Sept. 20


"Hands Off Cain" urges Italy to raise the issue of death penalty in Iran at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

In an open letter to Italian Foreign Minister on September 14, the "Hands Off Cain" community has asked Paolo Gentiloni to raise the issue of death penalty in Iran during the current session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

According to "Hands Off Cain", following Italy's decision to strengthen its political and economic ties with Iran and during the days when Mohammad Javad Larijani, Secretary General of the Iranian regime's Human Rights Council, is at the top of a delegation staying in Rome to participate in a seminar on comparing criminal justice systems, it is essential that Italy, as a leading country in fight against the death penalty, show a powerful figure and put international pressure on Iran to end the death penalty.

The "Hands Off Cain" community continues: "It is quite possible in Iran to be sent to the gallows for blasphemy, apostasy, non-violent crimes or for totally political reasons."

In their letter, the "Hands Off Cain" community asks the Italian Foreign Minister to boost the pressures on the Iranian regime and to discuss the sharp deterioration of human rights violations and the use of mass executions by the Iranian regime during the current session of the UN Human Rights Council which is underway in Geneva.

(source: NCR-Iran)


Ol Kalou residents want defilers, drug traffickers handed death sentences

Nyandarua residents have proposed that defilement be made a capital offense punishable by death.

They also want death penalty resulting from treason, robbery with violence, attempted robbery with violence, administering of oath purported to bind a person to commit a capital offence be abolished.

Residents spoke during a public debate on capital offences and punishment.

The debate was convened by the Power of Mercy Advisory Committee at the ACK hall in Ol Kalou on Friday.

Residents said defilement and rape tops the list of crimes in Nyandarua county.

"Defilement of minors and raping people living with disability has become an issue of concern in Nyandarua. The culprits need to be killed for us to be safe," resident Jackline Apeta said.

Githunguri assistant chief Pascal Gathima said defiling minors is equivalent to killing the nation's future.



Death penalty call for accused Australian child sex predator Peter Scully in Philippines

Prosecutors in the Philippines have revealed they will call for the death penalty to be re-introduced in the case of alleged Australian child sex predator and 'dark web' mastermind Peter Scully.

Chief prosecutor Jaime Umpa told Fairfax Media that the 52 year-old Scully's deeds were the most shocking cases of child abuse and trafficking officials had seen.

Prosecutors allege that Scully directed a video involving torture and horrific injuries to an 18-month-old baby and participated in many debased acts against children. Prosecutors said he was for several years the mastermind of a worldwide syndicate selling extreme videos of child sex and torture.

On Tuesday, Scully was led handcuffed into a court in the southern Philippines to face the first 6 of 75 charges that could see him become the 1st person to received the death penalty in the Philippines in more than a decade. During the hearing he laughed and joked with his co-accused.

While naked and masked, 1 of Scully's 2 Philippine girlfriends is alleged to have inflicted the pain on the baby girl in a video called "Daisy's Destruction" that Scully is alleged to have sold to internet clients for up to $10,000.

In it, the baby girl is tied by her feet upside down while she is sexually assaulted.The girlfriend also allegedly bashed the baby,who survived and has been returned to the care of her parents, but remains deeply traumatized and becomes hysterical when memory of her abuse is triggered.

Prosecutors will allege another 11-year-old girl whose body was found in a shallow grave under a house rented by Scully was repeatedly sexually abused by him and then strangled.

8 other girl victims aged up to 13 at the time of the alleged offences are being held in witness protection while Scully pleads not guilty in court hearings that are expected to take years to be completed in the Philippines' log-jammed judicial system.

Scully has decided to contest the charges - putting his alleged victims through the ordeal of testifying in court - despite repeatedly telling Philippine media last year he was "remorseful" for what he had done to children.

Wearing a yellow prison T-shirt and runners, Scully looked tense and ignored questions from Fairfax Media as he was led into a special court set up in Cagayan de Oro's city hall on Tuesday.

Prosecutors allege that Scully was the white male person, whose face was pixilated or hidden, captured in videos forcing children to commit depraved acts. Many of the investigators, journalists and officials who have watched the videos have been brought to tears.

"They were the most devastating thing I have ever seen," said Ruby Malanog, who is 1 of 2 lawyers prosecuting Scully.

"I cried when I was watching them ... in fact I feel like crying just now while talking about it," she said. "It was hard to believe what I was seeing ... that somebody could do those things to children."

On the eve of Tuesday's hearing Mr Umpa, the chief prosecutor of northern Mindanao region, called for the reintroduction of the death penalty in the Philippines so that Scully, a Melbourne businessman, could be executed.

"If I had my choice it would be death for Scully. I want it to happen," Mr Umpa told Fairfax Media in Cagayan de Oro, a city of 1 million people where Scully allegedly lured impoverished children from shopping malls.

