Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Historical interest

I created the Asia Death Penalty blog in 2006 and actively posted on the site until late 2010. Throughout 2011, I did not have time to maintain posting, and this won't change in the forseeable future.

However I am leaving the blog online for historical interest, and to provide access to basic material about the death penalty in the Asian region, and the excellent work of campaigners and advocates fighting for abolition during this period.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Glimpse of Chan family pain

Chan family appeal for Indonesian clemency
19 June 2011

AAP on The Sydney Morning Herald

The brother of Bali Nine ringleader Andrew Chan has appealed to the Indonesian president to give him "a second chance at life".

In an emotional appeal in Sydney on Sunday, Michael Chan said his parents were devastated at the news their son had lost his final appeal against his death sentence for his role in the plot to smuggle heroin from Bali to Australia.

"Mum and dad are finding it very hard and are struggling to come to terms with this
decision," Mr Chan said through his tears.

"Each day is harder to see the pain and anguish they suffer knowing their son is facing execution."

The Indonesian Supreme Court on Friday said it had rejected Chan's final appeal against a death sentence for his involvement in the 2005 attempt to smuggle more than eight kilograms of heroin out of Bali.

A clemency appeal to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the 27-year-old's last hope of escaping the firing squad.

When asked what message he had for the president, Mr Chan said his brother didn't deserve to be shot.

"If he's listening, (please) give him a second chance at life," he said.

Mr Chan said his parents, who live at Enfield in Sydney, had not been given the news officially, but they were assuming it was true.

He said he had spoken to his younger brother since the final decision and Chan was staying positive.

"He's really clear on one thing - he's just going to keep on doing his best to be a better person, lead a good life, whether he's got a short time or a long time to go."

Chan had made great efforts to turn his life around, and was studying theology, participating in church and teaching other inmates English and computer skills, Mr Chan said.

"When he made his mistake he was a kid, he's grown into an adult in the last couple of years ...

"Hopefully the president can see that change in him."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd have both said the Australian government would support Chan's likely bid for clemency, but his brother said the family had had no contact with the government in the past few days.

Australian PM backs Chan clemency

Gillard against Chan death penalty
By Petrina Berry
18 June 2011

AAP on The Brisbane Times

Prime Minister Julia Gillard hasn't ruled out appealing to Indonesia's president personally to have the death penalty against convicted Bali Nine ringleader Andrew Chan quashed.

Indonesia's Supreme Court has rejected Chan's final appeal against the death penalty.

His only chance now is a plea for clemency to Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Ms Gillard, ahead of her address at an ALP conference in Brisbane, said Australia does not support the death penalty and the government will do whatever it can to help.

Asked if she will talk to the president herself, she said: "I'll be happy to do whatever is necessary to put as much force as we can into the appeal for clemency, including personally involving myself.

She said the government was supporting the family and Chan's lawyers.

Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd, also in Brisbane for the party's annual conference, said the government would stand by Chan.

"We will do what we have done with any other Australians who have been convicted of a capital offence and that is to use every form of representation to government concerned in support of that person," Mr Rudd said.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Indonesia: Andrew Chan appeal lost

Bali Nine ringleader loses final appeal
By Indonesia correspondent Matt Brown, wires

From: ABC Online, 17 June 2011

One of the Bali Nine drug smuggling ringleaders, Andrew Chan, has lost an appeal against his death sentence.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were found guilty of organising a shipment of more than eight kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia in 2005 and sentenced to death.

Indonesia's supreme court has now rejected his final appeal.

The decision was made on May 10 but was only posted on the supreme court website this afternoon.

His lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, says he is shocked at the result and could not comment further until he has spoken with his client.

The supreme court judges reviewing Chan's appeal say they found no obvious error in the original decision to impose the death penalty.

But Chan's Balinese lawyer, Nyoman Gede Sudiantara, says the legal team is shocked because Chan was not caught with any of the drugs the Bali Nine planned to smuggle to Australia.

Chan's last chance for a reprieve would be an appeal for clemency to Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The decision is a bad sign for Sukumaran, who is also waiting on the results of his appeal.

