de l'échec de la politique publique en matière de Justice. Cette décision (relative à l'affaire Baze c. Rees, Etat du Kentucky) ne répond en rien aux interrogations croissantes du public concernant les failles de l’application de la peine de mort. En autorisant les Etats-Unis à poursuivre leur "bricolage avec la machine de la mort", la Cour maintient le pays en décalage vis-à-vis de la communauté internationale, majoritairement abolitionniste (135 nations du monde entier n’utilisent plus à ce jour la peine capitale).

Depuis la dernière exécution aux Etats-Unis, il y a 7 mois, l'Assemblée Générale des Nations unies a appelé les Etats du monde à adopter un moratoire un…

Amnesty International : The pointless and needless extinction of life

USA should now look beyond lethal injection issue to wider death penalty questions

17 April 2008 - AI Index: AMR 51/031/2008

Yesterday’s US Supreme Court ruling in Baze v. Rees upholding the constitutionality of Kentucky’s lethal injection procedures will in all likelihood be followed by moves in various US jurisdictions to resume executions, although the ruling is unlikely to stop litigation on this issue.

Executions in the USA have been suspended since late September 2007 as states waited for the Supreme Court’s decision. A majority of the 36 death penalty states, and the federal government, use the same three-drug combination as Kentucky to anesthetize, paralyze and kill the condemned prisoner. Officials in a number of states, including Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Ohio, have already suggested that the Baze decision should clear the way to a resumption of executions in their jurisdictions, and the likelihood of execution dates being set soon in states such as Texas and Alabama is hig…

Supreme Court Allows Lethal Injection for Execution

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Kentucky’s method of putting criminals to death by lethal injection, not only clearing the way for Kentucky to resume executions but ending an unofficial moratorium in the 35 other states that have the death penalty। However one justice predicted that the ruling would not end disputes over lethal injection and could reignite the debate over capital punishment itself.


By 7 to 2, the court rejected challenges to the Kentucky execution procedure brought by two death-row inmates, holding that they had failed to show that the risks of pain from mistakes in an otherwise “humane lethal execution protocol” amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, which is banned by the Constitution.

The prisoners had contended that the three-drug procedure used on death row — one drug each to sedate, paralyze and end life — was unconstitutional, and that in any event there were strong indications that Kentucky had bungled some executions, creating unnecessary pain for the …

Iraq: 28 executions in Basra

April 13, 2008: Iraqi's interior ministry executed 28 criminals and militant cult members in the city of Basra, some 550 kilometres south of Baghdad, media reports said.

Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a department chief in the ministry, told the Iraqi al-Sabah newspaper that the ministry carried out the 28 verdicts issued by Iraq's central criminal court.

"The execution of such criminals is considered as a message to all criminals in Basra," Khalaf was quoted as saying in al-Sabah.

"The message says that law is above all and will not make any exceptions for any one involved in crimes."

Iraqi officials told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that the executed criminals included militants of a Shiite cult known as "Jund al- Samaa."

Source: Earth Times, DPA, 14/04/2008)

WCADP condemns acceleration of executions in Japan

The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) is deeply concerned about the accelerated pace of executions in Japan and continued secrecy regarding the executions.

Four persons were executed on 10 April 2008, bringing to seven the number of persons executed in 2008. According to Amnesty International, ten executions have been carried out in less than six months.

Executions are held in secret. Relatives are informed of the executions only after they have taken place, and until December 2007, the names of the persons executed were not made public. The WCADP appeals to the Japanese government to put an end to this practice, contrary to human dignity.

On 18 December 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed with a large majority a resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty worldwide.

The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty calls upon the Japanese government to follow the recommendation of the resolution and apply a formal moratorium on exe…

China led world executions in 2007

LONDON, England (CNN) -- China executed at least 470 people last year -- more than any other country in the world, according to an annual report on the death penalty by the human rights group Amnesty International.

The group said that five countries carried out 88 percent of all known executions worldwide: China (470 people), Iran (317), Saudi Arabia (143), Pakistan (135) and the United States (42).

Exact figures for how many people were put to death in China are difficult to come by because the country considers the death penalty a "state secret," Amnesty said.

"As the world and Olympic guests are left guessing, only the Chinese authorities know exactly how many people have been killed with state authorization," the group said.

Last year, China reformed the way capital cases are handled, with the Supreme Court deciding all cases. This led to a drop in the number of executions, with "half of the cases changed to a reprieve in the end," according to an article…

Iran : Four hanged

April 14, 2008: Iran has hanged four men, media reports said.

