Sunday, 25 September 2016

Australia should take a stand on Veloso

Source: Lowy Interpreter (23 September 2016)

http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2016/09/23/Australia-should-take-a-stand-on-Veloso.aspx

In April last year, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were among eight people executed by firing squad in Indonesia. Their deaths brought the issue of capital punishment to the forefront of Australia’s consciousness and reignited debate over the practice on a global scale.

The only woman in the group scheduled for execution that day, Philippines national Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, was given a last-minute reprieve in order to give testimony against a person accused of human and drug trafficking in the Philippines. Her death sentence has not been permanently commuted and could be reinstated. Veloso’s case attracted significant support in the Philippines and Indonesia, with many protesting her innocence and claiming that Veloso was an unwitting drug mule and victim of human trafficking.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has been subject to intense international scrutiny in recent months due to his promotion of vigilante attacks and extra-judicial killings of suspected drug offenders. Duterte was elected in May promising a war on drugs and has duly delivered, with over 3000 people killed on the streets since.

Earlier this month, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that Duterte intervened in Veloso’s case, telling Jokowi:‘Please go ahead if you want to execute her.’ Duterte’s spokesman denied this claim and said Duterte merely advised Indonesia to follow its own laws in the case.

Duterte’s intervention, regardless of exactly how it was phrased, was arguably out of kilter with the general expectation that governments seek clemency for their nationals facing execution in other countries. It leaves Veloso in greater uncertainty as to what outcome she can hope for, although the Philippines Justice Secretary believes it is still possible she may be spared and perhaps even released.

Both Indonesia and the Philippines have adopted hard-line stances against drug crime which allow the punishment of death for convicted drug offenders (formally, through the courts, in Indonesia and now informally, on the streets, in the Philippines).

Although international human rights law aims for the total abolition of capital punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that, where capital punishment is still practiced, it should be used only for the ‘most serious crimes.’ In 2013, the UN Human Rights Committee condemned the country’s continued use of the death penalty for drug trafficking as not meeting the threshold of ‘most serious crimes'. The committee instead recommended a review of legislation ‘to ensure that crimes involving narcotics are not amenable to the death penalty.’

Australia’s position on capital punishment has been for some time that in all cases it is a violation of human rights and should be abolished. It offends the right to life, respected under international human rights law. As I’ve argued elsewhere, Australia should also decry the death penalty as a form of torture, due to the methods used and the inherent terror in awaiting one’s own scheduled killing.

As was clear in the case of Chan and Sukumaran, Australia’s extremely selective advocacy on the behalf of people subject to the death penalty weakens its clemency campaigns for individual Australians at risk of execution. Australia’s abolitionist advocacy must be less partial and more principled if it is to be persuasive.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop initiated a parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty following her strong but unsuccessful advocacy for clemency on behalf of Sukumaran and Chan. Its terms of reference sought to improve Australia’s capacity to advocate effectively for death penalty abolition. To the credit of the inquiry committee, its report recommended the establishment of a whole-of-government strategy for abolition of the death penalty. It further recommended:

...intervening to oppose death sentences and executions of foreign nationals, especially in cases where there are particular human rights concerns, such as unfair trials, or when juveniles or the mentally ill are exposed to the death penalty

Julie Bishop took such an approach in July this year, when she reiterated Australia’s opposition to capital punishment in all cases in advance of Indonesia’s most recent round of executions.

Should Indonesia decide to return Veloso to death row and move towards execution, it would be especially important for Australia to advocate on her behalf. At the moment, Australia is vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy, including from Indonesia. The committee’s recommendation for broader and less partial advocacy against the death penalty will enable Australia to demonstrate the strength of its abolitionist stance. In turn, Australia may hope to more effectively influence other states to abandon capital punishment in law and practice.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Calls to abolish death penalty grow louder in Japan

Source: South China Morning Post (21 September 2016)

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/2021350/calls-abolish-death-penalty-grow-louder-japan

Japan’s use of the death penalty is expected to come under unprecedented domestic pressure when, for the first time, the country’s legal community calls for its abolition next month.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations, whose membership includes 37,000 lawyers and hundreds of other legal professionals, said it would declare its opposition to capital punishment at a meeting in early October due to growing concern over miscarriages of justice.

The declaration will put the federation at odds with the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, whose administration has executed 16 people since it took office in late 2012.

Successive Japanese governments have resisted pressure from the UN, the European Union and human rights groups to abolish the death penalty.

“If an innocent person or an offender who does not deserve to be sentenced to death is executed, it is an irrevocable human rights violation,” Yuji Ogawara, who heads a bar association panel on the death penalty, was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency.

“There are still lawyers who support the death penalty, but I think we have developed an environment that enables us to seek its abolition.”

The federation will call for an end to capital punishment by 2020, when Japan hosts a UN congress on crime prevention and criminal justice. It said life sentences without the possibility of parole should be considered as an alternative.

Japan and the US are the only G7 countries that continue to execute inmates, while more than 140 countries have abolished the death penalty either by law or in practice.

Doubts about the safety of convictions grew in 2014 after Iwao Hakamada was released after spending more than 45 years on death row. A court ordered a retrial in Hakamada’s murder case, amid suggestions that police investigators fabricated evidence against him.

The former professional boxer had been sentenced to hang in 1968 for the murders two years earlier of a company president, his wife and their two children.

In addition, four death row inmates were found not guilty after being granted retrials in the 1980s.