Chan and Sukumaran both launched final appeals in August last year.

The appeals rested on evidence that the men have been successfully rehabilitated and are role models inside prison.

Chan and Sukumaran had both been running education courses for fellow inmates inside Bali's Kerobokan prison as part of their efforts to rehabilitate.

Chan, 26, told the Denpasar District Court last year he knew he could not change the "stupid things" he did in the past.

"But I have genuinely changed my behaviour and I really want to focus on what I can do now and in the future," he said.

Chan, who has also been studying for a bachelor's degree in theology while in prison, said he hoped to become a minister or a counsellor so he could help others avoid his mistakes.

"I accept that I deserve to be punished for my crime but I beg the court that I not be executed," he said.

"I hope I am given another chance in life."

At the hearing, both men apologised for previously pleading not guilty, blaming bad advice from their previous legal team.

They also apologised for their behaviour at earlier court appearances, conceding they did not show appropriate respect.

A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd says the Government will vigorously support clemency for Mr Chan.

She says the Minister's thoughts are with Mr Chan and his family at this deeply distressing time.

A supreme court decision in May spared fellow Bali Nine death-row inmate Scott Rush the death penalty, instead sentencing him to life in prison.

Five other members of the drug smuggling plot - Martin Stephens, Matthew Norman, Michael Czugaj, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen - are also serving life sentences.

The final member of the drug ring, courier Renae Lawrence, is serving a 20-year sentence.


Sunday, 6 March 2011

EU regrets three Taiwan executions

Brussels, 4 March 2011

Statement by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on the executions in Taiwan

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, made today the following statement:

"I deeply regret today’s executions in Taiwan, the first after the resumption of executions in Taiwan last year. The European Union had been encouraged by the de facto moratorium on executions that had been in place from 2006 until last year. Taiwan is now once again one of the very few industrial democracies to implement capital punishment.

"The European Union's strongly held view in favor of the abolition of capital punishment is well known. The European Union considers that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. It is the European Union's view that the death penalty does not serve as an effective deterrent, and that any miscarriage of justice, which is inevitable in any legal system, would be irreversible.

"I therefore urge Taiwan not to undertake further executions, but instead to put in place an immediate de facto moratorium on executions, pending legal abolition."

Michael Mann +32 498 999 780 - +32 2 299 97 80 -
Maja Kocijancic +32 498 984 425 - +32 2 298 65 70 -

Taiwan executions condemned

4 March 2011
ASA 38/001/2010

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) says the latest executions of five men in Taiwan on 4 March 2011 calls into question the Taiwan government's stated intention to abolish the death penalty.

This brings the number of executions to nine since last year and goes against the global trend towards abolition.

The Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP), who are members of ADPAN, pointed out today that, "carrying out any executions at this point in time would violate both domestic and international law." Taiwan has legally committed itself to the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2009, which includes the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence, and incorporated it into domestic law the same year.

The executions today of Wang Chih-huang, Wang Kuo-hua, Chuang Tien-chu, Kuan Chung-yen and Chong De-shu were carried out by shooting. None of the family members were informed before the executions took place.

The Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) is a cross-regional network made up of over 50 members including lawyers, NGOs and human rights activists from 23 countries.

For more information:

- Lin Hsiny-Yi, Executive Director, Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, (TAEDP)
+886 (0)2 25218870 / FAX: +886 (0)2 25319373

- Louise Vischer, ADPAN Coordinator,
+44 (0)207 413 5656

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Pakistan Christians face death for 'blasphemy'

Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi 'has price on her head'
By Orla Guerin
From: BBC News, Punjab province
7 December 2010

Ashiq Masih has the look of a hunted man - gaunt, anxious and exhausted.

Though he is guilty of nothing, this Pakistani labourer is on the run - with his five children.

His wife, Asia Bibi, has been sentenced to death for blaspheming against Islam. That is enough to make the entire family a target.

They stay hidden by day, so we met them after dark.

Mr Masih told us they move constantly, trying to stay one step ahead of the anonymous callers who have been menacing them.

"I ask who they are, but they refuse to tell me," he said.

