Aug. 15


Iranian Regime Continues to Use the Death Penalty

The Iranian regime’s use of the death penalty as a punishment is something that concerns human rights organisations all over the world. Despite constant calls for the Iranian regime to stop resorting to the use of execution, the practice still continues on a regular basis.

It was reported that 2 prisoners were hanged on Saturday 10th August. The prisoners were not named in state media, but they were incarcerated in the central prison of Mashhad.

Last week, five prisoners in the Raja’i Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison in the city of Karaj were hanged. They were transferred to solitary confinement before their executions took place. They have been identified as Mohammad-Reza Shekari, Yousof Zakeri, Majid Arabali, Hossein Panjeh-Maryam and Bahram Tork.

Iran Human Rights Monitor has reported that there have been 39 executions during the month of July. Four of these were women and one was done in public. The human rights organisation said that executions took place in a number of prisons across the country.

The organisation’s annual report for 2018 said that there were almost three hundred executions that year alone. At least 4 of these were women and 10 were political prisoners. Furthermore, a handful of these executions were on prisoners who were minors at the time of the alleged crime.

The Iranian regime uses execution as a means of supressing the people and trying to threaten them into silence. However, the people of Iran have been so badly mistreated by the regime for so many years that they are risking everything – arrest, torture, imprisonment and execution – to make sure that their voices are heard.

The human rights situation in the country is deplorable and the most basic of freedoms are denied to the people. Minorities face harsh discrimination, especially religious and ethnic minorities. Human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, women and many more sectors of society are targeted by the regime that is unable to cope with the high levels of discontent and dissent.

The people have been calling for regime change because they know that the only way they will ever have their human rights respected is if the regime falls and is replaced by an alternative that will not discriminate.

Human rights organisations have drawn attention to the Iranian regime’s use of violence against protesters. Amnesty International highlighted the mistreatment of the people of Iran in its annual human rights report. It said that during the major nationwide protests in which tens of thousands of Iranian men and women protested about their situation, thousands were arrested.

Iranians across the country took to the streets to protest against the repression, poverty and corruption that they face. During the protests, the security forces were seen beating protesters, using water cannons and tear gas, and firing on them. No one has been held responsible for the brutality against the protesters.

Amnesty International said that Iran is one of “the world’s most prolific users of the death penalty” and deplored its practice of executing individuals that were under the age of 18 at the time the alleged crime was committed.



France Clashes With UN Human Rights Expert Over ISIS Suspects' Trials in Iraq

The French government is pushing back on criticism from a U.N. human rights expert over the fact French citizens who joined ISIS are standing trial in Iraq, a country with a death penalty.

Agnès Callamard, the U.N. “special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions,” urged Paris this week to repatriate seven French jihadists who have been sentenced to death in Iraq.

Public opinion in France remains opposed to the repatriation of French jihadists. ISIS has carried out several deadly attacks in France, including those in late 2015, when terrorists killed 130 people over 3 hours at a concert hall, sports stadium and restaurants in the French capital.

Callamard, who met with the jihadists in prison, sent a letter to the French government criticizing the suspects’ transfer early this year from Syria – where they had been held by Kurdish forces – to Iraq.

“France and the [anti-ISIS] coalition organized and sponsored this,” she charged, adding that the Syrian Kurds who had been holding them had opposed the transfer, favoring instead the establishment of an international tribunal in northeastern Syria, to deal with captured jihadists.

According to media accounts, the Kurds had little choice but to comply, as they lacked the resources to put the suspects on trial themselves – and in any case, France and other countries refused to allow Kurdish courts to try their nationals, since the Kurdish administration is not internationally recognized.

“There are serious allegations that the sentences were handed down following unfair trials, with the accused having no adequate legal representation or effective consular assistance,” Callamard wrote.

She noted that France does not want to judge its citizens who joined ISIS, but at the same time is opposed in principle to the death penalty.

Responding to the letter, the French foreign ministry of foreign affairs denied any involvement on the part of the French government in the transfer of the suspects to Iraq.

It said Callamard’s accusations were not supported by the facts, dismissing them as “pure speculation.”

