Sept. 21


Statement by the Spokesperson on Togo's accession to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aiming at the abolition of the death penalty

Togo's official accession to the 1989 Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty on 14 September is a welcome step.

In doing so, Togo reinforces the global trend towards the abolition of the capital punishment, by becoming the 82nd state party to this important treaty. Togo's accession should encourage other countries to follow this example and also marks the remarkable abolitionist trend in Africa, as part of which many countries have done away with the death penalty in law or practice.

The European Union reaffirms its objective of working towards universal abolition of the death penalty.



Sudan bishop urges UN to intervene to save Christians facing death sentence

Sudanese Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail, pictured in New York with actor George Clooney, has called for international action to save the imprisoned pastors who are facing the death penalty.

A prominent Sudanese bishop has appealed for the international community to intervene to save the lives of pastors who are facing the death sentence in a court in Sudan.

Bishop of Kadugli diocese, Andudu Adam Elnail, had to flee himself from Sudan to South Carolina in the US in 2011 after his property was torched when he refused to tell his Christian flock to endorse Sudan President Omar al-Bashir.

He called for the United Nations and the US to step in to help the 4 men on trial in Khartoum.

Bishop Elnail told the charges were "concoted".

Pastors Hassan Abduraheem and Kuwa Shamal, on trial with Czech Christian Petr Ja???ek and human rights activist Abdulmonem Abdumawla face capital charges including espionage and waging war against the state. Jasek is also charged with the propagation of false news.

One charge against the pastors is that they propagated news about churches being burned down in Khartoum and bombed in the Nuba mountains, where Christians are classed as "atheists".

Bishop Elnail told Fox News: "We call for their protection and immediate release and urge that the UN, US government - including Congress - and other world communities demand the freedom of these two men of God and other prisoners."

Bishop Elnail said the 2 pastors are being held in solitary confinement. He said he had known Shamal, who has 7 children, for many years and described him as a "humble and good man" in his mid-40s who has dedicated his life to God.

He said: "The government is not interested in the Christian religion. There is no freedom for us, we cannot build churches, we are treated as second-class citizens. We need the international community to pressure the government of Sudan to give us our freedom of religion."

The US State Department has been tracking the case and is lobbying Sudan, designated a country of "particular concern", to show greater respect for religious freedom.

"We are committed to working with countries to make tangible improvements in respect for religious freedom and continue to look for opportunities to address these issues with the government of South Sudan," a spokesperson said.

World Watch Monitor

Christian Today has followed the case of the pastors and the 2 other accused men, and reported recently that their lives were at risk.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) which is campaigning on behalf of the men, the charges against the Czech man are central to the case.

Part of the case against Jasek is based on the financial aid given for the medical treatment of a young man from Darfur, Ali Omer, who was injured in a demonstration in 2013. Jasek donated $5,000 towards Omer's medical treatment, which was signed for by Abduraheem and Abdumawla. The Czech was arrested when he left Sudan and the other 3 arrested 9 days later.

The prosecution alleges that the $5,000 Jasek donated to Omer's treatment was in reality support for rebel movements in the South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur regions, according to CSW.

Shamal was not involved in fundraising for Omer but appears to have been included because of his position in the Sudan Church of Christ.

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW, said: "The case against Rev Hassan Abduraheem, Mr Abdumawla, Rev Kuwa Shamal and Mr Petr Jasek is an example of NISS's manipulation of the criminal justice system to harass ethnic and religious minorities.

"The evidence clearly shows that Rev Abduraheem, Mr Abdumawla and Mr Jasek attempted to provide medical care for Mr Omer. As a consequence of their acts of kindness, these men have been detained in terrible conditions and are now enduring an unjust trial.

"RevKuwa Shamal, meanwhile, is being targeted simply because of his position as a senior church leader, his ethnicity and relationship to Rev Abduraheem. We urge everyone who is as concerned as we are about this grave injustice to join us in campaigning to see these men set free. CSW urges the government of Sudan to drop the charges against these men without conditions or delay."

He also called for the end of targeting religious and ethnic minorities in Sudan.

(source: Christian Today)


Vietnam drug kingpin, 8 henchmen get death sentence for heroin smuggling

A court in Vietnam sentenced to death a notorious drugs kingpin and 8 associates on Wednesday, delivering the maximum punishment in a single verdict over the trafficking of more than 1/2 a ton of heroin.

The case centered on Trang A Tang, a 33-year-old leader of a network that trafficked drugs from the infamous Golden Triangle area of northwestern Laos, northeastern Myanmar and northern Thailand, and distributed them in Vietnam.