"They say 'we'll deal with you if we get our hands on you'. Now everyone knows about us, so I am hiding my kids here and there. I don't allow them to go out. Anyone can harm them," he added.

Ashiq Masih says his daughters still cry for their mother and ask if she will be home in time for Christmas.

He insists that Asia Bibi is innocent and will be freed, but he worries about what will happen next.

"When she comes out, how she can live safely?" he asks.

"No one will let her live. The mullahs are saying they will kill her when she comes out.

"Asia Bibi, an illiterate farm worker from rural Punjab, is the first woman sentenced to hang under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law.

'Old score'
As well as the death penalty hanging over her, Asia Bibi now has a price on her head.

A radical cleric has promised 500,000 Pakistani rupees (£3,700; $5,800) to anyone prepared to "finish her". He suggested that the Taliban might be happy to do it.

Asia Bibi's troubles began in June 2009 in her village, Ittan Wali, a patchwork of lush fields and dusty streets.

Hers was the only Christian household. She was picking berries alongside local Muslim women, when a row developed over sharing water.

Days later, the women claimed she had insulted the Prophet Muhammad. Soon, Asia Bibi was being pursued by a mob.

"In the village they tried to put a noose around my neck, so that they could kill me," she said in a brief appearance outside her jail cell.

Anarchy threat
Asia Bibi says she was falsely accused to settle an old score. That is often the case with the blasphemy law, critics say.

At the village mosque, we found no mercy for her.

The imam, Qari Mohammed Salim, told us he cried with joy when sentence was passed on Asia Bibi.

He helped to bring the case against her and says she will be made to pay, one way or the other.

"If the law punishes someone for blasphemy, and that person is pardoned, then we will also take the law in our hands," he said.

Her case has provoked concern abroad, with Pope Benedict XVI joining the calls for her release.

In Pakistan, Islamic parties have been out on the streets, threatening anarchy if she is freed, or if there is any attempt to amend the blasphemy law.

Under Pakistan's penal code, anyone who "defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet" can be punished by death or life imprisonment. Death sentences have always been overturned on appeal.

Human right groups and Christian organisations want the law abolished.

"It was designed as an instrument of persecution," says Ali Hasan Dayan, of Human Rights Watch in Pakistan. "It's discriminatory and abusive."

'Hanging sword'
While most of those charged under the law are Muslims, campaigners say it is an easy tool for targeting minorities, in this overwhelmingly Muslim state.

"It is a hanging sword on the neck of all minorities, especially Christians," says Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry, which ministers to prisoners, including Asia Bibi.

"In our churches, homes and workplaces we feel fear," he says.

"It's very easy to make this accusation because of a grudge, or for revenge. Anyone can accuse you.

"Even our little children are afraid that if they say something wrong at school, they will be charged with blasphemy.

"Asia Bibi's story has sparked a public debate in Pakistan about reforming the law, but it is a touchy - and risky - subject which many politicians would prefer to ignore.

Campaigners fear that the talk about reform of the blasphemy laws will amount to no more than that.

Beheading threat
When Pakistan's Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, raised the issue six months ago, he was threatened with death.

"I was told I could be beheaded if I proposed any change," he told us.

"But I am committed to the principle of justice for the people of Pakistan. I am ready to die for this cause, and I will not compromise".

Mr Bhatti, himself a Christian, hopes that Asia Bibi will win an appeal to the High Court, or be pardoned by Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari.

He says she is one of dozens of innocent people who are accused every year.

"I will go to every knock for justice on her behalf and I will take all steps for her protection".

But even behind bars Asia Bibi may not be safe.

Several people accused of blasphemy have been killed in jail.

Thirty-four people connected with blasphemy cases have been killed since the law was hardened in 1986, according to Pakistan's Justice and Peace Commission, a Catholic campaign group.

The death toll includes those accused, their relatives, and even a judge.

In a neglected graveyard by a railway track in the city of Faisalabad, we found two of the latest victims of the blasphemy law.

'Electric shock'
They are brothers, buried side by side, together in death, as they were in life.

Rashid Emmanuel was a pastor.

