Saturday, July 19, 2014

Death Penalty - Qisas and Diyat law in Pakistan - victim or his heir have the right to pardon the accused

An interesting article....persons facing death can escape death by paying compensation to the family/heirs of victim - but is it just? This avenue may only be available to the rich....not the poor.

Should be 'total pardon' or just result in commutation of the death sentence to imprisonment? 

Should Malaysia be considering this? For murder, the 'heir of the victim' is clear - but for drug trafficking cases, can it apply? 

Should victims of crimes play a more significant role in sentencing - should they or their families have a say before sentencing. If the family of victim  'pardons' - should it not have a bearing on the sentence - should it not be a mitigating factor, capable of even changing 'mandatory death sentences' to prison sentences...

 

Reforming the law: In Pakistan, punishment is Islamic, but not the procedure

By Our Correspondent
Published: November 12, 2012
A number of Muslim majority countries have abolished the death penalty; can we begin the debate in Pakistan? 

LAHORE: 
  Around 100 countries with varying legal traditions have abolished the death penalty, including a number of Muslim majority countries like Turkey, Albania and Djibouti according to the Amnesty International. The case of death penalty in Pakistan, however, is trickier.

“Over here, the punishment for murder is Islamic but the procedure for investigating such cases is not,” says Barrister Umar Mahmood Khan, who practices criminal law in Punjab’s court. The burden of proof is extremely high, but the investigation is so faulty that the conditions for a fair trial as required by the Islamic law are never met here, says Khan. Money is frequently used to influence investigation, which is structurally testimonial-centric, so there is not much left for the lawyers to defend.

So far, Khan says, he has not seen the trickle down effect of government attempt, if any, that could help the marginalised in death penalty cases. Despite setting up of a forensic lab for advanced investigation techniques, no definite change in cases like murder and rape are seen yet, he adds.

Qisas and diyat

Under Islamic law, the punishment for murder, homicide or infliction of injury can either be in the form of qisas – equal punishment for the crime committed – or diyat – compensation payable to the victims or their legal heirs. Under the Qisas and Diyat law in Pakistan, the victim or his heir have the right to determine whether to exact retribution (qisas) or compensation (diyat) or to pardon the accused.

The ordinance came under the spotlight in the Raymond Davis case when the CIA contractor, accused of killing two Pakistanis in Lahore, was allowed to leave Pakistan after paying compensation to the victims’ heirs.

Given how diyat reduces rescue from gallows to money, Barrister Zafrullah asks, “Is Islam the religion for rich only?”

The Qisas and Diyat ordinance is “privatisation of justice” and absolves the state of protecting its citizens, says the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s 2006 report on death penalty, “Slow March to Gallows.”
Arthur Wilson, executive director at Prison Fellowship Pakistan, has been mediating for forgiveness of condemned prisoners for over two decades. Wilson says as a Christian he does not believe in blood money, but as an activist he needs to make best use of what the system offers him.

“A lot of families of deceased when approached, would like to take the blood money and forgive the accused, if it were not for those who have stakes in wrongful conviction of the accused.”

Room for debate

In Pakistan, people’s idea of justice regarding the death penalty is based on religion and there is a need for starting a debate on Islamic law; therefore, the debate on emphasis that Islamic Law puts on a state to provide justice needs to be conducted openly, says Sarah Belal.

Asad Jamal, a senior lawyer, argues that there is a need for policy to regulate the Qisas and Diyat law, and quotes from a paper written by William Schabas, a professor or Islamic Law at University of Montreal, in 2000.

“Schabas writes that though all Islamic countries have ‘demonstrated some degree of flexibility in the interpretation of Islamic law in some of the areas of criminal law, yet they stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that the same approach may be undertaken with respect to the death penalty.  It appears that religion is little more than a pretext to justify a resort to harsh penalties that is driven by backward and repressive attitudes in the area of criminal law,” Jamal says.

Path to the gallows is strewn with orders and appeals

Capital punishment is prescribed as the maximum punishment for over 20 different crimes in Pakistan, including various forms of intentional murder, treason, blasphemy, kidnapping or abduction, rape, procuration and importation for prostitution, assault on modesty of woman and stripping of her clothes, drug smuggling, arms trading, and sabotage of the railway system.

