Saturday, October 11, 2014

When will Malaysia be like Pakistan and declare a moratorieum on executions

Yes, Pakistan has a moratorium on executions since 2008, when will Malaysia follow suit? And the new government is continuing with it

“Pakistan has decided to continue with the moratorium on capital punishment since the government is aware of its international commitments and is following them,” said Omar Hamid Khan, an interior ministry spokesman.- Dawn.com, 3/10/2013, Pakistan to continue moratorium on capital punishment

Last-minute LHC ruling stays Shoaib’s execution




ISLAMABAD: Shoaib Sarwar survived a close call with death sentence after Lahore High Court, Rawalpindi bench, ruled to stay the sessions court decision of 1998.

Shoaib had murdered Qais Nawaz on January 21, 1996. Shoaib is among 8,500 other criminals on death row in Pakistan, by far the world’s largest number of such inmates in the world.

The previous PPP government decided to adopt a moratorium on death sentence despite opposition from various state institutions.

The government, according the LHC verdict issued today, did not respond adequately on the issue of Shoaib’s sentence. Thus, the court’s Rawalpindi Bench - Justice Mahmood Maqbool Bajwa and Justice Aalia Neelum – Tuesday granted a stay of execution on the death sentence.

In sync with the previous policy, the government had announced a moratorium in 2013 to respect Pakistan’s international commitments and requirements for the much-coveted EU GSP+ trade status. Sources in the interior ministry say that the PMLN government may have to lift the moratorium to execute Taliban extremists on death row. There’s, however, no official word from the government on the issue of death penalty.

The bench was told that Shoaib was party to a petition for the abolition of the death penalty before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and that any execution order handed out by the High Court cannot be acted upon till the matter remains with the apex court. Shoaib Sarwar also has a mercy petition pending in the office of the President of Pakistan.- Daily Times, 17/9/2014, Last-minute LHC ruling stays Shoaib’s execution

Pakistan suspends execution of Shoaib Sarwar

Pakistan called off the scheduled hanging of Shoaib Sarwar convicted on murder charges in what would have been the first execution of a civilian in six years, officials said on Wednesday.

Shoaib, convicted in 1998, was ordered to be hanged at Adiyala Prison in Rawalpindi city on Thursday, drawing outrage from national and international rights groups.

Officials said the execution also endangered a lucrative trade deal with the European Union.

A court on Tuesday ordered the hanging postponed for a month, a prison official said on condition of anonymity.- The Hindu, 17/9/2014, Pakistan suspends execution of Shoaib Sarwar


Pakistan to continue moratorium on capital punishment

Updated Oct 03, 2013 05:05pm
An interior minister spokesman said the government had decided to continue with the moratorium. — File photo 
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has scrapped plans to reinstate the death penalty, the government said on Thursday, following threats by Taliban militants to step up attacks in retaliation.

A 2008 moratorium on capital punishment imposed by Pakistan's previous government expired on June 30 and the country had been due to execute two jailed militants in August — a plan described by the Pakistani Taliban as an act of war.

“Pakistan has decided to continue with the moratorium on capital punishment since the government is aware of its international commitments and is following them,” said Omar Hamid Khan, an interior ministry spokesman.

The new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had originally said it wanted to reinstate the death penalty in a bid to crack down on criminals and militants in a move strongly criticised by international human rights groups.

In this respect, in August, the government had decided to hang four convicts on death row. The four prisoners, including two members of the banned sectarian outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ), were scheduled to be executed at the Sukkur jail and Karachi Central prison on August 20, 21 and 22.

However, a temporary stay was ordered on these executions following objections from then president Asif Ali Zardari and rights groups.

Up to 8,000 people presently languish on death row in dozens of Pakistan's overcrowded and violent jails.
Pakistan's moratorium drew praise because of concerns its courts and police were too inept to ensure the accused a fair trial. Pakistan did, however, break its own rules in 2012 when it executed a convicted murderer and a former army serviceman. - Dawn.com, 3/10/2013, Pakistan to continue moratorium on capital punishment


Friday, October 10, 2014

Expedite abolition of the death penalty (MADPET statement carried by Malaysiakini)

Expedite abolition of the death penalty

Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet), on the occasion of the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty today, reiterates the urging for Malaysia to abolish the death penalty and immediately impose a moratorium on executions pending abolition as per the United Nation General Assembly’s Resolutions that have been adopted in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, whereby every year the support of the global community has been increasing.

