"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." Oscar Wilde

Sunday, April 26, 2015

EU urges Singapore to reinstate halt on executions

The European Union (EU) has called on the authorities in Singapore to reinstate its halt on capital punishment, following the execution of a convicted murderer here last week.

Reiterating its opposition to the use of capital punishment, the EU said in a statement yesterday it has consistently called for universal abolition of the penalty, which it describes as "cruel and inhumane".

"The European Union calls on the Singaporean authorities to stop all pending executions and to reinstate its earlier moratorium on capital punishment as a 1st step towards definitive abolition of the death penalty," it added.

The statement came after Muhammad Kadar, 39, was executed on April 17 at Changi Prison Complex after he was convicted of stabbing a 69-year-old neighbour to death in her flat while robbing her. He is the 1st murderer to be sentenced to death after the law was changed to give judges discretion to mete out life imprisonment and caning instead for certain murder offences.

A statement released by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) last week said Muhammad had been accorded full due process under the law and was represented by a lawyer throughout the legal process.

"The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against conviction on July 5, 2011," said the SPF. "On Sept 29 last year, after hearing further arguments, the Court of Appeal dismissed his application for re-sentencing under the new death penalty regime and affirmed the sentence of death." The SPF added that Muhammad's petition for clemency was also rejected.

Source: Today, April 25, 2015

Statement on the execution of Muhammad bin Kadar

Muhammad bin Kadar, 39, was executed on 17 April 2015. He received the death sentence for killing a 69-year-old woman during a robbery in the victim's flat that occurred in May 2005. Muhammad had a low IQ of 76 and was under the influence of Dormicum when he entered the flat of Mdm Tham Weng Kuen and repeatedly attacked her with a knife and later a chopper from her kitchen. The victim later died of blood loss from the profuse wounds she suffered.

In 2009, Muhammad was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by the High Court. His appeal for diminished responsibility rejected by the Appellate Court in 2011. After amendments to the mandatory death penalty regime were introduced in late 2012, Muhammad applied for a re-sentence. The apex court determined that he had caused death with the "intention to kill" and upheld the death penalty. The final appeal for presidential clemency was rejected a week before Muhammad's execution.

We at the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) believe that Muhammad's death sentence should have been commuted in view of his low IQ and the influence of Dormicum. The defence psychiatrist had stated that the drug likely led to a "major reduction in self-control and regulation" of Muhammad's actions and that the intention to silence the victim was likely to have formed under the disinhibitory effects of Dormicum. So while Muhammad had planned to forcefully rob Mdm Tham and consumed Dormicum to embolden himself, the fatal attack was not premeditated and very much an afterthought influenced by the drug.

The death penalty is often and instinctively put forward as an effective deterrent of crime. Yet in the circumstances, we find great difficulty in seeing how this tragedy could have been prevented by the threat of execution given Muhammad's state of mind. Muhammad was a part-time odd job labourer with a history of substance abuse who was desperate for money to feed his drug habit. With a low IQ and only primary school education, Muhammad was socio-economically vulnerable to substance abuse and attendant problems. Imposing the death penalty in cases like these has the opposite effect of justice by disproportionately punishing the marginalised.

Media reports on the case have highlighted and even headlined the brutal manner of the murder. The SADPC maintains our opposition to the death sentence even for such cases. The death penalty is an ethically questionable choice of punishment as it shares the intentionality and instrumentality of violence with every act of murder. Judicial executions are in effect the most premeditated of all murders, even if they are aimed at achieving peace and security. We reject the death penalty because justice requires the congruence of means and ends.

SADPC continues to call for the abolition of the death penalty. We urge the country to look deeper into the roots of crime and find more humane and holistic ways to rehabilitate and reintegrate people like Muhammad. We strongly believe every person deserves a chance at atonement by contributing back to society.

Source: theonlinecitizen.com, April 25, 2015

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Philippines: Not all cases of OFWs on death row are equal

The family of Mary Jane Veloso, who is among a group of prisoners
facing execution, on its way to visit her on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
As predictable as rain, and as tedious, is the usual response of Philippine newspaper columnists and editorial writers whenever Filipinos end up on death row in foreign prisons for various alleged offenses, including drug trafficking.

They will ask the government to educate overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on the perils of serving as drug couriers, or "mules." This suggests that those OFWs who have been convicted of drug trafficking knew what they were doing, but thought they could get away with it, or were ignorant of the host country's laws.

In some cases they squarely lay the blame on the OFW, or imply that he or she deserves execution for breaking the laws of the country whose courts have sentenced him or her to death. Seldom do they take the time and effort to look at the specifics of each case.

True, one or all of these assumptions are valid in many cases of OFW convictions for drug trafficking. The excuse that they did not know the contents of the package containing the drug often strains credulity for its disingenuousness.

In other instances, the alleged drug mules were not familiar with the laws of the country into which they were bringing the package, or else thought that they would not be detected, perhaps because they think the same impunity rampant in the Philippines reigns as well in other countries.

The prospect of easy money is usually the reason some OFWs agree to bring prohibited drugs into another country. In not a few cases, it's not the first time that the OFW has served as a drug courier.

The case of Mary Jane Veloso is entirely different, but has elicited practically the same response from the Philippine media, which have implied that she knew what she was doing, but did not know that the death penalty has been restored in the new administration of Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo - and that, in any case, appeals for either a stay or a stop to her execution gloss over these essential points, as well as the fundamental one of the need for OFWs to respect the laws of the countries to which they have been deployed or through which they're transiting.

Veloso was in the first place not entrusted with any package, but was given a "gift" - by a quasi-relative who was also her recruiter - of a suitcase the lining of which, it turned out, concealed 2.6 kilograms of heroin. While it seems only common sense to those of us who are more skeptical of human motives and acts never to carry for anyone, whether for love or money, any package, bag or suitcase the contents of which we don't know, Veloso apparently trusted this individual, whom her family has identified as a certain Christine, or "Tintin," and who was known to her as the wife of the son of her godfather.

