Good news!


Good news from Amnesty

30 September 2022

“With so much injustice spanning the globe, sometimes it’s hard to remain hopeful that things will change for the better. Trust me, I know – I am often the bearer of bad news, writing to you with urgency of crises, crackdowns, and individuals at risk who have had their human rights violated. But today, we wanted to let you know that the actions of Amnesty supporters around the world really do count. They’ve not only made a meaningful impact for human rights both at home and abroad – but thy’ve also helped change lives.

“Small actions from compassionate people like you, really do have big impacts. Here are just a handful from the past few months:

The first families from Myanmar, Syria and Afghanistan arrived in Australia under a new Community Sponsorship pilot

“After years of relentless advocacy, at the end of 2021 the Australian Federal Government not only announced the rollout of a new Community Sponsorship pilot – they also finally agreed to reduce dramatically the cost of Australia’s existing Community Sponsorship Program, making it more accessible for everyday Australians to participate and welcome refugees into their communities. In August of this year (2022), the first families from Myanmar, Syria and Afghanistan arrived in Australia to begin their new lives in safety.

Charges were dropped against a New South Wales legal observer

“Under NSW’s new and dangerous anti-protest laws, back in June a volunteer Legal Observer faced a maximum sentence of 2 years in jail and a $22,000 fine, after being arrested alongside 34 protesters.

“Amnesty made representations to the NSW police, calling on them to respect the right to protest, as well as the human rights of the Legal Observer. In August, her charges were dropped. Over 30,000 supporters continue to call on the NSW police to protect our right to protest.

“Legal Observers play a vital role in monitoring police & providing legal support to protesters. Thanks to the relentless advocacy from Amnesty International, Legal Observers NSW and Sydney City Crime, my charges have been recently dropped.” – Chloe Sinclair, Legal Observer

Texas: Ramiro Gonzalez’ execution was stayed

“Back in July, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) stayed the execution for Ramiro Gonzales – just 48 hours before it was due to be carried out in Texas. Experts concluded that Ramiro does not pose a threat of future danger to society, due to the passage of time and his significant maturity. As of April 2021, 108 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and 144 countries have abolished it in law or practice – all thanks to the power of ordinary people, continuing to stand up for what’s right! Our fight for global abolition continues.

People power freed Ahmed Samir Santawy from prison in Egypt

“Back in July, Ahmed Samir Santawy, a women’s rights and reproductive rights researcher, was convicted of spreading “false news” and sentenced to three years imprisonment. He was subjected to enforced disappearance for five days. Ahmed’s conviction was based solely on social media posts criticising human rights violations in Egypt.

“Over 10,000 people in Australia signed the petition demanding Ahmed’s release, and almost 5,000 people called the Egyptian embassy, putting further pressure on authorities – and it worked. In August, Ahmed was finally released from prison after being given a presidential pardon. Thank you for helping free Ahmed!

Ahmed reunites with his loved ones on the day of his release. ©Wies De Graeve

New York: We sued the NYPD for surveillance of protesters – and we won!

“In New York, facial recognition technology has been used to target people of colour in protests. Back in 2020, we asked the the New York Police Department (NYPD) to publish their data on facial recognition – and they refused. So we mapped their surveillance cameras with the help of 7,000 supporters, filed a lawsuit against them, and won.

“In August, they were ordered to disclose thousands of records of how they procured and used facial recognition technology against Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters. This ruling recognizes that the NYPD broke the law in withholding this information and is a significant step in holding the NYPD accountable for its use of discriminatory surveillance.

LGBTQIA+ liberation soared across the globe 

“Thanks to LGBTQIA+ people and their allies at the forefront, back in July Switzerland’s same-sex marriage laws finally came into effect after overwhelming support of its legalisation in a national referendum last year. In August, the government of Singapore passed historic legislation to end LGBTQIA+ criminalisation. Shortly after, Vietnamese authorities said that being LGBTQIA+ should not be treated as an illness. The Vietnamese Ministry of Health called on medical professionals to ensure LGBTQIA+ people are not discriminated against, calling for an end to dangerous conversion practices – something over 40,000 supporters in Australia continue to campaign against, too. Solidarity!”

It is good to report successes from time to time.

(From and Amnesty message – lightly edited. The original contained photographs)

Death penalty report, June/July


We are pleased to attach the latest death penalty report thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling this. There is a lot this time about Ukraine and as usual, the USA and its tortuous processes especially in the southern states. Note that there is no report on China which is believed to execute more of its citizens that the rest of the world combined but where information is a state secret.

