Archive for the ‘Death penalty’ Category


World Day Against Death Penalty

The death penalty in Ghana has been frequently used in violation of international law and standards, affecting predominantly those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, as shown by research carried out by Amnesty International. It is high time the authorities of Ghana acted to fully abolish it.

In Ghana the death penalty has been imposed mainly as the mandatory punishment for murder, meaning that judges were unable to consider any mitigating factors relating to the case, the circumstances of the offence or the background of the defendants at sentencing, when they imposed the death penalty. This has meant, for example, that some women on death row could not have their experience of being subjected to prolonged domestic violence at the hands of their husbands or partners taken into account when they were convicted of their murders.

The widespread concerns on the lack of effective legal representation and appeals described by many on death row is also greatly alarming, including as these are critical safeguards to protect the rights of those facing the death penalty and avoid miscarriage of justice. Around three-quarters of the 107 people on death row interviewed by Amnesty International in preparing its 2017 report, had a state-appointed lawyer at trial level, with only around 15% able to hire a lawyer of their choice with help from their families. Three men stated they did not have any legal representation during their initial trial; of the three women on death row at the time of the interviews, two said they did not have a trial lawyer. Several others said that their lawyers had not attended all the hearings; and many said that they did not have a chance to talk to their lawyer and prepare their defence during trial.

As appeals are not mandatory in Ghana, the majority of those on death row told Amnesty International that they had been unable to appeal their convictions and death sentences. Most did not fully understand their right to appeal or how to pursue this process, and believed they needed to have sufficient money to hire a private lawyer in order to appeal. Figures provided by the Ghana Prison Service (the Prison Service) in March 2017 indicated that only 12 prisoners on death row had filed appeals since 2006. None of the three women on death row had been able to file an appeal due to lack of money. One woman told Amnesty International that at the time a lawyer asked for 60 million Old Ghana Cedi (more than US$12,000) to file an appeal.

It comes as no surprise that in a legal system with so few built-in safeguards those who end up carrying the burden of the death penalty have disadvantaged backgrounds. The majority of the 107 people interviewed came from outside of the greater Accra region, had minimal educational levels and were from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, with children left in the care of others. Against international safeguards, six people on death row at Nsawam Prison were considered to have mental (psychosocial) or intellectual disabilities and were not supported through specialized care.

Conditions for men and women on death row do not meet international standards. Both men and women reported overcrowding, poor sanitary facilities, isolation, and lack of adequate access to medical care and to recreational or educational opportunities available to other people in detention. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception.

This post is reproduced from Amnesty

Amnesty briefing


Today is World Day Against the Death Penalty
This Amnesty report highlights the effects of the penalty on women

The use of death penalty has further impacts on women relatives and supporters of those on death row, as existing structural socio-economic inequalities, stigmatization and discrimination have been deepened by the sentencing to death of their loved ones. The campaigning briefing highlights some of the prevailing human rights concerns associated with the impact of the death penalty on women and calls for action to end the injustice and arbitrariness of the death penalty. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, as a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Amnesty International is a founding member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, which coordinates this global day of activism against the death penalty every 10 October.

The effect of the death penalty on women

Available as a podcast


Action to take on 10 October

While in India for his wedding in November 2017, Jagtar Singh Johal, a British Sikh (pictured), was arrested and accused of involvement in terrorism and in the assassination of a number of Hindu leaders in the Punjab.  He is alleged to have faced torture and been forced to sign blank statements and record a video.  This ‘confession’ was broadcast on national television, where the political nature of his ‘crimes’ was stressed.  He has had no actual trial but faces the death penalty. 

Mr Johal’s brother, Gurpreet, who lives in Scotland, says his brother was a peaceful activist and believes he was arrested because he had written about historical human rights violations against Sikhs in India.  He has appealed to the British Government to seek his brother’s release and to bring him home.

Picture: BBC

In February of this year, almost 140 MPs wrote to the then Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, asking him to

seek Mr Johal’s release, and a debate was held in Parliament with calls for him to be declared a ‘victim of arbitrary detention.  In June, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, wrote to Mr Raab, urging him to seek Mr Johal’s release.  Gurpreet Singh Johal is grateful for her support, but believes direct intervention from the British Government is essential.

Mr Johal is supported by the organisations Reprieve and Redress.  He has made numerous court appearances, but his trial has been repeatedly delayed at the request of the prosecution and basic information denied to his defence counsel.

Mr Raab said he was  doing all he could and had been in touch with the Indian authorities, but his response was criticised as ‘weak’.  With the appointment of the new Foreign Secretary – Liz Truss – there is an opportunity to bring Mr Johal’s situation to her attention, and to call for a more positive and pro-active response.

Action

Please write to:

Ms Elizabeth Truss

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the

                                                                                                                        United Kingdom

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

King Charles Street

London SW1A 0AA                           Email: fcdo.correspondence@fcdo.gov.uk

and ask her to intervene in Mr Johal’s case, and to secure his release and return home.

Please date your letter 10th October 2021, calling attention to the fact that it is the 19th World Day against the Death Penalty.


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