How the hanging of Queensland's doomed lovers changed our history
A doomed love affair that ended with twin hangings and burials in unmarked
graves charts the horrid, bloody story to end capital punishment in the British
The fatal relationship began on a farm near Mossman, in far north Queensland,
where an Irish woman met a British Navy deserter and fell in love.
Ellen Thomson was the only woman ever hanged in a Queensland prison, despite a
last-minute confession from her lover, John Harrison, who on the night before
their execution told authorities she had nothing to do with shooting her
In April 1887, Thomson was 41 and Harrison 25 when they were convicted of
murdering the woman's second husband, 66-year-old William Thomson.
They were both hanged 1 months later in Boggo Road Gaol at Dutton Park, in
Brisbane's south, 35 years before Queensland led the nation in abolishing
The 66-year-old owned a farm on the Mossman River and Ellen Thomson left her
work as a washerwoman on the Cooktown goldfields to become his housekeeper, and
eventually his wife in November 1880.
Historian Chris Dawson said life was hard on Cooktown's goldfields for the
young woman, who shifted from New South Wales to Queensland in search of the
The widowed then mother-of-5's 1st husband, William Wood, had died near
Cooktown in the mid-1860s.
"For her this was a chance to settle down with her family," Mr Dawson said.
"...It seemed to have been a marriage of convenience for both of them.
"She could look after him and she had a house - and she had a daughter (young
Ellen) with him."
But in 1886, Thomson's new man drove away the eldest children from her first
marriage and was "frequently mean" to her, Mr Dawson said.
Harrison was "on the run" after deserting the English Royal Navy, working on
farms around Port Douglas and Mossman.
"He obviously caught her eye and they had an affair," Mr Dawson said.
William Thomson was shot dead on October 1886. By April 1887 the lovers were
both tried and convicted of his murder and by May they were locked up at Boggo
Early in the morning of Monday June 13, 1887, Thomson was hanged at Boggo Road
The night before the hanging, Harrison confessed to shooting William Thomson
and said Ellen had nothing to do with the shooting, to no avail.
He was hanged immediately after his lover and both were buried in unmarked
graves in the huge South Brisbane Cemetery, just down the road from the prison.
The Brisbane Telegraph reported her final words: "Goodbye everybody. I forgive
everybody. I never shot my husband. I never did anybody any harm. I will die
like an injured angel."
The death was an ugly sight. The rope had severed Ellen Thomson's jugular vein.
"Blood trickling down her body and patterning in large drops on the hard cement
floor. It increases in quantity and (soon) the whole floor is covered with a
woman's blood," the newspaper reported.
Mr Dawson said the horrible image of Thomson's death began a social push to end
"There was a real feeling that hanging a woman was morally wrong, by the
sensitivities of the time," he said.
"It was a particularly barbaric thing to hang a woman."
By 1899, a powerful community mood had grown to abolish capital punishment and
by 1922 Queensland became the 1st place in the British Commonwealth to end the
Tracey Olivieri is the president of Friends of South Brisbane Cemetery, where
the unmarked graves of the 42 prisoners executed at Boggo Road Gaol sit down by
the Brisbane River.
She said few people realised the sunshine state was the 1st colony to scrap
"I think it's a great thing for Queensland," she said.
"It really was the 1st place to stop executions.
"A lot of people will probably think differently, but hanging back then was a
horrid way to kill people."
In May 2005, the Boggo Road Historical Society placed a plaque in Portion 6B to
recognise the executed convicts.
"So it doesn't mark a physical grave, but it marks the area - the portion -
where the executed prisoners are buried," Ms Olivieri said.
On the plaque you can read: "Ellen Thomson, Ireland" and directly below "John
(source: Sydney Morning Herald)
Malaysia Set to Execute More People for Drug Offenses----The United Nations
opposes the use of the death penalty for drug law violations,but too many
countries won't listen.
Last month, 6 people were sentenced to death for drug trafficking by a
Malaysian court. 2 are Malaysian and the rest are Indian nationals - another
country that maintains the death penalty for drug offenses. While Malaysia has
taken steps to make the death penalty for certain drug offenses non-mandatory,
slow implementation of the law and the retention of the death penalty means
that many more will executed in the name of the war on drugs.
The 6 people are among hundreds facing capital punishment for drug law
violations in Malaysia. And among hundreds more in the region. Less than 2
months ago, China executed seven people for drug offenses, in front of
thousands of onlookers. And just a few years ago, Indonesia executed 8 people
for drug offenses, despite repeated pleas for mercy from family members,
citizens, human rights organizations, the United Nations and governments from
around the world.