An accused becomes a condemned prisoner after an additional district and sessions judge condemns him to death. Prisoners, however, cannot be executed unless a High Court confirms the death penalty. Even if the prisoner does not appeal his penalty, jail authorities automatically take the case to a High Court. If the High Court upholds the death penalty, the additional district and sessions judge issues a black warrant which bears the date of the execution. After that, the prisoner can appeal to the Supreme Court (SC). If the SC does not issue a stay order before the day of execution, the prisoner will be hanged. And if the SC upholds the penalty, the prisoner, through jail authorities, can send a mercy appeal to the president as last resort.

Under article 45 of the Constitution, the president has the “power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority,” if there is a mercy petition before him.

A prisoner is on the death row after all his appeals have been rejected.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2012.

2 executed on 18 July 2014 in Singapore - Circumstances raise doubts...?

Singapore has executed 2 persons on 18 July 2014, and we know this also because of the statement issued by the Central Narcotics Bureau of Singapore (see the statement below). In Malaysia, we would never know because it is all 'SECRET' - the only way of getting information seems to be by asking questions in Parliament. Malaysia really should follow Singapore, and maybe issue statements not just after a person is hanged BUT before execution is carried out. In Malaysia, in 2014, we were able to save 2 lives

Shocking attempt by Malaysia to hang Philip Michael discovered at the last minute and stopped

Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon (aka Philip Michael), convicted for murder, to be hanged on 14/3/2014 - Execution stayed & the Malaysian Minister and Attorney General helped in getting the execution stayed.

Chandran Paskaran saved at the last minute from being hanged to death

Chandran s/o Paskaran, convicted for murder was to hang on 7 February 2014 - the swift intervention by civil society groups led to the Sultan of Johore granting a stay of execution of the death sentence

Singapore also amended their laws in 2012 that now allows persons sentenced to death to escape death provided they satisfy 2 conditions...

Following Singapore's amendment of their drug laws, to escape the death penalty, the accussed needs to satisfy 2 conditions - (1) Must get a CERTIFICATE OF SUBSTANTIVE ASSISTANCE from the Attorney General's Chambers, and (2) prove on a balance of probabilities, that his involvement in the offence under section 5(1) or 7 was restricted — to transporting, sending or delivering a controlled drug; to offering to transport, send or deliver a controlled drug; to doing or offering to do any act preparatory to or for the purpose of his transporting, sending or delivering a controlled drug; or to any combination of activities above;

Hence, the Singapore AG (not the court) just has too much power to decide who is hanged and who lives. 

The AG, who is really the prosecutor, has just too much power, and this is not right - this power to determine 'substantive assistance' has been provided really should rest with the judiciary...

Now, 2 persons were executed....for 'drug trafficking', and according to the Central Narcotics Bureau of Singapore statement(see below), both '... Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng ...did not wish to be part of the re-sentencing process...' - the process that could have resulted in they not being hanged if they satisfied both conditions.

'Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng both elected not to petition the President for Clemency...' - now, this also strange. Why?

Now, if person knows that he/she is guilty and has accepted their sentence of death, they would 'plead guilty' or just not fight their case...Now, both these persons filed Appeal to the Court of Appeal against their conviction - and the appeal of Tang  Hai Liang was heard and dismissed in July 2011 - so why then would he now not evade being executed by going for the 're-sentencing' process, and also applying for clemency? Likewise, why did Foong  Chee  Peng  file an appeal and then withdraw it?

I recollect the mafia movies ...where people will behave just like this maybe because the 'mafia bosses' out there are demanding silence - threatening maybe the lives of their families, etc  ---   Now, if this was the case - maybe they may be really innocent - or certainly not deserving of death. If this was the case, they may even be scared to reveal the truth...or even effectively defend themselves in court... All the more reason, why we really need to abolish the death penalty...

 

 

Joint Statement on the Executions Carried out on 18 July 2014

The Singapore Working Group on the Death Penalty deeply regrets, and is gravely disappointed at the executions of two individuals that took place today, 18th of July 2014. Inmates Foong Chee Peng, 48, and Tang Hai Liang, 36, were hanged at dawn this morning. Both men were convicted of drug trafficking.

These two executions bring to an end the moratorium that has been in place since July 2011, when the government commenced an internal review of the mandatory death penalty laws. This review took place without any public consultation nor has it been made available for public scrutiny. Subsequently, the changes were passed by Parliament in the exact form proposed by the government in July 2012, despite various warnings about their potential problems.

