Capital Punishment: Dying Out but Still Killing #deathpenalty


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Posted: 28/06/2013 , huffingtonpost
Maryland Death Penalty

It’s a loose comparison, but sometimes I think that people who get executed these days are like those killed right at the end of a war. Another day, another month … and they might survived.

I say this because when you look at the figures for capital punishment around the world, you can see there’s a strong trend toward abolition. It’s happening year by year. Fifty years ago only nine countries in the world had abolished the death penalty; by 1977 it was 16; now 140 countries have abolished judicial killing in law or stopped it in practice.

Even in “pro-death penalty” countries, the number of sentences and executions is generally falling or the scope for imposing executions being reduced. For example, in China the number of crimes which might lead to a lethal injection or death by firing squad has beenreduced from a reported 68 to 55 (still a staggeringly high number). Meanwhile, in the USA – another major user of capital punishment – individual states are peeling away from the majority on the issue, with six states scrapping the death penalty in the past six years – New Jersey and New York state (2007), New Mexico (2009), Illinois (2010), Connecticut (2012) and Maryland just last month.

Anyway, though in the last year or so there have been what Amnesty says is an “alarming” spike in executions in Iraq and a resumptions after considerable gaps in the use of the death penalty in Japan, Gambia, Pakistan and India, the underlying global trend is still clear and apparently fixed: state-sanctioned judicial killing is slowly dying out.

So to me there’s a particular tragedy to the late nature of executions in this context. Last night’s execution of Kimberly McCarthy in Texas was regrettable for many reasons (especially the apparent role of racial prejudice in her trial), but in five – ten, 20? – years’ time there’s a distinct possibility that we won’t have people in Texas being strapped down to a lethal injection gurney and killed by technicians in a disgraceful pseudo-medical “procedure”.

I know of course that of all US states Texas is a “hard case”, one that may not go the way of national and international abolition in the immediate future. It’s just reached the miserable milestone of 500 executions in 31 years, nearly five times higher than any other US state. The Lone Star State indeed. See Amnesty USA’s Brian Evans on Texas’ fatal addiction to the death penalty. However, with support for capital punishment in the USA falling, and controversy over lethal injection drugs and unfair trials growing, I think abolition even in Texas will come ….

But still, the machinery of death clanks on. Just this week, in addition to McCarthy’s execution we’ve had four men hanged in Nigeria (and another facing death by firing squad imminently) and alarming reports that 117 people in Vietnam may face execution soon because of a recent law change (we’re talking – in some cases – about death by lethal injection, using specially-produced drugs to execute prisoners for non-violent drugs offences). There’s an urgent text campaign on Vietnam being run by Amnesty – see here.

So no, if you take an abolitionist view on the death penalty, there’s no cause for complacency. According to Wikipedia, the last person to die (from the British Empire side at least) during World War One was a 25-year-old Canadian man called George Lawrence Price. He was shot by a German sniper in the Belgian town of Ville-sur-Haine at 10.58 on the morning of 11 November 1918. The Armistice came into force at 11am. A needless death then, just like everyone killed by the state in the cold-blooded and thoroughly repugnant business of administering capital punishment.

 ,Press Officer at Amnesty International UK

 

US death row author William Van Poyck executed #deathpenalty


Petition to get Bill off Death Row

AP | Jun 13, 2013, 07.07 AM IST

STARKE, FLORIDA: A US man who orchestrated a deadly prison van ambush in 1987 in an attempt to free a prisoner has been executed.

William Van Poyck died on Wednesday evening by injection at the Florida State Prison.

“Set me free,” were his final words.

His case drew international attention because Van Poyck published three books and maintained a blog while on death row. He wrote recently about his pending execution.

The 58-year-old had been convicted of murdering prison guard Fred Griffis.

Van Poyck and Frank Valdes ambushed a prison van outside a doctor’s office in a failed attempt to free James O’Brien. Prison guard Fred Griffis was fatally shot after he threw the van’s keys into the bushes to foil the escape.

Van Poyck and Valdes were captured following a car chase.

In his appeals, Van Poyck argued that Valdes fired the fatal shots. The Florida Supreme Court last week rejected Van Poyck’s latest appeal involving Valdes’ widow, who says her husband told her he was the shooter.

In 1999, Valdes was stomped to death in prison. Seven guards were charged with his death, but none were convicted.

Van Poyck wrote an autobiography, “A Checkered Past: A Memoir,” saying his purpose was not to elicit sympathy but “to put a human face on me and convicts in general.”

“He is deeply remorseful for the ending of Fred Griffis’ life,” his sister Lisa Van Poyck told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The family of Griffis has said in interviews that they were frustrated that news stories focused on Van Poyck, the crime and his writings — and not the victim.

HIS LAST  LETTER 
Dear Sis~
Tomorrow Elmer will be executed and I’ll be next up to bat, with 15 days to live.   A situation like this tends to make you reflect on the elusive nature of time itself, which some folks – physicists and metaphysicists alike – claim is an illusion anyway. Real or not it sure seems to be going someplace quickly!