Even here in the U.S., where the death penalty isn't applied for drug offenses,
the current opioid overdose crisis has led to more criminalization of people
who sell drugs. The Governor of the state of Florida recently signed a bill
which would expand the definition of 1st degree murder - a crime for which the
death penalty can be applied in the state - to include selling a lethal dose of
the opioid, fentanyl.
The United Nations opposes the use of the death penalty for drug law
violations, and has repeatedly upheld that using the death penalty to enforce
drug laws violates international law. International law limits the application
of the death penalty to the "most serious crimes" which does not include drug
use, sales, or trafficking.
Despite this, 33 countries still use this ineffective and draconian measure to
deal with drug offenses. In some countries, there have been signs of reform.
Iran, which has sentenced thousands to death for drugs, recently amended its
penal code, indicating that even countries that have long relied on capital
punishment for drug offenses are realizing how ineffective it is.
While the death penalty represents an extreme example of the perverse ways in
which governments punish people suspected of involvement with illegal drugs,
many more countries around the world of are also guilty of heinous crimes in
this misguided global drug war.
Chouhan urges HM to pass bill on capital punishment for accused in minor rape
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday met Prime
Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.
Earlier, the chief minister also met Home Minister Rajnath Singh requesting him
to pass pending bills sent by the state government, especially taking in accord
death penalty for those who are accused in rape cases of girls below 12 years
Earlier in the day, Chouhan also met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley here and
demanded Rs. 2,800 crores of the drought relief amount pending with the Centre.
Chouhan also discussed National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development
(NABARD) refinance with Jaitley.
This comes after Chouhan on Sunday announced that farmers will be given
compensation for the losses incurred by them in wake of the hail storm, which
recently hit many parts of the state.
(source: ANI news)
Maliwal launches 'Rape Roko' movement, calls for death penalty for child
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal on Tuesday launched
a 'Rape Roko' movement against sexual violence and announced holding of mass
demonstrations across the country on March 8 -- the day marked as International
She led a march from Vishwavidyalaya Metro station to the Delhi University Arts
Faculty where she addressed a gathering of students and exhorted them to
express outrage on crimes against women and infants.
The Commission, she said, will send 100,000 letters containing commission's
demands signed by one lakh individuals to the prime minister and work towards
turning the 'Rape Roko' into a true people's movement.
"I can't tell you how horrified, how terrified, how troubled I am... there's no
conversation, there's no public anger, there's no outrage," she said on the
rape of an 8-month-old some days ago.
"We've done whatever we could. We have gone to courts, spoken to leaders, tried
writing letters to the government but it has not worked till now," she added.
That's why, she said, the Rape Roko movement had been launched. "I really want
that this movement should become a people's movement, and I feel that people
will come down on the streets and they will express their anger in a peaceful
manner," she said.
As a means of deterrence to such crimes against infants, Maliwal advocated the
death penalty within 6 months of the crime for the perpetrator.
She also said trials of crimes against women should also be completed within 6
"There's a lack of deterrence. And that is what we are targeting," she said.
"On March 8, people of India will throng the streets of Delhi as well as other
cities and we are hoping that the government will then listen. We will be
reaching out to everyone," she said.
Yangon women demand death penalty for rapists
A group of women protested outside the North Dagon Township court on Feb. 8 to
demand the death penalty for anyone convicted of rape in Myanmar, including
those who were convicted in the past.
The protest was organized by the Myanmar Women's Safeguarding Team to coincide
with the second court appearance of taxi driver Myo Zaw Oo, who is suspected of
raping and murdering 26-year-old Food and Drug Administration staffer Shwe Yee
Win on Jan. 20.
The case has raised security concerns among Yangon women and rights groups, who
say the city needs more police patrols, CCTV systems, street lights, and
relocations of bus stops.
In addition to these deterrence schemes, some women going a few steps further,
saying rapists must die.
"We aim to enact a new law giving death sentences to rapists instead of prison
punishment. We request the government gives the death sentence to any rapists
without granting amnesty," Myanmar Women's Safeguarding Team secretary Khin
Thandar told Eleven.
"There is no rule of law in our country, and there is no safety for the women.
All Myanmar women want to give the death sentence to rapists. We request the
government gives the death sentence to rapists, including those previously
convicted," she added.
During the hearing, protesters distributed pamphlets titled "Any rape case must
be given the death sentence" to passersby.
Under Myanmar's current law (Penal Code, Section 376), men who are convicted of
rape can be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison, unless the victim is his
wife, in which case the prison sentence cannot be longer than 2 years.