We also wish to highlight that there is an ongoing application filed by another drug offender before the Supreme Court, challenging the validity of section 33B of the Misuse of Drugs Act because it violates Article 12 of our Constitution. The hearing is fixed before the Court of Appeal on the 18th of August later this year.
Given the fact that the constitutional challenge to the amendments could have a potential bearing on the lawfulness of Foong and Tang’s executions, it was deeply unjust to have executed them before the constitutional challenge was decided.

The injustice is compounded by the fact that we had written to the President and the Minister of Home Affairs yesterday to highlight this situation and urged for an urgent stay of execution until our courts have decided on this constitutional challenge at the very least.

Finally, the executions are a regrettable step backwards for Singapore. The death penalty has not been proven to be a more useful deterrent against crime than alternative forms of punishment. Moreover, once carried out, miscarriages of justice cannot be remedied.

We therefore reiterate our calls for the government to impose a moratorium on all executions and move towards the abolition of capital punishment in Singapore.

We believe in Second Chances
Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign
Think Center Singapore


Updated: Friday July 18, 2014 MYT 8:01:43 PM

Singapore hangs two drug traffickers, first executions in over three years

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore hanged two men convicted of drug trafficking on Friday, the first executions carried out in the city-state for more than three years while the country reviewed its use of the death penalty.

Tang Hai Liang, 36, and Foong Chee Peng, 48, both from Singapore, were executed at Changi Prison according to the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), having been convicted of trafficking heroin.

Singapore put a halt to all executions in July 2011 while it reviewed its use of the mandatory death penalty and now allows judges to have more discretion in certain cases.

Last November, it lifted the death penalty on a convicted drug trafficker for the first time.

When the review took place, all people on death row were allowed to ask to be considered for re-sentencing, though the CNB said Tang and Foong both said they did not want to be considered.

"Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng had been accorded full due process," the CNB said.

The Singapore Working Group on the Death Penalty, a group of non-governmental organisations, said they believed the executions should not have taken place given another drug offender is making a constitutional challenge against the anti-drug laws.

"It was deeply unjust to have executed them before the constitutional challenge was decided," they said in a statement.

"The executions are a regrettable step backwards for Singapore," they added.

Singapore has some of the toughest anti-drugs laws in the world, and its customs forms warn arriving travellers of "death for drug traffickers" in no uncertain terms.

It has hanged hundreds of people - including dozens of foreigners - for narcotics offences in the last two decades, Amnesty International and other groups say.

(Reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Robert Birsel) - The Star Online, 18/7/2014,Singapore hangs two drug traffickers, first executions in over three years


1. Two  Singaporeans,  Tang  Hai  Liang,  36,  and  Foong  Chee  Peng,  48,  had  their  death sentences carried out today, on 18 July 2014 at Changi Prison Complex.

2.  Both Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng were convicted of trafficking in a controlled drug  and  sentenced  to  death.  Tang  Hai  Liang  was found  to have trafficked  89.55g  of  diamorphine  and  Foong  Chee  Peng  was  found  to  have  trafficked  40.23g of  diamorphine.  The  Misuse  of  Drugs  Act provides for the death penalty if the amount of diamorphine (or pure heroin) trafficked is 15g or more.
15g of diamorphine is equivalent to 1,250 straws1, which is sufficient to feed the addiction of about 180 abusers for a week.

3.  A thorough review of the mandatory death penalty in our laws was conducted from July 2011. A  moratorium  on  executions  was  placed  while  the  law was  being  reviewed.  The  changes  to  the mandatory death penalty regime were passed by Parliament in November 2012 after a full debate, and came into force in January 2013. All persons already sentenced to death under the Misuse of Drugs Act by the time the new legislation came into force were given the opportunity to elect to be
considered for re-sentencing under the new regime. 

4.  Tang  Hai  Liang  and  Foong  Chee  Peng  had  been  accorded  full  due  process,  including  the opportunity to appeal to the Court of Appeal and to elect to be considered for re-sentencing under the new regime. Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng both appeared in person before an Assistant Registrar in the High Court to confirm that they did not wish to be part of the re-sentencing process, and  that  they  understood  the  consequences  of  their  respective  decisions.  Both  of  them  were represented by counsel throughout the legal process, and were also given the opportunity to petition the President for Clemency. Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng both elected not to petition the President for Clemency. An unsigned petition for Clemency was subsequently submitted on Tang Hai Liang’s behalf. Tang Hai Liang indicated that he did not wish to appeal for Clemency and that the petition had been submitted by his family without his prior knowledge. This petition for Clemency was
turned down and his family was informed of the decision. 