The possibility of miscarriage or failure of justice in the implementation of the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable is one reason why the death penalty needs to be abolished.

We recall the words of the then-minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz - “No criminal justice system is perfect. You take a man’s life and years later, you find out that another person did the crime. What can you do?” (The Star, Aug 29, 2010, ‘Abolish death penalty, it’s incorrect to take someone’s life, says Nazri’) - which becomes even more significant today in the light of the recent cases which resulted in the death of an innocent man, and spending up to 45 years on death row.
  • "My son was killed for a crime he did not commit... our family has lived in shame and neighbours never spoke to us. Whatever apology or compensation the government promises, it is too late.” - Wang Tsai-lien, mother of Chiang Kuo-ching who was coerced into making a confession and subsequently executed in error in 1997 in Taiwan. In January 2011, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice admitted that Chiang Kuo-ching, a private in the air force, had been executed in error in 1997 for a murder committed 15 years previously.
  • On March 27, 2014, 78-year-old Iwao Hakamada, who had spent more than 45 years on death row, was freed. A retrial was ordered. The presiding judge, Hiroaki Murayama, when releasing Hakamada, also had this to say, “There is a possibility that [key pieces of] evidence have been fabricated by investigative bodies.”
  •  In March 2014, Glenn Ford in the USA was freed from death row after 30 years. Evidence had surfaced that he was innocent. Ford becomes the 144th death row inmate to be exonerated over the past four decades, underlining the perils of innocent people being sent to their deaths in America’s capital punishment system.
The problems of miscarriage of justice is that many a time it is linked to the police and prosecutors, and just this month, in Vietnam for having upheld the sentence of a man sentenced to life in a prison for a murder he did not commit, a former judge has been arrested and is being investigated for gross negligence, whilst the police and prosecutors are being investigated on charges of “deliberate falsification of trial documents”.

Lawyers, too, can cause miscarriage of justice, more so when many a person facing the death penalty cannot afford their own lawyers and will have to rely on court-appointed lawyers. 

Now, in Malaysia noting the number of death in police custody cases, we have to be even more concerned. Persons tortured will admit to committing an offence even when innocent.

Police, prosecutors, defence lawyers, judges  and even witnesses can make mistakes, and innocent persons can end up being hanged. There are likely to be many cases of innocent persons languishing on death row, waiting to be hanged, but alas because of lack of resources or support, this fact of their innocence will never likely be brought out.

Failure to act as a deterrent

Another reason that has been advance by Malaysia for the retention of the death penalty has been deterrence - the fact that people will be put to death will scare possible perpetrators and reduce crime but alas this assertion has never been proven scientifically. Much research have shown that the contrary it true.

In March 2012, it was also revealed in Parliament by then-home minister Hishammuddin Hussein that the mandatory death penalty has been shown to have failed to act as a deterrent.
Police statistics for the arrests of drug dealers under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries the mandatory death penalty, for the past three years (2009 to 2011) have shown an increase. In 2009, there were 2,955 arrested under this section. In 2010, 3,700 people were arrested, whilst in 2011, there were 3,845 arrested.(Free Malaysia Today, March 19, 2012, ‘Death penalty not deterring drug trade’).

Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairperson Lee Lam Thye also did note in July 2013 that the death sentence had not deterred the drug trade.

In Malaysia, the majority of the persons that are in death row are for drug offences, but alas, unlike the norm in most criminal cases where the burden of proving all elements that constitute the crime is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, in the case of drug trafficking which carries the death penalty, the burden shifts to the accused person to prove that he is not a drug trafficker.

Possession of a certain quantity of drugs invokes the legal presumption that the person in possession is a drug trafficker; and reasonably it will be a near impossible task for any accused to prove that drugs were not his, or that he is not a drug trafficker. Most accused persons do not have the resources for investigation, or even the ability to identify and/or call witnesses.