Japan has resisted calls to end capital punishment, citing opinion polls showing high levels of support for its retention. Public backing for the death penalty has remained strong during the trials of people accused of taking part in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, in which 13 people died and thousands were injured.

In a damning 2009 report, Amnesty International accused Japan of subjecting death row inmates to “ cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment. Prisoners typically spend many years in solitary confinement, and only learn of the timing of their execution, by hanging, hours before it takes place.

Amnesty recently criticised Japan for executing or placing mentally ill and intellectually challenged prisoners in solitary confinement.

Legal experts welcomed the federation’s decision.

“Having Japan’s largest human rights protection body come out in favour of eliminating the death sentence will have a huge impact,” Professor Kana Sasakura from Konan University in Kobe told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

There are now 124 inmates on death row in Japan, 89 of whom are seeking retrials, according to the justice ministry.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Widodo clarifies Duterte statement on Mary Jane Veloso – report

Source: GMA (16 September 2016)

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/581647/news/pinoyabroad/widodo-clarifies-duterte-statement-on-mary-jane-veloso-report

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has clarified his earlier statement on President Rodrigo Duterte supposedly allowing the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina convicted for drug trafficking in Indonesia.

A report on Channel News Asia quoted Widodo as saying that what Duterte told him during their September 9 meeting in Indonesia was "go ahead with the process in line with the law in Indonesia."

This confirmed MalacaƱang's earlier statement that Duterte, who was in Indonesia last week for a working visit, did not endorse Veloso's execution but instead told Widodo that he would not interfere with Indonesia's legal processes.

MalacaƱang made the clarification after a Jakarta Post report said Duterte has given the "go-ahead" to proceed with the execution of Veloso, a mother of two who was sentenced to die by firing squad for bringing 2.6 kilograms of heroin in Indonesia in 2010.

The Jakarta Post report was quoting Widodo.

Following the report, Veloso's family in the Philippines sought a meeting with Duterte so that the President could personally tell them what really transpired in his meeting with Widodo.

As of Friday afternoon, Duterte has yet to meet with the Veloso family.

Veloso's execution was put on hold last year to allow her to testify against her alleged recruiters whom she accused of tricking her into bringing the illegal drugs to the Yogyakarta Airport in 2010.

Her alleged recruiters, Ma. Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, are currently facing illegal recruitment, human trafficking and estafa cases before a local court in Nueva Ecija.

Indonesia had earlier said it would respect the legal processes in the Philippines regarding Veloso's case against her alleged recruiters. —KBK, GMA News

Monday, 12 September 2016

Duterte has given the green light for Mary Jane's execution: Jokowi

Source: The Jakarta Post (12 September 2016)

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/09/12/duterte-has-given-the-green-light-for-mary-janes-execution-jokowi.html

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Monday that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had given the green light for the execution of Filipina death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso.

"President Duterte has given the go-ahead to proceed with the execution,” Jokowi was quoted as saying by Antara news agency in Serang, Banten.

According to Jokowi, the legal process will be followed up by Attorney General M. Prasetyo.

“I have explained to [Duterte] about Mary Jane’s situation and I told him that Mary Jane [has been found guilty] for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin. I also told him about the delay in the execution during the meeting,” Jokowi said.

Veloso was arrested at Adisucipto Airport in Yogyakarta in April 2010.

Veloso was excluded from the list of the third round of executions prepared by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) in April, as legal procedures continue in a separate but related case in her country. Veloso was on the execution list last year but was granted a stay of execution because her alleged boss had been arrested in the Philippines, and the authorities there requested Indonesian assistance in pursuing the case. (dmr)

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Indonesia’s Push to Execute Drug Convicts Underlines Flaws in Justice System

Source: The New York Times (13 August 2016)

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/world/asia/indonesia-executions-drug-smuggling.html?_r=0

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Sixteen years ago, Zulfiqar Ali left his native Pakistan for Indonesia in search of a new life. Last month, that life was on the verge of ending in front of a firing squad.

Mr. Ali has been on Indonesia’s death row since 2005, after he was convicted of heroin trafficking. A government-ordered inquiry later found that he was probably innocent. Still, in July, he was one of 14 convicts, most of them foreigners, who were taken to the prison island of Nusakambangan off Java’s southern coast to be put to death.

Minutes before they were to be executed, on July 29, Mr. Ali and nine other convicts were given a reprieve, for reasons the government has yet to explain. But four were shot dead as scheduled, including a Nigerian who supporters say was framed. And Mr. Ali, like the rest who were spared, remains condemned.

More than a year after Indonesia drew international censure by putting to death 12 foreigners convicted of drug crimes, the country has resumed a war on narcotics by way of executions — and has again put a spotlight on its profoundly flawed justice system.

Critics in Indonesia and abroad say those flaws go so deep that the country should not employ the death penalty at all. Researchers have found that many condemned convicts were tortured by the police into confessing, did not receive access to lawyers or were otherwise denied fair trials.

The resumption of executions means “that the government has ignored that there is something seriously wrong with our judiciary and law enforcers,” said Robertus Robet, a lecturer and researcher at the State University of Jakarta’s sociology department. He characterized the government as “trigger-happy.”Photo

“When you execute someone, you execute the possibility of finding out the truth,” he said.

Amnesty International has denounced “the manifestly flawed administration of justice in Indonesia that resulted in flagrant human rights violations.” Similar concerns have been raised by the United Nations and the European Union, which sent a delegation to try to persuade Indonesia to spare inmates who were condemned to die last year.