CENTRAL NARCOTICS BUREAU
18 JULY 2014 

1 This is estimated using a typical purity level of  4%, based on drug seizures in recent years. The number of straws that are actually made may vary according to the purity level of the heroin used in the straws.

CNB NEWS RELEASE
18 July 2014
Page 2of 2

ANNEX A 

Details of Cases

Tang Hai Liang

1.  On  15  April  2009,  CNB  officers  arrested  Tang  Hai Liang.  A  total  of  136  packets  of  heroin having a gross weight of about 1,117.66g and 588 tablets of erimin-5 were recovered in his residence. The heroin was found to contain 89.55g of diamorphine after analysis. Prior to his arrest, Tang Hai Liang had been packing the heroin in his possessionand had sold one packet to his client just before he was arrested. On 19 November 2010, Tang Hai Liang was convicted of trafficking in a controlled drug  by  having  89.55g  of  diamorphine  in  his  possession  for  the  purpose  of  trafficking,  an  offence under  section  5(1)(a)  read  with  section  5(2)  of  the Misuse  of  Drugs  Act  (Chapter  185).  Tang  Hai Liang’s appeal against his conviction was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 6 July 2011.

Foong Chee Peng

2.  On 30 September 2009, CNB officers arrested Foong Chee Peng when officers raided the rented  unit  he  was  staying  in.  A  total  of  913.58g  of  heroin,  2.42g  of  ketamine,  32.73g  of methamphetamine,  3,942  tablets  of  erimin-5,  30  ecstasy  tablets  and  various  drug  trafficking paraphernalia were recovered. The heroin was found to contain 40.23g of diamorphine after analysis. By  the  time  Foong  Chee  Peng  was  arrested,  he  had  already  packed  some  of  the  heroin  in  his possession into 30 packets for sale. On 19 April 2011, Foong Chee Peng was convicted of trafficking in a controlled drug by having 40.23g of diamorphine in his possession for the purpose of trafficking,an offence under section 5(1)(a) read with section 5(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Foong Chee Peng filed an appeal against his conviction but subsequently withdrew his appeal  


[Source:- http://www.google.com.my/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCUQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnb.gov.sg%2FLibraries%2FCNB_Newsroom_Files%2FExecution_of_Convicted_Drug_Traffickers.sflb.ashx&ei=yyjKU_-FIoa3uASYp4KACw&usg=AFQjCNF_N2n0HZAjygvSlmZ6nQWnSBrPsA&bvm=bv.71198958,d.c2E]

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Eight deaths in police custody in less than six months - 10 June 2014


For immediate release
10 June 2014

Eight deaths in police custody in less than six months – Urgent need for police reform

Suaram condemns the police for the failure to prevent the latest two cases of death in police custody that took place in Penang and Kuantan despite public outcry on the rising cases of death in police custody.

The latest victims were Agin Raj, who was detained by Bandar Perda police station on 2 June prior to his death in Bukit Mertajam Hospital on 7 June, and Koh Kheng Soon, who was arrested and detained at Kuantan police station on 5 June and was found dead the next day in the police station on 6 June.

The police claimed that Agin Raj died of lack of oxygen to the brain resulting in breathing difficulties while and the same claim of breathing difficulties was made on the case of Koh Kheng Soon by the police.

Suaram is however alarmed that the sister of Agin Raj spotted injuries on the body and legs of his brother, to which the police suggested that these may have been sustained prior to his arrest. It is even more suspicious in the case of Koh Kheng Soon, who died after just spending a night in Kuantan police station and the family has alleged cover-up of his death by the police.

Suaram calls on inquest by the coroner’s court to be immediately conducted on both cases to determine the actual cause of deaths and the responsibilities of the police officers involved.   

These two cases added to the alarming statistic of death in police custody rising to a total of eight cases even before we have even ended the first half of the year, compared to 12 cases in total in 2013. This makes the ratio of 1.3 deaths in police custody every month in 2014.