His brother, Sajid, was an MBA student. They were gunned down in July during their trial - inside a courthouse, in handcuffs and in police custody.

Relatives, who asked not to be identified, said the blasphemy charges were brought because of a land dispute.

After the killings, the extended family had to leave home and move to another city. They say they will be moving again soon.

"We don't feel safe," one relative told us.

"We are shocked, like an electric shock. We are going from one place to another to defend ourselves, and secure our family members.

"Once a month they come to the cemetery to pray at the graves of their lost loved ones.

They are too frightened to visit more often.

They bow their heads and mourn for two men who they say were killed for nothing - except being Christian.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Taiwan justice minister willing to hang

New justice minister faces up to death penalty controversy

From: Focus Taiwan News Channel
22 March 2011

Taipei, March 22 (CNA) Taiwan's new justice minister Tseng Yung-fu, who entered office Monday under pressure to address a recent controversy over the death penalty, said enforcing capital punishment would not violate United Nations human rights conventions.

Former Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng was forced to resign on March 11, after her insistence on not signing off on the executions of 44 inmates currently on death row sparked outrage from victims' families and some legislators.

The furor died down while acting Minister Huang Shih-ming temporarily held the post, but public pressure remained to name a new justice minister who would be willing to see the executions through, even if the country has not carried out an execution of a death penalty inmate since late 2005.

Asked if carrying out the death penalty would not violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) , which Taiwan has signed into law, Tseng said the covenant only hopes that countries reduce the use of capital punishment.

That has happened in Taiwan, Tseng said, citing the reduction in the number of death sentences meted out and the elimination of laws in which the death penalty is the only punishment option.

"Carrying out a death penalty cannot be considered as violating the treaties," Tseng said.

He indicated that there was no deadline binding the minister of justice to sign the execution orders of the 44 death row inmates but said those who were sentenced to death for the most heinous of crimes would have their cases reviewed first.

Despite the controversy, a ministry task force on studying ways to abolish capital punishment will hold its first meeting Tuesday as scheduled, and the ministry will conduct a survey every six months to gauge public opinion on the issue.

At Monday's handover ceremony, acting Minister Huang praised Wang for her enthusiasm and lauded her as an official who stood up for principles.

"It was to everyone's regret that she left," Huang said.

Meanwhile, Tseng also pledged that he would promote a mechanism during his tenure that would make it possible to dismiss incompetent judicial personnel.

"He who laughs at crooked men better walk very straight, " he stressed.

Tseng, 67, a former deputy justice minister, has served as chief prosecutor in Taipei and Tainan cities and Taitung, Yunlin and Chiayi counties as well as the outlying island of Kinmen.

He has also served as the chief prosecutor with the Public Prosecutors Office for the Taiwan High Court and as the Ministry of Justice's chief secretary.

(By An Chi-hsien and Elizabeth Hsu)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Indonesia: Australian faces capital charge

Australian man faces death penalty
November 26, 2010

AUSTRALIAN man Michael Sacatides faces the death penalty in Indonesia after being formally charged with drug importation offences yesterday.

Sacatides, 43, was caught with 1.7 kilograms of methamphetamine in his luggage at Bali's airport last month.

He maintains his innocence.

Bali police handed a dossier of evidence to prosecutors yesterday, who charged Sacatides with importing drugs, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of death by firing squad.

Sacatides is a kickboxing instructor who hails from Sydney but lived in Bangkok for several years.

He was moved to Kerobokan prison on October 27 and will join three other Australians on death row for drug offences.

Scott Rush, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have legal appeals in train.Sacatides is expected to front a Denpasar court next month.

He has previously told police a man who gave him the bag containing the drugs was a former business associate.


Pakistan: "Extreme" blasphemy laws need reform

An instrument of abuse?
by annie on 11 26th, 2010

The death sentence handed down to Pakistani Christian woman Aasia Bibi by a court in Punjab province's Nankana district has once again brought attention to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. And while the 45-year-old mother of five awaits a review of the verdict against her, questions are being raised regarding the intent behind and utility of the said laws.