Indonesia has long had the death penalty, but its use was sporadic in the years before President Joko Widodo took office in October 2014. Declaring drug abuse a “national emergency,” Mr. Joko denied clemency appeals from 64 death row inmates who had been convicted of drug crimes, most of them foreigners, and the government set a goal of executing all of them by the end of 2015.

That did not happen, but five drug convicts were put to death in January of that year, and eight more in April. (An Indonesian was also executed for murder in January.) Among the convicts executed in April, seven of whom were foreigners, were Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 34, Australians who were arrested in 2005 trying to smuggle heroin out of Bali, the resort island.

The men admitted their guilt, but their lawyers said the judge in the case was corrupt, having offered a lesser sentence in exchange for a bribe. Indonesia rejected appeals by the Australian government to spare them, and Australia withdrew its ambassador in protest.

Also executed in April was Rodrigo Gularte, 42, a Brazilian convicted of drug smuggling who had repeatedly been given a diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Indonesian law forbids the execution of mentally ill convicts.

Dave McRae, a senior research fellow at the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne in Australia who has researched the use of capital punishment in Indonesia, said that the deficiencies in the justice system here could be found in most countries that still used the death penalty.

“A lot of the objections to Indonesia’s use of the death penalty — inconsistent and arbitrary sentencing and application of the death penalty, allegations of corruption and wrongful convictions, questions over access to lawyers and interpreters and adequacy of representation — are questions that are raised all over the world,” he said.

Such concerns have been raised about the cases against some of the convicts spared last month — and some who were executed, including the Nigerian, Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke.

Mr. Eleweke was arrested in 2003 after the police found heroin at a restaurant he ran in Jakarta, the capital; he said an employee had planted it. His lawyers say that the police beat him until he confessed.

They also say that by law, an 11th-hour appeal for clemency issued to Mr. Joko should have automatically halted his execution. Last week, legal activists filed a complaint with a judicial watchdog against Indonesia’s attorney general, saying that Mr. Eleweke’s execution and those of two others should have been stopped because of those appeals, according to local news reports.

“We cannot have the death penalty here because of the judicial system — it’s problematic, it’s dysfunctional,” said Ricky Gunawan, director of the Community Legal Aid Institute, a nongovernmental organization that represented Mr. Eleweke.

Another allegation of corruption emerged just before the executions last month, when one of the men put to death, an Indonesian named Freddy Budiman, was quoted as saying that he had paid senior law enforcement officials more than $40 million to let his drug smuggling operation continue before he was arrested.Photo

That accusation was included in a report released by a rights activist, Haris Azhar, who had interviewed Mr. Budiman in prison; shortly thereafter, the police, the military and Indonesia’s anti-narcotics board, all of which were implicated in the report, filed a criminal defamation complaint against Mr. Azhar. On Thursday, Mr. Joko ordered those agencies to investigate the corruption allegations.

The case of Mr. Ali, the Pakistani who was spared execution, has also raised concerns.

Mr. Ali, who immigrated to Indonesia in 2000, was accused of drug dealing in 2004 by a friend, Gurdip Singh, who had been caught with heroin; Mr. Singh later said the police had pressured him and offered a reduced sentence to name accomplices. Mr. Ali’s lawyers say their client was arrested without a warrant at his home, where no drugs were found, and signed a confession after being beaten so badly in custody that he needed two operations.

Though Mr. Ali retracted his confession and Mr. Singh withdrew his accusation, both men were sentenced to death in 2005. But the severity of Mr. Ali’s beating drew attention to the case, and the government ordered an unusual inquiry, which concluded that he was likely to be innocent.

The government never acted on those findings, and Mr. Ali and Mr. Singh were among those who nearly faced a firing squad.

“He was never involved in drugs,” Mr. Ali’s wife, Siti Rohani, who lives in West Java Province with their three children, said in an interview.

A spokesman for Mr. Joko, Johan Budi, denied that the judicial system was dysfunctional, saying the executions had followed legal procedures.

Mr. Ali, along with Mr. Singh and several of the other convicts who were given reprieves, is still in prison on Nusakambangan Island, where Indonesia conducts executions. Ms. Siti said she and her husband’s family in Pakistan were in a torturous state of limbo.

“We’re just confused because there is no certainty about my husband’s fate,” she said.

M. Rum, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, declined to explain why Mr. Ali and the other convicts had been given reprieves, saying only that it was “for judicial and nonjudicial reasons.” But he said the executions would eventually be carried out.

Turkey PM steps back from calls for death penalty

Source: Channel News Asia (16 August 2016)

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/turkey-pm-steps-back-from/3048380.html

ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday (Aug 16) a fair trial would represent a harsher punishment for suspected coup plotters than the death penalty - an apparent step back from threats to re-introduce capital punishment.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had suggested Turkey could bring back capital punishment - abolished in 2004 as part of the country's reforms to join the European Union - in the wake of the Jul 15 failed coup aimed at ousting him from power.

The threat stunned the EU, which makes the abolition of capital punishment an unnegotiable condition for joining the bloc.

"A person dies only once when executed," Yildirim told ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) MPs in parliament. "There are tougher ways to die than the death (penalty) for them. That is an impartial and fair trial," Yildirim said.

The prime minister's comments marked a change in tone after Erdogan said earlier this month that if the Turkish public wanted a return to capital punishment, then political parties would follow their will.

Erdogan has also not mentioned the issue in his latest speeches in recent days.

Relations between Brussels and Ankara have already been strained since Turkey responded to the coup by launching a relentless crackdown against alleged plotters in state institutions, amid calls from the EU to act within the rule of law.