In feudal Philippines, ties of kinship bind not only blood relatives but also those individuals with whom one has developed such relationships as Veloso had with "Tintin." Not only are godfathers (ninong) and godmothers (ninang) treated as members of the family, so are their children (Filipinos even have a name for them: kinakapatid) - and their children's spouses. To Veloso's implicit trust of "Tintin" was apparently added her sense that she owed her a debt of gratitude (utang na loob). Her lawyers from the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) have pointed out how excessive the death sentence on Veloso is, given these issues.

If there are reasons to doubt that Veloso knew she was carrying illegal drugs into Indonesia, there are equally sound reasons to doubt that her trial was fair. The NUPL argues that "she was denied her basic right to due process; the death penalty is too harsh given her disputable participation in the crime; and humanitarian considerations militate against the taking of her life through execution by firing squad." (Yes, they still do that in Indonesia.)

Veloso, continued NUPL Secretary-General Edre Olalia, was not represented by a competent lawyer during her 2010 trial, and the interpreter she was provided with was a student whose own competence in either Bahasa Indonesia or English could be questioned. (Veloso did not then know Bahasa Indonesia; neither was she fluent in English.)

Olalia also questioned the court's failure to apply in Veloso's case the Indonesian Law on the Eradication of the Criminal Act on Trafficking in Persons, which, he said, contains a "non-punishment" clause for criminal acts committed by trafficked persons. (Philippine anti-human trafficking groups point out that Veloso, by being exploited as an unwitting drug courier, was a victim of human trafficking.) Olalia has also asked the Indonesian government for leniency on humanitarian grounds. Veloso, who is from a poor family, is a young single mother with 2 small children.

Incidental to the Veloso case, but crucial to Veloso's fate nevertheless, is the political situation in Indonesia, where President Widodo is apparently using his mindless advocacy of the death penalty for drug-related crimes as a platform from which to enhance his domestic political support. It helps explain why he's made much of his supposedly uncompromising stand on drug trafficking by refusing to heed appeals for a stay of execution not only from the Philippine government and various local groups, but also from such international bodies as the United Nations and Amnesty International.

But Filipinos have to ask why the Philippine embassy in Jakarta did not provide Veloso a competent lawyer and interpreter to begin with, rather than allowing her to be represented by a lawyer designated by the Indonesian government and to have a less than able interpreter. Apparently, as in many other instances involving Filipinos in trouble with the laws of other countries, Philippine embassies are hardly of any help, even if only by seeing to it that the rights of Filipinos accused of crimes in foreign places are protected.

One would have expected the Philippine foreign service - after years and years of seeing OFWs hanged, decapitated or killed through some other method across the planet - to have developed by now those mechanisms of support that can make the difference between life and death. Too little and too late are the (self-) publicized efforts of the Aquino administration to save Veloso 5 long years after she was convicted.

The question of State accountability aside, the flaws in Veloso's trial alone should be enough grounds for a mistrial. Together with the other unique circumstances surrounding her case, that glaring possibility suggests that hers deserves closer scrutiny on the part of both the public, and, what's even more crucial, the Philippine media. Surely among the "lessons from a drug case" rather than the usual cliches is the need for the media to look closely at every case of OFWs landing on death row, rather than lumping them all together as if they were the same. They're not.

Source: bulatlat.com, April 25, 2015

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There is no evidence that the death penalty acts as a deterrent

Indonesian president Joko Widodo
Indonesian president Joko Widodo
Joko Widodo argues that Indonesia needs to execute drug offenders like Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to deter others, but he can produce no evidence to support this claim.

Australia has executed no-one for half a century. Following the abolition of the death penalty by various states, the federal government abolished capital punishment in 1973.

Nevertheless, Australian citizens - like all of those from abolitionist jurisdictions - face the death penalty when they commit serious crimes in countries that retain it. Bali 9 pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are facing execution in Indonesia following their convictions on drug trafficking charges almost 10 years ago. On Saturday, they and 7 others were given official notice that they will be killed by firing squad on the prison island of Nusakambangan. Under Indonesian law, the minimum period between receiving notice and execution is 72 hours.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, has insisted all along that he will reject clemency petitions for drug traffickers on death row. In January, 6 were executed - 5 of them foreigners - straining Indonesia's diplomatic relations with Brazil and the Netherlands. These countries abolished the death penalty in the 19th century.

Jokowi claims that Indonesia is in the grip of a national drug "emergency". He argues that it needs to execute drug offenders to deter others and thereby reduce the rate of deaths following illicit or illegal drug use. However, he, like others who support the death penalty, can produce no evidence to support this claim.

Because it would be morally repugnant to conduct random experiments in the use of capital punishment, it remains difficult - if not impossible - to find empirical data on the deterrent effects of the threat of capital punishment that would persuade a committed proponent of the death penalty to change their mind.

As far as some crimes punishable by death in several countries are concerned - such as importing or trading in illegal drugs, economic crimes, or politically motivated violence - there is no reliable evidence of the deterrent effects of executions. What evidence there is - which is mostly from the US - should lead any dispassionate analyst to conclude that it is not prudent to accept the hypothesis that capital punishment deters murder to a marginally greater extent than does the supposedly lesser punishment of life imprisonment.

One rather unsophisticated way of considering deterrence is to analyse homicide rates before and after the death penalty is abolished. This at least can show whether countries that abolish capital punishment inevitably experience more murders, as those who support the deterrent argument claim.

In Australia, where the last executions occurred in the mid-1960s, the reported murder rate has, a few fluctuations aside, fallen.

Prior to the abolition of the death penalty in Canada in 1976, the reported homicide rate had been rising. But in 2003, 27 years after abolition, the rate was 43% lower than it was in 1975, the year before abolition.

Likewise, the homicide rate in countries of Central and Eastern Europe declined by about 60% after abolition in the 1990s. In most countries, abolition, and a strengthening of the rule of law, results in a decline in the homicide rate.

While recent studies on deterrence in the US are inconclusive as a whole, and many suffer from methodological problems, they do not produce credible evidence on deterrence as a behavioural mechanism.

Therefore, the issue is not whether the death penalty deters some - if only a few - people where the threat of a lesser punishment would not. Instead, it is whether, when all the circumstances surrounding its use are taken into account, the death penalty is associated with a marginally lower rate of the death penalty-eligible crimes than the next most severe penalty, life imprisonment. There is no evidence that it is.