This may be my last letter to reach you before you begin your journey down south to be by my side for my final days. These many visits I’ve recently received from those who love me have been a blessing for me.  I’m acutely aware that some guys on death watch have absolutely nobody to help them bear their burden during their last days and hours on earth, not a soul willing to share some love.  It’s a terrible thing to die all alone…  I continue to be inundated with letters of support and love from around the world, many from kind-hearted strangers, and many similar blog posts which you’ve shared with me.  Many are very moving, and all are deeply appreciated. I am humbled.  While I’ve answered many I simply cannot respond to them all in my allotted time remaining.  As my shortening days inexorably telescope down my focus turns ever inward as I wrestle with the timeless questions of the universe that have puzzled man since the dawn of consciousness here on Schoolhouse Earth.

I read in a recent newspaper article that the brother and sister of Fred Griffis, the victim in my case, are angry that I’m still alive and eager for my execution.  These are understandable human feelings.  I have a brother and sister myself and I cannot honestly say how I would deal with it if something happened to you or Jeff at the hands of another.  I have thought of Fred many times over the years and grieved over his senseless death.  I feel bad for Fred’s siblings though if seeing another human being die will truly give them pleasure.  I suspect when I’m gone, if they search their hearts, they will grasp the emptiness of the closure promised by the revenge of capital punishment.  There’s a lot of wisdom in the old saying “An eye for an eye soon makes the whole world blind.”

All is well with me here in the death house.  I’ve been blessed with a strong body and a stout mind and spirit, more than sufficient to see me through this final passage.  The deep love of others, freely given to me by those I’m honored to call my friends, helps ease the journey.  The one thing I am absolutely certain of after 58 years on this rock is that LOVE is the foundation of the cosmos, the very essence of what we call God.  This is the one lesson we all must learn, and will learn in due time, and which gives me my peace.

Light & Love,
Bill

 

Abolitionists hold conference in Spain #Deathpenalty


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Published:
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Only for the most extreme cases. That’s part of Government’s continuing stance on the death penalty, which remains on T&T law books and which currently applies to 30 persons on Death Row—including one female. Speaking on the eve of this week’s international Anti-Death Penalty Congress in Spain, where the global abolitionist movement will caucus, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said, “This is an emotional political issue with powerful arguments on both sides. “There may be doubt whether it is a potent and effective deterrent, but it is difficult to argue with victims who rest their case on the principle of retribution. In the final analysis, it is a matter that should be decided by the people.”

 

 

Global focus will fall on the issue of the death penalty in the Caribbean when the fifth annual Anti-Death Penalty Congress takes place in Madrid, Spain, from tomorrow to Saturday. The event has been organised annually since 2001 by the Ensemble Contre la Peine du Mort (Together Against the Death Penalty) and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. It is being held this year on invitation of the Spanish government with support from the French, Norwegian and  Swiss governments. The summit, expected to be attended by 1,500 people from 90 countries, unites members of international civil society, politicians and legal experts to heighten the global lobby for the abolition of the death penalty.

 

Part of the gathering involves 200 participants from countries such as  T&T and others regionally,, which still retain the death penalty. Amnesty International estimates 13 of the 58 states that retain the death penalty are in the English-speaking Caribbean. Apart from special focus on the Arab and African regions in this year’s programme, the conference’s first day activities feature a session on the death penalty in the Caribbean region. Feature speakers include T&T’s Leela Ramdeen, who will present a paper representing the Greater Caribbean for Life group. This involves seven people from T&T, Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and St Vincent & the Grenadines.

 

While deeply sympathising with the victims of  violent crime, the group doesn’t believe the death penalty makes societies safer. Members, however, believe abolition of the death penalty in T&T and the Caribbean will require a multi-faceted approach that addresses issues including improving the criminal justice and administration of justice systems, tackling crime and violence, addressing victims’ rights, enhancing education systems 1` and changing the minds of people. As for T&T’s positon on the death penalty issue, Ramlogan told the T&T Guardian: “There is no doubt the death penalty can be a deterrent, as it has an effect on the psyche of the criminal, but I’m aware that there’s a raging academic debate on this issue. “Victims and supporters argue it has nothing to do with the concept of deterrence, because it has to do with retribution and the enforcement of the law. Abolitionists argue that it is cruel and inhumane, is not an effective deterrent and ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves the whole world blind.”

 

Ramlogan added, “As the duly-elected government, we’re sworn to uphold and enforce the laws of this land and  therefore duty bound to facilitate and advance its implementation as long as it remains on the books.”  On the status of the Government’s moves to try and implement the law regarding hangings following its 2012 plan for legislation to categorise murders, Ramlogan said: “The Government did introduce a bill to categorise murders and introduce some measure of flexibility and discretion so that the death penalty would not be automatically imposed in every case. We were influenced in this regard by the American jurisprudence which distinguishes murders according to the particular facts and circumstances in which the murder occurred (hence, for example, murder in the first, second and third degree). “Unfortunately, this bill was not passed because the Opposition voted against it. The Government, however, has no difficulty with the proposition that the death penalty should be discretionary. We are, however, equally committed and duty-bound to implement the law as it presently stands.”

