Why the US locks up prisoners for life


By Kate DaileyBBC News Magazine

Man behind bars

Last week, an English court handed a whole-life sentence to Dale Cregan for murdering four people, including two policewomen.

That penalty means he will never be eligible for release, and it puts him in rare company, making him one of about 50 people in the UK serving such a sentence.

Had he been in the US, he would have been less of an anomaly.

In the US, at least 40,000 people are imprisoned without hope for parole, including 2,500 under the age of 18.

That is just a fraction of those who have been given a life sentence but yet may one day win release. The Sentencing Project, a non-profit organisation that studies sentencing and criminal justice in America, estimated in 2009 that at least 140,000 prisoners in the US now serve a life sentence.

This does not include convicts given extremely long sentences with a fixed term, like the Alabama man sentenced to 200 years for kidnapping and armed robbery.

Most of them will have the opportunity for parole – though Sentencing Project Director Marc Mauer says few will receive it.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Criminals are always less popular than victims”

Franklin ZimringUniversity of California, Berkeley

David Wilson, professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, says several factors underlie the high number of American convicts imprisoned for life.

“In large part it reflects the overly punitive nature of the American criminal justice system,” says Mauer.

“Not only do we use life sentences much more extensively than other industrial nations, but even in the lower level of event severity, the average burglar or car thief will do more time than they will in Canada or Wales.”

The harsh sentences reveal a type of “sentencing inflation” that began in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It was almost a competition among legislatures of both parties to show how tough they could be on crime,” says Mauer.

At the same time, the sentence is thought to send a message.

“In states like Michigan where they don’t have a death penalty, this is what they have as its moral equivalent,” says Franklin Zimring, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.

In states that do have the death penalty, long sentences underscore distaste for crimes that do not meet the threshold for capital punishment.

Inmates at Chino State Prison, which houses 5500 inmates, crowd around double and triple bunk beds in a gymnasium that was modified to house 213 prisonersCalifornia’s overcrowded prisons have prisoners sleeping in stacked bedding in the gymnasium

“This is a way of putting a denunciatory exclamation point in the punishment,” he says.

Politicians and other state officials are loathe to be seen as soft on crime, let alone to release an offender on parole only to have him commit another crime.

The 1993 death of Polly Klaas, a young girl killed by a recently paroled man with a long criminal history, led California to pass a “three strikes” rule mandating a sentence of 25 years to life for anyone found guilty of three felonies.

Continue reading the main story

Life in jail: Safer streets?

Does locking away criminals for life make society safer for everyone else?

“At some level the answer is obviously yes,” says Dan Bernhardt. “There’s no threat to safety if the prisoner is not at risk of re-offending, and a clear benefit if he is.”

But Bernhardt’s research shows that long prison sentences may impede rehabilitation.

“It can be grossly counterproductive,” he says. “It can discourage someone from trying to rehabilitate themselves.”

In the UK, “it is rare but not unheard of for someone on a life license to commit serious offenses,” says David Wilson, who says checks are in place to keep tabs on those who are released.

California lawmakers cite the three strikes policy as the reason for the state’s declining crime rate. But University of California, Riverside sociologist Robert Nash Parker says other factors are responsible, like the national decline in alcohol consumption.

“The drop in crime occurred all over the country, in every state. It dropped at the same time, magnitude, direction,” he says. “It can’t possibly be due to a policy in just one state.”

But now, in both the US and the UK the sentence of life without parole is coming into question.

In England, these sentences arecurrently being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights, after a lawsuit brought by three men serving whole life sentences – “a double murderer, a man who wiped out his entire family to inherit money, and a serial killer,” says Wilson.

These men, at least one of whom proclaims his innocence, argue that the denial of a parole option does not allow them to claim they have changed. They further argue that the assignment of these sentences is arbitrary – some convicted killers get them, others do not.

In the US, budget cuts have forced states to reconsider whether the practice of locking criminals up for long periods of time is cost-effective.

“Lawmakers in Illinois have made the decision to shut down a few prisons and let people out early in order to save money,” says Dan Bernhardt, professor of economics at the University of Illinois.