Below are the names of suspects who died in police custody for the year 2014:

No.
Date
Name
Age
Location
1
10 Feb 2014
A. Punniyanathan
40
Nibong Tebal Police Station, Penang
2
18 Feb 2014
J. Kulanthangam
34
Dang Wangi Police Station, Kuala Lumpur
3
1 Mac 2014
Ramasamy Nagu
50
Bayan Baru Police Station, Penang
4
13 April 2014
Murugan Muniandy
37
IPD Seberang Perai Tengah, Penang
5
16 April 2014
Morgan Arjunan
48
Jinjang Police Station, Kuala Lumpur
6
27 April 2014
Rahamat Md Noor
56
Bayan Baru Police Station, Penang
7
7 Jun 2014
Naidu Agin Raj
29
Bukit Mertajam Hospital and was held by Bandar Perda Police Station, Penang prior to the admission into hospital
8
7 Jun 2014
Kor Kheng Soon
43
Kuantan Police Station, Pahang

Police station, a place considered to be safe looks opposite in reality. The pertinent question remains, why do the suspects have to lose their lives after being detained and even before proven that they are guilty as charged? Why a detainee could die in police station for just spending a night in police lock-up?  

The possibilities of death after arrest can be attributed to two possibilities, one, poor screening and assessment of health condition of suspects detained; and two, torture or abuse by the police towards suspects during investigations.

An officer who fails to provide the necessary medical attention to a suspect is a clear sign of negligence. This negligence leads to death. It is even a greater crime when a suspect is tortured and subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment to coerce confession. Such torture and cruel treatment, leads to injuries, and at times, death.  

Every individual’s right to life is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. Article 5 provides that “…No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with the law… Similarly, Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “…Everyone has the right to life, to be free and to feel safe…”

It is high time for the government to address the root-causes of recurring death in custody cases. The government must address the rootcauses of death in custody and step up the medical check-up system and services in all police stations and legislate anti-torture law to prevent such incidents from happening again.

More importantly, there must be no impunity for police officer who have neglected their duties or committed acts of torture. They should be held accountable and brought to justice. The Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is needed more than ever to investigate public complaints against police officers who abused their power and restore the credibility and accountability of the police force.    

SUARAM demands an immediate end to these serious human rights violations. The failure to ensure effective mechanisms to hold the Malaysian police accountable highlight a serious lack of political will by the government to take genuine steps to reform the police force in this country.

Released by,

Theva Rajan
Coordinator


For inquiry, please contact Mr. Theva Rajan at +60 13 3845740 or email at righttojustice@suaram.net.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

AI claims 2 persons secretly executed in Malaysia in 2013? What is the source of this information?

Amnesty International claims in its Amnesty International's Death Sentences and Executions 2013 report that 2 persons were executed in Malaysia in 2013, but alas after perusing the said report, I saw no details as to who was executed or the source AI based in making this claim. Obviously, the advocates for the abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia, including the Malaysian Bar, is hearing this for the very first time. Such information or 'fact', when known should be speedily disseminated - not be delayed until a REPORT is published.

If the Malaysian Bar, for example, had been aware of this alleged 'secret executions', there would have been a strong response...and maybe even a strongly worded Resolution passed at the recent Malaysian Bar AGM in March. Likewise, there would have been strong reaction from about 30 civil society groups and trade unions that have called for the abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia.

If what AI is saying is true, that a person was executed for 'drug trafficking', we in Malaysia will even be more angry given the popular sentiment and even government indication that the mandatory death penalty(or death penalty) for drug offences will be abolished.

See earlier posts:-

Shocking attempt by Malaysia to hang Philip Michael discovered at the last minute and stopped

Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon (aka Philip Michael), convicted for murder, to be hanged on 14/3/2014 - Execution stayed & the Malaysian Minister and Attorney General helped in getting the execution stayed.

Chandran Paskaran saved at the last minute from being hanged to death

Chandran s/o Paskaran, convicted for murder was to hang on 7 February 2014 - the swift intervention by civil society groups led to the Sultan of Johore granting a stay of execution of the death sentence

It seems obvious that the Malaysian government and even the royalty will act swiftly to stop any executions - and, as such I have serious doubts about Amnesty International's claim that 2 were executed in Malaysia in 2013.

I have written to AI Malaysia asking for verification of this claim, and would inform the readers of this Blog if it TRUE or NOT the allegation that Malaysia executed 2 persons in 2013.

I believe that Malaysia is really serious about abolishing the death penalty, and in the meantime has stopped executing people. This is consistent with the increase in numbers of persons in death row, which at present may be about 900. 

 

 

Malaysia urged to ‘kill’ death penalty
Friday, 28 March 2014 08:57am
Image
by Lee Hooi Boon

KUALA LUMPUR: With 992 prisoners in death row in Malaysia, Amnesty International Malaysia today called on the federal government to do away with the death sentence.

