March 7



BELARUS:

Rights Group Says Belarus Executed Convicted Killer Last October

A Minsk-based human rights group says that more than 4 months ago Belarusian authorities executed a man who had been convicted of killing his own children.

The Vyasna (Spring) human rights center quoted the mother of the convicted man, Kiryl Kazachok, as saying that she was only informed in recent days that he was executed in October.

Amnesty International in January had mentioned Kazachok's case in a statement urging Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to abolish capital punishment.

Kazachok was sentenced to death in December 2016 after a court in the southeastern city of Homel found him guilty of killing his 17-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter in order to punish his wife for wanting a divorce.

The court found that Kazachok was drunk when he carried out the killings.

Kazachok refused to appeal the sentence.

Belarus is the only country in Europe that carries out the death penalty.

The European Union and rights groups have for years been urging Belarus to declare a moratorium on the death penalty.

Activists say there are currently 5 convicted murderers on death row in Belarus.

In January, 2 men who initially were handed life sentences on murder charges were sentenced to death after a retrial in Minsk.

The EU sharply criticized Belarus at the time and repeated its call for Lukashenka's government to the abolish the death penalty.

According to rights organizations, more than 400 people have been sentenced to death in Belarus since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

(source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)








GAMBIA:

Why Gambia's progress should spur abolition of the death penalty in Africa



Not so long ago, abolition of the death penalty in Gambia seemed like a pipe dream.

In August 2012, under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh, 9 prisoners were executed in 1 night. Not even their families or lawyers were notified beforehand, while the UN described the killings as "arbitrary".

Yet last month, on the 53rd anniversary of the country's independence on 18 February, President Adama Barrow announced an official moratorium on executions as a step towards abolition of the death penalty.

Belatedly but resolutely, Gambia is moving away from this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Almost 1/2 of the 18 countries in West Africa have now abolished the death penalty .

But not all countries are progressing on the death penalty, unfortunately some are taking steps backwards.

In 2016, Sierra Leone's Minister of Internal Affairs publicly ordered the gallows to be cleaned and affirmed his support of the death penalty, despite the former Attorney General making a commitment before the United Nations in 2014 that Sierra Leone would abolish the death penalty. In 2017, a government white paper rejected the Constitutional Review Commission's recommendation to abolish the death penalty.

Cases such as this highlight the need for a push for abolition of the death penalty in Africa. The reasons for abolition are many. For one, there is no credible evidence to prove that the death penalty deters crime. Professor Jeffrey Fagan in a UN publication, published in 2015, stated: "Whether the offense is murder, a drug related crime or terrorism, the scientific evidence for deterrence is unreliable, inconclusive and, in many instances, simply wrong."

The death penalty is also often discriminatory and used disproportionately against the poor and minorities. Often those executed are not only those who committed the worst crimes, but those who are too poor to hire skilled lawyers to defend themselves, or those who face particularly harsh prosecutors or judges.

Amnesty International interviewed 107 death row prisoners out of 148 in Ghana between 2016 and 2017. Although 3/4 of prisoners had a lawyer at their trial, appointed by the underfunded Ghana Legal Aid Scheme, several prisoners said that their lawyers did not attend all the hearings and they did not have enough time to talk to them. A number said their lawyers asked for payment.

"My lawyer says he cannot work if he does not have money," one man told me. According to the Ghana Prison Service, only 12 death row prisoners have appealed since 2006. Half of these appeals had been successful. However, most on death row did not know about their right to appeal or how to get legal aid, and less than 1/4 of death row inmates had been able to appeal their cases.


A woman told me a private lawyer asked for 60 million cedi (more than US$12,000) to file an appeal. Another said his appeal had stalled when his lawyer asked for more money. The death penalty is irreversible and does not leave any possibility for rehabilitation of the offender. No criminal justice system is capable of deciding fairly, consistently and infallibly who should live or die. The risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated.


