Amnesty slams Pakistan military courts over death penalties
Amnesty International has slammed Pakistan's military courts for violating UN
principles and international fair trial standards in imposing death sentences.
Amnesty International's report -- Death Sentences and Executions 2017 -
released here on Thursday, expressed concern that Pakistan's military courts
"were run by military officers subordinate to the military chain of command -
and who had no formal legal training - in breach of the UN Basic Principles on
the Independence of the Judiciary".
"The charges against the defendants were not made public and those convicted
did not have the right to appeal to civilian courts," it said.
The report said that Pakistani military courts also sentenced civilians to
death and added that its special courts "whose proceedings did not meet
international fair trial standards imposed death sentences".
Pakistan's Field General Court Martial (FGCM) in April 2017 sentenced Indian
national Kulbhushan Jadhav to death on charges of espionage and sabotage.
India has denied that Jadhav worked for Indian intelligence agencies or that he
has worked in Pakistan. The Amnesty report did not specifically mention Jadhav.
"People continued to be sentenced to death or executed for crimes that did not
involve intentional killing and therefore did not meet the threshold of 'most
serious crimes', as prescribed by Article 6 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political rights," the report said.
Amnesty said that Pakistan carried out more than 60 executions in 2017, imposed
over 200 death sentences and there were more than 7,000 people on death row.
During 2016, Pakistan executed at least 87 people and imposed more than 360
death sentences, according to the report.
Briefing reporters, Amnesty International Senior Director for Law and Policy
Tawanda Mutasah said that death penalties have dropped steeply since a peak in
2015 when 326 people were executed.
(source: Khaleej Times)
Nigeria’s death sentences highest in sub-Saharan Africa
Nigeria imposed the highest number of death sentences in the sub-Saharan Africa
region in 2017 with 621 people put to death, Amnesty International has said.
The country bucked the trend seen elsewhere in the region, as Sub-Saharan
Africa made great strides in the global fight to abolish the death penalty with
a significant decrease in death sentences being imposed.
Guinea became the 20th state in sub-Saharan Africa to abolish the death penalty
for all crimes, while Kenya abolished the mandatory death penalty for murder.
Burkina Faso and Chad also took steps to repeal this punishment with new or
“The progress in sub-Saharan Africa reinforced its position as a beacon of hope
The leadership of countries in this region gives fresh hope that the abolition
of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is within reach.
Unfortunately, some states in Nigeria continue to expand the scope of death
sentences,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty in the
organisation’s 2017 global review of the death penalty.
There are a total of 2,285 people on death row in Nigeria, which is also the
highest in the region, though no executions were carried out in 2017.
Death sentences in the country have spiked massively over the past two years.
In 2015, 171 death sentences were handed down, while in 2016 there were 527.
Amnesty International recorded a drop in the number of executing countries
across Sub-Saharan Africa, from five in 2016 to two in 2017, with only South
Sudan and Somalia known to have carried out executions. However, with reports
that Botswana and Sudan resumed executions in 2018, the organisation
highlighted that this must not overshadow the positive steps being taken by
other countries across the region.
Elsewhere in Africa, The Gambia signed an international treaty committing the
country not to carry out executions and moving to abolish the death penalty.
The Gambian President Adama Barrow established an official moratorium
(temporary ban) on executions in February 2018.
Developments across Sub-Saharan Africa in 2017 exemplified the positive trend
recorded globally, with Amnesty International’s research pointing to a further
decrease in the global use of the death penalty in 2017.
Amnesty International recorded at least 993 executions in 23 countries in 2017,
down by 4% from 2016 (1,032 executions) and 39% from 2015 (when the
organisation reported 1,634 executions, the highest number since 1989).
At least 2,591 death sentences in 53 countries were recorded in 2017, a
significant decrease from the record-high of 3,117 recorded in 2016.
These figures do not include the thousands of death sentences and executions
that Amnesty International believes were imposed and implemented in China,
where figures remain classified as a state secret.
In addition to Guinea, Mongolia abolished the death penalty for all crimes
taking the total of abolitionist states to 106 in 2017.
After Guatemala became abolitionist for crimes such as murder, the number of
countries to have abolished the death penalty in law or practice now stands at
Only 23 countries continued to execute – the same number as in 2016, despite
several states resuming executions after a hiatus.
Significant steps to reduce the use of the death penalty were also taken in
countries that are staunch supporters of it. In Iran, recorded executions
reduced by 11% and drug-related executions reduced to 40%.
Moves were also made to increase the threshold of drug amounts required to
impose a mandatory death penalty.
In Malaysia, the anti-drug laws were amended, with the introduction of
sentencing discretion in drug trafficking cases. These changes will likely
result in a reduction in the number of death sentences imposed in both
countries in the future.