As far as Indonesia's claims for a deterrent effect are concerned, Oxford scholar Claudia Stoicescu has shown that this claim is based on inaccurate statistics on the number of drug users that need rehabilitation and the number of young people that die each day as a result of drug use.

Quite simply, rigorous analysis of the available data does not support the claims made for the need to retain the death penalty to reduce social harms.

About 1/2 of the people on death row in Indonesia have been convicted of drug-related offences. Many are foreigners.

Secrecy surrounds the administration of the death penalty in Indonesia. Prisoners learn about the exact time of their execution only 72 hours in advance.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have not been able to persuade Jokowi that his belief in deterrence is misguided. However, they could perhaps remind him that his apparent approach to clemency is in breach of Indonesia's binding obligations under Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Indonesia became a party to this in 2006.

Clemency should always be considered on a case-by-case basis for each and every prisoner. Jokowi's statement that he will reject clemency for all prisoners sentenced to death for drug offences is in clear contradiction of that principle.

Source: The Conversation, April 25, 2015. Carolyn Hoyle, Director of the Centre for Criminology at University of Oxford; Roger Hood, Emeritus Professor of Criminology at University of Oxford.

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Rise in Indonesia executions bucks global trend: Amnesty

Indonesian president Joko Widodo
Indonesia has sharply increased executions, bucking a global trend of fewer death sentences being carried out, Amnesty International experts said, as Jakarta prepares to execute nine foreign drug convicts.

Amnesty said that the number of executions carried out globally went down to 607 in 2014 -- a reduction of 22 % from 2013 -- even though capital sentences handed out increased 28 % to 2,466.

In Indonesia, no convicts were executed in 2014 but 6 have been so far this year and the government has promised to bring that total to 20 -- an unprecedented level for the country in recent years.

This number of executions would bring Indonesia to the 2014 level of countries like Yemen (22), Sudan (23) or the United States (35), although far below the hundreds killed every year in China and Iran.

An Amnesty report showed there were 5 executions in Indonesia in 2013, then none 2009-2012 and 10 in 2008.

Indonesia is not alone in justifying the death sentences as part of a crackdown on crime.

The rapid rise in death sentences in 2014 was mainly caused by Egypt and Nigeria where hundreds of Islamists have been convicted in terror cases.

Below are comments made by 2 Amnesty experts in interviews with AFP:

- Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues, Amnesty International

"We've seen a reduction thankfully in executions globally... The long-term trend in the world is definitely towards abolition even though each year we see some negative developments that cause us concern," she said.

"We have very significant concerns in Egypt because of the mass death sentences which have followed extremely unfair trials and in Nigeria we're concerned about the way the military courts have imposed death sentences."

"There is a trend of countries using the death penalty and saying it's to combat terrorism, it's to combat violent crime. There is no evidence that the death penalty is any more of a deterrent to violent crime or terrorism than other forms of punishment like imprisonment."

"It becomes an excuse, a justification for imposing death sentences."

"The death penalty isn't the solution to these problems, the death penalty isn't justice."

- Papang Hidayat, Indonesia researcher, Amnesty International

"I think the Indonesian government will continue with the 2nd wave of executions because they don't want to lose face in front of the population. A majority of Indonesians are in favour of the death penalty and execution, particularly in drug cases."

"I think the international outcry is playing an important role and will prevent them carrying out all 20 executions this year.... I think the reaction of the international community made President Widodo a bit surprised. They thought the death penalty was a small issue that could not hamper the bilateral relationship with any country."

"To execute more than 10 in a year would not be usual."

"If Indonesia executes 10 people, it means that the number would be 16. It puts Indonesia between the top 10 and top 15 countries in terms of executions. It's very uncommon in Indonesia."

"They want to be seen as strong on law enforcement but more educated people are now joining the anti death-penalty movement, which is getting larger."

"There was a very good manoeuvre made by the Australians when they sent a famous Islamic cleric to Jakarta to meet his Indonesian counterparts and he shared his view that according to Islamic teaching the death penalty should be abolished. It received a positive reception -- unlike if Amnesty condemned through a press release or report. They would consider us a Western organisation trying to interfere with Indonesian values."

Source: Amnesty International, April 25, 2015

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Death Penalty for Drug Crimes Violates International Law

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia should urgently commute the death sentences of 10 people who face imminent execution for drug trafficking, Human Rights Watch said today. Following the exhaustion of legal appeals on April 24, 2015, Indonesian authorities advised foreign diplomats and the prisoners' family members to convene on the island of Nusa Kambangan, where the executions are slated to occur.

"President Widodo has an important opportunity to signal Indonesia's rejection of the death penalty by sparing the lives of the 10 people facing looming execution," said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director. "Widodo can demonstrate true leadership by ending capital punishment as unacceptable state brutality."

The 10 prisoners include one Indonesian and nine foreign nationals, from Brazil, Australia, France, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Philippines. The pending executions have provoked a diplomatic firestorm from foreign governments whose nationals are scheduled to face the firing squad. The Brazilian government has expressed concern that its citizen Rodrigo Gularte faces execution despite evidence that he has bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. In 2000 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights expressed its opposition to imposing the death penalty "on a person suffering from any form of mental disorder." The UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, stated in December 2014 that imposing the death penalty on people with mental disabilities violated the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment.

6 other convicted drug traffickers were recently executed in Indonesia. Widodo has sought to justify the death penalty spree on the basis that drug traffickers on death row had "destroyed the future of the nation." In December he told students that the death penalty for convicted drug traffickers was an "important shock therapy" for anyone who violates Indonesia's drug laws.

According to the Attorney General's Office statistics, 136 people were on death row in Indonesia at the end of 2014, of whom 64 have been convicted of drug trafficking, 2 for terrorism, and the rest for murder and robbery. Indonesia ended a 4-year unofficial moratorium on the use of the death penalty on March 15, 2013, when it executed by firing squad Adami Wilson, a 48-year-old Malawian national. An Indonesian court had convicted Wilson in 2004 of smuggling 1 kilogram of heroin into Indonesia.

Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty. Indonesia's use of the death penalty is inconsistent with international human rights law, statements of UN human rights experts, and various UN bodies. Human rights law upholds every human being's "inherent right to life" and limits the death penalty to "the most serious crimes," typically crimes resulting in death or serious bodily harm. Indonesia should join with the many countries already committed to the UN General Assembly's December 18, 2007 resolution calling for a moratorium on executions and a move by UN member countries toward abolition of the death penalty.

In a March 2010 report, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime called for an end to the death penalty and specifically urged member countries to prohibit use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses while urging countries to take an overall "human rights-based approach to drug and crime control." The UN Human Rights Committee and the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions have concluded that the death penalty for drug offenses fails to meet the condition of "most serious crime."

"President Widodo should recognize that the death penalty is not a crime deterrent but an unjustifiable and barbaric punishment," Kine said. "Widodo should promote Indonesia as a rights-respecting democracy by joining the countries that have abolished capital punishment."

Source: Human Rights Watch, April 25, 2015

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Planned executions "a shameful stain" for President Widodo

Indonesian president Joko Widodo
Indonesian president Joko Widodo
The planned execution of 10 inmates convicted of drug-related offenses is a shameful stain on President Joko Widodo's policymaking, FIDH and its member organization KontraS said today. The 2 organizations reiterate their appeal to President Widodo for a halt to all executions and the commutation of all death sentences.

"President Widodo's green light for more executions despite massive international calls for clemency is a shameful stain on his policymaking," said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. "He must immediately end this barbaric practice and ensure that Indonesia complies with its international human rights obligations."

10 individuals are scheduled to be executed by firing squad within days in Nusakambangan prison in Central Java. They are: Rodrigo Gularte (Brazil), Serge Atlaoui (France), Okwudili Oyatanze (Nigeria), Raheem Agbaje Salami (Nigeria), Sylvester Obiekwe (Nigeria), Martin Anderson (Ghana), Mary Jane Veloso (Philippines), Andrew Chan (Australia), Myuran Sukumaran (Australia), and Zainal Abidin (Indonesia). On 23 April, the Attorney General Office instructed authorities to prepare for the executions, after many of the 10 drug convicts repeatedly failed to secure a judicial review of their cases.

"President Widodo's tough stance on capital punishment for drug convicts is a disgraceful ploy to shore up his sinking approval ratings," said KontraS Executive Director Haris Azhar. "It's time for President Widodo to heed the international communities' repeated calls for an end to executions."

Instead of implementing a moratorium on executions, President Widodo has repeatedly ruled out an amnesty for drug traffickers facing execution. In early December 2014, President Widodo refused to grant clemency to 6 inmates, including 2 women, who had been found guilty of drug trafficking. On 18 January 2015, the 6 were executed by firing squad in Nusakambangan prison.

Ironically, and in a move that exposes the Indonesian government to hypocritical double standards on capital punishment, President Widodo's administration protested the execution of 2 Indonesian women in Saudi Arabia on 14 and 16 April 2015.

On 2 April 2015, it was reported that the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) had downgraded Indonesia to 'E', on a scale of 'A' to 'E', for its failure to respond to the HRC's call in August 2013 to stop executing prisoners for drug-related crimes. The HRC monitors implementation by states parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The 'E' rating indicates that Indonesia took measures that went against the HRC's recommendations related to the death penalty. The HRC has repeatedly stressed that capital punishment for drug-related offenses is a clear violation of Article 6 of the ICCPR on the right to life.

FIDH and KontraS, both members of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP), reiterate their strong opposition to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances. Our organizations insist that there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty on drug-related offenses.

Source: FIDH, April 25, 2015

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Until recently Belarus was the only country in Europe and Central Asia to execute prisoners

Until recently Belarus was the only country in Europe and Central Asia to execute prisoners However, after reintroducing capital punishment in territory they hold, pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels have sentenced at least 1 man to death since September 2014.

Belarus executed 3 people by shooting in 2014 after a 24-month break in state killings, Amnesty International told EurActiv. It is the only European and Central Asian country which uses the death penalty.

The executions were secret with lawyers and family only being told after the prisoners were dead, Amnesty, which on 1 April published its annual Death Penalty Report, said.

Authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenka hosted the February Minsk talks to end fighting in eastern Ukraine. They were attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Francois Hollande.

Ukraine abolished the death penalty in 2000. In August last year, pro-Russian rebels in the so-called Donetsk People Republic, in eastern Ukraine, introduced a criminal code in August, reserving the death penalty for the "gravest crimes". The same session approved the setting up of military "courts" in the territories they control.

The Lugansk People's Republic has also re-introduced the death penalty. On 26 September, rules were introduced that homosexual rape could be punished by death.

In October, a YouTube video surfaced which appeared to show a "people's court" of about 300, judging 2 alleged rapists of women. After gunpoint confessions and a vote by the kangaroo court, one was sent to the frontline.

The other was sentenced to death by firing squad, with only his mother speaking out for mercy. Amnesty International has not been able to confirm if he was shot, but the sentence did not appear to be carried out immediately.

While there have been numerous reports of summary executions in Ukraine, they were not committed within the pseudo-legal framework of the criminal code.

European Union

The European Union does not recognise either the Lugansk or Donetsk republics, branding November elections held in the territories "illegal and illegitimate". It has called for the rule of law and order to be reestablished, so that human rights violations can be prevented and investigated.

"Capital punishment cannot be justified under any circumstances. The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity," an EU official said.

Every EU member state has abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The last country to do so was Latvia, which banned capital punishment in wartime in 2012. The absolute ban on the death penalty is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Lukashenka, described as leading "Europe's last dictatorship", was able to play the international statesman at Minsk, shoring up his position at home, campaigners told EurActiv.

But there was little choice in the location for the summit if EU leaders wanted to stop the fighting. The EU can leverage hardly any influence over the police state, which is heavily backed by Russia.

A lack of interest from the west, hastened by the Ukraine crisis, have also ruled out any Maiden-style revolution in Belarus, according to analysis by Belarus Digest, published in The Guardian. Lukashenka has been in power since 1994.

"Legal" executions

The EU has urged Belarus to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as a step towards its universal abolition. Despite repeated EU condemnations, Belarus continues to execute by shooting, and to sentence prisoners to death.

