April 6


Mutharika calls for dialogue on death penalty implementation: President urges Malawi police to go deeper in probing albino killers

President Peter Mutharika has called for a "honest national dialogue" if the country should resume capital punishment in response to murder rate so that people found guilty of killing especially persons with albinism be slapped with death penalty.

Mutharika says will not allow criminals to reverse the gains made in efforts to protect persons with albinims

Mutharika said this in a statement issued by Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani and made available to Nyasa Times on Thursday.

There have been fevered calls for country to lift the moratorium on executions following the resurfacing of gruesome attacks on persons with albinism.

Kalilani said the Malawi leader is asking for an "honest national dialogue" on whether the country should start implementing the death penalty or not on individuals sentenced to death for murder.

"President Mutharika is aware that there are some stakeholders who feel passionately that implementing the death penalty on individuals sentenced to death could go a long way as a deterrent to would-be offenders from attacking persons with albinism," said Kalilani in a statement.

"On the other hand, the President is also aware of the international community's stand against the death penalty," he said.

He said: "These 2 view points are on opposite extreme end of each other; hence the need for dialogue and a national consensus."

Malawi's law allow the death penalty for people convicted of murder. However, despite the law providing for a death sentence, it has not been applicable since 2004 when Bakili Muluzi was in power after dictatorship of Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Other presidents after Muluzi including the incumbent has not assented to execution because of human rights concerns with the United Nations campaigning for removal of such laws from the books.

The hangman's job has been vacant in Malawi since 1994 but applications could be invited if death sentence could be rmeted to perpetrators of crimes against people with albinism or murderers.

Mutharika's call for dialogue on death penalty follows the recent killing of Macdonald Masambuka, a young man with albinism in Machinga District, whose body was found on April 1, 2018 weeks after he was reported missing in early March.

The abduction and killing of Masambuka brings to 4 the number of attacks against persons with albinism in 2018.

State House said Mutharika is assuring all Malawians that the abduction and murder of Masambuka and similar unresolved cases will be "thoroughly investigated" with the speed they deserve and that all those implicated will be prosecuted "vigorously."

The President has expressed "great shock" and "sadness' about the news of re-emergence of attacks on persons with albinism in some parts of the country.

"This depressing development is happening at a time government had made tremendous progress in efforts to stop such barbarous acts,: reads the statement from State House.

The body of Masambuka, 22, who came from Nakawa Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Nkoola in Machinga, was found last Sunday buried within the district.

Police traced his body following confessions from suspects who had been arrested in connection with the crime.

7 suspects, reportedly including a police officer and six civilians, have been arrested for the killing.

The President has commended the professional Police officers that have this far worked day and night to establish what had befallen the late Masambuka since his disappearance.

Mutharika further encourages law enforcers to "dig deep" in investigating the killing of Masambuka and bring the alleged perpetrators to justice, saying no one implicated should be spared regardless of their social status.

"The President will not allow criminals in our communities to reverse the gains made in the efforts to protect persons with albinism. President Mutharika's Government remains seriously committed to protecting the human rights for all its citizens with special emphasis on vulnerable groups such as persons with albinism," reads the statement.

The President is calling for concerted effort from all stakeholders to understand what weaknesses in the earlier interventions have led to the re-emergence of the attacks on person with albinism, get to the root of the problem and collectively defeat it.

State House said Malawi government appreciates the support it has thus far been receiving from the international development partners, traditional leaders, the Judiciary and the clergy in protecting the lives and rights of people with albinism and holding rights' violators accountable.

(source: Nyasa Times)


Hundreds Put To Death In Iran Last Year

Hundreds of people were executed in Iran last year, including some who were minors at the time of their alleged crimes, and the grizzly practice of public executions continues, according to a report from the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC).

During the Persian calendar year between March 2017 and March 2018, 520 people, including six individuals who were juveniles when they allegedly committed their crimes, were executed in the Islamic Republic, according to official figures, though the IHRDC notes that some state-sanctioned executions are carried out in secret, making the real number is difficult to know.

According to IHRDC findings, Kabir Dehqan Zai, Javad Mir, Alireza Tajiki, Amir Hossein Pourja'far, Ali Kazemi, and Mahboubeh Mofidi were under 18 when they allegedly committed their crimes, and were executed last year.

Most of those executed during the period in question were sentenced to death for smuggling, narcotics, and murder. However, human rights groups say capital punishment is not limited to violent crimes. Adultery, non-violent drug offenses, sodomy (consensual or otherwise), apostasy (conversion to another religion from Islam), insulting the Prophet Muhammad, and vague national security crimes like 'sowing corruption on Earth' are all punishable by death.

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned Iran for its high rate of executions.

"With an average of more than one execution every day and more than one execution per 167,000 inhabitants in 2017, Iran remained the country with the highest number of executions per capita," wrote the NGO Iran Human Rights in its tenth annual report.

Based on the United Nation's annual report, 213 people were hanged in the Islamic Republic for smuggling narcotics in 2017, 202 for murder, 24 for rape and sexual related crimes, 16 for burglary and armed robbery, and 2 for political offenses.

These reports show that the number of executions in Iran is down compared with previous years, mainly thanks to a new law that has replaced the death sentence with long prison terms or fines for many drug offenses. The new law is expected to change the fate of 5,300 people currently on death row.

Despite the reduction in capital punishment sentences for drug offenders, human rights groups still criticize Iran's judiciary for the continued execution of those who were minors at the time of their alleged crimes.

"Iran is a signatory to 2 international treaties that prohibit capital punishment for offenses committed by minors. But that has not stopped the country from being the worst international offender when it comes to executing such juveniles," the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said February 16 in a statement.

Furthermore, UN Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville reaffirmed at a press conference, "The execution of juvenile offenders is unequivocally prohibited under international law."