“The fact that countries continue to resort to the death penalty for
drug-related offences remains troubling. However, steps taken by Iran and
Malaysia to amend their anti-drugs laws go a long way towards showing that
cracks are appearing, even in the minority of countries that still execute
people,” said Salil Shetty.
Indonesia, which executed four people convicted of drug crimes in 2016 in an
ill-conceived attempt to tackle drug crime, did not carry out any executions
last year and reported a slight decrease in the number of death sentences
However, distressing trends continued to feature in the use of the death
penalty in 2017. Fifteen countries imposed death sentences or executed people
for drug-related offences, going against international law.
The Middle East and North Africa region recorded the highest number of
drug-related executions in 2017, while the Asia-Pacific region had the most
countries resorting to the death penalty for this type of offence (10 out of
Amnesty International recorded drug-related executions in four countries –
China (where figures are classified as a state secret), Iran, Saudi Arabia and
The secrecy that shrouded capital punishment in Malaysia and Viet Nam made it
impossible to determine whether executions for drug crimes occurred.
Singapore hanged eight people in 2017 – all for drug-related offences and
double the amount in 2016. There was a similar trend in Saudi Arabia, where
drug-related beheadings rocketed from 14% of total executions in 2016 to 40% in
“Despite strides towards abolishing this abhorrent punishment, there are still
a few leaders who would resort to the death penalty as a ‘quick-fix’ rather
than tackling problems at their roots with humane, effective and evidence-based
policies. Strong leaders execute justice, not people,” said Salil Shetty.
“The draconian anti-drug measures widely used in the Middle East and
Asia-Pacific have totally failed to address the issue.”
Governments also breached several other prohibitions under international law in
2017. At least five people in Iran were executed for crimes committed when they
were under 18 and at least 80 others remained on death row, and people with
mental or intellectual disabilities were executed or remained under sentence of
death in Japan, the Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore and the USA.
Amnesty International recorded several cases of people facing the death penalty
after “confessing” to crimes as a result of torture or other ill-treatment in
Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In Iran and Iraq, some of these
“confessions” were broadcast on live television.
Although the overall number of executing countries remained the same, Bahrain,
Jordan, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates resumed executions after a hiatus. In
Egypt, recorded death sentences increased by about 70% compared to 2016.
Court awards death sentence to 9 in Gunupur triple murder case
Pronouncing the quantum of punishment in the two-year-old Gunupur murder case,
in which e members of a family were brutally thrashed to death and then buried
on suspicion of practicing witchcraft, the Additional District and Sessions
Judge (ADJ) Court here awarded death sentence to all 9 accused on Friday.
“ADJ Gunupur Dr Subhendu Kumar Pati, who adjudicated the case, awarded death
penalty to all 9 involved in the case”, confirmed Krushna Chandra Senapati,
Assistant Public Prosecutor to media.
However, the counsel of the accused Uma Chandra Patnaik expressed his
dissatisfaction over the ADJ Court judgment and said he would move to High
Court against the verdict.
On the other hand Milita Sabara, daughter of the deceased couple, before whose
eyes the ghastly murder took place, expressed her satisfaction over the ADJ
court’s judgment in the case. She thanked government, police, and media for
The convicts identified as Ajanta Sabara, Bubhuna Sabara, Maluku Sabara,
Podantu Sabara, Iru Sabara, Lakia Sabara, Degun Sabara, Dasanta Sabara and
Dalsa Sabara attacked the family in Kitung village under Putasingh police
station in Rayagada district on September 9, 2016. They killed Asina Sabara,
his wife Amai along with their elder daughter Ashamani and buried their bodies
in a nearby forest. Later, they dug out the bodies and set those to fire to
uvenile Offender in Danger of Execution
Mohammad Reza Haddadi, a juvenile offender who was arrested for murder during a
robbery at the age of 15, is in danger of execution.
According to a close source, prison authorities have told Mohammad Reza
Haddadi’s father that if they fail to obtain the consent of the plaintiff,
their son might be executed very soon.
Mohammad Reza Haddadi, currently held at Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, was born
on March 17, 1988, and has been in jail since 2002. He is convicted of murder
during a robbery along with 3 other people.
Haddadi had pleaded guilty at first, but later he explained that his friends
promised him some money to admit the charge because he was a minor and he
wouldn’t receive a death penalty.
The juvenile offender’s lawyer, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, told Iran Human Rights,
“Last year, we were able to delay the execution. The Supreme Court has to apply
Article 91 which states that if a juvenile confesses, it should be made clear
to him that what would be the consequences. It means the juvenile must be fully
aware of his confession and the consequences. A judge in Branch 101 of the
criminal court of Kazerun refused to apply Article 91 and claimed that the
juvenile was certain about his confession. Whereas, the forensics should decide
whether the defendant was mature or not and whether he understood the
consequences of his actions. If the judge had accepted our request, we could
have saved Mohammad Reza Haddadi.”