In April 2014 Belarus secretly executed Pavel Selyun, sentenced in June 2013 for a 2012 double murder. The UN Human Rights Committee had requested a stay in execution, which was ignored.

Such requests are legally binding on state parties to the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Belarus agreed to in 1992.

In May, the Mogilev Regional Court in Belarus confirmed that Rygor Yuzepchuk had been executed. He was sentenced to death in 2013 for a 2012 murder. The authorities have not made public the date of his execution or the location of his grave.

Aliaksandr Haryunou was executed in October. He was sentenced to death in 2013 for a murder committed in 2012. Haryunou appealed to the UN Human Rights Committee in April, arguing that his trial had been unfair.

The Committee asked the Belarusian authorities to stay his execution until it had considered the case. They ignored the legally binding request. Neither his relatives nor lawyer were given the chance to have a final meeting with Haryunou.

In March 2015, Siarhei Ivanou was sentenced to death by the Homel Regional Court of the Republic of Belarus. The EU's foreign policy bureau called for his right to appeal to be guaranteed, while expressing sympathy to the family of the victim.


Worldwide, there was a sharp spike in the handing down of death sentences in 2014, up more than 500 on the previous year to at least 2,466. This was due to more governments in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan using sentences handed down on trumped up terror charges to quell dissent, Amnesty International said.

Writing exclusively in EurActiv today, it warned that "mainstreaming counter-terrorism" into EU foreign policy in the guise of "international cooperation" could undermine its principled stance on the death penalty.

Targeted and upgraded security dialogues with countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, were dialogues with countries that executed as a matter of course, warned Iverna McGowan, acting director of Amnesty International's European Institutions Office.

"In the wake of the sharp spike in death sentences, and closer security cooperation with many state perpetrators, the burning question the EU needs to answer is whether and how it is making sure partners stop using the death penalty," she said.

Russia and the Council of Europe

Ironically, Belarus' sponsor Russia has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 2009. All 47 member-states of the Council of Europe, including Russia, have stopped using capital punishment due to commitments under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Becoming a member of the international organisation for cooperation, human rights and rule of law, would mean Belarus would have to give up the death penalty. It would also be open to legal challenges over its dismal human rights record.

Council spokesman Andrew Cutting stated, "The Council of Europe is firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. The Committee of Ministers has repeatedly called upon non-member countries including Belarus, the United States and Japan to cease using the death penalty and move towards abolition."

Japan (3 executions last year) and the United States have observer status at the Council. Executions in the US dropped from 39 in 2013 to 35 in 2014, Amnesty International said.

China again carried out more executions than the rest of the world put together. Amnesty International believes thousands are executed and sentenced to death there every year, but with numbers kept a state secret the true figure is impossible to determine.

Without China, there were 602 executions in 22 countries in 2014. The world's top 5 executioners apart from China in 2014 were Iran (289 officially announced and at least 454 more that were not acknowledged by the authorities), Saudi Arabia (at least 90), Iraq (at least 61) and the USA.

Source: eurobelarus.info, April 25, 2015

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China: Hearing set for murder conviction 20 years after execution

Nie Shubin
Nie Shubin
A court in the eastern province of Shandong will review a controversial 1994 rape and murder case that saw a man executed, only for another to later confess to the crime.

Nie Shubin was 21 in 1995 when found guilty of the rape and murder of a woman in Hebei's capital, Shijiazhuang, and executed. In 2005, another man named Wang Shujin confessed to the attack.

Wang, 48, was apprehended by police in 2005 for three unconnected rape and murder cases, and confessed to a rape and murder with similar facts to Nie's case.

Hebei Higher People's Court approved the death penalty for Nie in 1995, rejected Wang's request for a retrial in 2013 and still holds that Nie was guilty. Last December the Supreme People's Court ordered the case be moved out of the province and reviewed in Shandong.

Five judges from Shandong higher court have reviewed Nie's case and the attorneys acting for Nie have seen the case files. In March, the attorneys claimed to have found several "evident errors" while duplicating Nie's case files, most of which involve legal procedure.

Nie's family, their legal team and officials representing those involved in the original trial will attend the hearing, scheduled for April 28, said a statement from the court. Other than the 2 parties, 15 people, including lawyers, lawmakers, political advisors and representatives of the public, will attend the hearing as independent witnesses and ask questions to both parties.

To protect the identity of the victim, the hearing will not be open to the public but proceedings will be documented via the court's official microblog account.

Normally in China, for the review of a murder conviction, the court goes through case files rather than holding an actual trial.

Prof. Bian Jianlin of the China University of Political Science and Law told Xinhua that this kind of hearing is very rare and may be be an attempt to promote judicial transparency and raise the credibility of the judicial system.

"We want to conduct a fair and just review of the case with adequate transparency," Zhu Yunshan, presiding judge of the the review team, said. "A hearing of this kind is our best option to hear both sides of the story and inform the public without compromising the victim's privacy."

Nie's case drew public attention following the acquittal of an executed convict in another rape-murder case last December.

A teenager named Huugjilt from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was executed for the rape and murder of a woman in June 1996. A few years later a self-confessed serial rapist and killer, Zhao Zhihong, admitted to the murder when arrested in 2005.

Source: ECNS, April 25, 2015

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Indonesia: French death row inmate Serge Atlaoui gets last-minute, two-week reprieve pending case review

Serge Atlaoui conferring with his Indonesian lawyer
Cilacap (Indonesia) (AFP) - Indonesia said Saturday it had officially notified eight foreign drug convicts that they will be executed, prompting an appeal from United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon to spare the prisoners and suspend the death penalty.

A Frenchman also on death row for drug-related crimes was granted a temporary reprieve after Paris stepped up pressure on Jakarta.

The eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- have been transported to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan where they will face the firing squad along with an Indonesian prisoner.

"Today, just now, we just finished notifying every convict, nine people except for Serge," a spokesman for the attorney-general's office, Tony Spontana, told AFP, adding it would be at least three days until the sentences are carried out.

"We have also asked for their last wish," he added.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged Indonesia to "refrain from carrying out the execution", adding that drug-related offences are not generally considered to fall under "most serious crimes", which is the only time the death penalty should be used under international law.

