Feb. 14


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 Commonwealth.

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 husband.

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 capital punishment.

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 precious metal.

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 Road.

Early in the morning of Monday June 13, 1887, Thomson was hanged at Boggo Road Gaol.

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 hangings.

"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 practice.

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 capital punishment.

"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 Harrison, England".

(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.

(source: alternet.org)


Chouhan urges HM to pass bill on capital punishment for accused in minor rape cases

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 of age.

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 rapists

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 Women's Day.

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 months.

"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.

(source: business-standard.com)


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 following day.

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 2017.

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.

(soruce: coconuts.co)


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 constitution.

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 her life."

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 Dak.

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 Kiir.

(source for both: Sudan Tribune)


Rivers House of Assembly to relax death penalty in anti-cultism, anti-kidnapping bills

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 executive bills.

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.

(source: guardian.ng)


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 Pakistani man.

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 fair hearing.

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 and stepmother.

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 his body.

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 child's body.

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 his trial.

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 been denied.

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.

(source: radiofarda.com)

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