It added that French jihadists imprisoned in Iraq have the same rights as French citizens in the same situation anywhere else in the world, and said consulate officials were closely following the cases.

FranceInfo TV this week said it had interviewed a Kurdish judge in Syria who, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Kurds had not wanted to transfer the French jihadists to Iraq – a country with the death penalty – but that France and the coalition organized and sponsored the transfers.

Callamard told the Le Monde daily that she found claims of France’s involvement to be credible, saying that the jihadist suspects told their families and lawyers they had seen French officials during their transfer. She said she also obtained testimonies from several unrelated sources in Syria and Iraq.

French lawyer Nabil Boubi, who represents seven of the jihadists imprisoned in Iraq, has for months been seeking answers to questions about how they had ended up in Iraq, and what role France had played.

Boubi has also criticized the speed of the trials, saying trial hearing typically lasted 20 minutes, with between 1 and 3 minutes of deliberation for each case. No French lawyer representing the men had been allowed access to them, he said.

The French government has not commented on claims, reported earlier this summer, that Iraq had offered to commute the death sentences in return for military equipment and millions of dollars from France.

Callamard charged that if France was involved in the prisoner transfers, that would have been a violation of “an absolute norm in international law which is that a state without the death penalty can in no way transfer an individual to a country where it continues to be applied.”

France abolished the death penalty in 1981 and has traditionally opposed the executions of its citizens in other countries.



Man on death row for allegedly murdering 12-year-old boy set free by Bombay HC----The court acquitted the convict of all charges, saying the prosecution had failed to prove the offences against him ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

The Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday set free a 26-year-old embroidery worker, who was on death row for purportedly kidnapping and murdering the 12-year-old son of his former employer.

A bench led by justice BP Dharmadhikari acquitted Imtiyaz Ahmad Mohammed Sadik Ali Shaikh of all charges levelled against him after noting that the prosecution had failed to prove the offences against him “beyond reasonable doubt”. The bench also acquitted his purported accomplice, Azad Mehrunddula Ansari, 28, for want of satisfactory evidence. According to the prosecution, Shaikh, Ansari and three others, including a minor, allegedly abducted Shree, the son of Shaikh’s former employee, Rajesh Bhadange, on May 27, 2012. They demanded a ransom of Rs 25 lakh from Bhadange, who runs an embroidery workshop at Dharavi. Shree’s body was recovered from a drain in Bhiwandi, a day after the 5 men were apprehended on June 5, 2012.

Except the minor, the other four were tried for kidnapping and murdering the minor. An additional sessions judge, had on May 23, 2018, convicted Shaikh and Ansari and sentenced them to life imprisonment, while acquitting the other two. Shaikh and Ansari had then challenged their conviction in the HC.

Their appeals were heard for confirmation of Shaikh’s death sentence.

The HC acquitted both of them of all the charges. It said the prosecution had failed to prove that the phone from which ransom calls were made was used by the accused.

(source: Hindustan Times)


Mental illness issues could make death penalty impossible for Kyoto Animation arsonist

Immediately following the deadly arson attack on anime production company Kyoto Animation last month, police apprehended 41-year-old Shinji Aoba, who was taken into custody near the scene of the crime while saying “They stole my novel” and “I spread the gasoline and lit it with a lighter.”

Aoba, who also suffered burns in the incident, has been hospitalized, and is yet to be formally arraigned. The circumstances under which he was taken into custody, though, as well as security footage of him pushing a cart with two canisters of gasoline in the vicinity of Kyoto Animation’s Fushimi studio prior to the attack, leave little room in which he could plausibly deny being the arsonist. However, his culpability, in a legal sense, could be limited.

In a press conference held the day after the attack, Ryoji Nishiyama, head of the Kyoto Prefectural Police’s First Investigation Department, said “We have information indicating [Aoba] has a mental illness.” The exact nature of the purported illness has yet to be disclosed, but Japanese news organization Daily Shincho spoke with several psychological and legal experts as to how Aoba’s mental health could affect what legal repercussions he could face.

Masaru Wakasa, a lawyer who previously served as vice-director of the Public Prosecutors Office’s Tokyo’s Special Investigation Department, says that if Aoba is found t have been acting under a diminished mental capacity while carrying out the attack, there’s a chance he could be found not guilty, in accordance of Article 39 of the Japanese penal code.