Its executive director Shamini Darshni said that continuing to carry out the executions in secrecy and refusing to divulge information about the executions was in violation of international standards.

"Only one in 10 countries worldwide used the death penalty last year. It is shameful that Malaysia is still part of this isolated group," she told a press conference here to release Amnesty International's Death Sentences and Executions 2013 report.

She said that according to the report, there was a notable rise in death sentences imposed in Malaysia last year compared to the previous year.

In 2012, there were 60 death sentences handed down by the courts, while last year, the figure was 76, of which 37 were foreigners and 10 women, she said.

"At the same time, two people were put to death last year, one for murder and one for drug trafficking," she said, adding that both executions were carried out in secrecy.

She said the authorities did not make public the imminent executions and no post-mortem information was released.

She said that what made the executions even more disappointing is that there is actually genuine progress being made towards abolishing the death penalty in Malaysia.

This is in reference to the government's commitment in 2012 to review the law on mandatory death sentence for drug offences, she said. - The Sun Daily, 27/3/2014, Malaysia urged to ‘kill’ death penalty 
 
 

Malaysia

Amnesty International raps Putrajaya for carrying out executions in secrecy

BY LEE SHI-IAN
March 27, 2014
Amnesty International Malaysia today criticised Malaysia for continuing to carry out executions in secrecy, in direct violation of international standards.

"Only one in 10 countries worldwide used the death penalty last year," said executive director Shamini Darshni.

"It is shameful that Malaysia is still part of this isolated group where judicial systems are used to kill people."

She said that there were at least two executions which were known to have taken place in Malaysia last year.

One person was executed for murder while the other was for drug trafficking. Both executions were shrouded in secrecy.

"Authorities did not make any public announcement about the imminent executions nor were there any posthumous information about the executed individuals," Shamini said.

There was also a notable rise in death sentences imposed last year compared to 2012, Amnesty International found in its annual review of the death penalty globally.

"Last year's executions were disappointing because there had been genuine progress towards abolishing the death penalty in Malaysia," Shamini said.

She urged Putrajaya to review the law on mandatory death sentences for drug offences, as had been promised in 2012.

"The secrecy around executions in Malaysia has allowed Putrajaya to effectively kill individuals without public scrutiny," she said.

"Transparency is a safeguard of due process. But Putrajaya seems to be trying to hide its human rights abuses from the world."

Earlier this month, Putrajaya rejected all recommendations to establish a moratorium on executions and abolish the death penalty.

The recommendations were made by fellow United Nations member states at the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.

Amnesty International today published its report on the death penalty worldwide in 2013.

At least 778 executions were known to have been carried out in 22 countries in 2013, compared to 682 and 22 respectively in 2012.

These numbers, however, do not include China, where Amnesty International believes thousands were executed – more than the rest of the world put together.

But with executions treated as a state secret, the correct figure is impossible to determine.

The alarming rise in executions in 2013 was mainly due to Iran and Iraq, where authorities markedly stepped up their use of the death penalty.

The top five executing countries in 2013 were China (thousands), Iran (369), Iraq (169), Saudi Arabia (79) and the USA (39).

Despite the setbacks in 2013, there has been a steady decline in the number of countries using the death penalty over the last 20 years, and there was progress in all regions last year.

Many countries who executed in 2012 did not implement any death sentences last year, including Gambia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, where authorities again suspended the use of the death penalty, the report said.

Belarus also refrained from executions, meaning Europe and Central Asia was execution-free for the first time since 2009.

Twenty-five years ago, 37 countries actively implemented the death penalty.

This number had fallen to 25 by 2004 and was at 22 last year, said the report.

Only nine of the world’s countries have executed year on year for the past five years.

Methods of executions in 2013 included beheading, electrocution, firing squad, hanging and lethal injection.
Public executions took place in Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.

People faced the death penalty for a range of non-lethal crimes including robbery, drug-related and economic offences, as well as acts that should not be a crime at all such as “adultery” or “blasphemy”.

The report also said many countries used vaguely worded political “crime” to put real or perceived dissidents to death. – March 27, 2014, Malaysian Insider, Amnesty International raps Putrajaya for carrying out executions in secrecy

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Shocking attempt by Malaysia to hang Philip Michael discovered at the last minute and stopped


Press Release   
 
The Malaysian Bar Commends Swift Action by the Government in Stay of Execution of Death Sentence on Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon

The Malaysian Bar is heartened by, and welcomes, the stay of execution of the death penalty on Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon (aka Philip Michael), originally scheduled for 6:00 am today.  