While the Constitution of Pakistan criminalises "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage" the religious sentiments of "any" community, the blasphemy laws, in the form of additions to Sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), proceed to recommend much more exacting penalties, including death, if the accused is found to be either disrespectful toward or critical of the Quran, Prophet Mohammad, Islam’s caliphs and other important figures mentioned in the statutes. These particular laws therefore do not stand up for religions other than Islam thereby rendering defenceless other religious communities. Moreover, the laws' provisions pertaining to the Ahmedi community in many ways constrain them from practicing their religion. Forbidden from calling themselves, or "posing" as, Muslims, the legislation makes abundantly clear, albeit circuitously, that their faith should not be what it is.

It was in the early 1980s and during the regime of former military dictator Ziaul Haq that committing blasphemy was made a penal offence under the PPC. In its current state, the law prescribes a jail term for anyone found disrespectful toward the Quran and death penalty for anyone found to be reproachful of Prophet Mohammad. Oddly enough, while the question of intent is not considered when it comes to the latter offence, it continues to remain punishable by nothing short of the death penalty. The blasphemy laws also prescribe a fine and a prison term with regard to penal offences associated with the Ahmedi community.

Having survived for nearly three decades in its current and extreme form, the blasphemy laws have so far escaped all reform due to opposition from religio-political groups. At the same time, other, essentially secular, political groups have been succumbing to these hardline forces mostly out of fear of losing clout in regions with conservative leanings and where religious organisations seem to enjoy a considerable degree of influence. Even at this point, with the international community ramping up pressure on the government to pardon Aasia and to eventually repeal the blasphemy laws, certain otherwise antagonistic clerics from the Barelvi and Deobandi schools of thought have come together to caution President Asif Ali Zardari over going ahead with the pardon saying the move may lead to "untoward repercussions".

While the sentencing of Aasia has led to much international uproar, hers is just one of the many cases which have led to blasphemy convictions by the courts. Moreover, many of the blasphemy accused – mostly from the unprotected religious minority groups – have been targeted and sometimes killed by lynch mobs. The still recent killing of two Christian brothers in Faisalabad, the case of Zaibunnisa who remained incarcerated for 14 long years on blasphemy allegations and the violence that targeted Christians in Gojra in 2009 are just some of the recently reported instances which clearly depict how such laws have effectively abandoned the country's religious minorities and emboldened extremists.

These and similar other incidents have inevitably led to questions pertaining to the rationale behind the laws as well as to their outcome in terms of greater social good. And while the laws are frequently used to blackmail and victimise Pakistan's miniscule religious minorities, they also come in handy by those wanting to settle personal scores, sort business rivalries and tackle land disputes with other Muslims. Rights groups have continually demanded that the laws be repealed and have referred to the statutes as fundamentally unjust and discriminatory in nature.

Moreover, legal experts and analysts have frequently termed the text of the laws as vague and even flawed in ways that make it a ready instrument of abuse. Incompatible with the universally accepted human rights charter, the laws and their application also stand in clear violation of the Constitution of Pakistan which guarantees every citizen the "right to profess, practice and propagate" his/her religion and in fact forbids the state from making "any law which takes away" the citizens' fundamental rights.

Given the fact that the blasphemy laws have only served to fuel disharmony and strife in society, a thorough review of the legislation, followed by significant changes to it, can be the first small step toward countering the culture of exploitation that has become all-too-synonymous with these laws.

Qurat ul ain Siddiqui is the Desk Editor at

China claims one tenth overturned

China: 10 percent of death sentences overturned
Fri, Nov 26, 2010
From: China Daily/Asia News Network

Beijing - China's top court has overturned, on average, 10 percent of all death sentences nationwide since 2007 when it took back the right of final review from lower courts, a senior court official said.

Hu Yunteng, head of the research department under the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said regaining the review "played an obvious role" in reducing the number of executions.

"It has ensured that the death penalty can only be applied for the most serious crimes," he told China Daily.

But Hu declined to specify the number of death sentences carried out each year.

In 1981, to tackle rising crime, the highest court granted provincial courts the authority to pass death sentences.

The practice, widely criticized following reports of miscarriages of justice, ended on Jan 1, 2007, when the SPC was again given the sole power to review and ratify death sentences.

