death penalty news----worldwide
- Oct. 31
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO:
Death penalty for soldier charged with killing poll officials
A military tribunal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's northeastern
district of Ituri sentenced a soldier to death on Tuesday for killing two
Sergeant Innocent Mamale on Sunday shot dead the 2 clerks from the
Independent Electoral Commission in Fataki, 90 kilometres from Bunia, the
largest town in Ituri.
"In addition, he [Mamale] will have to pay an equivalent of US $30,000 in
Congolese Francs as compensation to each of the families of the victims,"
said Maj Innocent Mayembe, the presiding judge of the military tribunal.
The tribunal also condemned Mamale to 3 years imprisonment for abandoning
his post and fined him 15,000 Congolese francs.
Mamale originally shot at 5 electoral commission agents in Fataki.
"I saw as if someone left the electoral office then I opened fire," Mamale
told the tribunal. "I do not know what happened to me and it is for the
1st time in my life."
Separate reports say eight agents were injured in the incident.
The dead polling clerks were locals, with 1 woman (unnamed) coming from an
area under the control of militia leader Peter Karim. Karim, who was
appointed a colonel in the army in October, is the leader of the Front des
Nationalistes Intgrationnistes (FNI).
To avenge the deaths, the victims' families ransacked and burnt electoral
offices in Fataki. "37 of the 85 offices in Fataki were ransacked," said
John Ukunya, the head of the electoral office in Bunia.
According to the Djugu territory Member of Parliament, Bura Pulunyo,
elections should be repeated in Fataki. However, the electoral commission
which has the sole mandate to decide on this, has not yet responded.
Vote counting is continuing after Sunday's poll.
The elections presented a special challenge for the government in Ituri as
the area has remained an active militia zone since 1999.
Spanning 65,000 square kilometres, the district has had 7 militia leaders.
They include Thomas Lubanga, the leader of L'Union des patriotes
congolais, who has since been arrested by the International Criminal Court
based in the Hague, and Kahwa Panga Mandro of the Parti pour l'Unit et la
Sauvegarde de l'Intgrit congolaise, who is imprisoned in Bunia.
At least 15,000 militiamen have been disarmed in the Congo since April
2004 according to the United Nations Mission in the Congo, MONUC, the
national army, the UN Children's Fund and the militia groups themselves.
In June, with the militias remaining active, and 1 month to the 1st round
of the presidential elections, the government appointed the Ituri zone
commander, Gen Mbuayama Nsiona, to ensure security during the elections. 6
military brigades were also deployed for this mission.
So far, Karim, the FNI leader, is still active in the region of Nioka, 120
kilometres northeast of Bunia; along with Matthieu Ngujolo, the leader of
the Mouvements Rvolutionnaires congolais, and Cobra Matata of the Fronts
des Resistants Patriotiques en Ituri.
STAGE REVIEWS ----Songs of Hangings and Redemptions; Of bandits and
Director: Megan Choritz
Cast: Graham Weir, Pitchie Rommellaere, Simon Fuzzy Ratcliffe
Venue: Kalk Bay Theatre till November 25
Don't be surprised if you find yourself tenderly rubbing the back of your
neck as you leave the theatre after this short, sharp, well-executed show.
Your involvement won't end when Graham Weir has finished his last song of
the bandits, outlaws and sinners of Western folklore.
Stirred by his words about the relish of public hangings, fear of the
gallows and horror of lynchings, you'll be glad we've moved on. Yet you'll
be left wondering if capital punishment isn't a better way of stopping the
unstoppable violence than the often protracted and unsatisfactory trials
Weir, with his offbeat sense of humour and willingness to tackle the
unusual (he was the chief songwriter for the cult a cappella show Not the
Midnight Mass) trawled extensively through Irish, Scottish and American
folk music to track down the vocal material for this show.
Bleak the subject matter may be, but the intensity of his deliveries, the
variety of stories and superb backing from musicians Pitchie Rommellaere
and Simon Fuzzy Ratcliffe, keep the audience both entertained and
Between them they play an astonishing variety of instruments. Five
guitars, including an unusual slide guitar, concertina, double bass,
clarinet, flute, diminutive pennywhistle and various things which are
shaken and struck.
This backing is always subtle and complementary, enhancing the old world
atmosphere of the saloon as vividly as do the 4 large black and white
photographs of old-timers, (one with a huge spade-length black beard), on
the wall behind the trio.
Weir, who is off everything and into yoga these days, looks younger and
crisper than ever . He leads from the front, standing, sitting, singing
well and reading aloud on two occasions as he brings to life some of the
characters and their stories of those who lived in fear of "the hangman's
rope thick and strong."
Those sheriffs of old certainly didn't hang about. If you were arrested on
Monday, you'd be tried on Tuesday, "hanged in the morning and cut down at
night". Burial would be at right angles to everyone else to show that you
were an outlaw.
It's not all gloom and doom, though. One lucky guy was saved because his
friend was prepared to pay his fine "rather than see you hang all day on
the gallows line".