"The Secretary General urges President Joko Widodo to urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view toward abolition," a spokesman for Ban said.

Indonesian officials said earlier that Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, who was expected to be among the group being put to death, will not be included in the forthcoming batch as he still has an outstanding legal appeal.

Spontana did not give a date for the executions but a lawyer for Filipina Mary Jane Veloso said she had been informed she would be put to death on Tuesday.

The news that the execution procedure is under way, after weeks of delays, came after Indonesian officials met diplomats Saturday in a town near Nusakambangan. The consular officials then travelled to the island to visit inmates.

The foreign drug convicts have all lost appeals for clemency from Widodo, who argues that Indonesia is fighting a drugs emergency.

The Australian government said it had been informed that the execution of its citizens, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, was "imminent".

"Nothing can be gained and much will be lost if these two young Australians are executed," said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

"I again respectfully call on the president of Indonesia to reconsider his refusal to grant clemency. It is not too late for a change of heart."

Minnie Lopez, a lawyer for Veloso, told AFP: "We were informed by Mary Jane herself that she received the notice that the sentence will be implemented on April 28."

The news of Atlaoui's temporary reprieve came after France dramatically ramped up pressure on Jakarta to change course, and President Francois Hollande warned Saturday of "consequences with France and Europe" if he was put to death.

Widodo has previously ignored the increasingly clamorous appeals on the convicts' behalf from their governments, social media and from others such as the band Napalm Death -- the president is a huge heavy metal fan.

The Australian government has mounted a campaign to save its citizens on death row, ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin-smuggling gang, stressing that they are reformed characters after a decade behind bars.

Sukumaran has become an accomplished artist during his time in jail. After visiting him on Nusakambangan, one of his lawyers, Julian McMahon, returned carrying three of the convict's self-portraits with one dated April 25 and signed "72 hours just started", the Australian Associated Press reported.

Seventy-two hours is the minimum amount of time that death row convicts must be given before they are executed in Indonesia.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso
Earlier, Sukumaran's sister Brintha issued an emotional plea for his life to be spared, urging Widodo in a YouTube video to "change punishment for humanity".

Veloso, whose family visited her on the prison island Saturday, sent out a handwritten note from jail pleading to Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has just returned from a visit to Jakarta.

"I ask for your help, save me from the death penalty. I have two very young sons who need their mother," it said. "I swear before God, I am innocent. I am a mere victim of evil people, even if many don't believe me."

The 30-year-old, who was caught in 2009 with heroin sewn into the lining of her suitcase at Yogyakarta airport, claims she was a victim of human trafficking and that she is not a drug smuggler.

The family of Brazilian convict Rodrigo Gularte have argued he should not be put to death as he is a paranoid schizophrenic, and his lawyer Ricky Gunawan said Saturday that the "execution of a person with mental problems is beyond logic".

Three of the African traffickers are confirmed as being from Nigeria. However it is not clear whether the fourth holds Ghanaian or Nigerian nationality.

Indonesia has some of the toughest anti-drugs laws in the world. In January, Jakarta executed six drug convicts, including five foreigners, sparking international outrage.

Source: Agence France-Presse, April 25, 2015

Recommended article:
- Indonesia’s Death Row Convicts Facing Mass Execution, The New York Times, April 25, 2015. Here are the 10 people facing execution by firing squad in Indonesia for drug-related offenses...

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Iran regime hangs 70-year-old man after 14 years of imprisonment

Iran: Medieval, barbaric punishments
On Thursday, the Iranian regime’s henchmen hanged a group of nine men including a 70-year-old who had been held in prison for the past fourteen years, allegedly for drug-related offences.

The prisoners were all hanged in the main prison in the city of Bandar Abbas in the southern province of Hormozgan.

The mullahs’ judiciary in the southern province of Hormozgan confirmed the execution of the nine prisoners but did not identify them.

According to the information received, Heydar Mardani, 70, was executed as he was serving his 14th year of imprisonment.

The other victims are: Hossein AliKhah, Ahmad Qurashi, Farhad Kianian, Mohamad Ahmadi, Mehrdad Azmand, Qassem Maziar, Heydar Moridani and Mohamad Naroui. The youngest victim was 25 years old.

In recent days there has been a sharp increase in the number of executions taking place in Iran. In a seven day period between 12 to 18 April at least 81 prisoners were hanged in several prisons, meaning 12 executions per day.

The sharp increase in the wave of executions after an agreement was reached on the framework of a nuclear deal is a clear indication of the mullahs’ desperate need to create an atmosphere of fear in society in order to confront the explosive situation.

Inmates in prisons in the city of Karaj staged protests on April 12 following the transfer of their cellmates to solitary confinement in preparation for carrying out the criminal execution sentences. Protesting prisoner chanted: “We shall not let you kill us.” Similarly, families of the prisoners on the verge of execution also gathered in front of the prisons and shouted: “We shall not let you execute them.”

The Iranian Resistance has called on brave Iranian youths to express their solidarity with prisoners and the families of those executed, and urged them to protest against these brutal killings in the country.

Source: NCRI, April 24, 2015

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Mary Jane Veloso set to be executed on Tuesday, April 28 – sister

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso
Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso
Mary Jane Veloso, who has been sentenced to death in Indonesia over a drug case, will face the firing squad on April 28, Tuesday, her sister said on Saturday.

According to a radio DZBB report, the 30-year-old mother told her sister Marites Veloso-Laurente over the phone that the Attorney General's Office of Indonesia confirmed the date of her execution on Saturday.

However, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Charles Jose said the Philippine Embassy in Indonesia has yet to receive a notice for Veloso's execution.

"I just spoke to our ambassador to Indonesia and she confirmed that the Embassy has not received the 72-hour notice," Jose told GMA News Online in a text message.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has previously said Veloso cannot be executed until the Philippines receives an official notification from Indonesia. Protocol dictates that the notice must be given to the convicted person and their respective embassies in advance.

In an earlier report, Tony Spontana, AGO spokesperson, said the order for the execution of Veloso and nine other convicts with drug-related charges was dated April 23, a full day before its release on Friday.