The existence of such a legal presumption and the shifting of the burden to the accused to prove his innocence would, in our opinion, make such trials an unfair trial.

It is very serious when we consider that since 1960 until 2011, 228 persons(or 52 percent of those hanged) executed in Malaysia was for the offence of drug trafficking, and there was then 479 (or 69 percent) persons on death row for the same offence. (Home Minister’s reply, Free Malaysia Today, April 3, 2011).

There was a total 930 death row prisoners were in jails in the country as of Aug 31, 2012.(New Straits Times, Oct 10, 2012, ‘930 on death row as of Aug 31, says Abu Seman’). Today, there will be even more on death row

It was disturbing when Malaysia tried to hang Chandran s/o Paskaran, convicted for murder on Feb 7, 2014, and later Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon (aka Philip Michael), convicted for murder, on March 14, 2014 but thankfully through the intervention of the royalty, the attorney-general and the government that was initially moved by civil society, their lives was saved.

These attempts to execute was most disturbing since Malaysia seem to have not hanged any person for several years, and was also currently seriously reviewing and considering the abolition of the death penalty. It should also be stated that Malaysia needs to be more open and transparent with statistics and information especially if there will be any pending executions.

Global trend is towards abolition

The global trend is towards abolition, and Malaysia shamefully sits together with about 58 retentionist countries. There are 140 countries that have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, and this includes five out of the 10 Asean nations, being Brunei, Phillipines, Cambodia, Myanmmar and Laos.

Madpet has been urging the abolition of the death penalty since 2005. On May 7, 2006, a call-in poll conducted by a local radio station revealed that 64 percent of Malaysian were for abolition. On Nov 3, 2012, 79 groups including 29 Malaysian groups urged the abolition of the death penalty.

At the last Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia in October 2013, United Nations member countries urged Malaysia to abolish capital punishment and repeal oppressive laws. The European Union has been urging abolition, the last being on Oct 9, 2014.

On July 22, 2014, once again the Malaysian Human Rights Commission urged the abolition of the death penalty, seeking at the very least the removal of the mandatory death sentence and returning to the courts (judges) the discretionary powers in imposing much more appropriate sentences, including life sentences. The Malaysian Bar has been constantly urging the abolition of the death penalty.

Madpet reiterates its urging for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia, for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition and for the commutation of the sentences of all persons currently on death row.

We also urge Malaysia to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Stop executing criminals with mental problems



CHARLES HECTOR wrote this article for and on behalf of Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet).
 

Stop executing criminals with mental problems

0:22AM Oct 10, 2014 By Liew Chin Tong

Stop executing criminals with mental problems




MP SPEAKS This year, the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty, which is celebrated on Oct 10 every year, focuses on drawing attention to people with mental health problems who are at risk of execution under the death sentence of the state.

While the ultimate goal of the abolitionists is to end the death penalty, they are also committed to seeing international human rights standards implemented, pending that aim being achieved.

Among these is the requirement that persons with mental illness or intellectual disabilities should not face the death penalty.

The death penalty is a controversial subject in most societies.

The most important argument against the death penalty is that it is irreversible upon execution of a person, even if found innocent much later.

In Malaysia, a parliamentary roundtable was held in June 2011 which reached the view that there should be:
  1. A moratorium on execution, upon a thorough review of the death penalty; and
     
  2. An immediate end to mandatory death sentences by returning discretion to the judges.
There has not been much progress since the June 2011 meeting, apart from the attorney-general’s commitment to review the death penalty, following the framework of Malaysia's commitment in its Universal Periodic Review report presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Failure to deter crimes

One aspect that requires attention relates to mandatory death sentences for drug offences.

I would like to refer to a parliamentary reply by the home minister in response to my question in March 2011.

The reply states that out of the total number of Death Row inmates executed between 1960 and 2011, 51 percent, or 228 out of 441 persons, were for drug convictions.


Of the inmates on Death Row, as of 2011 statistics, 67 percent (479 out of 696 persons) are there after conviction on drug offences.