Tens of thousands of staff within the military, judiciary, civil service and education have been dismissed or detained since a rogue faction within the military tried to oust Erdogan from power.

Ankara blames Erdogan's ally-turned-foe Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher in self-exile in the United States, and his movement for ordering last month's coup bid. Gulen strongly denies the accusations.

Yildirim said Gulen would be brought to account for the attempted putsch during which 240 people lost their lives, excluding 34 coup plotters who were killed.

"Those responsible for the blood of our martyrs will be brought to account. We will not bring them to account acting out of revenge. We will bring them to account with justice," the prime minister said.

No judicial executions have taken place Turkey since left-wing militant Hidir Aslan was hanged on Oct 25, 1984 in the wake of the 1980 military coup.

- AFP/ec

Executions: Indonesia disregards its own laws

Source: The Jakarta Post (20 August 2016)

http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2016/08/20/executions-ri-disregards-its-own-laws.html

Recently, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) held another round of executions and, similar to last year’s executions, all those executed were drug offenders.

Hours after the executions, Attorney General M. Prasetyo reiterated that other countries should respect the sovereignty of Indonesian law, denying any appeals from countries concerned about the imposition of the death penalty in Indonesia.

The fact that the death penalty exists in our law is not in question, but this does not necessarily mean that the death penalty has always been implemented flawlessly.

In fact, given that the criminal justice system is human-made, it is inherently prone to human error.
In the days leading up to the execution, serious unfair trials and miscarriages of justice experienced by those to be executed were raised by lawyers, family members and human rights groups.

And now we have something more: an unlawful execution.

Outcries over the latest executions came from rights watchdogs, which identified two main errors.
First, at least two out of four of the executed — Seck Osmane and Humphrey Ejike — had pending clemency decisions.

According to the Article 13 of the Clemency Law, an execution of a prisoner who has filed a clemency petition cannot be carried out before the President has issued a presidential decree on the clemency decision.

Article 7 paragraph (2) of the same law previously regulated that one could lodge a clemency petition one year after one’s court decision was declared final and binding.

However, only last June the Constitutional Court declared that such a limitation was not in accordance with the 1945 Constitution and therefore revoked the article.

At that stage, neither of the two prisoners had filed clemency petitions until a few days before the executions. It seems obvious that legally speaking, both Seck and Humphrey still had a right to clemency and could not be executed before the President had made a decision over their petitions.

Second, the AGO violated the law on execution procedures, which regulates that executions cannot be carried out until 72 hours after a prosecutor notifies the condemned prisoners. All 14 death-row prisoners received their notification on July 26 around 3 p.m.

This meant that the executions could only be conducted, at the earliest, on the afternoon of July 29. In reality, the executions took place in the early hours of that day.

Given these two violations, it seems clear this latest round of executions was unlawful.

International communities have taken up these violations and condemned them. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, for example, called on Indonesia to put a moratorium in place, defining Indonesia as the “most prolific executioner in Southeast Asia”. Is this the international image that Indonesia wants to project?

European and Australian governments have also raised concerns over allegations of unfair trials, despite no European or Australian nationals being listed for execution.

This demonstrates that their appeal to Indonesia to halt the execution is not a matter of defending their own nationals, but rather a matter of universal principle.

A distinguished Islamic philosopher from Oxford University, Professor Tariq Ramadan, has also sent an open letter to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. He enlightened the President on how sharia sees the death penalty. He argues that “rahmah [compassion] is an absolute necessity, an essential principle, an imperative duty, even if there is no doubt and all the conditions are gathered”.

Despite the serious flaws and international criticisms, the AGO appeared adamant about its position on executions. Prasetyo has repeatedly said that other countries must respect the sovereignty of Indonesia’s law.

Talking about such sovereignty, the attorney general himself has violated Indonesian law with those infringements. How can we expect foreign countries to respect our sovereignty of law if the law enforcers themselves blatantly disregard it?

That seems to be a paradoxical position and a hypocritical standing. This legal calamity can go on no longer. President Jokowi must stop any further executions.

Thorough evaluation of death penalty cases by an independent team established by the President is imperative.In the meantime, while the team is reviewing all death penalty cases, Indonesia must implement a moratorium with a view to abolishing the death penalty for all crimes.

This third round of executions has shown us that even where an execution is “legal”, it does not mean that it is not intrinsically problematic.

Further, it potentially kills an innocent person. How many innocent lives must we end until we stop this senseless killing?
__________________________________________
The writer is a legal fellow at Reprieve UK, based in Jakarta. Reprieve UK advocates for worldwide abolition of the death penalty

Nathan grants zero presidential pardon during his 2 terms

Source: The Independent (27 August 2016)

http://theindependent.sg/nathan-grants-zero-presidential-pardon-during-his-2-terms/

S R Nathan, the longest serving president from 1999 to 2011 did not grant clemency to any death row inmates during his 2 terms as President.

This is according to the Singapore Working Group on the Death Penalty (SWGDP) in its statement issued on the 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty last October.

SWGDP stated, “Since Singapore’s independence, only seven clemencies have been granted (as at Oct 2015), with the last being exercised by the late President Ong Teng Cheong.”

It went on to reveal that of the 7 clemencies, two were granted in the term of President Benjamin Sheares, one under President Devan Nair, three under President Wee Kim Wee, and one under President Ong Teng Cheong.