I worked on an appeal for the longest serving woman on death row in Sierra Leone. MK was arrested for killing her step-daughter in 2003, and sentenced to death in 2005. She did not receive legal advice or assistance from the time of her arrest until before her trial in 2005.

MK, who is illiterate, thumb-printed a confession which was later used during her trial. Granted a state-assigned defence lawyer at the beginning of the trial, she was able to discuss her case only 3 times and for no more than 15 minutes each.

Upon conviction, she was not informed that she had only 21 days to appeal. Furthermore, her file was not sent to the President's office for further review as required by law.

MK was pregnant and had a miscarriage whilst in prison. A new lawyer hired by a local NGO AdvocAid filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal in 2008, but this was rejected as it was found to be too late.

In November 2010, however, the Court of Appeal agreed to hear her case again. In March 2011 the Court of Appeal agreed with the AdvocAid lawyers representing MK that the various procedural irregularities during MK's trial rendered it invalid. MK's conviction was overturned and she was released after 6 years on death row.

On 22 May 2017, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights adopted a resolution on the Right to Life in Africa. It urged countries that have established a moratorium on executions to take steps towards abolition, and others to immediately establish a moratorium on executions.

In West Africa, no Anglophone country has abolished the death penalty, with Francophone and Lusophone countries taking the lead. President Barrow's announcement provides hope that perhaps Gambia will be the 1st.

(source: Amnesty International)








SAUDI ARABIA:

Family fears pregnant kin arrested In Saudi Arabia could be stoned over alleged adultery



Relatives of a girl who has been detained in Saudi Arabia for 2 years are appealing for help to bring her back home. The family fears she could be rotting away in a Saudi prison as she awaits the death sentence for having an affair with a fellow employee.

Lavina Mapenzi Ngolo left for Saudi Arabia in 2014 to work as a house girl after she was recruited by an employment agency in Likoni, Mombasa. Before leaving for the Middle East, she had promised to return after two years to take care of her son, who was 3 years old at the time and who she left in the care of her sister.

According to her sister, Esther Kaidza, the last the family heard of Ms Ngolo was in September 2016, when a woman called to say she had been arrested after her employer accused her of having an affair with a driver working in the same compound.

"There was first an Arab-speaking caller but there was a communication barrier. Then a Kenyan woman called to say Lavina was in custody because of a relationship she had with a driver and that she was pregnant," said Ms Kaidza.

The accusations could attract the death sentence under Saudi law.

The family reported the matter to Kenya's Foreign Affairs ministry but has not received any feedback.

"We sent relatives to the ministry immediately we received the report. We were promised action but we have not heard from Government since then,??? said Kaidza.

The family is now appealing to Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma to intervene. Scanty information There is scanty information about Ngolo's last known address in Saudi Arabia.

Her employer and recruitment agent cannot be traced.

"We have no details of the town, employer or recruitment agent. We are afraid for her life," said her brother, Katana Baya.

He said the last report the family got from Saudi Arabia was that Ngolo could have been sentenced by a Saudi court. The penalty for her alleged crime is still unknown.

Fred Kombo, a Kenyan resident in Dubai, said the distressed family had approached him for help but there were no details to facilitate a search.

"The recruitment agent who got her the job has since gone under and none of her contacts can be reached," said Mr Kombo.

He said Ngolo's family was right to fear for her life, especially if she was charged under Saudi's strict morality laws.

"If both (Ngolo and her boyfriend) were reported to the Saudi police for having an affair out of wedlock, they would have been promptly charged with the grave offence of adultery that attracts death by stoning," said Kombo.

(source: standardmedia.co.ke)



PAKISTAN:

Presidential pardon for Asia Bibi not in the cards says her defence counsel



Asia Bibi's defence counsel Advocate Saif-ul-Malook, has expressed hopelessness for clemency. He said that Asia Bibi might not get Presidential Pardon, during a DW interview; he also portrayed the sensitivity of the matter. Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian woman who has been on death row since 2010. Her appeal against capital punishment is pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Blasphemy case against Asia Bibi

In 2016, Asia Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih had written a letter to the President of Pakistan urging for a Presidential Pardon for his imprisoned wife. He requested the President to grant him permission to move his wife to France. Asia Bibi is currently behind the bars, as she has been since 2009.

