April 15




NIGERIA:

Amnesty International urges Nigerian govt to issue moratorium against executions

Amnesty International advises Lagos govt against executing death row inmates


Amnesty International has called on the Nigerian government to issue a legally binding official moratorium against executions as a first step towards the abolition of the death penalty in the country.

It said this will be in line with global trends.

The country director of the civic group, Osai Ojigho, said this during a launch of Amnesty International Global Report titled “Death sentences and Executions 2017” in Abuja on Thursday.

According to her, Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind and must show a great commitment for protecting lives and ensuring that the criminal justice system is fair.

She said there is need for reforming the judiciary in order to strengthen the system.

“Nigeria imposed the highest number of death sentences in the sub-Saharan Africa region in 2017,” she said, with 621 people sentenced to death.

She said Amnesty International believes that these death penalties are retrogressive, unjustifiable as there is no evidence to suggest the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishment

“In our reports, it is obvious that executions are reducing and death sentences with death penalty is also reducing but the reverse is the case in few countries in the world and unfortunately Nigeria is among those countries with increasing rate in death sentences and the potential for death penalty is still a risk many people face in the country.”

She said it is essential for the federal government to invest in security agencies on the use of technology in the prevention of crime thereby limiting people going through the justice system that is weak, which can be described as discriminatory against the poor and the vulnerable.

Similarly, Damian Ugwu, a researcher with the group said 2285 people were on death row as at December 31, 2017 which includes four foreign nationals.

According to him, Nigeria recorded no known executions in 2017 as compared to 2016 where it executed three death row inmates, although, 621 people were sentenced to death in 2017 compared to 527 in 2016.

Mr Ugwu said death penalty is discriminatory and often used against the most vulnerable in society which includes the poor, ethnic and religious minorities and people with mental disabilities.

“Some government use it to silence their opponents. Where justice system are flawed and unfair trials rife, the risk of executing an innocent person is ever present and when death penalty is carried out, it is final. Mistakes that are made cannot be unmade. An innocent person may be released from prison for a crime they did not commit, but an execution can never be reversed,” he said.

But a legal practitioner, Olayinka Ogunmodimu, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday evening, said death penalty should not be totally abolished.

“Once someone is found guilty of a capital offence, the governor should not have the discretion of choosing whether or not to sign. Death penalty should not be abolished. Once a life has been taken, the punishment can only reduce from death sentence to life imprisonment,” Mr Ogunmodimu said.

“By Nigerian law, the death penalty will serve as justice for someone who has taken the life of another but the disadvantage is that most governors refuse to sign death warrants by the reason of values, culture and beliefs as they prefer the inmates to die a natural death.”

He said Nigeria lacks effective legal system that can quickly dispense justice without considering factors like favouritism, power among others while noting that the judiciary system needs to be strengthened.

“A crime can be prosecuted in Nigeria for 20 years but (that) cannot happen in a developed country. The only case in Nigeria’s legal system in which you can know the starting and finishing is election petition and it is because the law have said that it must start and finish within 180 days,” he said.

“It is a matter of here and there, when you look at event around you, one might have to agree with existing laws in which death penalty is part of the punishment but Amnesty International is right to say that in most cases, most people at the back end of the law are always victims of the law. Let us look at the case of Offa, will we say death penalty is not an option if the offenders were captured?” Ola Adeosun, a legal practitioner and political analyst said

Mr Adeosun said the law should be reviewed that the manner of offence should be put into consideration before pronouncing death penalty.

“Someone who robbed with a toy gun, blade and knife if arrested, prosecuted and found guilty will be sentence to death, for me it is too harsh. The manner of the offence should be put into consideration but there are some people who are serial murderers and since there are no forests to keep them, such people should be taken out legally,” he said.

He said most leaders in African countries sign all kinds of treaties without reading them, which is the problem the country faces in domesticating most international treaties.

Amnesty International is a world-embracing movement working for the protection of human rights. It is independent of all governments and is neutral in its relation to political groups, ideologies and religious dividing lines.

(source: premiumtimesng.com)




INDIA:

Over 100 death sentences recorded in India in 2017: Amnesty


Over 100 death sentences were handed out last year by courts in India which also expanded the scope of capital punishment by enacting new laws against hijacking, human rights watchdog Amnesty International said.

In 'The Death Sentences and Executions 2017' report released here yesterday, Amnesty said it has recorded at least 993 executions in 23 countries in 2017, down by four per cent from 2016 (1,032 executions) and 39 per cent from 2015 (when the organisation recorded 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 India, 109 death sentences were recorded in 2017. However, there were zero executions in the country last year.

Amnesty International recorded commutations or pardons of death sentences in 21 countries: India, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco/Western Sahara, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tunisia, the UAE, the US and Zimbabwe.

"Against international standards, India, Singapore and Thailand expanded the scope of death penalty by adopting new laws that would impose death sentence for hijacking, nuclear terrorism and corruption, respectively," it said.

In India, a total of 371 people were known to be under sentence of death at the end of 2017.

The report said that nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region carried out executions, down from 11 in 2016.

Indonesia and Taiwan did not implement any death sentences and India observed a hiatus on executions for the second year running.

The report added that a research by the Centre on the Death Penalty, National Law University, indicated that the courts in India imposed 109 new death sentences, including 51 for murder and 43 for murder involving sexual offences.

This represented a decrease in the total number of death sentences imposed (136 in 2016), as well as in those imposed for murder not involving other offences (87 in 2016).

2 new death sentences were imposed for drug-related offences.

The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016, which provided for the death penalty for hijacking resulting into death, came into force in July, the report said.