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), only Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, have executed child offenders since 2013.

Civil society activists in Iran also denounce the continued practice of public hangings organized to attract as much attention as possible. According to HRW, Iranian authorities executed 31 people in public spaces in 15 provinces in 2017. The majority of those executed in public were convicted of murder and were sentenced to qisas (retribution in kind), followed by rape or sexual assault and Moharebeh (waging war against God), IHR reported.

(source: radiofarda.com)


A Gonabadi Dervish Sentenced to Death for Killing 3 Police Officers

The Gonabadi dervish, Mohammad Salas, who was arrested for killing 3 policemen, was sentenced to death after less than 2 months in custody and just 3 court sessions.

According to ISNA and the head of the Criminal Prosecutor's office in Tehran, Yavar Mohammad Salas was sentenced to death and imprisonment on the charge of "murdering 3 police officers and disturbing public order."

Mohammad Salas was arrested on February 19, 2018, after the protests of the Gonabadi dervishes. He was charged with the murder of 3 police officers by running over them by a bus.

The 3rd trial for Mohammad Salas was held on Sunday, March 18 and he denied the allegations against him and claimed that he didn't kill the police officers deliberately and he just wanted to drive away without an intention to kill anyone.

Branch 9 of the Criminal Court of Tehran issued the verdict after less than 2 months of Mohammad Salas's arrest while he wasn't in touch with his lawyer during the 1st trial, and during the 2nd trial, his lawyer couldn't defend him because he had not studied the case.

The clashes broke out on February 19 while a group of Gonabadi dervishes were protesting in front of a police station. Hundreds of them were arrested and at least 1 of them died during his detention. Furthermore, 3 police officers were killed after a bus ran over them. The Islamic Republic news sources identified the bus driver as Mohammad Salas, and a video was broadcast on TV showing him in a hospital when he confessed to his offense.

It should be noted that some of the Gonabadi dervishes who were present at the scene claimed that Mohammad Salas was arrested before the attack on the police officers. This claim has not been confirmed so far.

(source: Iran Human Rights)


Dhaka seeks death penalty for drug traffickers

Bangladesh wants to punish methamphetamine traffickers with the death penalty, officials said yesterday, as authorities confront the growing popularity of the dangerous and addictive drug.

The proposal to crackdown on the spread of methamphetamine, known locally as "yaba", comes after Bangladesh seized more than 40mn pills of the narcotic in 2017 -0 double the previous year.

Authorities want to elevate yaba to a Class A banned substance, meaning traffickers would face the death penalty instead of life behind bars.

"We'll raise the punishment for yaba trafficking. In the new law the maximum punishment will be (the) death sentence," Jamaluddin Ahmed, the head of Bangladesh's narcotics control department, told AFP in the capital.

Bangladesh law enforcement say the drugs are smuggled across the porous border from Myanmar.

Ahmed said traffickers had been more active since August, when Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar began pouring into Bangladesh.

Gangs had been using the Rohingya as mules and hiding drugs in fishing boats used to ferry the persecuted Muslims to safety.

"Recently there has been such a huge inflow of yaba from Myanmar that it has become increasingly difficult for us to control it. As a result, its use has also increased," Ahmed said.

Raids of fishing boats have uncovered huge hauls of the drug.

Authorities said last week that 9 mn yaba tablets were seized in less than 3 months as the refugee influx reached its peak.

Nearly 2 mn pills were discovered in a single haul.

Towfique Uddin Ahmed, a director at the narcotics control department, said authorities estimate $600mn worth of yaba could be sold on Bangladesh's streets this year.

One senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said "drastic action" like the violent crackdown on drug users and dealers in the Philippines could be needed to stamp out the drug.

"Some (traffickers) should be put in the crosshairs. We have come to that point," he said.

(source: Gulf News)


Local / SC seeks Assam reply on 'rights violation' of death row convicts----SC seeks Assam reply on 'rights violation' of death row convicts

The Supreme Court has sought response from (Prisons) of 10 states, including Assam, on the issue of alleged violation of human rights of prisoners awarded death sentence.

The DGPs (prisons) have also been asked to reply on the issue of solitary confinement, legal representation, visitation rights of prisoners' families and psychiatric consultation of death row convicts.

A bench of Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked DGP (prisons) of the 10 states - Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab, Delhi, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and - to reply to the letter of amicus curiae advocate Gaurav, who has raised the issue of alleged violation of prison manual and human rights of death row prisoners.

"We would require the Director General (Prisons) to respond to the communication sent by amicus curiae since it concerns human rights of prisoners who are in custody and who have been awarded death sentence," the bench said. The bench has sought the replies by May 8.

Agarwal has written a letter to officials of the 10 states after Anup Surendranath, an assistant professor at in Delhi, moved the apex court with an interlocutory application seeking intervention on the alleged violation of rights of prisoners. He had raised various concerns about violation of certain provisions of state prison manuals and human rights of prisoners ,especially those have been awarded death penalty.

As a follow-up to Surendranath's application, Agarwal wrote to the concerned DGP (prisons) on March 13, seeking their responses to the issues concerned.

The apex court had earlier voiced concern on the issue of overcrowding of prisons across the country, saying prisoners have human rights and they can't be kept like animals. It had termed the situation as "extremely unfortunate" and said it is was "complete lack of commitment" on part of state government and union territories towards human rights of prisoners.

The top court is hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country.

The Supreme Court had on February 21 asked the National Legal Services Authority to look into the issue of overcrowding of prisons and furnish figures regarding the population in jails where occupancy was over 150% as on December 31 last year before it. It had earlier expressed shock at the large number of people languishing in jails in "complete violation" of their rights despite recommendations for their release by the legal services authority and had termed the situation as unacceptable.

(source: kaplanherald.com)

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