Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Saudi Arabia executions reach 53 in January, one-third of 2015 toll

Source: International Business Times (25 January 2016)


Saudi Arabia has continued its spree of executions relentlessly since the beginning of this year, killing 53 people before the first month of 2016 has closed. The figure is more than one-third of the total number of executions of 158 people in the Middle Eastern kingdom last year.

Saudi Arabia sparked global outrage after it put 47 men to death on 2 January, including Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, in what the Human Rights Watch called the "largest mass execution in the country since 1980".

On Monday, Saudi Arabia executed local tribesman Mohammed bin Awadh al-Zahrani in Jeddah for stabbing a man to death, according to the Saudi Press Agency. It was not mentioned how the execution was carried out, but beheading is the common form of carrying out capital punishment in the country.

Monday's action brought the total number of executions in Saudi Arabia this month to 53, AFP reported.

The executions come even after human rights groups have claimed that 2015 was the year with the highest execution rates in Saudi Arabia in two decades.

The execution of al-Nimr earlier this month had sparked dangerous sectarian tensions in the Middle East, with Shia protesters in Iran attacking a Saudi embassy in Tehran. Saudi Arabia called off diplomatic relations with Iran following the incident, and other Gulf nations such as Bahrain followed suit.

Several cases of violence were reported in Shiite-dominated areas of Saudi Arabia following the mass executions.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are yet to restore ties despite calls for it by the international community.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Death penalty ends in some cases

Source: Viet Nam News (12 January 2016)


Nguyen Van Hoan, deputy head of the group compiling revisions to the 2015 Penal Code, spoke to Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) about changes relating to capital punishment.

How do you respond to a change to the 2015 Penal Code that says the death penalty will not apply for officials who pay back at least 75 per cent of illicitly obtained profits?
This is regulated in Point C, Clause 3 in Article 40 of the 2015 Penal Code. Some people think this is too lenient, but in my opinion, it is not.

The most severe penalty for the crimes of embezzlement and bribery was capital punishment under the previous Penal Code. During discussions regarding revisions to this law, legislators agreed to keep capital punishment as deterrent for the two crimes, but reduce it to life imprisonment if the criminal is able to pay back at least 75 per cent of the profits they illicitly obtained.

Can current prisoners be given amnesty if they repent and adhere to the new law?

These cases will be treated carefully. The criteria for considering whether they should be granted amnesty would be much stricter and tougher than for other prisoners serving life sentences. For example, lifers could have their sentence reduced to 20 years for good behaviour.

If a death sentence is reduced to life imprisonment, they must serve at least 30 years.

As I have mentioned above, officials convicted of corruption could be spared if they pay back at least 75 per cent of the profits they illicitly obtained. In addition, there are other requirements that these prisoners would have to meet, including helping authorities to conduct investigations into other corruption cases.

If an official stole VND100 billion (US$4.45 million) and received the death sentence, they could pay back 75 per cent and have their sentence reduced. What would happen to the other VND25 billon ($1.11 million)?

Under the 2015 Penal Code, any public official who illegally obtains VND1 billion upwards could receive capital punishment. Point C, Clause 3 of Article 40 of the 2015 Penal Code applies to all prisoners who receive death sentences relating to corruption, regard less of the amount of money. However, during their prison terms, they may enjoy clemency for good behaviour. ­— VNS

Sri Lanka's human rights commission proposes death penalty abolishment

Source: Web India (4 January 2016)


The national human rights commission in Sri Lanka on Monday proposed abolishing the death penalty, officials said.

In a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena, the Human Rights Commission said it is imperative for Sri Lanka to conform to the growing global recognition that the death penalty, which seriously violates several human rights including the right to life and freedom from cruel and inhuman punishment, is an extreme and irreversible punishment and is ineffective as a deterrent to crime, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is to advise and assist the government in formulating legislation and directives and procedures in furtherance of the promotion and protection of fundamental rights, and to make recommendations to the government regarding measures which should be taken to ensure that national laws and administrative practices are in accordance with international human rights norms and standards.

Whilst appreciating that successive governments in Sri Lanka have not implemented the death penalty, the Commission notes that courts continue to impose the death penalty under several statutes which provide for the imposition of the death penalty.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Putting Saudi Arabia's execution of 47 people into historical context

Source: The Independent (1 January 2016)


Saudi Arabia has executed 47 people convicted of terrorist offences, including prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Al-Nimr was an outspoken supporter of the protests in the east of the kingdom in 2011, and was arrested alongside his nephew Ali al-Nimr (17 at the time) in 2012, for charges of (among other things) seeking “foreign meddling” in the state.

Ali al-Nimr has not been named among the 47 executed, most of whom were detained after a series of al-Qaeda attacks between 2003 and 2006 in which hundreds were killed.

All but two of those executed were Saudi nationals, one was an Egyptian and one was a Chadian.

Iran, a country with Shia leadership, said Saudi Arabia would pay a "high price" for the executions, claiming that Riyadh: "supports terrorists... while executing and suppressing critics inside the country."

Saudi Arabia executed at least 157 people in 2015, which was the highest figure recorded by human rights groups for 20 years.

In 2014, the total number of executions recorded was 90.

Pakistan: The year of most executions

Source: The Express Tribune (2 January 2016)


As many as 301 people were executed in the Punjab last year. Thousands of prisoners on death row continue to wait for verdicts on their appeals.

There are at least 5,145 people on death row. Of these, there are 42 women whose appeals are pending before the high court and the Supreme Court, sources in the office of the Punjab inspector general (prisons) told The Express Tribune.

Recently, 63 appeals against death penalty were dismissed by the president. Dates of execution are to be notified soon. There are 4,213 appeals pending in the Lahore High Court and its allied benches; 743 in the Supreme Court, 124 with the president and 3 with the Pakistan Army GHQ.

After the deadly attack on Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had lifted the moratorium on death penalty. The first execution was then carried out on April 8 in Machh Jail in Balochistan.

These executions were stayed during a month's reprieve in Ramazan. However, they resumed at the end of July.

As many as 301 people were executed in 7 months. Most had been languishing in jails for more than 20 years.

Kanizan, a prisoner on death row, has exhausted her appeals and is waiting for her turn to be hanged.

She is currently being held at Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail. Prison authorities have moved her to a psychiatric ward, saying she is not mentally stable. She was sentenced to death for killing 6 children and their mother in connivance with their father in Toba Tek Singh.

Most of those executed had been convicted of murder over personal enmity, kidnapping for ransom, rape and robbery.

Less than 30 people were executed for terrorist activities. Among those executed for terrorist activities, 13 were tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act, while 12 were hanged after being punished by Field General Court Martial. 8 people were executed for assassination attempts on former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf and 1 person for the attack outside the US Consulate in Karachi. A man was hanged for attacking the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi.

Among those convicted by Field General Court Martial, three were former officials of the Pakistan Air Force, three of Pakistan Army, one was the son of a retired army official and one was a sepoy, who had killed a colleague in Peshawar Cantt while on duty.

Of the 13 people tried by Anti-Terrorism Courts, 8 belonged to the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. They had been convicted for sectarian killings. 3 among them were those who had hijacked a PIA plane from Turbat to Karachi in 1998.

Supreme Court advocate Tipu Salman Makhdoom says the worst in terms of executions is yet to come.

"More executions are expected in 2016. This is going to bring a bad name to Pakistan," he says.

"People are being hanged over personal enmities, not because of their involvement in terrorism. The government should arrest real terrorists, establish cases against them and give them exemplary punishment."