It is alarming that when I next received another parliamentary reply in June 2013, there were already 964 inmates in the Death Row, compared with 696 in February 2011.

This is a whopping increase of 38 percent. From what I understand, most of the new death row inmates were convicted under drug offences.

Such an increase shows that the death penalty fails to deter the occurrence of crime in the first place.

Mercy for drug mules

Many of those convicted under drug offences are drug mules of very young age; this category of offenders should be distinguished from hardened drug traffickers.

Singapore recently amended its law to allow drug mules on death row who cooperate with the prosecution to be re-sentenced.

Thus far, two Malaysians – Yong Vui Kong and Cheong Chun Yin – have been given a second chance in life.

On the occasion of the World Day Against the Death Penalty, I urge the Malaysian government to commit to the following:
  • To impose a moratorium on executions, pending a thorough review of the death penalty;
     
  • To return discretion to the judges by removing the mandatory death penalty; and,
     
  • To improve the prison conditions for Death Row inmates.



LIEW CHIN TONG is the MP for Kluang and DAP national political education director.

Source: Malaysiakini, 10/10/2014,  Stop executing criminals with mental problems

Thursday, October 09, 2014

MALAYSIA SHOULD EXPEDITE THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY




MALAYSIA SHOULD EXPEDITE THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY


MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture), on the occasion of the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty (10/10/2014) reiterates the call for Malaysia to abolish the Death Penalty, and immediately impose a moratorium on executions pending abolition as per the United Nation General Assembly’s Resolutions that have been adopted in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, whereby every year the support of the global community has been increasing.


The possibility of miscarriage or failure of justice in the implementation of the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable is one reason why the Death Penalty needs to be abolished. We recall the words of the then Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz. “No criminal justice system is perfect. You take a man’s life and years later, you find out that another person did the crime. What can you do?(Star, 29/8/2010, Abolish death penalty, it’s incorrect to take someone’s life, says Nazri), which becomes even more significant today in the light of the recent cases which resulted in the death of an innocent man, and spending up to 45 years on death row 

* "My son was killed for a crime he did not commit…. our family has lived in shame and neighbours never spoke to us. Whatever apology or compensation the government promises, it is too late.”- Wang Tsai-lien, mother of Chiang Kuo-ching who was coerced into making a confession and subsequently executed in error in 1997 in Taiwan. In January 2011, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice admitted that Chiang Kuo-ching, a private in the Air Force, had been executed in error in 1997 for a murder committed 15 years previously.


* On 27 March 2014, 78 year old Iwao Hakamada, who had spent more than 45 years on death row was freed. A retrial was ordered. The presiding judge, Hiroaki Murayama, when releasing Hakamada also had this to say, "There is a possibility that [key pieces of] evidence have been fabricated by investigative bodies,"


* In March 2014, Glenn Ford in USA was freed from death row after 30 years. Evidence had surfaced that he was innocent. Ford becomes the 144th death row inmate to be exonerated over the past four decades, underlining the perils of innocent people being sent to their deaths in America’s capital punishment system.

The problems of miscarriage of justice is that many a time it is linked to the police and prosecutors, and just this month, in Vietnam for having upheld the sentence of a man sentenced to life in a prison for a murder he did not commit, a former Judge has been arrested and is being investigated for gross negligence, whilst the police and prosecutors are being investigated on charges of “deliberate falsification of trial documents.” Lawyers too can cause miscarriage of justice, more so when many a person facing the death penalty cannot afford their own lawyers and will have to rely on court appointed lawyers.  

Now, in Malaysia noting the number of death in police custody cases, we have to be even more concerned. Persons tortured will admit to committing an offence even when innocent.


Police, prosecutors, defence lawyers, judges  and even witnesses can make mistakes, and innocent persons can end up being hanged. There are likely to be many cases of innocent persons languishing on death row, waiting to be hanged, but alas because of lack of resources or support, this fact of their innocence will never likely be brought out.


Another reason that has been advance by Malaysia for the retention of the death penalty has been deterrence – the fact that people will be put to death will scare possible perpetrators and reduce crime but alas this assertion has never been proven scientifically. Many research have shown that the contrary it true.