 

On whether the matter would be taken further, the AG said soon after the debate, he wrote Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley several letters “in the hope that we can have some meaningful dialogue on this issue.” “Unfortunately, there was no response. The Opposition has managed to maintain the contradictory position that it supports the death penalty but cannot support or propose any legislation to facilitate its implementation,” Ramlogan said. Since some quarters believe T&T, like other regional states, may soon have to take the death penalty off its books, where does T&T stand in this scenario? Ramlogan said, “I believe the overwhelming majority of the population favours the retention of the death penalty. The murder rate is high and there are many who believe in the principles of retention and deterrence. “The Government is in favour of categorising murders so that the death penalty can be reserved for the most extreme cases with the most brutal of heinous murders. The Opposition objected to this and we were forced to remove it from the proposed amendment to the Constitution. This, however, remains the Government’s position.”

 

Considering the 37 per cent reduction in serious crime (from 2012 to 2013 figures), asked whether Government still sees the death penalty as absolutely necessary, Ramlogan said, “The death penalty does not apply to most serious crimes. It does, however, apply to murder and the murder rate is still high even though it is on the decline.” With some polls on T&T showing a large part of the population favouring hanging, the AG was asked whether this can be expected before the end of the term. “We cannot implement the death penalty without an amendment to the Constitution. This requires a special majority in Parliament for which Opposition support is necessary,” he said. “In Jamaica the opposition recently joined forces with the government to vote to amend the Jamaica constitution to facilitate the implementation of the death penalty. We can only live in hope.” With the situation in limbo, the AG added, “The death penalty, part of our law, is what we inherited from our colonial masters. The Privy Council has ruled this is a valid part of T&T’s binding laws. “Both the Opposition and People’s Partnership have publicly declared their commitment to the implementation of the death penalty in response to the overwhelming public support and demand for it.” The AG added, “There is no universal consensus on the morality or correctness of the death penalty. It forms part of the laws and is in fact implemented in many countries, including certain states in the USA, Singapore and China.”

 

 

Opposition PNM says….

Opposition PNM deputy leader Marlene McDonald said the party stands by its position in favour of the death penalty, but also maintains its position against Government’s recent legislation on it. PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds added, “The death penalty issue is to me  more of an intellectual exercise more than emotional.” He said matters were often overturned at Privy Council level since that jurisdiction had abolished the death penalty. “They engage arguments in a rigorous exercise so it becomes a matter of their legal wit against that of Caribbean attorneys,” he added.
“So we have to be very intellectual in our approach on this. When the Government came with the last piece of legislation we examined it thoroughly and found where the Privy Council would have walked right over the stipulations of the bill.” Hinds added, “We must now await what new measures Government will present, then see whether that can meet Privy Council resistance.”

 

 

THE MADRID MANDATE

CONGRESS TOPICS:  include abolition and alternative sentences in the world, juveniles and the death penalty in the world, drug trafficking and the death penalty, legal representation in capital cases globally, the Middle East,  Iran, African and Asian regions and the death penalty, terrorism and abolition, the state of abolition in the USA, Europe and future strategies, death penalty and torture, abolitionist strategies.

POLITICAL FIGURES EXPECTED: President of Benin, Foreign Affairs Ministers of Spain, France, Swiss Confederation, Norway, Mauritania, deputy prime ministers of Luxembourg and Belgium, UN high commissioner for human rights, the general secretary of the Council of Europe, president of the Commission of Human Rights of the Iraq Parliament, president of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty, and the former  French Justice minister, who authored the French law that abolished France’s death penalty.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATES: Northern Ireland peace activist Mairead Maguire, former Iranian judge and women’s/human rights activist, Shirin Ebadi, former East Timor president Jose Ramos Horta.

TESTIMONIES FROM: former death row prisoners of Iran, Spain, Morocco, Uganda, Taiwan, parents, spouses of death row prisoners and the former death row warden of the US state of Virginia.

 

Uphold #FOE, Condemn Fabricated cases against Film and Media persons in Kerala


ViBGYOR Film Collective condemns the fabricated charges leveled against five reputed Cultural, film and media persons of Kerala. Kerala police has charged cases against K.P Sasi, the renowned Film maker and activist, I Shanmukhadas, a well known Film Critic, Prasannakumar T N, a film activist, Shafeek, a young Journalist and Deepak, a Filmmaker and Film Society activist for ‘rioting’, ‘unlawful assembly’ and ‘public obstruction’ (IPC Sections 143, 147, 149 and 283 ) for participating in a peaceful protest which occurred on February 11, 2013 at Thrissur, Kerala. These citizens along with a few dozens of writers, Film makers and activists were protesting against the very concept of capital punishment and the surreptitious manner in which Afzal Guru was accorded Death Penalty.

Inline image 1The Crimes that the Kerala police are ascribing to these distinguished personalities of kerala are totally false and trumped-up.

The entire protest had happened during ViBGYOR Film Festival, 2013.  The peaceful protest with speeches and recitals of renowned cultural personalities is organized near the entrance gate of the festival venue and lasted not more than an hour. It did in no way amounted to an unlawful assembly, public obstruction or did cause a communal riot that day or later. ViBGYOR Film collective shares the firm opinion that death penalty is a fundamental violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. We assert the right of citizens to dissent and express their opposition towards capital punishment in a peaceful manner.