Veloso's family received a copy of the order when they visited her at the prison island of Nusakambangan on Saturday. The order did not specify the date of her execution.

Source: GMA News, April 25, 2015

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Bali duo given final notice

Nusakambangan Island, where executions are carried out in Indonesia
Nusakambangan Island, where executions are carried out in Indonesia
Jakarta: Bali nine organisers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran may have just three days left to live after they were officially given 72 hours notification of their executions on Saturday.

However Attorney-General spokesman Tony Spontana said no date had been set and they may have longer.

He said under Indonesian law the earliest a prisoner can be executed once they receive official notification is in 72 hours time.

The Attorney-General's office has indicated it is waiting on Monday's Supreme Court decision on Indonesian marijuana trafficker Zainal Abidin before setting a date.

A French man on death row in Indonesia has won a temporary reprieve from the firing squad but any hope for the nine others has disappeared.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told Fairfax Media the French Embassy was not among those summoned to discuss the imminent executions because Serge Atlaoui still had a legal case before the Administrative Court. [Mr. Atlaoui's wife, Sabine, confirmed at 5:00 am GMT this morning that her husband had not been transferred to an isolation cell. She also indicated that she hadn't received ANY official confirmation that he had been removed from the execution list. - DPN]

However the execution of the remaining nine drug felons, including Sukumaran and Chan, is likely to occur within days.

Australian, Brazilian, Philippine and Nigerian consul staff met in Cilacap - the town near death island - at 12pm Jakarta time on Saturday to be briefed on the grim logistics.

In yet another ominous portent, all of the felons except Atlaoui have been transferred to isolation cells in the high security Besi prison on Nusakambangan ahead of the executions.

The Indonesian man, Zainal Abidin's death already seems a fait accompli despite Monday's court ruling, with his family contacted by authorities on Friday to ask where and how they wanted his body buried.

"It really upsets the family. It's as if they already know the outcome, that it's going to get rejected," said Abidin's lawyer Ade Yuliawan.

The Attorney-General's Office has repeatedly said it would wait for all legal processes to be exhausted because it wanted to execute the 10 drug felons simultaneously.

Several prisoners besides Atlaoui have ongoing legal processes, including the Australians, Filipina maid Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, who is schizophrenic.

But the Indonesian government insists they have no remaining channels of appeal.

"We only sent notification to embassies whose nationals have exhausted their legal avenues," Mr Arrmanatha said.

Lawyers for Veloso on Friday lodged a request for a second judicial review on the grounds she was "primarily a human trafficking victim in the first place, and therefore, must be protected".

Filipina death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso's two young sons beg Indonesian president's son to help save their mother from the firing squad. A psychological time bomb for these kids. Another tragedy in the making.

Her Indonesia lawyer Ismail Muhammad, who visited Veloso on the island on Saturday with her two young sons and other family members, said they didn't yet know whether it would be accepted by the Supreme Court.

But the Foreign Ministry's Mr Arrmanatha said Indonesian law stated there could only be one judicial review.

Lawyers for the Australians are challenging the clemency laws in the Constitutional Court and the Judicial Commission is investigating allegations the judges who sentenced Chan and Sukumaran to death offered bribes for lighter sentences.

Serge Atlaoui and his wife
Serge Atlaoui and his wife
However, any ruling made on the country's clemency laws by the Constitutional Court would not be retrospective and the Attorney-General has made it clear the case would not prevent the executions from proceeding.

Atlaoui, a welder, was arrested near Jakarta in 2005 in a secret laboratory producing ecstasy.

He has always maintained he was innocent of drug charges and was simply installing equipment in what he thought was an acrylics factory.

His lawyers lodged an appeal in the Administrative Court on April 23 and are waiting for a date.

A spokeswoman said Atlaui's wife, Sabine, had not been informed that he had been taken off the list for this batch of executions.

A source close to his case said it would be a violation of the law if Atlaoui was executed before six others who were arrested at the acrylics factory at the same and had also been sentenced to death.

"According to the law, people who are sentenced to death in one case must be executed together," she said.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield, April 25, 2015

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Indonesia: Flurry of Activity Signals Executions Are Imminent

Jakarta. Indonesia has asked foreign embassies to send representatives to a maximum security prison ahead of the expected execution of 10 drug convicts, although an official 72-hour notice of execution has not been given yet, diplomats said on Friday.

Among the convicted drug offenders set to face the firing squad are nationals from Australia, Brazil, France, the Philippines and Nigeria, and the case has strained relations between the governments of those nations and Indonesia.

“It’s true, we have been told to be there on Saturday,” said a foreign embassy official who asked not to be identified because she was not authorized to speak to the media.

“We still don’t know when the actual date of execution will happen but we expect that it will be in days.”

Security was heightened on Friday at the prison island of Nusakambangan off the Central Java port town of Cilacap, where the executions will take place. It was not immediately clear why the representatives from the four countries had been summoned.

A police spokesman said orders to prepare the firing squad had not yet come from the Attorney General’s Office.

The attorney general has been waiting for all the legal processes of the 10 death-row inmates to be completed before announcing an execution date.

Lawyers were scrambling to various courts in a last-ditch attempt to delay the executions. But the only outstanding appeal considered still valid by the attorney general was for an Indonesian national, Zainal Abidin, said AGO spokesman Tony Spontana.

“We are hoping that there will be a ruling on Zainal Abidin’s case review as soon as possible,” he said.

The attorney general will announce the date of the execution in Jakarta but it was not yet clear when that would happen, he said.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Zainal’s final appeal on Monday.

Considerations of compassion

Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, in Indonesia this week for the Asian-African Conference, was expected to meet President Joko Widodo on Friday to make a final appeal for mercy on behalf of Philippine citizen Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso.

“Maybe, the best we can hope for is a commutation of the death sentence,” Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose told reporters in Manila.

Binay said he appealed again for clemency for Veloso during a meeting with his Indonesia counterpart, Jusuf Kalla, on Thursday.

“I appeal to you on considerations of compassion, and assure you that the Philippine government is exhausting all avenues to ensure that proper justice is served to those responsible for deceiving Mary Jane into having brought the drugs into Indonesia,” Binay said, quoting from a written appeal that he handed to Kalla.