In March 2012, it was also revealed in Parliament by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein that the mandatory death penalty has been shown to have failed to act as a deterrent. Police statistics for the arrests of drug dealers under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries the mandatory death penalty, for the past three years (2009 to 2011) have shown an increase. In 2009, there were 2,955 arrested under this section. In 2010, 3,700 people were arrested, whilst in 2011, there were 3,845 arrested.(Free Malaysia Today News, 19/3/2012, Death penalty not deterring drug trade). Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye also did note in July 2013 that the death sentence had not deterred the drug trade.


In Malaysia, the majority of the persons that are in death row are for Drug Offences, but alas, unlike the norm in most criminal cases where the burden of proving all elements that constitute the crime is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, in the case of drug trafficking which carries the death penalty, the burden shifts to the accused person to prove that he is not a drug trafficker. Possession of a certain quantity of drugs invokes the legal presumption that the person in possession is a drug trafficker; and reasonably it will be a near impossible task for any accused to prove that drugs were not his, or that he is not a drug trafficker. Most accused persons do not have the resources for investigation, or even the ability to identify and/or call witnesses. The existence of such a legal presumption and the shifting of the burden to the accused to prove his innocence would, in our opinion, make such trials an unfair trial.  


It is very serious when we consider that since 1960 until 2011, 228 persons(or 52% of those hanged) executed in Malaysia was for the offence of drug trafficking, and there was then 479(or 69%) persons on death row for the same offence. (Home Minister’s Reply, Free Malaysia Today, 3/4/2011) There was a total 930 death row prisoners were in jails in the country as of Aug 31 2012.(New Straits Times, 10/10/2012, 930 on death row as of Aug 31, says Abu Seman), Today, there will be even more on death row

It was disturbing when Malaysia tried to hang Chandran s/o Paskaran, convicted for murder on 7/2/2014, and later Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon (aka Philip Michael), convicted for murder, on 14/3/2014 but thankfully through the intervention of the Royalty, Attorney General and the government that was initially moved by civil society, their lives was saved. This attempts to execute was most disturbing since Malaysia seem to have not hanged any person for several years, and was also currently seriously reviewing and considering the abolition of the Death Penalty. It should also be stated that Malaysia needs to be more open and transparent with statistics and information especially if there will be any pending executions.



The global trend is towards abolition, and Malaysia shamefully sits together with about 58 retentionist countries. There are 140 countries that have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, and this includes 5 out of the 10 ASEAN nations, being Brunei, Phillipines, Cambodia, Myanmmar and Laos.


MADPET has been calling for the abolition of the death penalty since 2005. On 7/5/2006, a call- in-poll conducted by a local radio station revealed that 64% of Malaysian were for abolition. In 3/11/2012, 79 groups including 29 Malaysian groups called for the abolition of the Death Penalty. At the last Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia in October 2013, United Nations member countries urged Malaysia to abolish capital punishment and repeal oppressive laws. The European Union have been calling for abolition, the last being on 9/10/2014. On 22/7/2014, once again the Malaysian Human Rights Commission called for the abolition of the death penalty, urging at the very least the removal of the mandatory death sentence and returning to the courts (judges) the discretionary powers in imposing much more appropriate sentences, including life sentences. The Malaysian Bar has been constantly calling for the abolition of the death penalty. 


MADPET reiterates its call for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia, for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition and for the commutation of the sentences of all persons currently on death row;



We also call on Malaysia to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).


Charles Hector
For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

10 October 2014

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Pakistan decided to establish a moratorium or suspend executions

At high-level event, UN officials call for end to death penalty

UN Photo/Martine Perret
 
25 September 2014 – The continuing application of capital punishment is a “primitive” practice which has no place in the 21st century, United Nations officials declared today, as they pressed global leaders to set course towards abolishing the death penalty and advancing a more progressive judicial agenda in their respective States.

“We are seeing substantial progress towards the universal abolition of the death penalty,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson declared in his opening remarks at the high-level event, Moving Away from the Death Penalty: National Leadership, held on the margins of the annual General Assembly debate.