The lawyer continues, “I asked the head of the Judiciary to permit the review
of the case because there are some pieces of evidence which prove the defendant
is innocent. Mohammad Reza comes from a poor family, and the other 3 deceived
him. He only made that confession because he was ignorant and he needed the
money they promised him for his family.”
It is worth mentioning that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which
Iran has signed, clearly bans execution and life imprisonment of juveniles.
In 2017, at least 5 juvenile offenders were executed in Iran. Furthermore, at
least 3 juvenile offenders were executed in January 2018 in Iran.
(source: Iran Human Rights)
Arab drug dealer sentenced to death
A Syrian expatriate man was sentenced to capital punishment in a drug-dealing
The Criminal Court convicted the defendant of using and selling drugs and
handed him down the death verdict, said Alrai.
An anti-narcotic squad raided his bedroom and seized a high-precision scale for
weighing drugs and a case containing heroin, in addition to other items.
The convict underwent a drug test which showed traces of heroin, morphine and
TALKING HEADS Inside the gruesome beheading experiments that ‘proved’ victims
stayed conscious for up to 30 SECONDS after the chop
Reports of severed heads reacting angrily to be slapped and shouted at in
France after being guillotined fuelled interest in the grisly subject
This is the astonishing story of the grisly experiments which claimed to prove
that severed heads remain conscious for up to 30 SECONDS after being
Throughout the 19th and 20th Century, French doctors investigated whether the
freshly-executed victims stayed alive in the moments following their death.
One noted case involved murderer Charlotte Corday who was publicly executed in
According to reports at the time, Corday’s severed head was lifted up by the
executioner and slapped across the face.
And to the shock of the baying crowd, the victim’s face blushed and appeared
angry at being struck.
But the most famous case was conducted by a Dr Beaurieux who claims a severed
head responded to him when he shouted in its face.
The severed head of serial killer Diogo Alves is kept in a jar in a medical
school in Lisbon
The severed head of serial killer Diogo Alves is kept in a jar in a medical
school in Lisbon
Beaurieux documented the experiment, conducted on June 28, 1905, with the body
part of criminal Henri Languille in his medical journal.
He wrote: “The head fell on the severed surface of the neck and I did not
therefore have to take it up in my hands, as all the newspapers have vied with
each other in repeating.
"Here, then, is what I was able to note immediately after the decapitation: the
eyelids and lips of the guillotined man worked in irregularly rhythmic
contractions for about 5 or 6 seconds.
"I waited for several seconds. The spasmodic movements ceased.
“The face relaxed, the lids half closed on the eyeballs, leaving only the white
of the conjunctiva visible, exactly as in the dying whom we have occasion to
see every day in the exercise of our profession, or as in those just dead.
“It was then that I called in a strong, sharp voice: ‘Languille’ I saw the
eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions."
Dr Beaurieux compared the glare that Languille gave him with "people awakened
or torn from their thoughts.
He continued: “Next Languille's eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine
and the pupils focused themselves.
“I was not, then, dealing with the sort of vague dull look without any
expression, that can be observed any day in dying people to whom one speaks: I
was dealing with undeniably living eyes which were looking at me. "
Beaurieux said he called out for a second time, and again Languille's eyes
fixed on his.
He added: “The eyelids lifted and undeniably living eyes fixed themselves on
mine with perhaps even more penetration than the first time.”
The doctor then called out a third time but by this time Languille was most
certainly dead and did not respond.
He said: “The whole thing had lasted 25 to 30 seconds.”
By the mid-20th Century there was debate within France whether the guillotine
was in fact as humane as its supporters claimed.
In 1950s, a government study by doctors Piedelievre and Fournier concluded that
death by guillotine "is not instantaneous.”
The report, titled Justice Without the Executioner, added: “Every vital element
survives decapitation. (It is) a savage vivisection followed by a premature
The last man to guillotined in France was Tunisian-born killer Hamida Djandoubi
in 1977 – who tortured and murdered his former girlfriend in 1974.
Djandoubi became the last person in western Europe to be executed by the state
while France officially abolished capital punishment in 1981.
French authorities had already banned public executions after the beheading of
Eugène Weidmann in 1939 which was secretly filmed by a member of the
"hysterical" crowd in Versailles.
However, there is one decpitated head which still "lives on" at the University
of Lisbon’s Faculty of Medicine.
Diogo Alves was Portugal's 1st serial killer and one of the last people to be
executed in the country in 1841.
His severed head, which was actually cut off by and studied by scientists
following his hanging, is now preserved in a glass jar in the medical school.
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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