Dec. 1


Take Action! - Man Faces Execution After Grossly Unfair Trial (Saudi Arabia: UA 270/16)

A Shi'a man is at risk of execution in Saudi Arabia after he exhausted all his appeals. He was sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial. He claims he was tortured into "confessing", but his allegation has not been properly investigated.

Yussuf Ali al-Mushaikass, 42, was sentenced to death on 6 January by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh, the capital, for offences that included "armed rebellion against the ruler", "destabilizing security and stirring sedition by joining a terrorist group" and "participating in riots". Following his appeal on 1 February his legal representative learned that the sentence had been upheld by both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The case was later sent to the Ministry of Interior on 20 April raising fears that the sentence will be ratified by the King and Yussuf al-Mushaikhass might be executed at any time.

According to the verdict the SCC seems to have based its decision on signed "confessions" which Yussuf al-Mushaikhass claims were extracted under torture and other ill-treatment. However, the court did not fully investigate such claims. During the first three months of his incommunicado detention he was held in solitary confinement and interrogated repeatedly. He told the court that he was: subjected to sleep deprivation; hung from the ceiling and beaten with a bamboo cane and electrical cable on different parts of his body; and, handcuffed and forced to lay on the ground while he was severely beaten by 4 officers from the General Directorate of Investigation (GDI). Under international law, statements elicited as a result of torture, ill-treatment or other forms of coercion must be excluded from evidence in trial proceedings.

Yussuf al-Mushaikhass was arrested on 26 February 2014 in Ras Tanura City and taken to the GDI prison in Dammam, both in the Eastern Province. He was placed in solitary confinement and denied access to his legal representation throughout his interrogations. He is still detained in the same prison.


Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

-- Urging the Saudi Arabian authorities to quash the conviction and death sentence against Yussuf Ali al-Mushaikass, given grave concerns about the fairness of the trial, and, if there is sufficient admissible evidence against him, to retry him in line with international fair trial standards without recourse to the death penalty;

-- Calling on them to order a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegation of torture and other ill-treatment;

-- Urging them to immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Contact these 2 officials by 11 January, 2017: King and Prime Minister

His Majesty Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud

The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques

Office of His Majesty the King

Royal Court, Riyadh

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior)

+966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)

Twitter: @KingSalman

Salutation: Your Majesty


Ambassador Abdullah bin Fisal

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

601 New Hampshire Ave. NW

Washington DC 20037

Fax: 1 202 944 5983 -- Phone: 1 202 342 3800


Salutation: Dear Ambassador

(source: Amnesty International USA)


World is moving towards abolition of death penalty: Gopalkrishna Gandhi

140 of 195 countries have abolished the death penalty but it still looms large over the world as the nations that have retained it -- including India -- account for the bulk of the global population, former diplomat and Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi says, urging that the punishment be removed from the statute.

"The world is moving towards the abolition of death penalty... but the countries that have retained this penalty are those which have the largest populations. So, the majority of the world is still under the death penalty," Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, a former Bengal Governor, told IANS in an interview ahead of the formal release of his book, "Abolishing the Death Penalty: Why India Should Say No to Capital Punishment" (Aleph).

"It is curious that the countries that have retained death penalty are those which have a certain punishment mentality like USA, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and Pakistan. So we are in the company of China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and Pakistan. What are our compulsions? Why are we retaining it?"

"Some argue that terrorism is the reason. Death penalty does not deter murder. Does death penalty deter terror? We cannot say. But terror has continued. The bizarre thing about terrorism is that the terrorists are prepared to die in the act of terror itself. They are in a fitoor (craze), in which maut (death) is regarded as a shahadat (martyrdom). So will it deter them?" asked Gandhi, who has served as Secretary to President K.R. Narayanan and as High Commissioner to South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Gandhi's book asks fundamental questions about the ultimate legal punishment awarded to those accused of major crimes and is set to release on December 7.

"My emphasis is not just on the death penalty but on the entire mentality of punishment, which includes the criminal investigation system where violence is a known fact. Many of those under trial may or may not be innocent, but most of them are subjected to violence. So my book is about the Indian attitude to punishment.

"Human evolution is towards the abolition of death penalty. But the states which have given up on death penalty are also the states which are somewhat reforming their criminal investigation system. In India there has been a lot of reforms -- our jails today are not what they were 50 years ago, certainly not what they were in medieval times, when anybody who was taken in prison was bound to be beaten to pulp if not to death -- we are not in medieval times, we live in a modern and civilised world," he added.