“The right to life represents everything the UN stands for,” he affirmed, adding that the application of the death penalty deprived people of their lives “arbitrarily and cruelly” and that the practice itself was “unjust and incompatible with human rights.” 

Mr. Eliasson urged world leaders gathered at the event to make strides in bringing about either a moratorium or the abolishment of capital punishment in their respective nations. In addition, he called on all States to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which seeks to abolish the death penalty across the globe.

“We call on you to show principled leadership on the matter of the death penalty,” he continued. “Depriving a person of his or her life is incompatible with life in the 21st century. Let us do away with the death penalty. In doing so we reaffirm faith in human life.”

The event also marked the release of a new publication produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), entitled Moving Away from the Death Penalty: Arguments, Trends and Perspectives, which places particular focus on the political leadership required to move away from capital punishment. 

In his remarks to the event, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein underscored the need to reform judicial systems around the world, noting that only then would a practice based on vengeance truly be defeated. 

“Revenge alone is not justice,” said the High Commissioner, who encouraged the international community to “set course” towards a “more sophisticated, more human” form of justice which goes beyond punishment and seeks “a genuine recognition by the wrongdoers of their wrongdoing.”

“As we work toward that objective, enabling contrition, we must continue to put an end to the application of the death penalty, which is the very example of human vengeance at its worst,” he declared. 

The High Commissioner dismissed capital punishment as “degrading and cruel in more than one sense” and acknowledged that it was “often discriminatory” of the condemned, disproportionately affecting the poor, the mentally ill, the powerless and minorities. 

But he admitted to being “impressed and heartened” by what he described as a “strong momentum” towards a global abolition of the practice. 

Recently, Equatorial Guinea, Pakistan, and the states of Washington, Maryland and Connecticut in the United States decided to establish a moratorium or suspend executions while last April, El Salvador, Gabon and Poland acceded to the Second Optional Protocol. These countries join more than 160 other Members States who have already either eliminated capital punishment or do not practice it. 

“These decisions to cease judicially sanctioned killings have been taken thanks to principled political leadership,” the High Commissioner confirmed, while urging those Member States that continue to apply the death penalty to liaise with his office and receive assistance on possible ways to abolish capital punishment.

“The death penalty is too severe a sanction in the hands of humans,” he concluded. “Surely, we cannot reach far into the 21st century, claim to be an ever more sophisticated humanity, and still be practicing it. Its application must now be suspended by all States.”- UN News Centre,25/9/2014, At high-level event, UN officials call for end to death penalty

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Draconian Sedition law victim freed after 485 days in prison...Abolish the Sedition Act

After 485 days in prison, Uthaya has 'no regrets'


Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar today walked out of prison to a hero’s welcome after 485 days of incarceration for sedition.

Some 60 Hindraf supporters, clad in the movement’s trademark orange colour, converged outside Kajang Prison in support of Uthayakumar, who was driven out in a prison van at 9.45am.
Uthayakumar alighted from the vehicle with his belongings - several bundles of court documents and books - as he was greeted in  a carnival-like atmosphere, with drumbeats and hugs from supporters.
 
His teary wife S Indra Devi stood in a corner with a wide smile.

"My first words are I have no regrets. In every struggle of every public cause, a price has to be paid," Uthayakumar told journalists.

His release comes amid a string of prosecutions against politicians and activists under the Sedition Act in a recent crackdown on criticism.

The Hindraf leader was sentenced to 30 months’ jail by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on June 5, 2013, after accusing Putrajaya of genocide against ethnic Indians.

The Court of Appeal on Sept 17 upheld Uthayakumar’s sentence but commuted the punishment from 30 months to 24 months.
Uthayakumar, who wore the same Hindraf T shirt when he went into prison, said the only time he cried was when his mother died.
 
"The only day I cried in prison was when my beloved mother Kalaivany passed away and the prison authorities had the week before refused my written application to visit her in hospital," he said.
 
Appearing in high spirits, a defiant Uthayakumar reiterated that he would continue his struggle against racial discrimination.