Shwe Yee Win was declared missing on Jan. 20 after she failed to return from
Hledan Center to her parents' home in Dagon Township by 8pm. Her body was
discovered near the Ngamoyake Creek Bridge in North Dagon Township the
Police arrested Myo Zaw Oo after a phone services shop reported that he had
come in with the victim's phone. During an interrogation, the suspect said he
had picked up Shwe Yee Win near Hledan Center before quarrelling over the taxi
fare near her home. He then allegedly stopped the car, strangled her until she
passed out, stabbed her in the neck with a screwdriver, drove to North Dagon
Township, and raped her while she was unconscious.
A police photo of the suspect shows him posing with Shwe Yee Win's belongings,
including jewelry, a purse, and a phone.
Shwe Yee Win was buried during a well-attended funeral on Jan. 23 at Yangon's
Yay Way Cemetery.
Rape is believed to be on the rise in Yangon, as it has accounted for accounted
for 229 of 469 major crimes recorded in 2016 and for 270 of 478 major crimes in
One online petition is calling on Myanmar authorities to ensure justice for
Shwe Yee Win by imposing harsher punishments for convicted rapists, but it does
not mention the death penalty.
James Dak's death penality is absolute miscarriage of justice
The death sentence and 20 years life imprisonment against James Gatdet Dak is
illegal and politically motivated. The Transitional Constitution of South Sudan
(TCSS), 2011 is the supreme law of the land and the guiding principle of
distinct laws that exist in South Sudan. The general principle of the common
law is that, "any law that is inconsistent with the constitution is habitually
considered null and void." On that note, article 3 (1) (2) (3) of the
transitional constitution of South Sudan, 2011 stipulated that, the
constitution derives its authority from the will of the people and shall be the
supreme law of the land. It shall have a binding force on all persons,
institutions, organs and agencies of government throughout the country. (2) The
authority of government at all levels shall derive from the constitution and
the law. (3) The States' constitutions and all laws shall conform to the
Nonetheless, James Gatdet was charged with treason and sentenced to death and
20 years life imprisonment according to section 64 read together with sections
75 and 76 of the South Sudan Penal code, 2008.
However, these provisions of the Penal Code, 2008 contradicts the provisions of
the supreme law of the land under article 21 (1) of the Transitional
Constitution of South Sudan, 2011. This article restricted death penalty and
stated that "No death penalty shall be imposed, save as punishment for
extremely serious offences in accordance with the law."
On top of that, according to article 11 of the TCSS, 2011, "every person has
the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his or her person
which shall be protected by law; no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or
On a separate note, an accused person is presumed innocent until his or her
guilt is proved according to the law. Therefore, if the court proved beyond
reasonable doubt that Gatdet was perhaps guilty of treason, then he should
solely be charged of 20 years life imprisonment, but not death penalty, owing
to the fact that, death penalty is prohibited by the supreme law of the land
(transitional constitution of South Sudan, 2011).
Ultimately, it's incontrovertible that I am a staunch die-hard supporter of the
Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU), but truth must be told, with
the view that, no one is above the law and as a concerned citizen of South
Sudan, it is my constitutional right and an obligation to defend the
constitution as provided for under article 4 (3) of the transitional
constitution of South Sudan, 2011.
This is my sincere appeal on behalf of Cde. James Gatdet Dak.
Deng Gai Gatluak is a law lecturer at Starford International University (SIU),
(teaching constitution and administrative law). he is also a member of National
Dialogue Steering Committee (Secretariat).
Quash death sentence, Amnesty International tells S. Sudan
The campaign group, Amnesty International on Tuesday called or the immediate
squashing of the death penalty against former rebel spokesperson, James Gatdet
A South Sudan court on Monday sentenced the former spokesman of the rebel
leader, Riek Machar to death, citing multiple provisions in the constitution as
the basis upon which the verdict was reached.
Dak was facing several charges, including accusations of treason.
The lead-defence lawyer in the case, Monyluak Alor Kuol described the verdict
as a political decision
"Gatdet's sentence is completely unacceptable and must be quashed immediately.
The death penalty is an abhorrent punishment and should never be used in any
circumstances," said Sarah Jackon, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional
Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
She described the sentence as "completely unacceptable" and must be quashed
immediately by the South Sudanese government.
"Gatdet received his death sentence at a time when he had had no legal
representation for more than a month. In any case, the death penalty has no
place in the modern era," Jackon further stated.
"Instead of sentencing people to death, the South Sudanese government should
immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to
abolishing this cruel and inhuman penalty, as have 105 other countries around
the globe," she added.
The campaign group said it opposes the death penalty in all cases without
exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the
offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner, describing
death penalty as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel,
inhuman and degrading punishment.