Tang has become well-known for his opulent lifestyle and for managing to evade justice while spending lavishly on big houses and luxury cars.

The 4-day trial in Bac Ninh province heard how the gang had handled 2,181 heroin "cakes", weighing 350 grams (0.77 lb) each, between 2009 and 2013. That works out to 763 kg (1,682 lb) of heroin.

Ton Trong Hung, secretary of the court, said by telephone that nine members of the network had received the death penalty. Tang's wife and father were among 3 others jailed for life.

The judge called Tang "extremely dangerous" and said he "must be permanently removed from society", state-run radio Voice of Vietnam reported on its website.

Trafficking of more than 100 grams (3.5 oz) of heroin is punishable by death or life imprisonment in Vietnam.

Vietnam in 2014 condemned 30 people to death and jailed 69 others for trafficking more than 12 tonnes of heroin in a what was the communist country's largest-ever drugs trial, so big that it had to be held outdoors.

(source: Reuters)


Calls to abolish death penalty grow louder in Japan----Country's legal community will declare its opposition to capital punishment amid concern over miscarriages of justice

Japan is expected to come under unprecedented domestic pressure over its use of the death penalty when, for the first time, the country's legal community calls for its abolition next month.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations, whose membership includes 37,000 lawyers and hundreds of other legal professionals, said it would declare its opposition to capital punishment at a meeting in early October due to growing concern over miscarriages of justice.

The declaration will put the federation at odds with the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, whose administration has executed 16 people since it took office in late 2012.

Successive Japanese governments have resisted pressure from the UN, the EU and human rights groups to abolish the death penalty.

"If an innocent person or an offender who does not deserve to be sentenced to death is executed, it is an irrevocable human rights violation," Yuji Ogawara, who heads a bar association panel on the death penalty, was quoted as saying by the Kyodo news agency.

"There are still lawyers who support the death penalty, but I think we have developed an environment that enables us to seek its abolition."

The federation will call for an end to capital punishment by 2020, when Japan hosts a UN congress on crime prevention and criminal justice. It said life sentences without the possibility of parole should be considered as an alternative.

Japan and the US are the only G7 countries that continue to execute prisoners, while more than 140 countries have abolished the death penalty either by law or in practice.

Doubts about the safety of convictions grew in 2014 after Iwao Hakamada was released having spent more than 45 years on death row. A court ordered a retrial in Hakamada's murder case, amid suggestions that police investigators fabricated evidence against him.

The former professional boxer had been sentenced to hang in 1968 for the murders 2 years earlier of a company president, his wife and their 2 children.

In addition, 4 death row prisoners were found not guilty after being granted retrials in the 1980s.

Japan has resisted calls to end capital punishment, citing opinion polls showing high levels of support for its retention. Public backing for the death penalty remained strong during the trials of people accused of taking part in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, in which 13 people died and thousands were injured.

In a damning 2009 report, Amnesty International accused Japan of subjecting death row inmates to "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment. Prisoners typically spend many years in solitary confinement, and only learn of the timing of their execution, by hanging, hours before it takes place.

Amnesty recently criticised Japan for executing or placing mentally ill and intellectually challenged prisoners in solitary confinement.

Legal experts welcomed the federation's decision. "Having Japan's largest human rights protection body come out in favour of eliminating the death sentence will have a huge impact," Prof Kana Sasakura from Konan University in Kobe told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

There are 124 inmates on death row in Japan, 89 of whom are seeking retrials, according to the justice ministry.

(source: The Guardian)


Enforce the death penalty now

After the rape and murder of that 3 year old child, we now hear of other such crimes, the latest being of a 12 year old being raped and murdered - no, we cannot let this continue; yes let us recall the instance of the monster in human form who raped, mutilated and killed little Seya. He has been appropriately sentenced death, but he should be whipped in public, for fear and shame would indeed be a deterrent and the whole country will benefit.

The 'death sentence' today is converted to a sentence to life in imprisonment, where these monsters, who have been found guilty of taking the lives of others, spend their days well fed, clothed and cared for at our expense, as long as they live (and most of these monsters live long). Do these criminals deserve to live after the crimes of taking the life of little Seya and others in a cruel manner? Just imagine the fear and pain that Seya would have suffered at this monster's hands - how if she was one of ours, would this not have haunted us all our lives; just imagine the pain that her parents would be going through; NO, this monster has no right to live, he must be put to death.