Hu said death sentences were overturned mostly for lack of evidence, procedural flaws or for an inappropriate penalty.

"The SPC will not tolerate any mistakes regarding evidence or procedure and will thoroughly investigate" questionable judgments, he said, adding that the quality of local courts' handling of death penalty cases is improving.

"We must make sure the use of the death sentence is accurate and free of mistakes to respect and protect the convicts and their rights."

Earlier, Zhang Jun, SPC vice-president, told judicial departments to only impose a death penalty for the most heinous crimes.

The SPC also increased its criminal tribunals from two to five to better examine all death sentences passed, Hu said.

The SPC also ordered that all cases that carried a possible death penalty must be heard at a court session, with the defendant or defendants in attendance, he added.

The move "prevents unjust, false or invalid cases on the one hand and, on the other hand, respects the rights of defendants", he said.

About 90 percent of death sentences passed are for serious crimes ranging from intentional homicide, robbery, serious injury, rape, drug trafficking to kidnapping, according to Hu.

In August, the National People's Congress, the top legislature, dropped the death penalty for 13 economy related, non-violent crimes in the latest amendment to the country's Criminal Law.

Hu said the SPC "strongly supports" the move as it has sent "a positive signal for strictly controlling the imposition of a death penalty".

Despite these moves, he said, the final review still faces challenges, including the use of torture as well as poor standards among some rural judges.

In one of the country's most notorious forced-confession cases, Zhao Zuohai, after serving 11 years in prison, was released in early May after the man he was alleged to have murdered turned up alive.

The Henan farmer said the police tortured him into making a confession.

Zhao Bingzhi, head of the criminal law research committee under the China Law Society, said it's essential for the SPC to classify and summarize cases where the death penalty has been overturned and then release them to guide lower courts.

"What's more, the SPC should go beyond only examining evidence, and establish rules to better define serious crimes where the death penalty is applicable to ensure its appropriate use," he said.

-China Daily/Asia News Network

Japan: Lay judges sentence 'minor' to death

Lay judges choose ultimate penalty for minor
From: The Yomiuri Shimbun
27 November 2010

A panel of three professional and six lay judges at the Sendai District Court on Thursday sentenced to death a minor who killed two women and seriously injured a man earlier this year.

"Considering the brutality of his crime and the gravity of the harm he caused, we have no option but to choose the ultimate penalty," presiding Judge Nobuyuki Suzuki said.

This is the first death sentence handed down to a minor under the lay judge system since it began last year. Many consider the ruling to be in keeping with the recent trend to toughen punishments for juvenile offenders.

It will likely affect future rulings in lay judge trials dealing with similar cases.

Because the defendant, a former demolition worker, pleaded guilty to the charges against him, the focal point of his trial became what punishment was appropriate. In other words, the judges had to decide whether to rule that he could be rehabilitated and thereby avoid capital punishment, or to give weight to the brutality of his crime and impose the death penalty

Ultimately, the ruling condemned the defendant for committing his crimes in a "relentless, ruthless and particularly atrocious" manner.

Furthermore, the court decided that the defendant's statements of apology were "superficial" and "shallow." It said he has an "extremely low possibility of rehabilitation," and the court could find no reason not to hand down the death sentence.

The crimes took place in February in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. The defendant, who was 18 years and seven months old at the time, broke into his former girlfriend's house and tried to abduct her. When her elder sister and a friend tried to stop him, he killed them with a butcher knife.

The defendant also seriously injured a man who was present. At the time, he was on probation for injuring his own mother.


Tougher penalties sought
The Juvenile Law, which has as its basic principles the sound growth and protection of juveniles, was revised in 2000. The changed law made charges of deliberate murder by minors aged 16 or older subject to criminal trials, in principle, because the frequent occurrence of heinous crimes committed by minors has heightened public calls to toughen punishments for juvenile offenders.

The change in the sentence given to a minor who killed a young mother and her baby daughter in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in 1999 symbolizes the trend toward harsher penalties for juvenile criminals.