Maximum security prison on Nusakambangan Island, Indonesia
Veloso arrived early on Friday in Nusakambangan.

She faces the death penalty after the Supreme Court rejected her appeal for a judicial review. She was moved from Wirogunan prison in Yogyakarta to Nusakambangan in preparation for her execution.

Police officers and soldiers arrived at Wirogunan at around 1 a.m. on Friday to start the transfer. Eight police cars and a number of unidentified private cars escorted Veloso from Wirogunan.

Veloso’s plight has been keenly felt in the Philippines, where around 100 protesters carrying “Save the life of Mary Jane” signs in Indonesian picketed Jakarta’s embassy in Manila.

“Mary Jane doesn’t have that much time. The [Philippine] government must show determination to save her from death row,” Garry Martinez of the emigrants’ support group Migrante told AFP.

Customs officers at Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport arrested Veloso in 2009 for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin on a flight from Malaysia. Veloso claims a family friend, working with an international crime gang, had secretly stashed the heroin in her suitcase.

On Thursday, France accused Indonesia of “serious dysfunctions” in its legal system that led to Frenchman Serge Atlaoui being sentenced to death, and said his execution would be “incomprehensible.”

France has warned Indonesia that the executions could damage ties, while Australia has pleaded repeatedly for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two Australians arrested as ringleaders of the “Bali Nine” drug-smuggling group.

The members of the Bali Nine were arrested at the main airport on the holiday island of Bali for trying to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin to Australia. The seven other members of the gang, all Australians, are in jail in Indonesia.

Not giving up hope

Chinthu Sukumaran, Myuran’s brother, was making last-minute arrangements to leave for Jakarta.

“I can’t believe this is it. We still haven’t given up hope,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Michael Chan, Andrew’s brother, was also heading to Indonesia, the paper said.

Consular staff assisting Brazilian convict Rodrigo Gularte were told by Indonesian authorities to be in Cilacap on Saturday. Lawyers for the two Australians were to meet Australian Embassy officials in Cilacap Saturday as Canberra said it was “gravely concerned” at the signs that the executions were drawing near.

“Our ambassador in Jakarta is currently engaged in making a series of representations,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs told AFP in a statement.

Indonesia has harsh punishments for drug crimes and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap. Six executions have been carried out so far this year.

Sources: Jakarta Globe, Reuters, AFP & JG, April 24, 2015

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Do the Right Thing and Show Mercy, President Jokowi

A day that no rational, compassionate human being could ever wish for appears to be at hand: the day that 10 fellow human beings, nine of them foreign nationals, are gunned down in a hail of bullets because the Indonesian government wants to make a barbarous point.

The Attorney General’s Office, which seems to be taking an awful lot of pleasure in organizing the executions, has summoned officials from foreign embassies to the prison island of Nusakambangan on Saturday. The AGO is required to give the inmates 72 hours’ notice about their execution, so it appears that the killings — yes, killings; make no mistake, this is state-sanctioned murder — could take place as soon as Tuesday.

But the AGO has said it will carry out the executions once all the inmates’ appeals have been exhausted. And one of the 10, Indonesian Zainal Abidin, still has an appeal to be heard on Monday.

If, as appears likely, Zainal avoids the firing squad at the last minute, the government will have confirmed what everyone already suspects: that the executions are a stunt — bloody and grotesque — to impress upon the rest of the world the Indonesian government’s disturbingly nationalist bent.

Why persist with a practice as savage as the death penalty when much of the world cries out against it? What can Indonesia gain from this?

It is in the president’s power to end this shameful travesty and grant these individuals clemency. So it is to President Joko Widodo that we beseech mercy for Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso; for Serge Areski Atlaoui; for Myuran Sukumaran; for Andrew Chan; for Rodrigo Gularte; for Raheem Agbaje Salami; for Martin Anderson; for Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise; for Okwudili Oyatanze; and for Zainal Abidin.

We stand for mercy, Mr. President. Will you stand with us?

Source: Jakarta Globe, Editorial, April 24, 2015

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Stop the executions in Indonesia: Amnesty International

Update 23/04/2015: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran had their appeal denied by the Administrative Tribunal in upholding an earlier decision that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case that the President of Indonesia failed to exercise his right to grant clemency based on the individual merits of each case before him of all 64 prisoners on death row for drug-related offences. There are appeals pending for some of those at imminent risk and the legal team for Andrew and Myuran have lodged another appeal which is now pending before the Constitutional Court.

On April 9 Indonesian Attorney General HM Prasetyo made statement implying that his office may carry out the executions of 10 prisoners after the Asia-Africa Conference, which is being held between 19 and 24 April. Please keep taking action so we can keep hope alive.

At least 10 people at imminent risk of execution in Indonesia.

They are Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (both Australian, males), Raheem Agbaje Salami (Nigerian, male), Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso (Filipino, female), Zainal Abidin (Indonesian, male), Martin Anderson, alias Belo (Ghanaian, male), Rodrigo Gularte (Brazilian, male), Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise alias Mustafa (Nigerian, male), Okwudili Oyatanze (Nigerian, male) and Serge Areski Atlaoui (French, male).

Indonesia has already demonstrated its deadly intent by executing five foreign nationals and one Indonesian just after midnight on 18 January. International condemnation followed and the Brazilian and Dutch Ambassadors to Indonesia were recalled.

Death sentences in Indonesia are carried out by a firing squad of 12 gunmen. Prisoners are given a choice of whether to stand or sit and whether to have their eyes covered, by a blindfold or hood. Three rifles are loaded with live ammunition, while the other nine are loaded with blanks. Prisoners are then fired on from 5-10 metres.

The death penalty is a violent and inhumane punishment that has no place in today’s criminal justice system.

Evidence from around the world has shown that the death penalty does not work to deter crimes. State sanctioned killing only serves to endorse the use of force and to continue the cycle of violence.

140 countries have now abolished the death penalty. Indonesia has the opportunity to become the 141st country.

Please, urge the Indonesian authorities to halt plans to execute the death row prisoners and to establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to ending the death penalty for good. Sign Amnesty's online petition HERE.

Source: Amnesty International, April 24, 2015

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