Presidential clemencies granted by past Presidents:
• Benjamin Sheares (1971-1981): 2 in 10 years
• Devan Nair (1981-1985): 1 in 4 years
• Wee Kim Wee (1985 -1993): 3 in 8 years
• Ong Teng Cheong (1993-1999): 1 in 6 years
• S R Nathan (1999 – 2011): 0 in 12 years

The SWGDP is an advocacy group in Singapore which believes in giving convicted people a second chance to live. It advocates for the abolishment of the death penalty in Singapore as well as commits to raising awareness on issues surrounding the death penalty.

On its website, it said:

ALTHOUGH WE BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS OR HER MISTAKES AND THAT NO CRIME SHOULD GO UNPUNISHED, WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT UNJUST AND PROBLEMATIC LAWS AND PROCEDURES NEED TO BE DEBATED AND REVISED.

THE DEATH PENALTY IS AN IRREVERSIBLE PUNISHMENT AT THE END OF A PROCESS THAT IS PRONE TO HUMAN ERROR, WHICH MEANS THAT IT IS ALL TOO POSSIBLE THAT INNOCENT LIVES WILL BE TAKEN AWAY. AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN.

As at Oct 2015, the last clemency was granted by the late president Ong Teng Cheong in May 1998. He commuted Mr Mathavakannan Kalimuthu’s death sentence to life imprisonment. He was 19 when he and two other men killed a gangster in 1996.

‘I have to ask the man up there to forgive me’

After Nathan stepped down as President in 2011, he gave an interview to the media. During the interview, he was asked about granting presidential pardons during his 12-year term in office. He was asked if he found it difficult.

“The constitution clearly lays it down that I have to act on the advice of the cabinet, and the cabinet acts on the advice of the Attorney-General,” he said.

“You have a right to question it… through the process, you determine whether all the facts have been taken into account, whether there’s anything that needs special consideration.”

Upon further probing by a reporter from Yahoo, Nathan finally said, “Of course it’s a difficult thing when it comes to the death penalty. It’s a matter of conscience. That’s the law… and you do your best to see that there is justice done.”

“You are in no position to contradict the submission when you have not heard the case,” he continued. “You can’t purely go on human emotions.”

“I have to ask the man up there to forgive me for what is done for the good of society.”

Death penalty failing to deter drug trafficking in Iran - official

Source: Channel News Asia (27 August 2016)

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/death-penalty-failing-to/3078872.html

DUBAI: The death penalty has failed to reduce drug trafficking in Iran, a senior Iranian judiciary official said on Saturday shortly before the scheduled execution of 12 people for narcotics-related offences.

His criticism was unusual in a judiciary that has long been a bastion of the hardline security establishment in the Islamic Republic, which carries out more executions per capita than any other country. Nearly 1,000 prisoners were put to death in 2015, most of them for drug trafficking.

Most narcotics are smuggled into Iran along its long, often lawless border with Afghanistan, which supplies about 90 percent of the world's opium from which heroin is made.

"The truth is, the execution of drug smugglers has had no deterrent effect," Mohammad Baqer Olfat, deputy head of judiciary for social affairs, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

"We have fought full-force against smugglers according to the law, but unfortunately we are experiencing an increase in the volume of drugs trafficked to Iran, the transit of drugs through the country, the variety of drugs, and the number of people who are involved in it," Olfat said.

He said he had suggested to the judiciary chief that rather than the death penalty, traffickers should serve long prison terms with hard labour.

Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the secretary of Iran's Human Rights Council and a brother of the powerful judiciary chief, said in 2015 that more than 90 percent of executions in the country were for drug-related crimes.

He said the death penalty has not led to a significant fall in drug-related crimes and that the policy must be re-evaluated.

The Islamic Republic seized 388 tonnes of opium in 2012, around 72 percent of all such seizures globally, but says it has lost many security personnel in skirmishes with drug traffickers in volatile regions bordering Afghanistan and also Pakistan.

The United Nations has repeatedly praised Iran's battle against narcotics trafficking but opposed its death penalty.

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Iran urged Tehran on Friday to halt the execution of 12 people on drug-related offences scheduled for Saturday.

"It is regrettable that the (Iranian) government continues to proceed with executions for crimes that do not meet the threshold of the 'most serious crimes' as required by international law," Ahmed Shaheed said in a statement.

Given Iran's large number of executions, some countries including Britain and Denmark have stopped providing funding for the United Nations drug control programme in Iran.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; editing by Mark Heinrich)

- Reuters

Thursday, 11 August 2016

UN asks Maldives to retain death penalty moratorium

Source: Time of India (10 August 2016)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/UN-asks-Maldives-to-retain-death-penalty-moratorium/articleshow/53630372.cms

UNITED NATIONS: Voicing concern over recent developments pertaining to capital punishment in Maldives, the UN Human Rights chief has exhorted the government to refrain from carrying out planned executions and uphold the de facto moratorium that has been in place in the country for over six decades.

"The Maldives has long provided important leadership on global efforts to bring an end to the use of death penalty, so it is deeply regrettable that a series of steps have been taken to resume executions in the country," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a press release.

Last November, the High Court decided that the President may no longer exercise the power of commuting death sentences to life imprisonment.

In June this year, capital punishment regulations were further amended to allow for hanging in addition to lethal injections as methods of execution.

Further, in July, the Supreme Court issued an order, cancelling the stay order issued by the High Court and reiterated that its decisions on death sentences are final.

"The death penalty is not effective in deterring crime," Zeid said, adding "a judiciary that is unable to consistently apply fair trial standards and is marred by politicisation, must not be allowed to have the final say in matters of life and death."