Advocate Saif-ul-Malook said that she is fine, "I can assure you that she is being treated well. I visit her quite often. She has no complaints against the prison officials, who are all women." He said that he is hopeful for date for a final hearing on her appeal case.

Asia Bibi appeared before the Supreme Court in October 2016, but the hearing was postponed because one of the judges Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman withdrew on the pretext he had also been part of the bench hearing the case of Salman Taseer's murder. He said that Asia Bibi's case was not of much priority for the apex court.

Talking about the likelihood of a Presidential Pardon for his client he said: "I don't think so. The opposition from a large section of the Pakistani society is so immense that I don't think that Bibi would get a presidential pardon. According to the country's constitution, the president acts on the prime minister's advice, and I don't think any civilian premier in Pakistan can afford to make such a request to the president."

He said that the international pressure has not effectually had any impact on the case, but support from the international community encourages Asia Bibi. "You feel strong when your work is appreciated and supported. When I tell Bibi that so many countries want to grant her citizenship, it gives her courage and makes her forget that she has been imprisoned for 9 long years," he told DW.

Asia Bibi was accused of committing blasphemy by her co-workers back in 2009. Later on, in 2010, a court in district Nankana awarded her capital punishment, which was later challenged by Asia's defense counsel and was upheld by a 2-member bench of Lahore High Court in 2014. Her appeal case is currently pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

(source: christianpakistan.com)

*************

Death sentence proposed for false blasphemy accusers



A Senate committee Tuesday proposed anyone falsely accusing someone of blasphemy should be subjected to the same level of punishment as a person convicted of blasphemy .

The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights drafted proposals after several reports about the alleged misuse of blasphemy law in the country.

"Anyone falsely accusing someone of blasphemy should be subjected to the same punishment as a person convicted of blasphemy." the committee said in draft recommendations.

Blasphemy laws were introduced by former military dictator Ziaul Haq in 1980s and the maximum punishment under the laws is death. The laws do not provide punishment for false accusation, but it is given in Pakistan Penal Code, which is maximum 6-month imprisonment or a fine of Rs 1,000.

The committee also suggested a person interested in getting a blasphemy case registered at a police station should have to bring 2 witnesses in support of his charges.

Earlier, the Islamabad High Court in October had suggested parliament to enhance punishment for those misusing the blasphemy laws.

The Interior Ministry last month submitted a draft of proposed amendments which recommended that punishments for a false accusation of blasphemy should be the same as the punishment for whom he actually commits blasphemy.

The committee also forwarded 3 recommendations to Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for their comments on misuse of blasphemy law.

The Senate committee also proposed simplifying the procedure for filing mercy petitions against death penalties with the President aimed at providing relief on humanitarian grounds.

The committee also asked for forming an executive committee with the representation of all stakeholders, including National Commission for Human Rights, Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Human Rights, to see the complaints before sending those to the President.

The committee which met here with Senator Nasreen Jalil in the chair recommended that a person who forwards the application on behalf of the sentenced person should clearly define the reasons on which the plea has been filed.

An official of National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) briefed the committee that the applications are prepared by the police officials, but the relevant documents, including medical and judicial records to support the request, are not being annexed, which results in rejection of the plea.

The committee was further informed that in case of rejection, law gives the provision that another plea could be filed within 7 days on fresh grounds, adding that the causes of refusal are not usually mentioned in the order, which create problems for the applicant.

NCHR member Muhammad Shafiq stated 27 cases of death penalty are still pending. Discussing the Juvenile cases, the committee was informed that under the latest legislation, age of the child should be determined at the time of the filing of a case to avoid any complication at a later stage. The committee was informed that a new law has been passed by the National Assembly, which will soon be tabled in the Senate.