“There’s nothing like state budget problems to get people to see what the costs are.”

In 2012, the US Supreme Court also established that for minors, a sentence of life without parole violates the Constitution’s safeguardsagainst “cruel and unusual” punishment.

The court also ruled that prison overcrowding in California – due in part to severe sentencing and the three strikes programme – violates the same safeguards. It ordered the state to release tens of thousands of prisoners.

But action after these verdicts has been slow, as state officials continue to fight in court.

In the US, once someone has been sent to prison on a life sentence, it’s hard for him or her to get out.

 

Abolitionists hold conference in Spain #Deathpenalty


death1

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.

 

India jail-born man earns bail money, for release of his mother after 19 years #WTF


 

By Sanjoy Majumder BBC News, Kanpur

Vijay Kumari was unable to post the necessary bail amount of about £120

In a dusty tenement in a crowded neighbourhood in the Indian city of Kanpur, a young man takes out a bright yellow sari from a shopping bag and presents it to his mother.

“Do you like it?” he asks her. “Yes,” is her reply.

It is an innocuous scene, except that the young man, Kanhaiya, has waited a long time to give his mother a gift.

Nineteen years ago, his mother Vijai Kumari was convicted of murder – wrongfully she claimed.

She was granted bail on appeal but she did not have the 10,000 rupees ($180; £119) she needed to post bail. Her husband abandoned her and no-one else came forward to help her.

“I thought I’d die in prison,” she says. “They told me in there that no one ever gets out.”

She was pregnant when she went to jail. Four months later, Kanhaiya was born.

“I sent him away when he got a bit older. It was hard but I was determined. Prison is no place for a young child,” she says.

So she stayed in prison all these years, lost in the system and forgotten.

All she had to keep her going was a passport-size photograph of her son and his visits to her every three months.

‘Think of her and cry’

Kanhaiya spent most of his childhood growing up at various juvenile homes. And he never forgot his mother.

“I would think of her and cry,” he says, speaking softly and with a lisp.

“She was in prison, all alone. No-one else ever visited her. And my father turned his back on her.”

Kanhaiya's mother Vijai Kumari only had a photo of her son in jail Vijai Kumari only had a small photograph of her son Kanhaiya

As soon as he turned 18, he was trained to work in a garment factory. And he began saving up to get his mother out.

Eventually, he hired a lawyer.

“Someone told me about him. He was surprised to hear about my mother’s case.”

The lawyer took on his case and earlier this month, his mother was freed from prison.

Judges expressed their shock at her situation and the “callous and careless” behaviour of the authorities.

They have now ordered a sweep of all the prisons in the state to see if there are others like Vijai Kumari.

The reality is that hers is not an isolated case.

There are an estimated 300,000 inmates in India‘s prisons, 70% of whom are yet to face trial. And many of them have spent a long time in custody.

It is a reflection of India’s shambolic and sluggish legal system where it can often take years for a case to be heard and a trial to be concluded.

But, for the moment, mother and son are reunited and anxious about their future.

“All I want is for my son to be settled,” Vijai Kumari says, her voice breaking and her eyes moist.

“He’s all I have in this world.”

Kanhaiya and his mother plan to approach his estranged father and fight for their rights, including a share of the family property.

But for now, they are taking in the present and trying to make up for all the time they have lost.

Story behind the ‘Lost Case”- despite social legal support #Vaw #Justice


Mumbai, Majlis Team , March 31,, 2013

As  fourteen year old Priya  had not been getting her periods for some months, her mother took her to Shatabdi, a  public Hospital in the nearby area, for a check up.  During examination it came to light that the child was five months pregnant! A case was not filed, but Priya and her mother were referred to the hospital’s counselling centre where two very young social work students were placed. The students knew about Majlis’ Socio Legal Support for Survivors of Sexual Assault programme.