"There are currently 17 individuals on death row in Maldives. Some cases raise serious due process concerns, with three of them at imminent risk of execution," he said.

"Maldives has upheld the right to life for more than 60 years," the High Commissioner said, urging the leaders and the people of the Maldives "to continue to uphold the moratorium on the death penalty and work towards prohibiting the practice altogether."

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Why executions in Indonesia must stop

Source: The Conversation (3 August 2016)

http://theconversation.com/why-executions-in-indonesia-must-stop-63266

Indonesia executed four prisoners on death row for drug offences early on Friday. Last week’s killings were the third round of executions under Joko Widodo’s government, and were carried out despite ongoing legal appeals and international pressure.

The firing squad shot dead Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke and Michael Titus from Nigeria, Seck Osmane from Senegal, and Freddy Budiman, an Indonesian national.

These executions were different from two rounds of executions last year that killed 14 people, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Then, the government prepared with a lot of fanfare, went through bitter diplomatic fallouts, and endured international criticism. This time, the government carried out the executions abruptly and quietly.

The government notified families of 14 prisoners only on the Tuesday that executions would take place. The government did not explain why the executions of ten of these prisoners were postponed.

Human rights experts in Indonesia have repeatedly called for the government to stop the use of capital punishment. Hours before the third round of executions, the Indonesia Alliance of Human Rights Lecturers released a short statement addressed to Jokowi.

We urged him to stop the executions. Our considerations are simple. Not only does the death penalty violates human rights, executions in Indonesia are carried out under a deeply flawed justice system.
Violation of the right to life


The death penalty violates the most fundamental right in human life: the right to life. This right is enshrined in Indonesia’s Constitution in Article 28 I:

The right to life, the right to be free of torture, the rights for freedom of thought and conscience, the rights to religion, the rights to be free from slavery, the rights to be treated equal in front of the law, and the rights to not be charged on retroactive laws are non-derogable rights in any circumstances.

The Indonesian government ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2005, committing itself to uphold international human rights law. Indonesia has yet to ratify the optional protocol to abolish the death penalty.

However, Indonesia’s penchant for executions will weaken the nation’s standing in seeking reprieve for 334 Indonesians on death row in other countries as of last year.
Indonesia violates its own laws

The Indonesian government has repeatedly failed to uphold its own laws regarding death sentencing.

For example, under Indonesian law, executions are prohibited when legal processes are still ongoing. Jefferson was executed despite his pending clemency appeal. Jefferson, convicted in 2004 after the police found 1.7kg of heroin in a room used by one of his employees in a restaurant he ran, maintained that he was innocent and was framed.

By going ahead with the execution despite pending appeals, the government has clearly violated Article 13 on clemency law and ignored the 2015 Constitutional Court decision on the death penalty.

Further, the attorney-general also violated the rights to information of the advocates and families of the prisoners. They have the right to 72 hours notice of execution. The attorney-general only informed lawyers and families 60 hours prior.

The implementation of the death penalty without fixing the corrupt judicial system will not deter people from engaging in the illegal drug trade. Convicting and executing drug dealers will not eliminate drug trafficking in Indonesia as long as corrupt officials are free to abuse the system.

This is clear in the case of Budiman. He was sentenced to death in 2012 for smuggling 1.4 million ecstasy pills from China from behind bars.

Ahead of Budiman’s execution, the head of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Haris Azhar, released a statement on social media that went viral. Azhar said that when he visited Budiman in 2014, Budiman implicated military generals, National Narcotics Agency officials and the police in running the drug trade.

In short, indication of involvement of the state apparatus in Indonesia’s drug trade is really strong. In the last couple of months there have been many news reports on military and police involvement in the drug network. In April, the attorney-general fired 20 attorneys involved in illegal drug offences.

It would not be surprising if the death penalty was merely an attempt to cover-up the corrupt law enforcers.

There are deep flaws in the law and legal enforcement, especially in the process of death sentencing and executions. The death penalty is built on weak institutions. This affects not only justice for the condemned but also the attempt to create a just legal system in Indonesia. The strength or weakness of the institution reflects the quality of Indonesia’s law.

Indonesia will not abolish death penalty, says minister

Source: Asia One (4 August 2016)

http://news.asiaone.com/news/asia/indonesia-will-not-abolish-death-penalty-says-minister

JAKARTA - Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto has stressed that the government would not consider abolishing the death penalty, and therefore there was no need to evaluate prevailing laws.

"This is our law. Despite some pressures on us, we have our national legal jurisdiction," Wiranto said on Tuesday.

The death penalty is a harsh punishment, he said, but it is needed to protect many people from the dangers of narcotics and related crimes.

Wiranto's statement ran directly against that of Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, who said that the government and House of Representatives planned to evaluate the death penalty.

Human rights groups and the international community have long urged the government to abolish or adopt a moratorium on the death penalty, saying that it is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which has also failed to create a deterrent effect.

Indonesia executed four drug convicts in the early hours of last Friday, with further legal processes sparing the lives of 10 other death-row convicts who were slated to be killed.

Philippines : Return of death penalty in PH ‘violates’ international law

Source: ADPAN (2 August 2016)

https://adpan.org/2016/08/05/adpan-urges-philippines-to-be-strong-and-reject-attempts-to-re-introduce-the-death-penalty/

By Paolo Taruc, CNN Philippines

Updated 19:30 PM PHT Tue, August 2, 2016

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte and some lawmakers have called for the return of the death penalty as a way to strengthen the rule of law. But the Philippines could violate international law if it brings the punishment back.