The committee also recommended the cases of around 40 accused apprehended in the Youhanabad church incident in Lahore 3 years ago should be transferred from anti-terrorism court to other routine courts.

The meeting was attended by senators Farhat Ullah Baber, Mufti Abdus Sattar, Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari and Mir Kabir Ahmed Muhammad Shahi, officials of Punjab police, representative of National Commission for Human Rights and officials of ministries of human rights and law and justice.

(source: The Nation)

***************

Senate body for simplifying procedure for filing death penalty mercy petition



A Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday recommended to simplify the procedure for filing mercy petitions against death penalties with the President, aimed at providing relief on humanitarian grounds.

The panel also asked for forming an executive committee with the representation of all stakeholders, including National Commission for Human Rights, Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Human Rights to see the complaints before sending those to the President.

The committee also forwarded 3 recommendations to Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for their comments on misuse of blasphemy law.

The committee also recommended that the cases of around 40 accused in the 2015 Youhanabad Church bombing case in Lahore, should be transferred from Anti-Terrorist Court to other routine courts.

The committee was attended by Senators Farhat Ullah Baber, Mufti Abdul Sattar, Mohammad Mohsin Khan Leghari and Mir Kabir Ahmad Mohammad Shahi, officials of Punjab police, representative of National Commission for Human Rights and official of Ministries of Human Rights and Law and Justice.

The committee which met here under the chairmanship of Senator Nasreen Jalil recommended that "the provincial government who forwarded the application on behalf of the sentenced person should clearly define the reasons on which the plea has been filed".

An official of National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), briefed the committee that the applications were prepared by the police officials but the relevant documents, including medical and judicial records, to support the request were not being annexed, which result in refusal of the plea.

The committee was further informed that in case of rejection, law gives the provision that another plea could be filed within seven days on fresh grounds, adding that since the causes of refusal were not usually mentioned in the order, hence creating problems for the applicant.

Mohammad Shafiq, member NCHR, stated that 27 cases of death penalty were still pending.

Discussing the juvenile cases, the committee was informed that under the latest legislation, age of the child should be determined at the time of filing of case to avoid any complication later. The committee was informed that a new law has been passed by the national assembly which will soon be tabled in the Senate.

(source: Gulf News)



EGYPT:

Egyptian Prosecutors Seek Death Sentence for Photographer



Prosecutors have requested a death sentence for Mahmoud Abou Zeid, an Egyptian photojournalist known as Shawkan who has been held for 4 1/2 years. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the complete disproportionality of the proposed sentence and reiterates its call for his immediate and unconditional release

The photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, alias Shawkan is one of the more than 700 defendants in a political mass trial in Cairo for whom the "maximum penalty" - death by hanging - was requested by the prosecution on 3 March.

Arrested in connection with an anti-government protest in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in August 2013, they are all accused indiscriminately of charges that include murder, attempted murder and membership of a banned organization (the Muslim Brotherhood).

"Seeking the death penalty for a photographer who simply covered an opposition demonstration is a political punishment, not an act of justice," RSF said. "Shawkan's only crime was trying to do his job as a photographer. He must be freed at once."

Shawkan was arrested on 14 August 2013 while on assignment for the British photo agency Demotix, covering the use of force by the security forces to break up the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square protest by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. His detention is regarded as arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Egypt is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in RSF's World Press Freedom Index.

(source: allafrica.com)

*********

Egypt parliament votes in favour of death penalty for using explosive materials in terrorist crimes



Egypt's parliament passed on Tuesday legislative amendments imposing the death penalty for using explosive materials in terrorist operations.

Both opposition and majority MPs agreed that the amendments are necessary to help the state win its battle against terrorist movements - particularly in North Sinai.