So, it was by sheer luck that Priya and her mother Anju reached our office. I was one of the first people to speak to Priya after she discovered she was pregnant. With large fluid eyes and a scared look on her face, she revealed that she and her friends would often go to a Pramuk’s  (leader) house to help his wife with house work. About six months ago, when his wife was not at home, this 50 year old man raped her.  He threatened her that if she ever spoke to anyone about it, he would kill her. She had no idea about the consequences which might befall on her, and hence kept silent, and did not even confide in her mother.  It was poignant to watch the child, who had just realised that she was pregnant, trying to cover her stomach with her dupatta.

Anju is an illiterate single mother trying desperately to manage her family by earning a meagre amount as a domestic maid. She is extremely naïve and had never stepped out of her local area. She, and her mother before her, have lived in the same slum their entire lifetime. When faced with the news,  Anju’s only concern was how to quietly get an abortion and end the story. She was extremely afraid that if her son found out all hell would break loose. The pramukh was influential and she did not want any hassles with the police. We tried our best to assure her that if she wanted to complain we would support her in her pursuit of justice… but these words did not make any sense to her.

We asked her to think about what she wanted to do and promised to meet her the next day at the hospital (she did not want us to come home). But the next day Anju did not turn up. Our team were rid with fear at what she would have done with her daughter in order to cover up the incident. Priya’s pregnancy was well past the statutory limit permitting an abortion and we were scared about the danger to her life. There was no way of contacting Anju as she had not given us a number or an address.

Then three days later Anju contacted us. All hell had broken loose as her son found out. The police was informed and an FIR was lodged. The accused was taken into custody, required medical tests were done and statements were recorded. Priya was produced before the Child Welfare Committee and was taken to a shelter home.

Our first challenge was to ensure Priya’s health and well being were being taken care of in the shelter home. We would accompany Anju every week to visit Priya in the shelter home. We counselled Priya to cope with her situation. Priya was not comfortable at the government shelter home,  so we requested the CWC to move her to a home for unwed mothers run by Christian Missionary Sisters in the Western suburbs. The request was granted.

We also counselled Anju and her son to help them cope with the situation. When Priya delivered her baby we were there. Anju could not reach the hospital as she could not travel alone late in the night. Anju still  feels bad that she would not be with her daughter during her delivery. Given Priya’s tender age and Anju’s financial condition, there was no question of keeping  the baby. We had to repeatedly remind the police to collect the blood samples of  the baby, so that the child could be put up for adoption.

Priya returned home and Anju was keen to care for her daughter. But she soon realised that due to sniggering and humiliation from neighbours it was impossible to keep her daughter with her. Everything had changed. Priyas was forced to live in the village where poverty was worse and she was not even given basic nutrition. Anju was desperately trying to collect money to move to another slum. Multiple vulnerabilities were  at play here. Since we do not have a financial assistance project and the State Victim Compensation Scheme was not in place, we could not offer any financial support to the family.

But on the other hand, the case was progressing smoothly. We followed up with the police to ensure that the investigation was on track and the charge sheet filed in a timely manner. Within two and half months of the incident the charge sheet was filed and the matter was committed to the Sessions Court. This was an open and shut case, we were confident of a conviction. This was one of the few cases we have come across where the statements were  recorded by the police without any loopholes, DNA proof was there…. So imagine our shock and utter dismay when the DNA report came negative.

The blood samples of the accused did not match that of the child. The police called Anju to the Police Station and shouted and abused her for two-three hours. We rushed to the Police Station and impressed upon the officer that his duty was only to submit the DNA report to the court and not pass any value judgment.

We met Priya and tried to probe if there was any other person. But Priya, all of fourteen and having gone through the ordeal, with utmost conviction reassured us, that he alone was the  culprit. We believed her.

The Public Prosecutor (PP) accused Priya of having a boyfriend. You cannot trust these teenaged girls, I think this case is ‘fishy’, she said. Her entire approach towards the case changed dramatically after the DNA report. But if Priya had a boyfriend, the news would have spread as this is a thickly populated slum with huts adjacent to each other. Nothing misses the keenly watchful eyes of the  neighbours.

We were extremely worried how the PP, whose job is to defend Priya would conduct the trial. We watched the PP like hawks on every date to ensure she was doing her job.