The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)— an international treaty that, among other things, prescribes states to respect and observe fundamental freedoms. These include freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and freedom from cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishment.

Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Chito Gascon told CNN Philippines that “The death penalty is categorized as one such cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.”

The Philippines has also ratified the ICCPR’s Second Optional Protocol which urges states to abolish the death penalty and prevents them from carrying out executions.

An Optional Protocol is a supplementary agreement to a treaty. According to U.P. Law Professor and Kabayan Party List Rep. Harry Roque, it is “optional” in the sense that those who ratified the ICCPR have the option of ratifying the additional agreement. Not all parties who ratified the ICCPR have ratified its optional protocols.

It is wrong to say that those who ratified the optional protocols may choose to disregard them any time they please.

“If a State… chooses to ratify the optional protocols, it may not disregard their obligations under the protocol. Both the ICCPR and the Optional Protocols are considered treaties under international law, and thus parties to such agreements are bound to comply with them in good faith,” Roque explained.
No turning back?

The Philippines signed the ICCPR on December 19, 1966 and ratified it on October 23, 1986. It opted to sign the Second Optional Protocol on September 20, 2006. The annex was ratified on November 20, 2007.

The Second Optional Protocol explicitly forbids the Philippines — and others states who have ratified it — from conducting executions within their respective jurisdictions: “No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed.”

However, it provides for one exception: Countries who expressed reservations only during the time of ratification or accession may resort to the death penalty in times of war for those convicted of “a most serious crime of a military nature committed during wartime.”

The Philippines cannot claim the exception because it did not make reservations when it ratified the Second Optional Protocol. “[I]n no case could death penalty be seen as acceptable under this treaty,” Roque stressed.

According to the document, countries are compelled to “take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty.”

As treaties, the ICCPR and its Second Optional Protocol form part of international law. Other human rights treaties include the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights.

“Since the Philippines has ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, it would be violating international law by restoring the death penalty,” Roque pointed out.

Complaints against the Philippines?

Roque explained that a complaint may be brought before the international community if the country brings back the said punishment.

“Under the First Optional Protocol (of the ICCPR) which the Philippines has also ratified, individuals may file complaints before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC). The UNHRC could then investigate the case and provide a view if indeed there was a violation of the ICCPR or any of the Optional Protocols.”

However, he pointed out that complaints before the UNHRC are not binding decisions, as it is not a judicial tribunal. “Even if it did find violations, it would not have it would not have the authority to enforce its view upon a State.”

Death penalty is ‘retribution’

During his first press conference after the May 9 elections, Duterte said he wanted Congress to restore death penalty by hanging for convicts involved in illegal drugs, gun-for-hire syndicates, and those who commit “heinous crimes” like rapists, robbers or car thieves who kill their victims.

In a speech on June 22, he said that death penalty was a form of retribution apart from a way of deterring crime:

“Para ma-discourage ang tao mag-commit ng crime because there is the death penalty,”Duterte said. “Iyong death penalty to me is retribution. Magbayad ka sa ginawa mo sa buhay na ‘to.”

[Translation: To discourage people from committing crime because there is the death penalty. To me, death penalty is retribution. You’re going to pay for whatever you did in this life.]

Senator Panfilo Lacson also filed a bill that would mete out lethal injection for convicts of crimes including treason, murder, plunder, and rape.

“To reinstate public order and the rule of law, there is an impending need to revisit and re-impose the death penalty on certain heinous crimes,” Lacson said in a statement on July 3.

“[A] death penalty law is appropriately necessary due to the alarming upsurge of such crimes.”

According to the statement, the PNP’s Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management documented 9,646 murder cases; 31,741 cases of robbery; and, 10,298 rape cases in 2015.

“These translate to an average crime incidence of a murder every 54 minutes, a robbery every 16 minutes, and a rape case every 51 minutes,” the statement added.

At the House of Representatives, the first bill filed in the 17th Congress also seeks to reimpose lethal injection on certain heinous crimes. It was authored by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez with Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro.

“The imposition of the death penalty for heinous crimes and the mode of its implementation, both subjects of repealed laws, are crucial components of an effective dispensation of both reformative and retributive justice,” read a part of the bill.

Zero-sum game?

Gascon believes that human rights and security are not mutually exclusive: the gain of one is not the loss of the other.

“In our society today what has happened is that there has been rampant criminality and there’s a demand to address that — so people often think that the only way to address it is to reduce human rights. What needs to be done is to have a more purposive process of law enforcement that will in time guarantee safety and security of the population.

“Over the long term, human rights are in fact the best guarantee of safety and security,” Gascon added.

Roque said that it was important to remember the “significance” of international law in dealing with human rights issues. For him, it’s value does not only lie on the enforceability of a certain view.

“The strength of international law lies in the normative values it represents. Rather than using international law as a tool to threaten the administration, it should be used as a reminder to the administration of what the international community expects of the Philippines as a developing nation within the greater international community.” – CNN Philippines

ADPAN Urges Philippines to be Strong and Reject Attempts to Re-Introduce the Death Penalty

Source: Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (5 August 2016)

https://adpan.org/2016/08/05/adpan-urges-philippines-to-be-strong-and-reject-attempts-to-re-introduce-the-death-penalty/

ADPAN (Anti Death Penalty Asia Network) is shocked that the Philippines seems adamant about moving forward with plans to re-introduce the death penalty. The death penalty has been suspended since 2006, and Philippines is now considered an abolitionist country.