"We have to send a strong message to others that if they come to the Philippines and torture and abuse our children in this way they will be investigated with the full force of the law and executed," he said.

Mr Umpa said unless the death penalty was reintroduced prosecutors would push in the first hearings for Scully to be given the maximum sentence of life imprisonment for human trafficking and 10 years for each of the5 sexual abuse charges, meaning Scully could be jailed for up to 100 years.

But under current Philippine procedures, he would be released after serving 30 years and then deported to Australia.

"We don't believe this is sufficient for these crimes that were committed," Mr Umpa said.

Scully showed no emotion and looked away when Fairfax Media told him about the call which came only days after tough-talking Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that he wants the death penalty returned for "heinous" crimes, including rape and murder. The country abolished it in 2006 following fierce opposition from the Catholic church, the religion of 80 % of Filipinos.

Mr Duterte, who was swept into office at May elections pledging to wipe out crime, has overseen a bloody crackdown on illegal drug pushers that has left more than 3500 Filipinos dead. Scully, who arrived in the Philippines in 2011 after fleeing fraud and deception charges in Melbourne, has been portraying himself as victim while on remand in Cagayan de Oro City jail, telling his lawyers that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was growing up in Victoria.

He was arrested last year on human trafficking charges. Jail warden Ferdiand Pontillo told Fairfax Media that Scully complains about conditions in a chronically overcrowded facility, wanting to be pampered with luxury food and a mobile telephone so he can make international calls. "He wants the same conditions as there are in Australian jails but this is not Australia," he said.

Scully refused to comment to Fairfax Media at the jail built to accommodate 350 prisoners, but which now has 1840. Scully's sister , who lives in Australia, has complained to the jail about the conditions he is being held under.

The first 6 charges that Scully will face relate to the alleged abduction and sexual abuse of 2 teenage girls in Cagayan de Oro in September 2014.

Prosecutors will allege the girls were lured to a house on the promise of food by one of Scully's girlfriends where they were given alcohol before they were raped by Scully and forced to commit sex acts in front of cameras.

When the girls tried to escape Scully forced them to dig a grave under the house where they were told they would be buried, Ms Malanog, the prosecutor, told Fairfax Media before the hearing began. When the girls escaped after 5 days they ran terrified to their parent's home, Ms Malanog said.

Mr Umpa said Scully faces a further 69 charges filed by the Department of Justice in Manila that relate to his alleged business making videos for so-called "dark web" clients, a reference to websites where server information, including IP addresss are hidden.

A murder charge has been absorbed into a human trafficking charge. Scully's activities in the Philippines have been linked to Melbourne university student Matthew David Graham, who was sentenced to 15 years jail in the Victorian County Court in March this year.

A judge described Graham as being involved in a "twisted and evil life" in "the dark shadows of the cyber world".

(source: Sydney Morning Herald)


Supreme Court Judge Expresses Reservations about Sentencing Policy

Justice Ranjan Gogoi of the Supreme Court, in line to become Chief Justice of India in October 2018, has expressed serious reservations about the sentencing policy followed by judges.

"For the same offence, the sentence awarded could be 6 months or 6 years. It is all rule of thumb", he observed, while hearing the review petition of B.A. Umesh, a death-row convict, who was sentenced for the offence of rape and murder.

Umesh's death sentence was confirmed and his review petition dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2011. His mercy petition was rejected by the president on May 12, 2013. Subsequently, his plea for open court hearing of his review petition was granted by the Supreme Court. Currently lodged in Belgaum Central Prison, Karnataka, he has already completed nearly 17 years in prison.

On Monday, the counsel for the registrar general of the Karnataka high court, Anitha Shenoy, submitted before the bench headed by Justice Gogoi, and also comprising Justices Prafulla C. Pant and A.M. Khanwilkar, that Umesh deserved no mercy because he was convicted on the basis of unimpeachable evidence, and as many as 8 judges, including the trial court judge, have found his offence the 'rarest of rare'.

After the trial court verdict went against Umesh, 2 high court judges differed over his sentence, while agreeing that his offence was rarest of rare. The judge who was reluctant to impose the death sentence on him, reasoned that life sentence would be harsher than death.

The case was then decided by the 3rd judge, who confirmed his death sentence. Subsequently, 2 Supreme Court judges also confirmed his death sentence. The same 2 judges also rejected his review petition in their chambers.

Justice Gogoi told the counsel that the offences of rape and murder do occur and, therefore, they cannot constitute rarest of rare offences, simply because they are committed by the same accused in succession. 'Would we need something more to make the offence a rarest of rare offence?', he asked the counsel.

Justice Gogoi then asked the counsel to respond to the 2 mitigating circumstances in Umesh's favour: he was just 29 at the time of commission of the offence, and he spared the life of the 7-year old boy of the deceased, who was a witness to the crime.