ViBGYOR Film Collective and ViBGYOR Film Festival, during its eight years of existence and functioning, have always stood for the Rights that are enshrined in the Constitution of India, and have always come out openly to defend it. We, as the citizens of this democratic nation, believe that such attempt to silence democratic protests and stifle freedom of expression in any manner is a violation of our basic rights enshrined in our constitution and we demand that the false charges against these five Cultural film and media personalities of contemporary Kerala should be withdrawn immediately.

We also urge our friends and democratic forums and organizations to voice their protest in unequivocal terms against such undemocratic ways of fabricating false cases against the citizens who have all rights to exercise lawful means of protests in public space.

In solidarity,

ViBGYOR Film Collective

http://vibgyorfilm.org

 

#India – Why the #deathpenalty must end


June 5, 2013

 

Kanimozhi, The Hindu

Lawmakers are eager to appear resolute in the fight against crime, but seem to forget that certainty of punishment, not severity, is the real deterrent

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” said Mahatma Gandhi.

The death penalty is unjust and inhuman. Its continued use is a stain on a society built on humanitarian values, and it should be abolished immediately.

Many think that there could be nothing wrong with the death penalty as the Indian Constitution allows for capital punishment, which means that the founding fathers of this country must have also fully approved of it. In reality, several members of the Constituent Assembly were firmly opposed to the death penalty.

The architect of the Constitution, Babasaheb Ambedkar, admitted in the Constituent Assembly that people may not follow non-violence in practice but “they certainly adhere to the principle of non-violence as a moral mandate which they ought to observe as far as they possibly can.” With this in mind, he said, “the proper thing for this country to do is to abolish the death sentence altogether.”

On June 3, 1949, Professor Shibbanlal Saxena, a freedom fighter who had been on death row for his involvement in the Quit India Movement, spoke in the Constituent Assembly of how he had seen innocent people being hanged for murder during his days in prison. Proposing the abolition of the death penalty, he said that the avenue of appealing to the Supreme Court “will be open to people who are wealthy, who can move heaven and earth, but the common people who have no money and who are poor will not be able to avail themselves” of it.

Miscarriage of justice is, in fact, one of the biggest concerns about the death penalty. Is it possible that someone could be wrongly hanged in 21st century India? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Studies conducted by Amnesty International and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties have shown that the process of deciding who should be on death row is arbitrary and biased. The Supreme Court has itself admitted on several occasions that there is confusion and contradiction in the application of the death penalty.

Instances of innocence

Last year, 14 eminent retired judges wrote to the President, pointing out that the Supreme Court had erroneously given the death penalty to 15 people since 1996, of whom two were hanged. The judges called this “the gravest known miscarriage of justice in the history of crime and punishment in independent India.”

Some argue that the death penalty is the only way to deter heinous crime, especially violence against women and children. But a comprehensive study done last year in the United States found that there is no credible evidence that the death penalty has any deterrent effect on crime.

The “Innocence Project” in the United States [a national litigation and public policy organisation dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system] has found, on the other hand, several cases where innocent people were given the death sentence. One such case is that of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for the deaths of his three young daughters. In 2009, reinvestigation of the case raised serious doubts in the appreciation of forensic evidence in the case and the judge concluded that Willingham was wrongfully convicted. Another case is that of Carlos DeLuna who was executed in 1989 for the murder of a young woman some years before. In 2004, a study by Columbia Law School students brought to light the wrongful conviction of Carlos DeLuna, which turned out to be a case of mistaken identity of the actual perpetrator of the murder. Lawmakers in India find it convenient to hold up the death penalty as a symbol of their resolve to tackle crime, and choose to ignore more difficult but more effective solutions like social education and police or judicial reform. The certainty of punishment, not severity, is the real deterrent.

Rajiv Gandhi case

The death penalty is little more than judicially sanctioned murder. Justice K.T. Thomas, who headed the three member bench in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, has said that executing Perarivalan, Murugan and Santhan, convicted and sentenced to death in the case, would amount to punishing them twice for the same offence, as they had already spent 22 years in jail, the equivalent of life imprisonment.

In recent months, the Government of India has shown an alarming tendency to implement the death penalty. It is a fallacy to think that one killing can be avenged with another. For, capital punishment is merely revenge masquerading as justice. When the government is trying to create a just society where there is less violence and murder, it cannot be allowed to commit the same crime against its citizens in the name of justice.

The DMK president, Kalaignar Karunanidhi, reiterated the party’s stand last month when he called upon the Government of India to commute the death sentences of the 16 men, including seven from Tamil Nadu, who are on death row. The DMK president had made similar pleas to the Centre in August 2011 and October 2006. This has been the party’s consistent position against this inhumane practice.

Rest of the world

The world is moving away from using the death penalty. The European Union has made “abolition of death penalty” a prerequisite for membership. The 65th United Nations General Assembly voted in December 2010, for the third time, in favour of abolishing the death penalty and called for a global moratorium on executions. Amnesty International reports that 140 countries — more than two-thirds of the world — do not use the death penalty any more. India needs to recognise this global trend, and act in step with it.

(Kanimozhi is a Member of Parliament.)

 

Taiwan compensates trio after 11 years on death row


Taiwan will pay a total of Tw$15 million compensation to three men who spent more than 11 years on death row before their acquittal in one of the island’s most controversial murder trials, a court said Wednesday.