'Let me be the last one'
 
He also set his sights on the series of recent sedition charges, and called for an immediate stop to the prosecutions.
 
"From the gates of Kajang Prison, I hereby call upon Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to direct the dropping of all pending sedition charges and to forthwith repeal the Sedition Act.
 
"Let me be the last sedition case prisoner to walk out of Kajang Prison today, just as I was the last Internal Security Act (ISA) political prisoner to have walked out of Kamunting Prison on May 9, 2009," he said.
 
Uthayakumar was detained under ISA for 17 months, shortly after the Nov 25, 2007 Hindraf rally, which saw some 30,000 Indian Malaysians protesting against discrimination.
 
He also stressed that the Hindraf would remain apolitical, stating that the movement would not change its colours to dark blue nor light blue, in apparent reference to BN and PKR.
 
"We believe a change in government will make for a better Malaysia.
 
"Much as we like to support the opposition, we are still waiting for them to publicly declare their support for the outlawing of all the aforesaid racially discriminatory policies and practices and undoing these injustices, beginning in the three states that they are ruling," he said.
 
Uthayakumar also thanked his supporters as well as lawyers, former Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran and former Kota Alam Shah assemblyperson M Manoharan, who visited him every week without fail and were also present today.
 
"Finally, my beloved wife Indra and my daughters Puvenes and Jega, who kept the twice weekly vigil and prayed for my safety and well-being in prison," he said.

Proud to be the wife
 
A delighted Indra later embraced her husband, who gave her a peck on the cheek.
"I am very happy to see my husband, it's not easy, we went through a lot of depression and sadness.
 
"It's very hurting because when he was under ISA, I could at least hug him but here in the prison, it's all covered up in glass and we can only talk through telephone," she said.
 
Despite her ordeal, Indra said, she wants her husband to continue with his fight.
 
"I am very proud of him... I am proud to have married the man who is fighting for the Indian poor.
 
"The struggle will go on. I am happy and glad that he is back with the family," she said. - Malaysiakini, 3/10/2014, After 485 days in prison, Uthaya has 'no regrets'
 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tortured into 'confessing' death-row inmate in China freed by court after 6 years..

One person told me sometime back that if they beat him again, he would have confessed even to murder although he was innocent. So, I am not surprised with this case where torture was used... We really have to put an end to torture in police custody.

The other point to note is that even in China, there is video recording - in Hong Kong, all is recorded from the time the suspect is brought to the police station, the interogation/questioning, etc and when he/she is charged in court, the lawyer is given a copy of this CD (maybe now DVD). Malaysia should also have a similar practice - it would be good to prove to everyone that Malaysian police are professional and do not resort to torture, etc 

China court frees man after six years on death row

China court frees man after six years on death row
A Chinese court on Friday declared innocent a man sentenced to death six years ago for a double killing, in a case which highlighted flaws in the country's legal system.

Nian Bin, a former food-stall owner, was convicted of poisoning two children and condemned to die in 2008, and had been held in custody ever since.

His case went through multiple appeals, with lawyers arguing that the evidence against him was insufficient and police had tortured him into confessing, until the high court of Fujian province quashed his conviction Friday and freed him.

Acquittals in China's Communist-controlled court system are extremely rare - 99.93 per cent of defendants were found guilty last year, according to official statistics.

Beijing does not say how many people it executes each year. But independent estimates put the total around 3,000 in 2012, a figure higher than all other countries combined.

The use of force to extract confessions remains widespread in the country, leading to a number of miscarriages of justice.

"None of the evidence presented in the case can be properly verified," the Fujian court said in a microblog post announcing Nian's innocence.

His lawyer Si Weijiang wrote in an online post: "We hope that the reversal of the verdict in this case can allow other unjust verdicts to be overturned.

"His family home has been subject to revenge attacks, his daughter's mental health has suffered, while his wife has waited in pain for six years," he added.

Nian, now 38, told a previous court hearing that police had hung him from a hook and beaten him until he confessed, reports said.

He was first detained by police in 2006, after two children died and four other people fell ill in a family near his home, apparently from consuming rat poison.

