Archive for the ‘Death penalty’ Category


We are pleased to attach the current monthly death penalty report prepared by group member Lesley. Contains a lot of information: Iran, Saudi, Belarus, Canada, Egypt and the US. Note that China – the world’s largest executioner – is absent because details of its massive execution activities are a state secret.


This is to let you know that on Thursday a Pakistani Court acquitted Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar,  the Christian couple, who had been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy in 2014, and ordered their release from prison.  The resolution stated that the evidence against the couple was ‘deeply flawed’ as, since both were ‘illiterate’, they would have been unable to send the text.  It called for them to be released immediately and unconditionally, and for their death sentences – and those of all others on death row for allegedly violating the Country’s ‘draconian’ blasphemy laws – to be speedily reviewed. 


This is an urgent action for a couple in prison in Faisalabad for the crime of blasphemy. They face the death penalty and have been in prison since 2014. They are Shafqat and Shagufta and further details can be found on the link below from Amnesty International. The problem is that the ‘crime’ of blasphemy is very hard to prove and is based often on hearsay. The allegation can be made as part of a feud. If you have time to respond to the action it would be appreciated. Previous actions have been successful in gaining the release of people accused of this so-called crime.

https://action.amnesty.org.au/emailviewonwebpage.aspx?erid=5d509ae4-2412-4e4b-ad09-a619edd94cf1&trid=5d509ae4-2412-4e4b-ad09-a619edd94cf1


We attach the death penalty report for April – May 2021. Note the report does not include China which is believed to execute thousands of its citizens but the statistics for which are a state secret.

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This is an extract from Amnesty’s annual death penalty report for 2020 which, overall, is good news with a decline in the use of the penalty around the world. It excludes China which executes thousands of its citizens but does not publish figures which are a state secret.

Once again the number of known executions has fallen (by 26%) and at 483 is now at its lowest for 10 years.  The number of known death sentences imposed has also fallen. Much of the fall in execution numbers has been driven by significant reductions in Saudi Arabia (down 84%) and Iraq (down over 50%).  However, these falls have been offset by a tripling of executions in Egypt to at least 107.

The five countries that executed the most people are China (1,000s), Iran (at least 246), Egypt (at least 107), Iraq (at least 45) and Saudi Arabia (27). In the USA the picture is mixed with state executions significantly down but this was negated by a surge in federal executions ordered by the outgoing Trump administration.  The USA remains the only country in the Americas to execute people.

The number of known death sentences handed down has also fallen from 2,307 to 1,477 although some of this reduction appears to be due to delays in proceedings in response to the pandemic.

18 countries are known to have carried out executions in 2020, a reduction of 2 since 2019.  Chad and the US state of Colorado abolished the death penalty and Kazakhstan committed to its abolition. On the other hand executions were resumed in India, Qatar, Oman and Taiwan.

Some of the more disturbing trends in 2020 included the following:

  • The Trump administration executed 10 people at the federal level in less than six months
  • China used the death penalty to crack down on offences related to Covid-19 prevention efforts
  • In some countries, including the USA, defence lawyers said that they had been unable to meet clients face to face because of Covid restrictions.

Asia-Pacific countries were notable for imposing death sentences for crimes not involving intentional killing, which is in violation of international law. This included drug offences in China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam, corruption in China and Viet Nam and for blasphemy in Pakistan. In the Maldives five people under the age of 18 at the time of their offences remain under sentence of death.

Nevertheless the trend remains positive. 144 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.  123 countries supported the UN General Assembly’s call for a moratorium on executions.  In the USA the state of Virginia recently became the first southern state to abolish the death penalty and several bills to abolish it at federal level are pending before Congress.

Amnesty continues to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and will continue to campaign until the death penalty is abolished everywhere for good.


Eloquent piece by Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve concerning the death penalty in the USA

Stafford Smith has represented many individuals on death row in the USA so his experience of a dysfunctional and unfair system is considerable. Many more black people are convicted than white people. There is no obligation on the police to make exculpatory evidence available. Prisoners spend decades on death row going through seemingly endless appeals. One case – Kris Maharaj – which we have highlighted on this site, is a case of miscarriage gone badly wrong. Despite copious evidence that he had nothing to do with the murder, he still languishes in prison in Florida. New evidence cannot be introduced at the appeal stage. The level of mistakes is high at around 10% and one of the problems with executions is that they cannot be put right.