Dak was unlawfully transferred from Kenya to South Sudan in November 2016. He
spent over 7 months in solitary confinement before finally being charged with
abetment, treason, publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to
South Sudan, and undermining the authority of or insulting President Salva
(source for both: Sudan Tribune)
Rivers House of Assembly to relax death penalty in anti-cultism,
The Rivers State House of Assembly may relax death penalty in the anti-cultism
and anti-kidnapping bills.This is sequel to the outcome of reports of the
ad-hoc committee on three different bills currently being considered by the
House.The plan came after a public hearing was held last weekend with
recommendations to relax some of the penalties.
The bills: the Rivers State Secret Cult and Similar Activities (Prohibition)
Amendment No. 1 Bill, 2018; Rivers State Kidnap (Prohibition) Amendment No. 2
Bill, 2018 and the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Bill, 2018, are all
Chairman of the ad-hoc committee and Majority Leader, Martin Amaewhule, while
presenting report on the outcome of the public hearing for the 3 bills during
plenary yesterday, said that there were divergent views on the proposed
penalties both for the anti-cultism and anti-kinapping bills.
He said after due consideration, the committee recommends that the death
penalty should be relaxed in the anti-cultism and anti-kidnapping bills.On the
Neighbourhood Safety Corps Bill, Amaewhule stated that there was no provision
for secretary to the board in the bill, adding that the committee recommended a
secretary with 3-year tenure.
Also, on corporate bodies found to be sponsoring cult activities, he said the
proposed N50 million penalty remains, adding that the committee also recommends
that state government will confiscate any property where cult activities are
being carried out with the knowledge of the owner instead of demolishing.
Amaewhule, who stated that the committee adopted the provisions of the Nigerian
Civil Defence Corps Law on the issue of pre-action notice, disclosed that the
stakeholders hailed the state government for coming up with such amendments and
a bill that will help improve security of lives and property in the state. The
House later deferred debate on the 3 bills and adjourned to Monday, February
19, 2018. The Speaker, Ikunyi Owaji-Ibani, said the deferment is to allow
members study the reports and debate adequately.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:
Abu Dhabi boy rape-murder case: Court to hear appeal on March 7
The 33-year-old man was sentenced to death last November after he was found
guilty of rape and murder.
The Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal will reconvene for the second time to consider
the appeal of the death penalty verdict issued last year to a 33-year-old
The 33-year-old man was sentenced to death last November after he was found
guilty of rape and murder. A defence lawyer will be appointed for his case
which will be heard on March 7.
The child's parents attended the hearing which lasted all of 2 minutes,
reported Al Ittihad.
A defence lawyer was not present at the first hearing and the state had not
appointed one for the suspect.
The law requires that all capital offenders be represented by a lawyer for a
The murder happened last Ramadan when the body of the 11-year-old Pakistani
child was found on the terrace of the building where he lived with his father
The child had gone out to a nearby mosque to pray when he went missing and was
found the next morning on the rooftop with signs of strangulation and abuse on
The Juvenile and Family Prosecution division at Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution
launched an investigation to ascertain the identity of the attacker.
A photographic examination was conducted at the scene of the crime.
The suspect was confronted with the evidence that had been gathered, including
the forensic report confirming the appearance of bruises and injuries on the
The Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance had issued a death sentence to the
33-year-old Pakistani man for the rape and premeditated murder of the child.
He was also charged with paying Dh200,000 in blood money to the heirs,
crossdressing, and violating a traffic law.
(source: Khaleej Times)
MP Speaks Out Against Scholar's Death Sentence
Iranian MP Mahmoud Sadeghi has said that an Iranian scholar from Sweden who was
sentenced to death was denied sufficient opportunity to defend himself during
Ahmadreza Jalali (or Djalali), a resident of Sweden since 2009, is a physician
and researcher affiliated with the Karolinska Institute near Stockholm. While
on an official academic visit hosted by Tehran University, Jalali was accused
of collaboration with a hostile government and arrested in April 2016.
Since then, he has received the death penalty and his request for an appeal has
Sadeghi tweeted on February 14 that he had received a complaint from Jalali and
his initial review shows the convicted scholar was not given sufficient
opportunity to defend himself throughout the various phases of the trial.
An Iranian Revolutionary Court, headed by the notorious judge Abolqassem
Salavati, condemned Jalali to death in October 2017 on charges of spying for
Israel. The authorities also extracted a confession from Jalali on national
television that he had spied for Israel.
In his tweet, Sadeghi also wrote that in the complaint he received Jalali says
he confessed under duress.
In the past, Jalali had rejected all accusations, saying it was his
unwillingness to spy for Iran that had landed him in jail.
Sweden, the United Nations, international human rights organizations, and
several European universities have asked Iran to rescind the death sentence and
review Jalali's case.
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