Su Chien-ho (C), Chuang Lin-hsun (2R) and Liu Bin-lang (2L) outside a court room in Taipei on November 12, 2010 after they were acquitted in the murder of a couple in 1991. (AFP/PATRICK LIN)

TAIPEI: Taiwan will pay a total of Tw$15 million compensation to three men who spent more than 11 years on death row before their acquittal in one of the island’s most controversial murder trials, a court said Wednesday.

Su Chien-ho, Liu Bin-lang and Chuang Lin-hsun will each receive about Tw$5 million for wrongful imprisonment, the High Court said.

The trio, who said they were tortured into making confessions, were first sentenced to death 21 years ago for the murder of a couple in Taipei.

Their legal plight began after a soldier who confessed in 1991 to killing the couple claimed that they were his accomplices. The soldier was executed the following year after a trial by a military tribunal.

They had since faced a series of trials and retrials that saw their death sentences being lifted and then reimposed until the High Court made a final ruling in their favour last year.

Taiwan’s human rights groups have seized on the case to call on the government to abolish capital punishment.

Like many Asian countries, Taiwan maintains the death penalty, reserving it for serious crimes including aggravated murder, kidnapping and robbery.

Last year, Taiwan executed six death row inmates, the largest number to be put to death in one day in recent years.

- AFP/gn

 

Amnesty International Reports on Death Penalty Trends


death-penalty

By 
Published: April 9, 2013

At least four countries that had not used the death penalty in some time — India, Japan, Pakistan and Gambia — resumed doing so last year, the rights organization Amnesty International says in its annual compilation of capital punishment trends.

Amnesty, the London-based group that has made abolition of the death penalty one of its signature causes, also says the number of executions in Iraq nearly doubled in 2012 compared with a year earlier, which it characterized as “an alarming escalation.”

Nonetheless, its yearly review, released early Wednesday in London, said the overall shift away from death sentences and executions continued in 2012.

“In many parts of the world, executions are becoming a thing of the past, ” Salil Shetty, secretary general of the organization, said in a statement. Amnesty said only 21 countries were recorded as having carried out executions in 2012, the same as in 2011, but down from 28 countries a decade earlier.

It said at least 682 executions were known to have been carried out worldwide in 2012, two more than 2011, and at least 1,722 death sentences were imposed in 58 countries, compared with 1,923 imposed in 63 countries the year before.

“Only one in 10 countries in the world carries out executions,” Mr. Shetty said. “Their leaders should ask themselves why they are still applying a cruel and inhumane punishment that the rest of the world is leaving behind.”

Amnesty also pointed out that its compilation excluded what it said were the thousands of executions it believes were carried out in China, where the number of capital punishment cases is kept secret. The organization said it still believed China remained the world’s top executioner.

Besides China, the top executors in 2012, Amnesty said, were Iran with 314, Iraq with 129, Saudi Arabia with 79 and the United States with 43. The report also noted that only nine American states executed prisoners in 2012, compared with 13 the year before, and that in April, Connecticut became the 17th state to abolish the death penalty.

 

#India- Observe 23-30 March week -unconditional release of political prisoners and repealing draconian laws #AFPSA


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

ON MARCH 23—BHAGAT SINGH, SUKHDEV AND RAJGURU’S MARTYRDOM DAY

OBSERVE THE WEEK 23-30 MARCH 
FOR THE UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
TO REPEAL ALL DRACONIAN LAWS INCLUDING AFSPA & UAPA!
FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS STATUS TO ALL THOSE WHO HAS BEEN INCARCERATED FOR THEIR POLITICAL VIEWS!
NO TO DEATH PENALTY!

Revolutionaries never die. The martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru once again reiterate this truth. Their martyrdom epitomises the veritable saying even in death we shall dare! Yes the indefatigable spirit of the three martyrs still enlivens the struggle for justice and truth for many of the oppressed and exploited in the Indian subcontinent as well as the world. The conviction of the three martyrs as young revolutionaries to swim against the tide, to dare to dream of a new world and break new paths for the emancipation of the vast sections of the toiling masses of the subcontinent still lingers in the dreams of many in Post-47 India.

Today when we observe the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh-Sukhdev-Rajguru little have things changed from the days of colonial vintage with the vast sections of the people of the subcontinent living in abysmal conditions—literal hand to mouth existence—with uncertainties abounding their lives. All the efforts of these peoples to make their world a better place to live, with dignity, equality, security as human beings have been met with the worst forms of violence from the powers that be. The pro-imperialist, Development State that was ushered in, post-1947, in the Indian subcontinent has systematically pushed these peoples to the margins so much so that their survival is under peril. Every effort of the people to do away with this model of development that replicates the exploitative, oppressive structures of surplus maximisation of the local parasitic classes in alliance with imperialist interests have been met with criminal profiling by the Indian State. Several draconian legislations enacted since 1947 by the Indian State have been in one form or the other retained in many such legislations to follow till date despite protests from the progressive, democratic sections of the society. The present day Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) has turned out to be one of the most draconian legislations with scores of people put behind the bars under this act. Along with this is the notorious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that is in force in the regions of the North East and Kashmir as well as a surfeit of draconian security laws framed by the various state governments in India. The simultaneity in the spate of legislations of various kinds of draconian security acts by almost all state governments in India along with the aggressive implementation of the policies of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation is significant. The last 15 years itself has witnessed this unprecedented rise of different forms of penal laws that are being used with impunity to silence and incarcerate many a Bhagat Singhs, Sukhdevs and Rajgurus in the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent. But despite the beastly demeanour of the Indian State not a single project or policy initiative—be it mining, land grab, dam construction, super highways, forest land, or setting up of mega-steel plants etc—of the Indian government has gone without the news of protests from the masses of the people who have resorted to every form and means to defend their land and livelihoods.

