#stoptorture Bahrain

stop_tortureAn interesting decision was made by the courts this week that Prince Nassser bin Hammed Al-Khalifa (pictured) is liable for prosecution for his alleged role in the torture of FF a torture survivor from the kingdom.  Up to now the prince has claimed immunity.  The case is important because several of the gulf states regularly use torture yet prosecutions never happen because of claimed immunity.

This is an embarrassment to the UK government as it has welcomed members of the ruling family toprince nasser bin hasam Downing St and is keen to promote greater ties with the kingdom.  Indeed the New Statesman remarked that ‘the more desperate the situation in Bahrain becomes, the closer Britain ties itself to the ruling family.’

Behind it all is an arms deal of £1bn for the sale of Tornado jets.

The full story is on the Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (sic)

#deathpenalty report

This is the monthly death penalty report thanks to Lesley.


  • UK
  • 19th Sept – A Death Row Pop Up Restaurant offering a ‘last meal without the nasty execution bit’ was due to open in No to the death penaltyHoxton, London.  Condemned by Amnesty as ‘in appallingly bad taste’, the owners initially issued an apology but later withdrew it, saying ‘all over the world there are attractions that have the potential to offend’
  • LC spoke with Kate Allen at the recent Stop Torture Campaign Skills Day and raised the Group’s concern that the Death Penalty was no longer a distinct campaign.   Kate noted our concern, but said AI needed to look more to local groups to take the campaign forward. 
  • Pakistan – Mohammed Asghar, the British Pakistani 70 year old with paranoid schizophrenia, sentenced to death for ‘blasphemy’ was shot and badly injured in his prison cell by a prison guard. There is an on-line 38 Degrees Petition calling on David Cameron to press his case with the Pakistan Government.
  • USA
  • 21st September – the third anniversary of the execution of the execution of Troy Davis.  An excerpt from the statement issued by the National Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty reads: ‘……. I am Troy Davis. And we are 90 million strong. You, Xxxxx, are Troy Davis, and we are 90 million stronger – because of you. Together we are building the ground-game state by state and nationwide to fulfil Troy’s wishes: to keep fighting this battle until we end the death penalty once and for all.’
  • Texas – News today (9 October) that Manuel Velez was released from prison following 6 years on Death Row and 9 years in prison. Convicted and sentenced to death in 2008 for the killing of his girlfriend’s child, in 2012 his death sentence was thrown out because of false testimony during the sentencing phase.  A new trial was ordered because of inadequate legal assistance in his original trial.  The DA’s office continue to maintain, however, that he contributed to the child’s death.  See a separate post on this subject. 
  • Afghanistan – Despite attempts by AI and other Human Rights Organisations to persuade the new President, Ashraf Ghani, to stop the execution of 5 men convicted of rape, they were hanged on 8th October.  There were accusations of a lack of evidence and forced confessions. 

Death Penalty Statistics for 2013

  • 778 executions were known to have been carried out in 22 countries
  • 1,925 people in 57 countries were known to have been sentenced to death
  • 23,392 people were known to have been on death row world-wide
  • These figures do not include the thousands of executions likely to have taken place in China where they are a state secret.

Urgent Actions

  • Iran – UA 85/14 – (update) Reyhaneh Jabbari – her execution date of 30th September was deferred, but she remains at risk as the family of the man killed (who Reyhaneh claims sexually assaulted her) could request her execution at any time.  David Cameron has spoken out on her behalf to President Rouhani, and been criticised for ‘unacceptable remarks’.  Circulated to DPLWG; posted on the Group’s blog – 1.10.14. This month’s Group Urgent Action.
  • Bahrain – UA 252/14 – Maher Abbas Ahmad – sentenced to death in February for the premeditated murder of a policeman at a ‘gathering’, has lodged his final appeal and could be at risk of execution. He told his lawyer he was tortured into making a confession. Circulated to DPLWG 9.10.14.


  • World Day Against the Death Penalty – 10th October.   The Group are asked to sign cards to be sent to Reggie Clemons
  • Death Penalty Stall – A signing event will take place on Saturday ll1th October from 9.00-12..00 mid-day in the Library Covered Way. We will be asking the public to sign cards calling for justice for Moses Akatugba, the young Nigerian tortured and sentenced to death for the alleged theft of three mobile phones.


Texas man released from death row


On Wednesday, Manuel Velez was released from prison having served 9 years in prison, 5 of them on death row.  The case reveals yet again the biased and unsatisfactory nature of the justice system in the #USA, and in particular the southern states such as #Texas.  He was sentenced to death for allegedly killing a 1 year old who was partially in his care.

No to the death penaltyThe case against him collapsed when the blood clot was found to have been established around 2 weeks before the child’s death but the jury was told that it occurred hours before thus putting Velez at the scene.  The case has all the familiar signs of previous miscarriages in the USA namely: partial evidence put to the court; evidence demonstrating innocence withheld by the police, and a plea bargain by the person likely to have committed the crime which incriminates the wrong person.  Also Velez is Hispanic and is described as ‘intellectually disabled’.  Finally, he was poorly served by his defence team who the court said ‘provided inadequate assistance to Velez’.

Governor Rick Perry is a strong believer in the death penalty and the following extract from an interview in Texas gives a flavour of that belief;

Like the vast majority of Texans, I believe the death penalty is an appropriate response for the most violent of crimes against our fellow human beings.  In fact, I believe capital punishment affirms the high value we place on innocent life because it tells those who would prey on our citizens that you will pay the ultimate price for their unthinkable acts of violence.

For those who head our criminal courts, serve on appellate bodies and the board of pardons and parole, and for the individual who occupies the office of governor, the power to make life and death decisions is the most sobering responsibility imaginable.

Both as acting governor and in my current capacity, I have always exercised this power with the gravity due such a life and death decision.    And I will continue to review each capital punishment case brought before me to ensure that due process has been served.

This presents a comforting picture not supported by the facts of this and other cases.  Once the deed is done of course, it cannot be undone.  If you are poor and black in states like Texas you will not be able to hire a top team of lawyers or any lawyer with trial skills.  Juries may be stacked.

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