Priya was brilliant in her examination and cross. We were there by her side to support her. The PP ofcourse did not even bother to meet her before the trial and prepare her.

The defence lawyer used all kinds of underhand tactics during Anju’s cross. He accused her of being a woman of loose character and being greedy and wanting to extract money from the accused. But before he could ask any more embarrassing questions, the presiding officer, a sensitive lady judge, stopped him. This judge is known to follow Sakshi Guidelines, not allow unnecessary questions and most of all, she makes the witness comfortable in court. All this helps bring the best evidence before the Court.

The final arguments were a disaster. The PP argued with absolute lack of interest (She may not have even argued if we were not there). She submitted the case laws and the written arguments that we had prepared, because we insisted. The Defence Counsel argued at length about how the DNA Report was negative and therefore it was clear that the accused had been framed to take revenge because the victim’s mother was not allocated a tenement under the slum rehabilitation scheme.

Judgment: “Not guilty, the prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt”. The judge also commented that the plea of the defence about revenge appears to be probable!

Immediately after passing the judgement, in an informal tone, the Judge asked our lawyer whether we take up all cases or only ‘genuine’ cases. Before we could recover from the absurdity of this question, the PP replied “Oh, they take up any case that comes to them”.

We would have liked to answer that “not proving a case beyond reasonable doubt does not amount to a ‘false’ case.”  We would also liked to have responded to the  PP, “it is not your job to be judge… just do your best to prove your case, like you would if you were defending the accused in a murder trial, as a private lawyer.” But we kept silent as we have many other rape cases which are pending trial in this court.

We had the difficult task of informing Anju about the judgement. She was calm and took it in her stride. She told us that she was not interested in filing an appeal. She had changed her residence,  Priya was back at school and they were making every attempt to get over this trauma. We felt that despite the set back in court, we had empowered them to cope with the system and move on without leaving deep scars of revictimisation upon their psyche. This, in itself, was a victory! After all, conviction or acquittal is not in our hands. We are here to ensure that fair trial process has been followed.

Ideally, this narrative must end here, but it has a postscript. A few days later, a visibly shattered Anju came to our office. There was a story in the newspaper accusing Anju of filing a false case to frame the accused to get a tenement in the SRA scheme. It is this incident that broke Anju.  She wanted to file a case against the lawyer and the newspaper.  But since no names were mentioned there was nothing we could do. Anju told us that Priya had threatened to commit suicide after seeing the newspaper article. The society finally had its revenge.

The questions that haunt us at the end of this case are – yes, the case could not be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.  But it is also beyond doubt that a 14 year old vulnerable child had been violated and had to undergo the ordeal of childbirth and of giving up the child in adoption. Does the responsibility of the state end with the acquittal, or is there a responsibility beyond, to ensure the well being of this child.  Can state institutions entrusted with the responsibility of protecting children, brand her as ‘a liar’ and wash their hands off her, leaving her to deal with her fate, within the confines of her own vulnerabilities? We find no answers to these disturbing questions within the criminal legal system.

State of Maharashtra  v. Ramesh Dawle  Session Case  No. 349 of 2012

The matter was concluded within a year.

Majlis Legal Centre

A 4/2 Golden Valley, Kalina Kurla Road, Santacruz E, Mumbai 98

Tel: 022 26661252 / 26662394

Website: www.majlislaw.com

Facebook: majlislaw

 

Political prisoners observe Hunger strike on 23rd March Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom day for ABOLISHMENT OF #Deathpenalty


PRESS RELEASE,  NAGPUR , MARCH 21, 2013

Numerous countries across the world have abolished the death sentence as a form of punishment. However India, claimed repeatedly by its rulers to be a democratic country still retains this inhuman practice and the bloody eye-for-an-eye code of justice. Capital punishment is unacceptable with democratic principles and hence we believe that it should be abolished in India. With this demand about forty political prisoners of the Nagpur Central prison, including ten women will observe a one day token Hunger strike on 23rd March 2013.