The Hiroshima High Court handed down a ruling of life imprisonment to the defendant, who committed the murders at the age of 18, but the Supreme Court rejected this sentence and sent the case back to the high court.

In its second trial on the murders, the high court sentenced the defendant to death.

In the Miyagi case, the ruling said the defendant's age was not a decisive reason to avoid meting out capital punishment. This reflects the Supreme Court's thinking on the ruling in the mother-daughter murder case.


Lay judge 'almost crushed'
According to a survey compiled by the Supreme Court in 2006, more than 90 percent of professional judges said they would commute a sentence if a defendant was a minor. But half of ordinary citizens polled replied they would neither toughen nor commute a sentence against a juvenile defendant.

Only one-quarter said they would commute a sentence for a juvenile offender.

The results appear to illustrate the public's harsh view on juvenile crimes.

"I was almost crushed under the heavy pressure," said one of the lay judges, who agreed to be questioned at a press conference after the ruling in the Miyagi case. "I want the court to provide mental care for lay judges for as long as necessary."

These are serious problems the court faces every time lay judges have to hand down a heavy sentence.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 26, 2010)
(Nov. 27, 2010)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Indonesia: Bali prosecutors claim deterrence

Push for Bali nine execution
November 20, 2010
From: The Sydney Morning Herald online

INDONESIAN prosecutors yesterday urged that the Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran be executed, saying the punishment was just, supported by the Indonesian people and would act as a deterrent.

The prosecution argument concluded the hearings of the final legal appeal by the members of the so-called Bali nine heroin smuggling syndicate against the death penalty.

Chan and Sukumaran, who were not in court, have asked for their sentence to be commuted to a 20-year prison term, citing their rehabilitation in prison and that the crime was not serious enough to warrant the death sentence given Indonesia's recognition of the sanctity of life.

But the prosecutors argued: "Every human has the right to live but upholding this right doesn't mean they are allowed to violate someone else's rights… Sentencing is not only to rehabilitate, but also to deter."

Chan and Sukumaran can expect to hear the verdict in about six months, after the evidence from the Bali hearings has been sent to Jakarta and considered by a panel of judges.

The prosecutors agreed with the defence, that only the most serious crime should receive the death penalty, but said arranging the export of more than eight kilograms of heroin fitted into that category.

The prosecution's assessment was not unexpected. It is required to defend the decision of the previous court and the duo has been consistently handed the death sentence in each court case so far.

In the Australians' favour is that executions have not been carried out in Indonesia in the two years since a Constitutional Court ruling found the punishment should be used sparingly and those on death row should be given the chance to rehabilitate.

Indonesia: Bali prosecutors argue for death

Prosecutors urge death penalty for Bali 9 ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran
From: AAP (in The Australian online)
November 19, 2010 4:45PM

INDONESIAN prosecutors have called on the country's supreme court to uphold the death sentences of Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Prosecutor Siti Sawiyah said today that death by firing squad was the appropriate punishment for the Sydney drug traffickers and that their final appeal - known as a judicial review - should be thrown out of court.

"These man have committed a crime that was organised, with a neatly arranged plan, it was orderly and secretive," Ms Sawiyah told the Denpasar District Court.

"The Indonesian Supreme Court in Jakarta, which will examine this case should ... reject the judicial review."

Fellow prosecutor Ida Ayu Sulasmi said the death penalty was necessary to deter others from committing similar crimes.

"The Indonesian people and society, especially the people of Bali, consider Bali a tourist destination and illegal distribution of narcotics is a serious threat that could alter the image of Bali tourism," she said.

Chan, 26, and Sukumaran, 29, were two of nine Australians convicted over a 2005 attempt to smuggle more than eight kilograms of heroin out of Bali.

Their judicial review seeks to have their death sentences reduced to 20 years' prison.

Appeal hearings have been held in the Denpasar court, but the case will now be sent to the supreme court for a verdict.

The appeal rests in large part on evidence the men have been successfully rehabilitated and are now role models inside prison.

It also argues previous rulings against the men erred by finding them guilty of exporting drugs, even though they were caught before exportation actually occurred.