Another convicted Scotsman had a fiddle everyone wanted. Dog-in-the-manger
to the end, he was determined to break it rather than leave it behind.
A moving rendition of Amazing Grace, as a redemptive song, provided a
welcome contrast in this collection of anonymous vocals which inspired
icons of the blues like Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash and Bruce Springsteen.
Director Megan Choritz has produced a neatly packaged show, long enough to
hit home but short enough to avoid being depressing. However, it could do
with one strong final number rather than peter out.
Perhaps move the Ballad of Tom Dooley to the end. Everyone knows the song
and the true story of the young confederate soldier found guilty of
murdering his former sweetheart Laura.
Legend has it that he rode in a wagon through the streets of Statesville
to the gallows sitting on top of his coffin with his banjo on his knee.
When the rope was placed around his neck he joked with the sheriff that he
would have washed his neck if he had known he was going to use such a nice
clean new rope.
Death is never justice
It is 42 years since the last execution took place in Britain and 37 years
since capital punishment for murder was permanently abolished. Some of us
may have slipped complacently into thinking of the death penalty as an
antiquated relic of the past like witch burning, slavery and the stocks.
In fact, 22 countries use capital punishment regularly, employing a
variety of methods including lethal injection, firing squads, mobile
execution chambers, beheading and hanging. In addition, an estimated half
dozen British people are currently on death row around the world including
Mirza Tahir Hussain in Pakistan.
Amnesty International published a global report on the death penalty
earlier this year that revealed that at least 2,148 people were executed
last year - the majority of these in China (1,770), Iran (94), Saudi
Arabia (86), the USA (60) and Pakistan (31). More than 20,000 people are
estimated to be on death row around the world, waiting for their
state-appointed day of death. There are vigorous abolition campaigns in
most of these countries, but the state continues to systematically murder
on a regular basis.
Mr Hussain has been on death row in Pakistan since 1989 when he was
convicted of murdering a taxi driver. He has already endured four
execution dates and 4 temporary stays of execution, the most recent of
these after the Prince of Wales appealed for clemency.
Mr Hussain is living a nightmare, as it seems he most likely did not
commit the crime he has been convicted of. In 1988, he visited Pakistan
and took a taxi to his familys village of Bhubar. He says that when the
taxi driver tried to assault him, a scuffle ensued and a gun that was
already in the car went off, fatally injuring the taxi driver. There are
serious concerns about the lack of witnesses, about the standard of police
evidence and about the charge Mr Hussain has been convicted on, but
nevertheless Pakistans Supreme Court has upheld the sentence.
The only hope for Mr Hussain now is that President Musharraf commutes the
sentence, something you would think any head of state would do when there
was a clear possibility of executing an innocent man and threatening the
very credibility of the criminal justice system.
The possibility of executing an innocent person must surely be the
strongest argument against the death penalty. It was the execution of
Derek Bentley in 1953 that turned the tide of the abolition campaign in
Britain. Ted Heath, arguing in the Commons for abolition, said that the
true test of a commitment to capital punishment was not a willingness to
act as the executioner, but a preparedness to be executed by mistake.
Since the death penalty was reintroduced in the USA in 1973, 122 people
have been released from death row when evidence exonerating them came to
light. Justice is always fallible; this is why an irrevocable penalty is
Supporters of the death penalty commonly argue that it is a strong
deterrent to crime. The US, as a country where 38 states have reintroduced
the death penalty after a period of abolition, provides an interesting
case study. There, executions and high murder rates go hand in hand.
Texas, which uses lethal injection about once a fortnight, has some of
Americas highest murder rates.
Criminologists who have looked at the effect of executions on the public
consciousness have concluded that, in fact, violence may breed more
violence the example of state-sanctioned killing appears to lead to a
lowering of the threshold of general respect for life.
When you add to these concerns the fact that, again and again, around the
world, the death penalty is found to be used hugely disproportionately
against racial minorities, the poor and the mentally ill, we must agree
that it is a penalty that no credible criminal justice system can afford.
Abolitionists around the world are making these arguments and making
change as we speak. The number of countries carrying out executions in the
last 20 years has halved. Mexico, Liberia and the Philippines have
recently abolished the death penalty. International support for these
campaigns is essential, which is why Im a member of Amnesty, and why I
participated recently in the Secret Policemans Ball (to be broadcast on
Channel 4 tonight)
The international campaign to abolish the slave trade will have its
bicentenary next year. If more of us get involved in campaigns like the
one to save Mirza Tahir Hussain we can maybe save some innocent lives and
bring another great abolition closer.
(source: Comment, Jeremy Irons, The Times)
- June 30
Saudi execution caught on video
The execution of a man convicted of raping and murdering a teenage boy in the
Saudi Arabian desert has been caught on film and published by the Sharq
Emirates 247 reported that the execution by beheading of a murdering rapist was
caught on video and published by the Saudi Sharq newspaper, in spite of the
Kingdom's ban on executions being filmed. The rapist had lured his victim to
the desert and raped him, before forcing him to lie in the sand and crushing
him with his vehicle.