The Malaysian Bar commends the swift action of the Government, and in particular the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, YB Puan Hajah Nancy Shukri, and the Honourable Attorney General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, in obtaining a stay of the execution.  

The execution of a criminal, albeit for a heinous crime, is not so much about his crime, but is about, and reflective of, our own humanity.

Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon is reported to have been convicted on a charge of murder, and has been on death row for 18 years.  He is said to be suffering from mental illness, namely schizophrenia.  He apparently did not apply for clemency, possibly because he was unable to make proper decisions as a result of his mental illness.  

Although it is reported that his mental illness developed after the commission of the crime, it is nevertheless unnecessary and unmerciful to kill a mentally ill person who has already been in jail for 18 years.  We ask that his death sentence be commuted to one of life imprisonment.

The Malaysian Bar advocates the abolition of the death penalty, in the belief that every individual has an inherent right to life.  This right is absolute, universal and inalienable, irrespective of any crimes that may have been committed.  The death penalty has no place in a society that values human life, justice and mercy.  

We understand that the Government is currently looking into law reforms in respect of the mandatory death penalty, with a view to its possible abolition or the reintroduction of a discretionary death penalty.  In light of such review, the Government should, in the interest of justice, implement and announce an immediate official moratorium on any and all executions of the death sentence.

The Malaysian Bar reiterates its call on the Malaysian Government to abolish the death penalty without delay.  Those who have been sentenced with the death penalty should all be resentenced.  

 
Christopher Leong
President
Malaysian Bar
14 March 2014
 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Malaysians charged in Sweden for hitting kids

Malaysians charged in Sweden for hitting kids
The couple have been held since December 18th, 2013. Screenshot: Facebook

Malaysians charged in Sweden for hitting kids

Published: 10 Feb 2014 12:01 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Feb 2014 12:01 GMT+01:00

A Malaysian couple accused of hitting their children in Sweden have been formally indicted in a case that has caused outrage back in Malaysia. If convicted, they face up to ten years in prison.
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The parents were arrested in December after being accused of hitting their children for not performing their prayers. They have been since been held on remand while their four children were taken by social services. 
 
On Monday, the prosecutor filed charges of gross violation of their children's integrity (grov fridskr√§nkning) and for assault. 
 
"In my judgement, the information provided by the children via remote video interrogation is trustworthy," prosecutor Anna Arnell said in a statement. 
 
"Together with other accompanying proof, such as witnesses and items that have been seized from the home, there are good grounds for the indictment."
 
The news came as a welcome relief to the mother of the children, who has struggled with life in a remand centre as the investigation proceeded.
 
"My client is relieved that the prosecutor has finally brought charges, as she will now be able to prove her innocence," Kristofer Stahre, the mother's defence lawyer, told The Local.
 
"She has been waiting a long time for this, it's been a tough time for her in jail, but now she is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."
 
The trial is set to begin on February 18th and is expected to last ten days.
 
"It's difficult to speculate what will happen, but of course I hope my client will be freed. She hasn't done any of the things of which she's been accused," Stahre added.
 
The couple has lived in Sweden for three years. The father, Azizul Raheem Awalludin, works for Tourism Malaysia in Stockholm and has worked for his country's tourism ministry since 2000. His wife, Shalwati Nurshal, is a secondary school teacher on unpaid leave. The Swedish foreign ministry said neither Awalludin nor Nurshal are registered as diplomats, leading prosecutors to conclude that diplomatic immunity does not apply in the case.
 
The case has stirred a heated reaction in Malaysia, where the four children were returned in early February. A Facebook group lobbying for the parents' return to Malaysia has almost 20,000 followers, and many took to Twitter to share their outrage alongside the hashtag #SwedenLetThemGo.
 
Kristofer Stahre has said the situation was the result of a "clash of cultures". Sweden was the first country in the world to outlaw corporal punishment back in 1979. In Muslim-majority Malaysia, corporal punishment is allowed in schools.
 
The case is not the first time a diplomat from abroad has got caught on the wrong side of the saw. In 2011, an Italian politician was convicted for assaulting his son during a Stockholm holiday, in a case that stirred heated debate in Sweden and Italy.