Posts Tagged ‘Hakamada Iwao’

The death penalty report for December to January is now available thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it.

Report- Word

Lisa Montgomery executed on Wednesday 13th

We are pleased to attach our latest monthly death penalty report compiled by group member Lesley.  In addition to matters around the world, we mention worries about the Conservative government, if, as expected, they assume power on Friday after the election.  The present Home Secretary, Priti Patel is committed to toughening sentencing and has said she wishes to see the reintroduction of the penalty in the UK.  She denies that this is the case.  We quote survey statistics to show that it is still a desired outcome for many people, especially for those who voted leave in the EU Referendum.

Note as ever that China is the world’s largest executioner of its citizens but the data is a state secret.

November – December Report (Word)


No to the death penaltyGeneral 

  • USA
    • Tennessee – are reported to be considering bringing back the electric chair in the light of the recent difficulties with the use of lethal injections
    • Wyoming – are reported to be considering using a firing squad
    • New Hampshire – disappointingly, the second attempt at the repeal of the death penalty was defeated in the Senate on 22nd May. The death sentence remains.
    • Missouri – a stay of execution was granted for Russell Bucklew on 22nd May following his claim that a congenital illness would probably cause additional suffering under the current regime of lethal injection
    • A report appeared on Google that the US Supreme Court has said states must look beyond an intelligence test score in borderline cases of mental disability to determine whether a death row inmate is eligible to be executed

Urgent Actions 

  • #Sudan – Meriam Ibrahim – a Christian woman has been sentenced to hang (and to a flogging) for the ‘apostasy’ of marrying a non-muslim, and for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.  An AI email UA was circulated to the DPLWG on 26th May.  Information in media on 31.5.14 that she was to be released but there are doubts as to the truth of this.  Note – Nesrine Malik expressed concern in the Guardian (4.6.14) that western media are harming Meriam’s chances of release.  Initial local opposition had been having an effect, and Government pride is an issue.  She criticised David Cameron’s approach.  Latest news – Meriam gave birth in chains. She is to be hanged in 2 years.


  • USA – Florida – Michael Duane Zak – UA 140/14 – has exhausted his ordinary court appeals and is seeking executive commutation of his death sentence of life imprisonment. Circulated to DPLWG 28.5.14 (this month’s Urgent Action)


  • #Iraq – UA 151/13 – Osama Jamal ‘Abdullah Mahdi’s files are now with the office of the President for review. If his death sentence is ratified, he could be executed at any time. Circulated to DPLWG 30.5.14



  • Hakamada Iwao – information has been received from Caroline Butler that the Devizes Group have been in contact with AI in Japan in order to send cards and messages to Hakamada. Would the Salisbury Group like to do so?


  • #Belarus – a response has now been received from SCT with contact details of Barry Hay for seeking further advice – an email was sent on 10th June. Note: 


Belarus is the last UN member state in Europe to have retained the death penalty.  In 2013 there were no reported executions, but the death penalty was reinstated this year, and to date two men are believed to have been executed. Death row prisoners receive no advance notice and are executed by a bullet through the back of the head. This month the UN Human Rights Council will be focusing on the human rights situation in Belarus – making it a particularly appropriate time for action by Amnesty.



Hakamada iwaoIt is difficult to credit that a man has been on death row in Japan for a total of 46 years.  Some people reading this may not have been born when he was incarcerated.  Hakamada Iwao is to be retried because the key evidence against him – blood stained clothing – has been tested and the DNA is not his.  UPDATE: it looks as though Hakamada has been released (28 March).

The Salisbury group has been campaigning for Iwao to be released and many people have signed our petitions outside the Library and at other events.  Taken with the release of Ashtiana in Iran (see earlier post) this demonstrates that campaigning can make a difference.

The situation in Japan for people on death row is not at all civilised and come as a surprise for a country that gives every impression of being a modern democracy.  The prisoner does not know from one day to the next when they are to be hanged.  The average time on death row is 7 years and 11 months.  Conditions on death row are, according to Amnesty ‘a harsh regime of solitary confinement in toilet sized cells.’  Exercise is only allowed twice a week and three times in summer.

Japan secures convictions after long hours of interrogation with no lawyers present and with physical mistreatment regularly used.  Secrecy surrounds the process and until recently, no announcement was made of an execution having taken place, only an annual figure issued.  There is little protest made within Japan about the treatment of prisoners or of the whole process which is contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Human Rights.

Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty in all cases.  Once again, an unsatisfactory legal process and fresh evidence, reveals the risk that an innocent man would by now be dead.