On 28 July 2016, the newly convened Philippine Congress heard a proposal to re-impose the death penalty for “heinous crimes”, giving priority to President Rodrigo Duterte’s push for capital punishment in its first legislative session.

Since late June 2016, House Bill No.1 and several other Bills seeking to re-introduce the death penalty have been filed for consideration of the Philippines Congress. These Bill seeks to reimpose capital punishment for human trafficking, illegal recruitment, plunder, treason, parricide, infanticide, rape, qualified piracy, bribery, kidnapping, illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, car theft, destructive arson, terrorism and drug-related cases.

ADPAN is hopeful that Filipinos and lawmakers that are abolitionist will prevail, and death penalty will not be reintroduced in this ASEAN nation.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said the measure is anti-poor and that the death penalty has not been proven to deter heinous crimes. “What deters the commission of crimes are certainty of apprehension, speedy prosecution and inevitable conviction once warranted,…The death penalty is anti-poor because indigent and marginalized accused cannot afford the high cost of [top] caliber and influential lawyers to secure their acquittal.”

Senator Leila de Lima, who continues to oppose the death penalty, is proposing a law to impose “qualified reclusion perpetua” for those found guilty of heinous crimes. Those punished with “qualified reclusion perpetua” would not be eligible for parole at all.

RE-INTRODUCTION OF DEATH PENALTY A VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW

The Philippines signed International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on December 19, 1966 and ratified it on October 23, 1986. It signed the Second Optional Protocol on September 20, 2006 which explicitly forbids states who have ratified it from conducting executions within their respective jurisdictions: “No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed.”

However, it provides for one exception: Countries who expressed reservations only during the time of ratification or accession may resort to the death penalty in times of war for those convicted of “a most serious crime of a military nature committed during wartime.”. Philippines cannot claim the exception because it did not make this reservation when it ratified the Second Optional Protocol.

As, such the re-introduction of the death penalty would also be considered a violation of international law.

RE-IMPOSITION OF DEATH PENALTY PROVEN AN INEFFECTIVE SOLUTION TO FIGHT CRIME

ADPAN joins Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for Human Rights, in urging Phlipines ‘to remember the experience of Mongolia, which first abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes in the 1950s, then reintroduced it, before deciding, last December, to once again stop executing people. In reaching the decision, President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj said the people of Mongolia had suffered enough from the death penalty. In his words: “Removing the death penalty does not mean removing punishment. Criminals fear justice, and justice must be imminent and unavoidable. But we cannot repair one death with another.” ‘

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, added, ‘Fear, despair and frustration clearly prevail among all Filipinos amid a rise in crime and drug-related offenses. But it is the duty of political leaders to adopt solutions to the country’s challenges in ways that will support the rule of law and advance the protection of human rights…The arguments are convincing and decisive: On every level—from principle to practice—use of the death penalty is wrong.

DEATH PENALTY INEFFECTIVE AND HIGH RISK OF IRREPARABLE MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

ADPAN reiterates that there are no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime. As an example, in Malaysia in 2012, despite the existence of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, it was revealed in Parliament that there was in fact an increase of the persons arrested for drug trafficking.

The possibility of miscarriage or failure of justice in the implementation of the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable. There has just been too many cases, where persons who have languished on death row for decades have been released. We recall that 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.

The global trend has been towards abolition. Philippines did us proud, when it abolished the death penalty in 2006, and it is hoped that Philippines will reaffirm its commitment to abolition when it stands strong and rejects attempts to re-introduce the draconian death penalty.

ADPAN urges the Philippine lawmakers to opposes attempts to bring back the death penalty,

Charles Hector

For and on behalf of

ADPAN (Anti Death Penalty Asia Network)

Indonesian ombudsman to probe executions

Source: Nine.com.au (9 August 2016)

http://www.9news.com.au/world/2016/08/08/18/13/indonesian-ombudsman-to-probe-executions

Indonesia's Attorney-General is set to be investigated over the recent execution of four men, with the country's ombudsman saying there appeared to be a "maladministration" in the carrying out of the death penalty.

Ricky Gunawan, lawyer for Nigerian man Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke, who was shot by firing squad in the early hours of July 29, filed a report to the country's ombudsman on Monday alleging the executions were "illegal" as they violated the country's clemency law.

In accepting the report, Commissioner for the Ombudsman Lely Pelitasari Soebakty said it appeared a "maladministration" had occurred in the carrying out of the executions.

"We will investigate this ... We need time to see the document first and because the report to the Ombudsman is personal in nature, we need to verify the document," she told reporters in Jakarta.

At least two of the four men who were shot last month by a firing squad filed last minute clemency requests to President Joko Widodo in the days before their deaths.

The country's clemency law stipulates an execution can only be carried out once a prisoner is informed by the president that such a plea has been rejected.

The men received no such notification.

Mr Gunawan has previously told AAP that when he informed prosecutors of this, they pointed him to a now defunct section of the law which stipulated clemency requests needed to be filed within a year of the outcome of a person's final appeal.

But this section was repealed in June this year by the Constitutional Court, which found the time limitation on clemency requests had the potential to violate a person's constitutional rights.

Mr Gunawan said they hoped that by reporting matter to the ombudsman, President Widodo would be properly informed of what occurred.

"When the Ombudsman has given its recommendation, the president will definitely read (it) so when Attorney-General tries to deny what has happened, he can't run from it."

The Attorney-General HM Prasetyo has been contacted for comment.