The video posted below contains graphic content.
In 2009 RT ran a piece on Saudi Arabian executioners, noting the job is a
respected profession in the Arab world. During a debate on debate on Abu Dhabi
TV three Arab executioners agreed "there is nothing traumatic – or even
distasteful – in executing those condemned to the sword or noose."
Human rights organizations meanwhile condemn the number of public executions
carried out in Saudi Arabia.
(source: Digital Journal)
Behram Khan’s hanging would prove to be a bad omen
The European Union, Amnesty International and international human rights
organisations term death penalty an unacceptable denial of human dignity and
Today 139 countries are abolitionist in law or practice. Of the 58 countries
and territories retaining the death penalty, 18 were known to have carried out
executions in 2009 (China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the US top the league)
while Pakistan has made no execution since 2008 and Brundi, Togo and the US
state of New Mexico have abolished death penalty in their law and practice in
Despite a marked trend towards abolition and restriction of the use of capital
punishment in most countries, the numbers and manner of death penalty
applications worldwide remain alarming.
International human rights organisations are working to achieve universal
abolition of death penalty. While 139 countries — more than 2/3 of the
countries of the world — are abolitionist in law or practice, still at least
8,679 executions were carried out in last 2 years.
And wherever capital punishment remained in force, there are serious problems
with regard to the respect of international norms and standards. This makes
abolitionist initiatives the more important.
UNO is also playing pivotal role to abolish death penaly. However, while
figures of death penalty application around the world are decreasing, they
remain much too high where capital punishment remains in force.
There are serious problems with regard to the respect of international norms
and standards, notably in the limitation of the death penalty to the most
serious crimes, the exclusion of juvenile offenders from its scope, and
guarantees of a fair trial.
In countries like Pakistan justice is delayed and the influential elite try to
overshadow the justice system by unfair and underhand methods. In statute laws
of Pakistan there are 32 different crimes for which the death penalty is
awarded, though at the time of creation of Pakistan capital punishment was
specified for only 2 different crimes.
It means 30 more categories are included in capital punishment laws. The death
penalty envisaged in the fundamental documents of Islam is not for more than
two or three crimes.
The current democratic government of Pakistan has been trying to make some
initiatives to abolish this punishment. No execution since 2008, is also a part
of the policy to abolish this law.
For this both government and human rights organisations of Pakistan have to
play a vital role.
Death sentence causes psychological trauma and many death row inmates suffer
from mental illness and mental disabilities because of abominable conditions in
prisons. It is beyond any shadow of doubt that death penalty is a cruel,
inhuman and debasing punishment.
In Pakistan, justice is delayed and, furthermore, our justice system at lower
courts is blemished and unfair methods are used. Knowing all these facts and
figures, Pakistan’s govt has had a moratorium on the death penalty since
Measures taken by the government are truly praiseworthy but only one case of
Behram khan, who, after spending 9 years in jail for killing a lawyer in court,
is waiting for the day the executioner will tighten the noose around his neck,
will prove stigma to govenment’s positive measures.
In my opinion, government ought to abolish the death penalty in both law and
(source: Dr. Saif Ur Rehman, blog, The News Tribe)
'Witches' pardoned 400 years after executions
Cologne City Council has pardoned 38 women nearly 400 years after they were
sentenced to death for suspected witchcraft, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
Katharina Henot - Germany's most notorious "witch" - stood accused of having
entered into a pact with the devil, conjured up a plague of caterpillars, sown
strife and encouraged sexual deviancy. In 1627 she was sentenced to death by
torture by the Cologne Court.
385 years later, in a symbolic gesture by the Cologne City Council, Henot and
37 other "witches" executed by local authorities are to be pardoned and
rehabilitated, wrote Die Welt newspaper on Saturday.
Councillors voted unanimously to pardon the former Cologne inhabitants in a
vote on Thursday, rejecting "any violation of human dignity and human rights,"
wrote the paper.
The move was not a judicial act - authorities in modern day Germany do not have
the power to overturn rulings made under the Holy Roman Empire. Instead, the
move was intended to highlight how easily a person can be defamed to the point
of no longer being seen as human, but a demon that deserves to die a horrible
Hartmut Hegeler, a retired pastor from Unna who had submitted a citizen
proposal to pardon the "witches" was said to be "very relieved" following the
vote on Thursday. He is now hoping a mass will be held in the Cologne Cathedral
as a gesture of reconciliation by the diocese, according to the article.
The decision makes Cologne the 14th local authority in Germany to distance
itself from historical witch trials. But not all rehabilitation gestures have
been agreed without opposition, wrote the paper.
When a citizen from Dusseldorf proposed that two women burned at the stake
there in 1738 be rehabilitated, there was an objection from a citizen who
claimed pardoning the women would amount to challenging his Catholic faith,
wrote the paper. His objection was overruled.
Historians estimate the total of 25,000 women and men were sentenced to death
in Germany in the past for having entered into a pact with the devil, according
to the article.
(source: The Local)