At a time when from the various ministries of the central government to the Governors and chief ministers of the states let alone the lowest commandant of the paramilitary at the ground are all preaching ‘development’—an euphemism for further violence on them in the form of land grab, displacement from their habitat, a policy of unbridled loot and plunder of people’s resources—to the people the real violent face of the state has never been exposed so blatantly before the people. The duplicity of this talk of development of the State has never been more evident as it is today. The struggle of the vast sections of the people left with little options should also be seen in this context as an attempt to stay alive amidst the dance of death in the form of malnutrition, hunger, lack of opportunities of production and reproduction of their material world. The rural economy which has traditionally been the backbone of the vast sections of the people as the largest employment provider has been perilously stagnant the situation moving from bad to worse as the state has totally neglected any form of constructive expenditure in this area. The fear of more Bhagat Singhs and his ilk rising again from this genuine anger that vast sections of the toiling masses share with their martyred freedom fighter is palpable in the response of the state as more and more forces abound those areas of the subcontinent where the land is rich abundant with resources inhabited by the poorest of the poor. More and more prisons and state-of-the-art police stations are being built in the areas populated by the poorest of the people. The garrison state teethed with penal laws is fast becoming a reality.

Thus the target of the State which is in service of moribund capital in deep crisis has been the poor Adivasis, dalits, various nationality groups such as the Kashmiris, Nagas, Manipuri people, Assamese, Kamtapuris, the Muslim minorities who have become easy targets of the so-called war against terror. Around 25000 adivasis have been put behind bars in various prisons in the states of Chhattisgrah, Jharkhand, Orissa, Jungalmahal in West Bengal etc. Hundreds of Muslims framed in several cases as part of the ideological campaign of the Indian State which as pitched itself as the able partner of US imperialism in the so-called war against terror. The undeclared number of Kashmiri Muslims kept in various prisons as well as secret torture and detention centres run into thousands. Further India has become the biggest purchaser of weapons in the international market while it has little to spend on health and education.

As every form of dissent—struggle for better wages and working conditions, better and subsidized education, employment, livelihood, against displacement and land grab etc., is being criminalised by the State as the activists and their leadership of various struggles are being put behind bars with trumped up cases, anyone who has taken the trouble to question the anti-people, pro-business/capital policies of the government has become a Maoist. Anyone who empathises with the oppressed and discriminated, anyone who has given his/her time apart from their personal life for the betterment of the greater common good, for the cause of the poorest of the poor, the salt of the earth cannot be but a Maoist a la the perception of the police and an obliging, sensation driven media.

In such a scenario when prisons are being crowded with more and more people clamouring for their rights, with the State constantly in search of a submissive, naive subject as its people, the spirit of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru becomes alive, as the long and arduous struggle to do away with all kinds of prisons that has become fetters to the overall development of humanity cannot be wished away.

CRPP calls upon all freedom loving people of the subcontinent to come forward to be part of the legacy of the martyrdom of our beloved freedom fighters and their cherished goals for a just and equitable society. The struggle to release all political prisoners and to do away with all kinds of draconian laws and to put an end to all forms exploitative and oppressive violence of the State in the form of capital punishment and other extra-judicial forms of killings are inseparable from the cherished dreams of the Great Martyrs.

In Solidarity,
Amit Bhattacharyya

 

Status of #Death Penalty Worldwide #mustshare


No death penalty

 

March 12, 2013 ,http://www.srai.org

 

According to Amnesty International, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty. In 2012, only one country, Latvia, abolished the death penalty for all crimes. In 2011, 21 countries around the world were known to have carried out executions and at least 63 to have imposed death sentences. See also U.S. Figures.

 

Death Penalty Outlawed (year)1

 