Bhagat Singh, Sukhdeo and Rajguru, who fought against British Imperialism and underwent a prolonged struggle against the colonial prison administration for recognition of their political prisoner status were hanged to death by the British. As part of this struggle, political prisoners across the country observe the day of their martyrdom, 23rd March each year as ‘Political Prisoners Day’.

On this occasion, the government never fails to sponsor full page advertisements in the daily papers, whilst killing his thoughts and opinions. The government colluding with Imperialism and making numerous agreements for the sale of the nation, is like the British brutally crushing those who resist- the revolutionaries, democrats and patriots. Those who believe in freedom, equality and liberty are branded as anti-nationals and some are sentenced to death by hanging to make an example.

Through this press note, we call that all those imprisoned for their rights, justice, freedom, equality and liberty be recognized as political prisoners and be unconditionally released.

Yours faithfully,

Undertrial Bhimrao Bhovate

Date: 21st March 2013

Place: Nagpur Prison.

 

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

 

 

 

Labour MP John McDonnell urges India to end the #deathpenalty #humanrights


THURSDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2013, The Independent

The British Government should use “every mechanism of communication” to urge India to end the death penalty, a Labour MP has said.

John McDonnell said Britain was “uniquely placed” with its shared history with India to urge its government to halt executions and sign up to the UN Convention opposing the death penalty.

Introducing a backbench business Commons debate on the Kesri Lehar petition to abolish the death penalty in India, the MP for Hayes and Harlington paid tribute to the campaigners, many of whom sat watching the debate in the public gallery.

He said that last year when the “first inkling” was received that India was considering ending its eight year moratorium on implementing the death penalty, members of the Punjabi community in the UK, especially the Punjabi Sikhs came together and launched the campaign.

They secured more than 100,000 names on their petition to abolish the death penalty and address other human rights concerns.

Mr McDonnell said “fears were compounded” when in November 2012 India ended its moratorium and carried out an execution, with a hanging taking place in February this year.

In December 2012 the UN voted for the fourth time for a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions and while 111 countries voted for, India voted against.

He argued there was a “real risk” that with more than 400 people on death row in India and 100 more sentenced to death each year, many more executions were likely to follow unless action was taken.

He said: “First of all we need to recognise the historical relationship between India and Britain means that the UK Government is uniquely placed to urge the Indian government to end the death penalty.

“Therefore I’m calling on the UK Government to use every forum, every mechanism of communication established with India both formal and informal, to press the Indian government to halt the executions now and then to sign up to the UN Convention opposing the death penalty.

“I wrote to the Prime Minister before his recent visit to India to urge him to raise this issue with the Indian government and I hope that the minister can report back on that, and the continuing pressure that successive governments now across party have been placing upon the Indian government.”

Mr McDonnell urged Britain to raise the issue with European partners to seek a joint representation from all of Europe to India on the subject.

He also said Britain should work with other countries to raise this call within the UN, adding: “With a UN Human Rights Council meeting imminent this is an ideal time to place this back on the UN agenda.”

He appealed to India to “embrace humanity by ending the state killing once and for all”.

The Backbench Business motion, signed by a cross-party group of MPs, states: “That this House welcomes the national petition launched by the Kesri Lehar campaign urging the UK Government to press the Indian government to sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which encompasses the death penalty, with the result that India would abolish the death penalty and lift this threat from Balwant Singh Rajoana and others.”

Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said the death penalty “undermined human dignity” and said the British Government continued to aspire to its global abolition.

He told the Commons: “Use of the death penalty in India is a complex issue and it continues to be the subject of much debate across Indian society.

“It was disappointing India’s de facto moratorium on the death penalty which had existed for over eight years ended with the hangings of Mohammad Ajmal Kasab and Mohammad Afzal Guru last November and February this year respectively.

“Kasab and Guru were convicted of very serious crimes, involvement in the Mumbai attacks in 2008 and the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. It is important to remember the impact such acts of terrorism have on the people of India.

“Notwithstanding this, it remains the British Government policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. I hope the Indian government re-establishes a moratorium on executions in line with the global trend towards the abolition of capital punishment.”