Latest death penalty report


We are pleased to attach our latest death penalty report thanks to group member Lesley for preparing it. It is a lengthy one – possibly the longest we have posted – as there is a lot going on, both positive and negative, on this topic. Note as ever that China is not reported on as information about executions are a state secret. China is believed to execute more of its citizens than the rest of the world combined.

Singapore execution carried out


Singapore executes Nagaenthran Dharmalingam today

Despite international protests, the Singapore government executed by hanging Nagaenthran Dharmalingam – a man with an intellectual disability – today (27 April 2022). He was convicted in 2009 for importing 42.7 g (1.5 oz) of diamorphine (heroin) and sentenced to death under the states draconian anti-drug laws. The decision to execute someone with an intellectual disability is especially abhorrent. This is the second execution in Singapore in a month with a third scheduled for Friday 29th.

Asia-Pacific Amnesty director Erwin van der Borght said:

The execution of Nagaenthran is a disgraceful act by the Singapore government – ruthlessly carried out despite extensive protests in Singapore and Malaysia and an outcry across the world.

Amnesty International, 27 April 2022

The Singapore government justifies the use of the death penalty because of its alleged deterrent effect on drug related problems. Critics point out there is no evidence to support this claim.

Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. Read our latest death penalty report.

Death Penalty report: March – April


We are pleased to attach our monthly death penalty report for March – April 2022 thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it. Singapore features quite strongly this month. Note that Chiana, which is believed to execute more of its citizens than the rest of the world combined, does not feature as details are a state secret.

Singapore: execution to continue


Fury at decision to execute man with learning disabilities

In the early hours of yesterday morning (29 March) morning, Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a man with intellectual disabilities on death row in Singapore, lost his fight in court against his execution. The courts may have rejected his appeal, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong could still save him.  Nagen still needs this community to keep fighting for a life-saving pardon. The decision has received world wide condemnation. Singapore does not have a favourable human rights record and uses repressive laws against political opponents and human rights defenders. Human Rights Watch describes the country’s political environment at ‘overwhelmingly repressive’ with severe restrictions on free expression, association and assembly.

Nagaenthran claims he was coerced into carrying a package of heroin but that he was unaware of the contents. The UN has said the sentence is disproportionate and no allowance had been made by the authorities for his disabilities. His IQ is said to be 69.

In the 48 hours before his hearing, over 4,000 people made their voices heard and tweeted Lee Hsien Loong asking for Nagen to be spared. Only the Singaporean government can save him now, should they decide to show compassion and grant him a pardon that will spare his life.

Because of your support, Nagen is not standing alone in his fight for his life. For details and how you can help follow this link to the Reprieve site.

We include a link to a video of an interesting talk by Kirsten Han on the subject of the death penalty in Singapore.

Sources: Amnesty; Guardian; Reprieve; Human Rights Watch.

Singapore execution deferred


Amnesty calls for execution of man with intellectual disability to be ended

Update 30 November

The 30 November appeal hearing has been postponed. Ahead of the appeal hearing before the planned execution of Malaysian national Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, Amnesty International’s Singapore Researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said:

“Singapore authorities must listen to the global outcry against executing Nagaenthran, whose case has shocked people around the world.  This appeal hearing provides an opportunity to call off this horrific punishment against a man who may not fully understand what is happening to him.

“Nagaenthran’s case has been marred by multiple human rights violations including deep concerns about Nagaenthran’s intellectual disability, which UN experts have stressed would render his execution unlawful. Recent testimony from his family and lawyer about his current mental health condition reinforces these concerns.

“Singapore must act now to avoid a stain on its international reputation by commuting Nagaenthran’s sentence, and avoiding another case like this by urgently reforming its use of the death penalty, and introducing a moratorium on executions as first steps towards full abolition of this cruel punishment.”

Background

Lawyers for Nagaenthran made an application to Singapore’s High Court seeking a stay on the ground that executing him would be unconstitutional in light of his intellectual disability. This application was dismissed, but his lawyers were able to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal.

The hearing was postponed after Nagaenthran tested positive for COVID-19 on 9 November, was rescheduled for 30 November, and has now been postponed again. The next date has yet to be confirmed. If appeals are unsuccessful, a stay will be lifted and the execution will proceed, possibly in a matter of days.

Nagaenthran was convicted and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in November 2010 for importing 42.72 grams of diamorphine (heroin) into the island state in April 2009. His conviction and death sentence have so far been upheld on appeal.

Medical experts who have assessed Nagaenthran found that his cognitive deficits may have contributed towards his diminished responsibility when carrying out his offence. In recent weeks, Nagaenthran’s youngest brother has expressed deep concerns about his brother’s mental state and incomplete understanding of his imminent execution when he was able to visit him in prison.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. As of today, 108 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and more than two-thirds are abolitionist in law or practice.

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