If the appeal fails, the pair will be forced to seek clemency from Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who generally takes a dim view of drug smugglers.Fellow Bali Nine death row inmate Scott Rush's judicial review is also currently before the supreme court.

Five other members of the drug smuggling plot - Martin Stephens, Matthew Norman, Michael Czugaj, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Than Nguyen - are serving life sentences.

The final member of the drug ring, courier Renae Lawrence, is serving a 20-year sentence.

Appeal: End death penalty in East Asia

The Centre for Prisoners' Rights and Amnesty International Japan continue to appeal for people to sign their petition and distribute it widely, calling for the abolition of the death penalty in East Asia.

Please print and sign the petition available here. The text of the petition is copied below.

Citizens’ Appeal for an Abolition of the Death Penalty in East Asia
December 2009

People’s Republic of China, Japan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, State of Mongolia, Taiwan

(CC: Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China)

In 2008, most of the executions in the world were carried out in Asia. 11 countries in Asia as a whole, and five countries in East Asia, namely, China, Japan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, and Vietnam, continue to have the death penalty.

China alone accounts for about three quarters of the executions in the world and at least 1,718 death sentences were carried out.

In China, statistics on the death penalty and executions are a state secret, so the actual number is considered to be significantly higher than that.

In Vietnam, the death penalty is stipulated as the maximum sentence for a total of 29 offences defined in the criminal code, including illicit drug trafficking. Executions are by firing squad.

In Japan, there are currently more than 100 death-row inmates awaiting their executions. Executions by hanging in Japan are carried out secretively and the death-row inmates are notified of their execution only immediately before they take place.

In the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, executions are either by firing squad or by hanging. Executions are conducted secretively but there is an indication that public executions are conducted for the purpose of making an example to the people.

In Mongolia, executions are a state secret and official statistics, such as the numbers of death sentences, executions, and death-row inmates, are not disclosed. Executions are conducted secretively. The family members of the death-row inmate are not notified of the execution beforehand. After the execution, the body is not returned to the family.

On the other hand, as of 2009, 139 states in the world have abolished the death penalty. In Asia as a whole, 27 states, such as the Philippines and Cambodia, have abolished the death penalty either de jure or de facto.

In the 20th century, many lives were taken in East Asia by the state or because of ideology. The death penalty has been used to impose the will of the state and as a tool of political repression. The state is still taking away the lives of the citizens by way of the death penalty. To put an end to this situation, East Asian states should renounce the state-sponsored violence known as the death penalty.

There are no empirical data verifying that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on heinous crimes. On the contrary, it is pointed out that the death penalty promotes violence.

In any country, those that are sentenced to death are skewed to vulnerable groups in the society, such as those in poverty and minorities. What gives rise to crimes in many cases is often poverty and social discrimination. Removing offenders from society by the death penalty does not solve the problem.

Having recognized the issues inherent in the death penalty system, we the signers below are petitioning for the realization of an East Asia without the death penalty.

We hereby request that:
* the taking of lives not be used as a means of punishment;
* the innocent not be killed;
* information be disclosed so that we can think for ourselves whether the death penalty is necessary;
* those that have erred not be cast away; and
* a society with few crimes be created without relying on the death penalty.

We the citizens hope for a truly peaceful society. We the citizens hope for a society without the death penalty. We the citizens hope for a tolerant society. Please heed our voices, the voices of the citizens.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty. Taking note of the significance of the 20th anniversary, we call on the East Asian states that retain capital punishment to abolish the death penalty system.


The petition organized and collected by:

The "We Can Do Without the Death Penalty" Campaign
Joint Secretariat:
Center for Prisoners' Rights Japan and Amnesty International Japan
Kyodo Bldg. 4F, 2-2 Kandanishiki-cho, chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan 101-0054
Fax +81-3-3518-6778

The “We Can Do Without the Death Penalty” campaign was launched in 2008 in Japan, aiming to raise a voice and to think together about what is wrong with the death penalty, setting aside various differences. The Center for Prisoners’ Rights Japan and Amnesty International Japan serve as the joint secretariat and various other organizations, individuals, and networks participate in this campaign.