Prominent psychiatrist Tamami Katada said that Aoba exhibited signs of what could be schizophrenia or castrophrenia, also known as “thought withdrawal,” in which a person believes that ideas are being forcefully taken from the their mind by outside forces. Katada goes on to say that such a delusion could have fed into a persecution complex and fueled a desire for violent revenge, culminating in the attack. It’s not clear, though, if Katada’s comments were made before or after Kyoto Animation confirmed that had received a submission Shinji Aoba in one of its regularly held novel-writing competitions.

However, Konan University law professor Osamu Watanabe holds that Aoba’s actions are consistent with someone who was well aware of the lethal effects they would have, and went through with them anyway. He cites the premeditated nature of the attack, which required the purchase and transportation of a large quantity of gasoline, the bag of other tools of destruction, hammers and bladed instruments that Aoba was carrying, and that he was heard by witnesses shouting “Die” during the attack. “It would be strange to say he was even slightly incapable of understanding his actions, and I believe there is ample justification to pursue the death penalty.”

Wakasa is inclined to agree with Watanabe, pointing to how Aoba verbally admitted to setting the fire while he was being apprehended, though the possibility remains that even if Aoba is found guilty, a psychiatric evaluation could make the maximum enforceable punishment life in prison.

Meanwhile, with the specifics of prosecution out of their hands, some Kyoto Animation artists are focusing on their own “ultimate counterattack,” continuing to pour their passion into creating animated works of the quality their fallen comrades strove for.



Tolentino wants white-collar crimes punished by death

White-collar crimes that “leads to massive deception” should also be punishable by death, neophyte Senator Francis Tolentino said on Wednesday.

During the Senate session hours after the Blue Ribbon Committee conducted a hearing into the alleged corruption and anomalies within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Tolentino called for the expansion of crimes covered by the death penalty.

“There might probably be some elbow room to expand the broad definition of where death penalty should fit in,” the senator said during a manifestation.

“After listening to the fraud, the deceit, the lies, the white-collar activities, crimes to that effect in other jurisdiction, this representation is of the belief that an expansion of the death penalty proposals right now should probably include white collar crimes that lead to massive deception; and fraudulent schemes that should have been prevented” he added.

In June, the Inquirer reported that PhilHealth had lost P154 billion due to overpayments and fraudulent transactions.



Malawi judge sentences 3 to death for albinism murder

3 people have been sentenced to death in Malawi for the murder and mutilation of a person with albinism, a court official confirmed on Wednesday, a sanction the judge said would serve as a strong deterrent.

Malawi is one of the most dangerous countries for people with the condition, who are targeted for ritual killings because of a belief that their body parts can increase wealth.

Douglas Mwale, Sophie Here and Fontino Folosani killed Prescott Pepuzani in 2015, using a metal bar and a hoe handle before chopping off his hands and legs and burying him in Mwale’s garden in Mchinji district, Central Malawi.

Passing sentence on Tuesday at the High Court in Mchinji, Judge Esmey Chombo said it would act as a strong deterrent to others and help put an end to the crime.

Another man was sentenced to death in Malawi in May for murdering a teenager with albinism - the 1st time the death penalty had been handed down in such a case - though he has not been executed.

Malawi operates a moratorium on the death penalty and last carried out an execution in 1992, according to research by Cornell Law School.

The southern African country is home to up to 10,000 people with albinism, a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.

Their body parts can fetch high sums in an underground trade concentrated in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania.

There have been more than 160 recorded attacks in Malawi including 22 murders since November 2014, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

The government has denied accusations by rights groups that it is doing little to stop the violence.

Overstone Kondowe, who heads the African Union for People with Albinism, said he hoped the sentence would curb the attacks.

“This is really a big step and we want to encourage the Malawi government to continue (with tough penalties),” he said.

“Whether they will really be hanged or not, it’s not significant. The public will still get the message.”

Kondowe urged the courts to take a similarly tough stance with other pending cases, adding that the murders of people with albinism had fallen in Tanzania, which has imposed the death penalty in similar cases.

(source: Reuters)
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law

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