Archive for the ‘Death penalty’ Category


We attach the latest monthly death penalty report for August/September thanks to group member Lesley for compiling the information. Note that there China doesn’t feature (except for one small item) as information about executions is a state secret. It is believed thousands are executed.


Attached is the latest Death Penalty report for July – August thanks to group member for compiling it.


Sajad Sanjari, 26, was hanged at dawn on Monday with his family only informed afterwards and told to collect his body

The Iranian authorities have secretly executed a young man who was a child at the time of his arrest and had spent nearly a decade on death row, Amnesty International has learned.  Sajad Sanjari, 26, was hanged in Dizelabad prison in Kermanshah province at dawn on Monday (2 August), but his family were not told until a prison official asked them to collect his body later that day.  

In August 2010, Sanjari, then 15, was arrested over the fatal stabbing of a man he said had tried to rape him, claiming he had acted in self-defence. At his trial, the court rejected Sanjari’s self-defence claim after several witnesses attested to the deceased’s good character. He was convicted and sentenced to death in January 2012. 

The conviction and death sentence were initially rejected by Iran’s Supreme Court in December 2012, due to various flaws in the investigation process, but were eventually upheld in February 2014. 

In June 2015, Sanjari was granted a retrial after new juvenile sentencing guidelines were introduced which granted judges discretion to replace the death penalty with an alternative punishment if they determined that a child offender had not understood the nature of the crime or its consequences, or if there were doubts about their “mental growth and maturity”. However, a criminal court in Kermanshah province re-resentenced Sanjari to death on 21 November that year after concluding, without explanation, that he had attained “maturity” at the time of the crime. 

The court did not refer Sanjari to the Legal Medicine Organisation of Iran – a state forensic institute – for an assessment, and dismissed an opinion of an official court advisor with expertise in child psychology that Sanjari had not attained maturity at the time of the crime. During his first trial, the court had found that Sanjari had reached “maturity” at 15 on the basis of his “pubic hair development”.

Sanajri’s death sentence was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court and a later request for a retrial was denied. In January 2017, the Iranian authorities halted Sanjari’s scheduled execution, following an international outcry

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Middle East Deputy Director, said: 

“With the secret execution of Sajad Sanjari, the Iranian authorities have yet again demonstrated the utter cruelty of their juvenile justice system. 

“The use of the death penalty against people who were under 18 at the time of the crime is absolutely prohibited under international law, and constitutes a cruel assault on child rights.

“The fact that Sajad Sanjari was executed in secret, denying him and his family even the chance to say goodbye, consolidates an alarming pattern of the Iranian authorities carrying out executions in secret or at short notice to minimise the chances of public and private interventions to save people’s lives. 

“We urge the Iranian authorities to put an end to these abhorrent violations of the right to life and children’s rights by amending the penal code to ban the use of the death penalty against anyone who was under 18 at the time of the crime.” 

Two others arrested as children at risk of execution

Two other young men – Hossein Shahbazi and Arman Abdolali – sentenced to death for crimes that took place when they were 17 are currently at imminent risk of execution. Their trials were marred by serious violations, including the use of torture-tainted “confessions”. Shahbazi’s execution was scheduled for 25 July 2021 but postponed at the last minute following an international outcry. His execution could be rescheduled at any moment.

Amnesty has identified more than 80 individuals across Iran who are currently on death row for crimes that took place when they were children. In 2020, Amnesty recorded the executions of at least three people convicted for crimes that took place when they were under 18, making Iran the only country in the world to carry out such executions. Since January 2005, Amnesty has recorded the executions of at least 95 individuals who were under 18 years of age at the time of the crimes of which they had been convicted. The real numbers of those at risk and executed are likely to be higher. 

According to Iranian law, in cases of murder and certain other capital crimes, boys aged above 15 lunar years and girls aged above nine lunar years may be held as culpable as adults and can, therefore, be punished with the death penalty. As a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obliged to treat anyone under the age of 18 as a child and ensure that they are never subjected to the death penalty or life imprisonment. 

Source: Amnesty International


We are pleased to attach our latest monthly death penalty report with thanks to group member Lesley for preparing it. Note that it does not contain any details from China which is the world’s largest executioner of its citizens because details are a state secret. However, a report of the Chinese execution practices was printed in the Sun newspaper in the UK (warning – contains disturbing images).


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