Put in this context, Justice Gogoi expressed his dissatisfaction with the court's sentencing policy, and asked the counsel to examine the sentencing policy followed in other countries. "I suggest this not for the purposes of deciding this case, but may be one can write an article. Perhaps other countries too face the same problem like us. How do you interpret the words "may extend to" and "shall not be less than" used while prescribing the sentence for some offences?," he asked.

When the counsel said 29 years cannot be construed as a young age, and therefore, a mitigating factor, Justice Gogoi responded by saying being young cannot be equated with the age of a juvenile either.

While the counsel laid stress on Umesh's incapacity for reform because of his repetitive offences, Justice Gogoi appeared to favour the idea proposed by a previous bench that mitigating circumstances in favour of the convict must be nil, before the rarest of rare test is applied.

While the bench has reserved its verdict in this case, Justice Gogoi's observations on sentencing policy assume significance, especially in the context of the recent trend among Supreme Court judges to quantify the life sentence as an alternative to the death sentence.

As Umesh has already completed about 17 years imprisonment, he will be eligible for remission if Justice Gogoi's bench merely confirms his life sentence, and sets aside his death sentence. In order to keep him in prison for a few more years, the bench has to quantify his life sentence, and declare it beyond the remission powers of the state government. While life sentence means the entire remaining life of the convict, the quantification will apply to the period when the state government cannot exercise its remission powers, even after the statutory period of 14 years.

The trend, which was first started in the Swami Shraddhananda case in 2008, by a 3-Judge bench, was confirmed by a 5-Judge Constitution bench in Sriharan @Murugan last year.

On September 16, another 3-judge bench found this sentencing policy innovative, and followed it while altering the death sentence of a convict, sentenced for rape and murder of a child, to imprisonment for 25 years without remission.

Justice Gogoi bench's judgment in Umesh's case is expected to carry this debate on quantifying the life sentence - as an alternative to the death penalty - further.



Court cites reasons for death penalty in acid attack case

"A strong message needs to be sent to the miscreants of such crimes against women that such crimes shall not be tolerated," recorded a special women???s court last week, after it awarded the death penalty to the convict in a May 2013 acid attack case.

"This crime is 1st of its kind in India," Judge Anju S Shende, said on her last day at the City Civil and Sessions Court. "If the rising trend towards such crime is not checked at its inception, it will have monstrous effects on society, and soon it will spread widely." In a landmark verdict, the court, on September 6, convicted 26-year-old Ankur Lal Panwar for throwing acid on Preeti Rathi on May 2, 2013, at Bandra Terminus, with the intention of causing burns and committing murder. Ms Rathi, who hailed from Delhi and had arrived in Mumbai to begin her career as a nurse, died of her injuries on June 1, 2013. Her post mortem report recorded multiple organ failure due to the corrosion caused by the acid.

In a 150-page order, the court said, "Without a shadow of doubt, this (crime) falls in the category of the rarest of the rare case. The incident is extremely gruesome, revolting, and horrifying. This court is not in the knowledge of any case in which a crime of this nature has been committed and the accused is sentenced, till date. Therefore, deterrent punishment is the need of the hour. Being fully aware of the nature of the death penalty, the court has reached the conclusion to award the death sentence to the accused."

Drawing a parallel with rape, the court said, "The height of brutality in acid attacks was more than those in cases of rape. Rape destroys the soul of the victim. But she can be kept in isolation, without disclosing her identity, and can be rehabilitated. But for an acid (attack) victim, she has to move around with a destroyed body." The court then ordered, "The accused is to be hanged by neck, till he is dead, subject to the confirmation of the Bombay High Court."

While organisations working for acid attack victims are cheering the judgment, women s rights lawyers say that the death penalty does not necessarily act as a deterrent.

Senior counsel Gayatri Singh, who had represented an acid attack victim at Bombay High Court, said, "The death penalty doesn't help at all. This is like an eye for an eye; how would it help in solving our societal problems. I am not saying that wrong was not done to the woman, but instead of taking a retributive approach, you should have a more rehabilitative approach. You need to punish the person, but death penalty is not a solution."

Flavia Agnes, a women's rights lawyer, told The Hindu , "Time and again it has been proved that the death penalty does not act as deterrent. It is like private vengeance. So many countries have eliminated the death penalty, and we just keep on increasing its ambit. In this case, the woman died, but in the Shakti Mills rape case, they gave the death penalty. That's even more terrible." On the other side, a volunteer who works with acid attack victims told The Hindu on condition of anonymity, "It's important to look from the victim's point of view. When you do that you realise that death penalty is important. Acid attack victims undergo grievous hurt, and that does not go away by mere counselling. The convict will be awarded the death penalty only after confirmation from the High Court, so let's wait until then. But I can tell you that acid attack victims will be delighted if capital punishment is confirmed."

(source: The Hindu)

A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law

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