  • Albania (2000)
  • Andorra (1990)
  • Angola (1992)
  • Argentina (2008)
  • Armenia (2003)
  • Australia (1984)
  • Austria (1950)
  • Azerbaijan (1998)
  • Belgium (1996)
  • Bhutan (2004)
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina (1997)
  • Bulgaria (1998)
  • Burundi (2009 )
  • Cambodia (1989)
  • Canada (1976)
  • Cape Verde (1981)
  • Colombia (1910)
  • Cook Islands (2007)
  • Costa Rica (1877)
  • Côte d’Ivoire (2000)
  • Croatia (1990)
  • Cyprus (1983)
  • Czech Republic (1990)
  • Denmark (1933)
  • Djibouti (1995)
  • Dominican Republic (1966)
  • Ecuador (1906)
  • Estonia (1998)
  • Finland (1949)
  • France (1981)
  • Gabon (2010)
  • Georgia (1997)
  • Germany (1949)
  • Greece (1993)
  • Guinea-Bissau (1993)
  • Haiti (1987)
  • Honduras (1956)
  • Hungary (1990)
  • Iceland (1928)
  • Ireland (1990)
  • Italy (1947)
  • Kyrgyzstan (2007)
  • Kiribati (1979)
  • Latvia (2012)
  • Liechtenstein (1987)
  • Lithuania (1998)
  • Luxembourg (1979)
  • Macedonia (1991)
  • Malta (1971)
  • Marshall Islands (1986)
  • Mauritius (1995)
  • Mexico (2005)
  • Micronesia (1986)
  • Moldova (1995)
  • Monaco (1962)
  • Montenegro (2002)
  • Mozambique (1990)
  • Namibia (1990)
  • Nepal (1990)
  • Netherlands (1870)
  • New Zealand (1961)
  • Nicaragua (1979)
  • Niue (n.a.)
  • Norway (1905)
  • Palau (n.a.)
  • Panama (1903)
  • Paraguay (1992)
  • Philippines (2006)
  • Poland (1997)
  • Portugal (1867)
  • Romania (1989)
  • Rwanda (2007)
  • Samoa (2004)
  • San Marino (1848)
  • São Tomé and Príncipe (1990)
  • Senegal (2004)
  • Serbia (2002)
  • Seychelles (1993)
  • Slovakia (1990)
  • Slovenia (1989)
  • Solomon Islands (1966)
  • South Africa (1995)
  • Spain (1978)
  • Sweden (1921)
  • Switzerland (1942)
  • Timor-Leste (1999)
  • Togo (2009)
  • Turkey (2002)
  • Turkmenistan (1999)
  • Tuvalu (1978)
  • Ukraine (1999)
  • United Kingdom (1973)
  • Uruguay (1907)
  • Uzbekistan (2008)
  • Vanuatu (1980)
  • Vatican City (1969)
  • Venezuela (1863)

 

Death Penalty Outlawed for Ordinary Crimes2 (year)

 

  • Bolivia (1997)
  • Brazil (1979)
  • Chile (2001)
  • El Salvador (1983)
  • Fiji (1979)
  • Israel (1954)
  • Kazakhstan (2007)
  • Latvia (1999)
  • Peru (1979)

 

De Facto Ban on Death Penalty3 (year)4

 

  • Algeria (1993)
  • Benin (1987)
  • Brunei (1957)
  • Burkina Faso (1988)
  • Cameroon (1997)
  • Central African Republic (1981)
  • Congo (Republic) (1982)
  • Eritrea (n.a.)
  • Gambia (1981)
  • Ghana (n.a.)
  • Grenada (1978)
  • Kenya (n.a.)
  • Korea, South (1997.)
  • Laos (n.a.)
  • Liberia (n.a.)
  • Madagascar (1958)
  • Malawi (n.a.)
  • Maldives (1952)
  • Mali (1980)
  • Mauritania (1987)
  • Morocco (1993)
  • Myanmar (1993)
  • Nauru (1968)
  • Niger (1976)
  • Papua New Guinea (1950)
  • Russia (1999)
  • Sierra Leone (1998)
  • Sri Lanka (1976)
  • Suriname (1982)
  • Swaziland (n.a.)
  • Tajikistan (n.a.)
  • Tanzania (n.a.)
  • Tonga (1982)
  • Tunisia (1990)
  • Zambia (n.a.)

 

Death Penalty Permitted

 

  • Afghanistan
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Belize
  • Botswana
  • Chad
  • China (People’s Republic)
  • Comoros
  • Congo (Democratic Republic)
  • Cuba
  • Dominica
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Authority
  • Qatar
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uganda
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zimbabwe

 

NOTE: n.a. = date not available. 1. If death penalty was outlawed for ordinary crimes before it was outlawed in all cases, the earlier date is given.

 

2. Death penalty is permitted only for exceptional crimes, such as crimes committed under military law or in wartime.

 

3. Death penalty is sanctioned by law but has not been the practice for ten or more years.

 

4. Year of last execution. Source: Amnesty International.

 
Read more: The Death Penalty Worldwide | Infoplease.comhttp://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html#ixzz2Mdc8o4MN

 

 

 

The disturbing truth about an execution #Afzalguru #deathpenalty


USHA RAMANATHAN, The Hindu March 13,2012

 

 

By hanging Afzal Guru secretly so that he could not approach the courts, and ignoring the pending case that could have affected his sentence, the Home Minister acted illegally

On March 6, 2013, in response to an RTI request, the President’s Secretariat made available documents pertaining to Ajmal Kasab’s mercy petition. People from across the country and the globe had written to the President asking that he use his clemency power so that the power of the state to take life would be reined in. Recurring with unexpected frequency was an appeal that, if the mercy petitions were to be rejected, the “President and the Ministry of Home Affairs … respect the practice of promptly informing the individual, his lawyers, his family, of the decision, reasons for the decision, and proposed date of execution as well as the public of any scheduled execution.” Ajmal Kasab was hanged in secrecy on November 21, 2012. Less than three months later there was another secret execution, of Afzal Guru.

In India, of course, this is not about a ‘practice’. It is the law. On February 9, 2013, when Afzal Guru was hanged, was the law followed?