In December 2007, India voted against a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. It reitereated its stance in 2012 and 2014, and again as recently as November 21, 2016.

"Our jails are now called correctional homes and there have been a lot of improvement in our criminal investigation system. But we are still keeping the death penalty because the state does not want to lose its power over life. The state thinks of itself as a kind of demigod, which it is not," he said.

"Now death penalty in India is awarded in the rarest of rare case and it is almost exclusively for terror activities. The last Law Commission, headed by Justice A.P. Shah, said that death penalty should be awarded only for acts against the state. The death penalty is the ultimate form of torture.

"Even if the society is in favour of severe punishment and is shutting its eyes to torture, does it mean that the state should also do that? Or, should the state be one step ahead of the society? Should the state only reflect what the society wants or should it lead? I think the state should lead. Our constitution is not a mirror; it is a benchmark that inspires all kinds of development, particularly moral development," Gandhi contended.

Through in-depth analysis, persuasive argument and the marshalling of the considered opinion of jurists, human rights activists, scholars and criminologists, among others, his book argues that the death penalty should be abolished with immediate effect in India.

"Today a majority of Indians, in my opinion, are not against death penalty. It does not mean that we are a blood-thirsty society, no we are not. We are a very peace-loving society.

"There has not been much of a discourse on death penalty at the public level, which is why I think people should talk about and deliberate on the issue. This is not going to happen very fast but we are moving towards abolition," Gandhi hoped.



APHR Condemns Philippine Plans to Reintroduce Death Penalty

Plans to reintroduce the death penalty in the Philippines have been met with condemnation by pro-human rights lawmakers across the region over concerns the archipelago will take another step back in human rights and legal reforms.

Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) issued a statement on Thursday (01/12) calling on Philippine legislators and President Rodrigo Duterte to ditch controversial plans to bring back the death penalty 10 years after it was abolished in 2006, amid a deadly war on drugs which has seen up to 5,000 killed.

"As citizens of Asean, we have looked to the Philippines as a regional leader in the global movement to abolish the death penalty since its decision to do so in 2006," APHR chairman and Malaysian lawmaker Charles Santiago said in the statement.

"Thus, it would be an incredible setback to our collective struggle if the Philippines were to take the dramatic step backward of reinstating the death penalty. The move would not only indicate a rejection of hard-fought progress, but would cause other Asean nations to question the Philippines' commitment to the full gamut of international treaties it has signed."

The bill, tabled earlier this week, enjoys widespread support among Philippine lawmakers, with House Speaker Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez "confident" the bill will pass before Christmas, according to CNN Philippines.

The bill targets criminals convicted of "heinous crimes" including rape, terrorism, murder and drug trafficking, although some advocates are pushing for the legislation to include crimes as diverse as piracy, treason and arson.

"We remind Philippine officials that human rights were never a Western concept and that they are rooted in the anti-colonial struggles of developing countries," APHR vice chairwoman Mu Sochua, a member of the Cambodian National Assembly, said in the statement.

(source: Jakarta Globe)


Lagos state legalises death sentence for kidnappers

On November 30, 2016, the Lagos State House of Assembly proposed a bill legalising the death sentence for kidnappers if their victims die in captivity. The bill awaits approval from Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the Governor of Lagos state. Above all, the essence of this bill is to ensure zero tolerance for kidnapping.

Disturbed by the escalating cases of kidnapping in Lagos, Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Petitions, Human Rights and Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), Mrs Adefunmilayo Tejuosho, presented the bill for a law to prohibit of the act of kidnapping.

The bill is the aftermath of the various report of kidnapping in the state. It states that any person who kidnaps, abducts, detains, captures or takes another person by any means or tricks with the intent to demand ransom or do anything against his/her will, commits an offense, and is liable on conviction to death penalty.

The bill proposes life sentence for kidnappers if their victims do not die in captivity. Also, it proposes a life sentence for attempted kidnap. Furthermore, the bill proposes a 7 year jail term for abductors who refuse to release their victims in person, instead using false representation, should they be eventually apprehended.

The legislators also affirmed 25 years imprisonment for whoever threatens to kidnap another person through a phone call, e-mail, text message or any other means of communication.

The bill provides that any person, who knowingly or willfully allows his premises, building or a place or belonging under his control to be used for the keeping of a kidnapped person is guilty of an offense under the law and is liable to 14 years imprisonment without an option of fine.


A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law

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