The UK-based rights group Amnesty International said in a statement that the quashing of Nian's conviction was "another reminder of the need to immediately end all executions and abolish the death penalty in the country".

"The ever present risk of executing innocent people is just one of many compelling arguments against the death penalty," it added.

China has occasionally exonerated wrongfully executed convicts after others came forward to confess their crimes, or in some cases because the supposed murder victim was later found alive.
- See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/asia/china-court-frees-man-after-six-years-death-row#sthash.k0G0WoaB.dpuf - AsiaOne, 22/8/2014


 

Rare acquittal for China murder convict on death row

Police guards stand in a hallway inside the No.1 Detention Center during a government guided tour in Beijing on 25 October 2012. China is believed to execute thousands of prisoners held in jail every year
A man convicted of murdering two children has been acquitted by China's highest court, in a rare move.

The Fujian Supreme Court found there was insufficient evidence that Nian Bin, a grocery shop owner, had poisoned his fellow villagers with rat poison leading to the death of two children.

Mr Nian was on death row for more than six years and repeatedly appealed against his verdict.
Lawyers said he was tortured into confession.

The BBC's John Sudworth says the exact figure is not known, but China is believed to execute thousands of prisoners every year and successful appeals are rare. 

Amnesty International said the case has highlighted "the ever present risk of executing innocent people" with the death penalty and the legal system's flaws.

"China's justice system is deeply flawed and more needs to be done to promptly address the failures of this case, including allegations of torture," said Anu Kultalahti, Amnesty's China researcher.

Mr Nian was accused of poisoning his neighbours in July 2006. Besides the two children who died, four others were injured.

Amnesty said Mr Nian, now aged 38, had made three appeals, undergone a supreme court review and three retrials which had been ordered due to insufficient evidence.

His case attracted prominent lawyers and wide attention in social media, reports the Associated Press.

In a statement sent to the BBC, Mr Nian's defence team said that during the lengthy retrial process, "it was very clear that all the evidence pointed to the fact that our client was not guilty".

They said that a video of Mr Nian's confession was missing at least one hour of footage.

"We hope that the country can address certain problems in our legal punishment processes highlighted by Nian Bin's case," they added. - BBC News, 22/8/2014, Rare acquittal for China murder convict on death row

ADPAN:- Japan must impose a moratorium and abolish the death penalty

Japan: Impose A Permanent Moratorium On All Executions And Take Urgent Steps Towards Its Abolition Of The Death Penalty

 

 

MEDIA STATEMENT – 31 AUGUST 2014



The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) condemns the execution of two Japanese death row prisoners, Mitsuhiro Kobayashi, age 56, and Tsutomu Takamizawa, age 59, who were executed on 29th August 2014 at Sendai Detention Center and Tokyo Detention Center respectively. This is the second and third execution in this year that took place within two months since last June when Masanori Kawasaki, aged 68 was executed on 26 June at Osaka Detention Center.


This recent executions of Mitsuhiro Kobayashi, Tsutomu Takamizawa and Masanori Kawasaki is really disappointing more so since the recent release of Iwao Hakamada on 27 March 2014, who had spent 45 years on death row. In Hakamada’s case, the court in releasing him expressed concern that investigators could have falsified the evidence against him.


Since Prime Minister Abe’s government took office in December 2012 eleven people have now been executed, whilst a total of 127 inmates remain on death row.


ADPAN, together with its member in Japan, Center for Prisoners’ Rights,  condemns these ‘secret executions’. The death penalty is a gross human rights violation, a state-sanctioned murder, unique in its cruelty and finality. Needless to say, death penalty is irreversible and cannot be remedied.


ADPAN, a network of Asia Pacific organizations and individuals working for the abolition of the death penalty, calls upon the Japanese government, also being a member of the UN Human Rights Council, to comply with United Nations General Assembly Resolutions adopted in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, and to immediately impose a moratorium on all executions and take steps towards the abolition of the death penalty.





Charles Hector

For an on behalf of ADPAN



For further information, please contact Ms Nalini at contactadpan@gmail.com  or  +60193758912.