Amnesty recorded drug-related executions in four countries China (where figures are classified as a state secret), Iran, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

The secrecy that shrouded capital punishment in Malaysia and Vietnam made it impossible to determine whether executions for drug crimes occurred.

Singapore hanged eight people in 2017 all for drug-related offences.

There was a similar trend in Saudi Arabia, where drug-related beheadings rocketed from 16 per cent of total executions in 2016 to 40 per cent in 2017.

"Despite strides towards abolishing this abhorrent punishment, there are still a few leaders who would resort to 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," Amnesty International's Secretary General Salil Shetty said in the report.

He said the fact that countries continue to resort to death penalty for drug-related offences remains troubling.

"However, steps taken by Iran and Malaysia to amend their anti-drug laws go a long way towards showing that cracks are appearing, even in the minority of countries that still execute people," Shetty added.

(source: The New Indian Express)


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


Kathua rape case: Victim's family demands culprits be 'hanged for heinous crime', say they do not need CBI probe


As the Bakarwals make their way to the upper reaches of Jammu and Kashmir with their belongings, she trudges along burdened by the weight of her eight-year-old daughter's death.

"She was so beautiful and intelligent. I wanted her to be a doctor when she grew up," the biological mother of the girl reminisces.

The grief-stricken mother wishes for death penalty for the guilty. "My only wish is the culprits should be hanged for the heinous crime, so that no other family has to go through it," she said.

The girl was adopted by the woman's brother and his wife in Rasana hamlet of Kathua district when she was one year old.

Still in shock, she blames herself for leaving her daughter at brother's house. "Why was she killed? She was grazing cattle and taking care of horses. She was eight years old. Why did they kill her in such a brutal way. They should be given death sentence," she says.

The girl's father said she was at maternal uncle's home in Rasana. "The killers should be given death penalty. We do not need a CBI probe, we have faith in investigation by the Crime Branch," he said.

Jammu has been on tenterhooks since the brutal rape and killing of the girl belonging to the nomadic Muslim Bakarwal community. Her body was found in Rasana forest on 17 January, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.

The couple along with their two kids and cattle left their hamlet in Samba and in Round-Domail in Udhampur district as part of their annual trek to Sanasar mountainous belt. The mother said that earlier they had good relations with Hindus and lived in harmony with them.

"But after this incident, the relations have soured and we are fearful. We only want justice for her. She was our dear child. She was beautiful and we loved her," she said.

The parents wanted to take her back, teach her and make her a doctor, the mother said, adding that she was very intelligent.

"The prime minister had said "Beti Padhao Beti Bachao" but how are they teaching and saving girls like this," her adoptive father asks. "The ministers are supporting the rape accused, saying that they are innocent, but they are wrong," he said.

The biological father said the world knows that their daughter, who did not know about the difference between Hindus and Muslims, was wronged and murdered in most barbaric manner.

"The world and entire India knows it. They are supporting them. I do not say she was our only child, she was everyone's child. The incident should not be looked at through the religious lens," he said.

On 23 January, the government had handed over the case to the Crime Branch of the state police which formed a special investigation team and arrested eight people including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a head

constable.

The police have arrested eight people in the case, but the Bar Association has opposed the action, alleging targeting of minority Dogras.

(source: firstpost.com)





MOROCCO:

Amnesty International Morocco Accuses the Government of Using Religion for Political Agenda


Following the publication of Amnesty International annual report, 'The State of the World's Human Rights 2017/2018,' Amnesty International Morocco accused the El Othmani government of instrumentalizing religion to violate scores of human rights.

In a report published on April 13, Assabah said that the executive director of Amnesty International Morocco, expressed the human rights organization's concerns over the Moroccan government's use of religion for its own political ends.

The newspaper reports that the executive director the NGO's Morocco branch, Salah Abdellaoui, made his remarks during a conference on Thursday, April 12. Speaking about the 'rampant' human rights abuses, Mr. Abdellaoui reportedly criticized the government for its inflexibility on some articles in the civil and criminal codes.

Singling out the state of death penalty in Morocco, Salah Abdellaoui allegedly said that the government refuses to take bold steps to abolish capital punishment because of its desire to maintain its in power, especially as Moroccan officials reportedly fear that such 'revolutionary moves' would unsettle some conservative circles, undermining their authority.

According to Mr. Abdellaoui, while it harbors the ideological and emotional needs of a minority of the population, maintaining the death penalty frustrates the aspirations of the majority of Moroccans.

He also explained that the government's resolve to keep some people 'retarded in the criminal code' so as to 'toy with Moroccans' emotions and lure them in believing that keeping the law on death penalty is the surest way to prevent high criminality rates.'

In its 2017 report on the death penalty, Amnesty International pointed out that despite the existence of some positive signs mainly motivated by 'recent judicial reforms,' Morocco and North Africa in general are still faced with the reality of 'disturbing trends' that do not favor for human rights.

The report documented that, although Morocco has witnessed no execution in recent years, death sentences are still being issued. In addition, of the 90 people who were sentenced to death by 2017, over 15 death sentences were issued just last year alone.

In its general 2017 annual report, the group mentioned the repression of political dissent and the bleak prospects of freedom of expression, saying that the prevalence of 'Islamic tenets' in the country's laws and legal system prevents officials from a bold commitment to allowing more fertile grounds for the advancement of human rights.

This is not the first time that such claims are directed at the Justice and Development Party-led government. Since rising to the realm of the executive in 2011, the party has constantly been criticized for its Islamic leanings and a vision of society which opponents claim constitutes a major impediment to the consolidation of a secular way of life in Morocco.

(source: menafn.com)
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