On April 13, two members of a Sunni militant group were executed in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

The two men, identified by only their initials A.M. and M.S., were hanged for the capital offence of being "moharebeh" (an enemy of God), Kayhan newspaper reported.
The local revolutionary court found them to be members the "terrorist group" Jundallah, and they were hanged in prison in the provincial capital of Zahedan.
Jundallah has been behind a string of attacks in the province in recent years and is led by Abdolmalek Rigi, a shadowy young Sunni militant.

On April 12, two men convicted of abduction and murder were hanged in a prison in the northern Iranian city of Sari, the official IRNA new agency reported. The men, identified only as H.H. and R.Sh., were hanged for kidnapping the owner of an industrial workshop and killing him with 10 shots to the head.

The abductors had demanded a 500-mill…

SAUDI ARABIA. FOUR BEHEADED FOR MURDER, DRUG TRAFFICKING

April 14, 2008: Four death row prisoners have been executed in Saudi Arabia, the authorities announced.
On April 13, two Nigerians convicted of drug trafficking were beheaded by the sword in western Mecca region, the official SPA news agency quoted the Interior Ministry statement as saying. Mohammed Qaddus Suleyman and Idris Abdel Ghani Mohammed were sentenced to death for smuggling cocaine hidden inside their stomachs into the kingdom.
On April 11 authorities beheaded a Saudi man convicted of trafficking in tranquilisers. Abdullah al-Qahtani was executed in Riyadh, according to the statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.
A Saudi found guilty of murder was beheaded on April 10. The ministry, quoted by the state news agency SPA, said Abdullah al-Subai was beheaded in the southern region of Assyr for stabbing to death a fellow Saudi.
On April 12, a Turkish barber accused of swearing at God was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, while his family in Turkey called on authoriti…

SAUDI ARABIA. PAKISTANI BEHEADED FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING

April 10, 2008: Moazzam Khan, a Pakistan national who was convicted in a drug trafficking case was beheaded by the sword, the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry announced.

Khan was found guilty of smuggling heroin concealed in his stomach.

Source: Pakistan Press International, 10/04/2008

IRAN. MAN HANGED FOR MURDER

April 9, 2008: Iran hanged a man convicted of murder in the northern province of Semnan, the official news agency IRNA reported.

The 31 year old man, identified only by his initials P. P., was hanged in the prison in Semnan city after he was found guilty of stabbing to death a gold seller, identified only as M. A.

Sources: Agence France Presse, 09/04/2008

SAUDI ARABIA. PAKISTANI BEHEADED FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING

April 10, 2008: Moazzam Khan, a Pakistan national who was convicted in a drug trafficking case was beheaded by the sword, the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry announced.

Khan was found guilty of smuggling heroin concealed in his stomach.

Source: Pakistan Press International, 10/04/2008

Anti-death penalty double bill in the Gaza Strip

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), a Gaza-based NGO and a member of the World Coalition, organised two meetings on the death penalty in March.


The first meeting took place on March 10 in the offices of the Palestinian Society for Democracy and Law in Rafah. At least 30 individuals representing a number of NGOs in Rafah attended.

The second meeting was held on March 12, in cooperation with Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza City. At least 30 students and graduates of al-Azhar University in Gaza and a number of civil society activists attended the meeting.

Raising public awareness

The events are part of PCHR's death penalty project, which aims at raising public awareness and creating a public opinion calling for the abolishment of capital punishment from Palestinian laws.
PCHR also seeks to stop extra-judicial executions carried out by Israeli forces against Palestinians.
The meetings discussed the international trend towards the abolition of the death penalty from domestic laws, an…

Study Finds Lethal Injection Drug Barred for Use with Animals

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A forthcoming study to be published in the Fordham Urban Law Journal found that almost all states that use a paralyzing drug in the lethal injection of death row inmates forbid the use of this same drug in euthanizing animals. Ty Alper, the associate director of the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, conducted the research that found that 42 states do not approve neuromuscular blocking agents in the ordinary euthanasia of animals. However, almost 98% of the lethal injections of human beings that have been carried out since 1982 have involved the use of this kind of drug that hides from view severe pain an inmate may be experiencing. The constitutionality of the lethal injection protocols used in virtually all states with the death penalty is currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in Baze v. Rees that was argued in January. The death row inmates in that case have maintained that the 3-drug method of lethal injection can be extremel…