The government-drafted amendments of Egypt's penal code (law no.58/1937) were approved first by parliament's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee in a morning meeting.

Head of the committee Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa said the amendments to Article 102 of the penal code go in line with the state's strategy to toughen penalties on terrorism-related crimes.

"The new amendments address a wave of new crimes; that is the use of explosive materials by terrorist groups to cause as much damage as possible," said Abu Shoqa.

The MP said that the amendments also aim to impose penalties on those who do not report the illegal possession of explosive materials before they are used in terrorist attacks.

Abu Shoqa argued that the amendments come at a crucial time to serve the army and police's comprehensive campaign - dubbed Operation Sinai 2018 - against terrorist groups in North Sinai.

"We know that terrorists in this part of Egypt were able to acquire huge quantities of highly explosive materials that have led to killing tens of army and police personnel," said Abu Shoqa.

The 1st paragraph of the amended Article 102 of the penal code now states that "those who acquire, possess, import or manufacture bombs or explosive materials or the like without getting a prior licence will be sentenced to life imprisonment, and are to face the death penalty if the bombs and explosive materials are used for terrorism-related purposes."

The article says that the "interior minister will issue a decree outlining the materials that could be used in manufacturing bombs or explosives."

Family indictment

The 4th paragraph of the article received mixed reactions from MPs. It states that anyone "who knows about those who acquired explosives or bombs illegally and fail to report this to the concerned authorities in advance will be sentenced to prison."

The government and the State Council decided to exempt spouses who fail to report these crimes. Leftist MPs including Diaaeddin Dawoud said that such a provision would cause familial divisions and great rifts within families.

Other MPs, however, insisted that the article should cover spouses.

"It will be very difficult for wives or husbands of terrorists to report the latter's criminal intentions to authorities," said Dawoud.

Abu Shoqa, however, said that since the main objective of the amendments is to toughen penalties on these types of crimes to prevent terrorist acts, it would be illogical to exempt spouses from punishment.

"I want to point out that all members of the legislative and constitutional affairs committee have agreed that the new tough penalties should cover all those who [fail to report these crimes]... even if they are wives and husbands of the criminals," said Abu Shoqa.

Independent MP Mohamed Abu Hamed said that "in many terrorist crimes that have caused great and wide-scale damage, wives and parents of those who committed these crimes claimed that they had not known of the intentions of their husbands or sons beforehand, but prosecutors later found out that they had known in advance but refused to report them."

Abu Hamed argued that "as a result, we should view this amendment as a deterrent that aims to prevent some young people who join extremist groups from carrying out terrorist crimes."

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al said that although "in some tribal communities, such as in Upper Egypt, this issue will be a very sensitive one," penalties should still be imposed on family members who knew of the crime.

"As we have seen in recent years, many have used explosives and bombs to cause wide-scale damage and kill as many people as possible, and ?we have seen that relatives of most of these terrorists and criminals played a role in covering up their crimes," said Abdel-Aal, "so as a deterrent measure I see that it will be important to stiffen penalties to include close relatives to force families to report these crimes and thwart such dreadful attacks."

Abu Shoqa said that "the last paragraph of the amended Article 102 gives authorities the right to sequestrate means of transport, tools, lands, and buildings or any other things used to carry out these crimes."

"This is another deterrent measure, because it was discovered that most terrorists and terrorist movements were using desert farms or secluded buildings to hide weapons, bombs and explosives," said Abu Shoqa.

Speaker Abdel-Aal said that it is good that both opposition and majority MPs have voted in favour of the amendments.

"It is good that when the matter comes to supreme national interests, all agree to put these interests above any partisan or political considerations," said Abdel-Aal.

(source: Ahram Online)
_______________________________________________
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu

DeathPenalty mailing list
DeathPenalty@lists.washlaw.edu
http://lists.washlaw.edu/mailman/listinfo/deathpenalty
Unsubscribe: http://lists.washlaw.edu/mailman/options/deathpenalty

Reply via email to