If the President feels squeamish to sign the final order to carry out the death sentence, then he could refer it to a bench of three SC Judges to re-examine the record of the case and make the order to carry out the sentence; there are many of us citizens who are prepared to volunteer to see that the execution is carried out. If hanging be considered unacceptable, then let us reintroduce the system we had in ancient times - yes, let us reintroduce the barrel with nails and role them down a precipice; let not the EU or the West which has killed and are killing thousands of civilians with their sophisticated weapon systems and Drones, (their Arms Bazaars are making billions) preach to us. Let us reintroduce the death penalty and save our country.

I, was for some years Chairman of a Committee which inspected Prisons, and I have met many who had been sentenced to death for premeditated murder, including a man who had been sentenced to death for the murder of that great humanist Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam, (they live happily in prison). When I asked the man found guilty of Neelan's murder as to whether he regretted the horrible crime he had committed, he laughed, and I have no reservations or regret in saying that I had the monster given the treatment, unfortunately I could not have him hanged.

I note that the now newly civilized persons and organization in the West have called upon us to do away with the death penalty, but we, for our protection MUST retain the death penalty for premeditated heinous crime. Countries that retain the death penalty know what a deterrent it is, and how life has been made safe for law abiding citizens. The government owes this to us, we must hang or put to death by other means pre-meditated murderers in the interest of our country and our people.

(source: K Godage; Writer is a former Sri Lanan


How Verdict On Bageni Jump-Started the Katiba Debate

At a time when debate on the constitution is restarting ahead of the envisaged second phase of Tanzania's constitution review process, the Court of Appeal has delivered its verdict in the appeal filed against the acquittal of former Dar es Salaam Regional Crime Officer Abdallah Zombe and three others.

While the court upheld the acquittal of Zombe and 2 other people, it sentenced Christopher Bageni, former head of criminal investigation in Kinondoni District, to death for ordering the murder of 4 people in Dar es Salaam in January 2006. 3 traders from Ifakara District and a taxi driver were killed in cold blood in a forest in Mbezi Luis in the city.

Last week's court verdict came at a time various sections of the citizenry were calling on the Fifth Phase government under President John Pombe Magufuli to restart the constitution review process and pave the way for inclusion of issues that did not find their way into the Proposed Constitution passed by the now-disbanded Constituent Assembly in 2014. One of the proposals that were rejected at the time, despite intense lobbying for its inclusion, was the outlawing of the death penalty.

At the moment, there is a very ambiguous constitutional regime on capital punishment. The Constitution of Tanzania of 1977 provides for the right to life in Article 14 but only in a weak and limited manner. On the other hand, the law provides for the death sentence, which is the punishment for two capital offences, namely murder and treason.

According to Section 197 of the Penal Code (Chapter 16), "Any person convicted of murder shall be sentenced to death." This is a mandatory requirement that leaves the court with no option but to pass the death sentence upon the conviction of a person.

Only 2 categories of people are exempted - women who are pregnant and persons under the age of majority, who face life imprisonment upon being convicted of murder or treason in line with Section 26 of the Penal Code.

Unfortunately, none of the above grounds suit Bageni as he is neither an expectant mother nor a minor.

While treason carries the death penalty in line with sections 39 and 40 of the Penal Code, there is a relief for "misprision of treason" under Section 41.

The ruling has deeply divided the nation. There are those who argue that the slain men had the right to life and that Bageni deserves to die by hanging since evidence of his involvement in the murder was overwhelming and irrefutable. They are of the view that the Court of Appeal has accurately construed the capital punishment statutes. On the other hand, there are advocates of the law as a corrective tool, arguing that death should not be punished with death.

These human rights activists argue that meting out capital punishment to Bageni amounts to committing another murder, albeit legally. As far as they are concerned, murder is a wrong that cannot be righted with murder. Furthermore, they contend that a person who commits murder should be helped to regret the act and commit not repeat it by being given another chance. This line of advocacy concludes that death should not be a statutory punishment. According to this line of thinking, Bageni deserves nothing more than life behind bars.

Unlike murder, there is no record of a person in Tanzania who has been sentenced to death for treason. All along, the courts have always interpreted the phrase used for treason as merely setting the maximum punishment for the offence, and that the death penalty is not mandatory. Unfortunately, the wording used to describe punishment for murder is expressly mandatory and authoritative. The Court of Appeal may have found itself limited to one option only, which is the death sentence.

I wish to join those who have put the death penalty under intense scrutiny. In the early 1990s, the Nyalali Commission recommended that capital punishment be abolished for being a "barbaric form of punishment and therefore unsupportable". Several years later, Justice James Mwalusanya famously held that the death penalty was "inherently cruel, inhuman and degrading".

Last week's verdict by the Court of Appeal opened a Pandora's box and the constitution review debate is once again sharply in focus. Let's engage in it.

(source: Deus Kibamba is trained in political Science,International Politics and International

A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law

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