PROCEDURE FLOUTED

The disturbing truth is that Afzal Guru’s execution was illegal. The government flouted the procedure established by law in executing Afzal Guru the way it did; and the Constitution is categorical, in Article 21, that no one shall be deprived of life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. The Jail Manual is clear: “On receipt from the Administrator of the final confirmation about the date of execution of a convict, the convict and his relatives shall be informed about the date of execution by the Superintendent.” ‘On receipt of’ the ‘final confirmation’, the convict is to be informed. It is, however, reported that Afzal Guru was not informed till 5 a.m. on the day that he was hanged; a mere two hours before he was taken to the gallows. It is impossible, not merely improbable, that the Superintendent did not know about the date of execution till that last minute. By not informing Afzal Guru, the Superintendent breached the law.

The relatives too “shall be informed” about the date of the execution on receipt of final confirmation. To inform is not to send a letter or other missive; the duty cast by the law on the Superintendent is to ‘inform.’ The point of the provision is to give notice of the impending execution of the convict. Afzal Guru’s family learnt of the execution when the rest of the world heard about it, and through the press. The letter sent by speed post reached them two days after he had been executed. Informing the family is not, as some have suggested, about humanitarian considerations; this is about a violation of the law in the process of depriving a person of life.

It is reported that Afzal Guru was buried in jail “in accordance with a directive from the Delhi administration, with the jail authorities saying that there was no request from the family to claim it” (Economic Times, 15.2.2013) This was a deliberate and self-serving distortion of facts.

The Jail Manual prescribes that the convict may “if he so desires, be permitted to prepare a will in accordance with his wishes. If the convict does not desire to prepare his will, his statement to that effect shall be recorded by the Superintendent”. Was Afzal Guru given time to decide about his will? If he was informed of his impending execution at 5 a.m., as is reported, could that have provided him with the opportunity to decide about his will? He had not met his family in a long time. He had no time to get legal help — something that evaded him at every turn. And he was being informed of his execution, literally, on his way to the gallows. Does this constitute conformity with the law? Plainly not.

DELIBERATE BREACH

It appears from pronouncements following the execution that these breaches were not caused due to oversight; that they were deliberate. If there are no adverse consequences for these deliberate violations of the procedure prescribed while taking life, it will clear the way for absolute power over life and death. Afzal is beyond reach, so the wrong done to him cannot be undone. His family, however, has borne the pain that this injustice, and violations of the law, have brought to them. Few would disagree that the family has been wronged. There have to be consequences. A public apology which will be an acknowledgement of the wrong done — that will also dilute the impunity that is growing every passing day. Reparation, to the family that has been wronged. And, action against those who were in violation of the law; that would be an act of respect for the rule of law.

Secret executions seem to have acquired the status of state practice. When Kasab was hanged, surreptitiously, in the early hours of November 21, 2012, the Home Minister explained that one of the reasons for practising secrecy was to avoid the possibility of anyone approaching the court, which could delay the execution. He repeated it, as one would a formula, after Afzal Guru’s execution. This is unconstitutional. No one can be deprived of his or her right to judicial recourse. For the Home Minister of the country to ensure secret execution so that such judicial recourse may be denied is against all norms of civilised jurisprudence.

A Bench of the Supreme Court has reserved orders on the effect of delay on the execution of the sentence of death. The judgment of the court, which is yet to be delivered, would have had a direct bearing on whether Afzal Guru’s death sentence could be carried out, or not; he had been under the shadow of the death sentence for over 10 years when he was hanged. On 20 February, 2013, when a three judge bench of the Supreme Court stayed the execution of the four alleged aides of the forest brigand Veerappan, it was on the express recognition that the decision of the court that had reserved orders was of direct relevance to the convicts before the court.

This was the judicial consideration to which Afzal Guru was entitled. The punishment is irreversible, and, for that reason, should have been deferred till the outcome in the pending challenge. By executing him secretly so that he may not approach the courts, and by ignoring the pending case that could impact on his death sentence, the Home Minister acted illegally. The court needs to demand an explanation from the Minister about the nature of the power he seems to think he has.

LACK OF REPRESENTATION

On 11 February, 2013, two days after he had been executed, a case was quietly disposed of in the Supreme Court. Early in 2011, Afzal Guru had filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking for his transfer to Srinagar Central Jail so that his family, which included his mother, wife and young son, could visit him — something that distance and cost was making prohibitive. This case was filed through the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, but the lawyer was repeatedly absent from the hearings, which prompted the court to ask the SCLSC to look into it and submit a report to the court.

As reported by V. Venkatesan in The Hindu (19.2.2013), the lawyer told the court on 23 November 2012 that someone else would be representing Afzal Guru; the court asked the SCLSC to find an explanation for the tardiness and submit a report to the court; the status of the case, on 4 January, 2013 did not indicate that any report had been filed. This was just one more time that Afzal Guru was left without proper representation. And, a single judge, in chambers, on 11 February, merely took judicial notice of the execution, found that the hanging had made the petition infructuous, and dismissed the petition!

The least that this calls for is an enquiry, followed by consequences for violations of the law, an apology and reparation to the family of Afzal Guru, an end to secret executions and a guarantee of non-repetition.

(The writer is research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, teaches law at the Indian Law Institute and is a regular guest professor in many universities around the world)