Judges may have little criminal experience. Defendants are usually poor and cannot afford experienced or capable lawyers.

This account is of the USA but we should remember that the system is much worse in some other countries of the world: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran for example and that thousands are executed in China where details are a state secret.

Death penalty in USA

Source: Al Jazeera

Reprieve


We attach this month’s death penalty report thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it. Note that apart from a small item, China does not feature despite being the world’s largest executioner of its people. Details are a state secret.


Listen to the podcast of this post.

This urgent action is on behalf of a Christian couple in Pakistan who are on death row for ‘Blasphemy’ still a crime in that country. If convicted, the death penalty is mandatory. The laws are vague and arouse considerable tensions. Allegations can be made and it is extremely difficult for the police and courts to carry out proper investigations. Angry crowds can congregate, whipped up by religious clerics and their supporters, making it extremely difficult for justice to be done. Judges are under pressure to convict or risk becoming targets themselves. Some individuals take the law into their own hands and anyone associated with the accused, including lawyers, are at risk of attack or murder.

Another problem is constant trial postponements as judges are reluctant to decide. Since defendants are denied bail, it can mean years spent in captivity. Pakistan’s Supreme Court has said that many of these accusations are false and are made for ulterior motives and to settle feuds.

This UA is on behalf of a Christian couple, Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagfur Kauser sentence to death in 2014 for allegedly sending a blasphemous text to a cleric. They have been in prison for nearly 8 years awaiting their appeal. They should not be in prison at all.

The link below gives the full details and a suggested letter which can be sent via email. Since many of our followers are in the USA (welcome!) the US embassy address to send copies is:

Embassy of Pakistan

3517 International Ct

Washington DC 20008

Or the email is: info@embassyofpakistanusa.org

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/files/2021-03/UA02721.pdf?QEv1vD6d7Ni0TZ2dP39_R6PJEihuUAaO=

We hope you have time to write. Thank you.


Review of the year: March 2020 to February 2021

 International Events

Note: The list below highlights some of the significant events of the year.  Full monthly reports remain available on this website.

  • In March the Supreme Court ruled that the UK Government had acted unlawfully in providing, or agreeing to provide, material to the US in respect of Shafee El Sheikh and Alexanda Kotey without seeking assurances the death penalty would not be imposed.
  • In June, William Ogrod, who had been on death row in Pennsylvania for 23 years, had his conviction overturned and was freed.
  • In October the Pope issued an Encyclical, teaching that the death penalty was in all circumstances inadmissible.
  • 13 Federal Executions took place in the course of the final weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency.
  • The new President, Joe Biden, is committed to the abolition of the death penalty.
  • Virginia is shortly to become the first State in the former Confederacy to abolish the DP.

 Local Group Campaigns

In April a Royal decree was issued in Saudi Arabia, ending the death penalty for minors.  Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher have had their sentences commuted to 10 years in prison.

Group Events

 World Day Against the Death Penalty – 10th October

  • The Group and Supporters were asked to take email action on behalf of Hoo Yew Wha – the young man in Malaysia sentenced to death for possession of drugs.
  • A link was made available to an AIUK Virtual Discussion on the Death Penalty
  • The film ‘Just Mercy’ was shown at the Salisbury Playhouse on 4th November in partnership with Wiltshire Creative.  This was the last event to take place at the theatre prior to the commencement of Lockdown, and was well attended.

 Urgent Actions – April 20 – Feb 21

 Note: Some of these actions were for more than one person; some were update/follow-up actions.

 36 UA’s

  • US 11
  • Saudi Arabia             6
  • Iran   6
  • Bahrain   3
  • Belarus 3*
  • Nigeria   2
  • India   2
  • Malaysia   1
  • Yemen 1
  • Egypt   1

 

*The abolition of the death penalty in Belarus is a focus of this year’s  Amnesty Anti-Death Penalty Project’s campaign.

 

 

 


We attach the latest death penalty report thanks to group member Lesley for the work in assembling it.

Report (Word)