Mr Swire said he had reiterated the Government’s position to the Indian administration last week when he accompanied Prime Minister David Cameron to the country.

And he said the India-EU Human Rights Dialogue would present a further opportunity.

The minister added: “They listened to what I had to say, was aware of our consistent position, and stressed to me the very real fear in India created by these acts of terrorism.”

Shadow foreign office minister John Spellar said: “I congratulate Kesri Lehar for their campaign.

“Uniting the community, whatever their views may be, and also gaining very wide public awareness of the issues we are discussing today.

“I also reaffirm the united determination of this Parliament on all sides to secure justice for the Sikh community of the Punjab.”

PA

 

#India- Drugged, raped minor gets Justice #Vaw


Published: Friday, Feb 8, 2013, 9:30 IST
By Mustafa Plumber & Dilnaz Boga | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

 

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court has upheld the conviction of 20 men in the case of a minor who was drugged by her neighbour, raped, and then blackmailed into prostitution in 2005. She was then a Class IX student in Aurangabad.

Those convicted include men who claimed they were unaware of the victim’s age as they took her to be a sex worker, a contention the court refused to accept. Also convicted is one accused who married the victim after he was pronounced guilty by the Aurangabad sessions court.

In a judgment delivered on February 4, the division bench of justices AH Joshi and UD Salvi confirmed the sentences of all those convicted by the trial court, reducing the sentence of eight accused, including the man who married the victim.

Chetan Popatlal Bhalgat, who married the victim in May 2011, prayed for a less than minimum sentence, citing the marriage and the fact he had given her Rs21 lakh in cash as well as a row-house worth Rs13.30 lakh, a shopping premise and a plot of land in Ahmednagar. While he claimed this mitigates the malevolence of the crime, the court only reduced his sentence from 10 years to eight years.

The judges observed, “…the genesis of the culpability of the accused did not spring from the insanity of a lover but was a plain lust supported by pecuniary ability, namely he could pay for what he had craved for”.

As Bhalgat had done something restitutive for the victim, the court reduced his sentence by two years.

The court also accepted the testimony of the victim as reliable and said, “A witness who is very well grown up cannot be expected to give narration of sexual wrongs done to her which are per se traumatic, with minute details or particulars. It shall suffice if she utters the word physical/sexual relationship or rape.”

According to the judgment, the minor was threatened by an accused who is now deceased that photographs of the sexual encounters would be published in local newspapers. Under threat, the minor was coerced to have sex with several men until she was rescued by a local NGO. The girl was taken to people’s homes and to hotels in rickshaws and hired cars, where she was forced to dispense sexual favours repeatedly.

Four men aged between 20 and 25 — Hardeek Lakhamichand Jaggad, Aakash Subhash Rathi, Aatmaram Ramrao Dengale and Ramakant Ramrao Dengale — were sentenced to eight years.

The others who were sentenced to 10 years apart from the man who married her are Balkishan Premraj Goel, Ajay Sudhakar Kate, Aaba alias Dyandev Bhagchand Gondkar, Abdul Haq Fakir Mohammad Kureshi, Rajendra Shivajirao Thorat, Ravindra Shivajirao Thorat, Raghunath Ramnath Zolekar, Vasant Mangu Pawara, Ramrao Moniraj Dengale, Tukaram Gena Misal, Ramesh Rajaram Barkase, Ashok Babasaheb Kasar, Vilas ere Karale, Ruchin Mehta, and Harjit Rajpal.

The court observed in its 126-page judgment that “law takes stern view in the crimes concerning rape not only for the reason of physical harm that it causes to a woman but also for she being left destitute to suffer life-long mental trauma”.

 

#India Supeme Court ‘male child’ reasoning a khap dikatat ? #WTFnews #Vaw #Patriarchy


By , TNN | Feb 7, 2013,

MUMBAI: Legal experts and human and women’s rights activists have expressed dismay over a reasoning given by the Supreme Court while upholding a death sentence in a 2007 case of kidnapping and murder of a boy. One of the “aggravating factors” to justify the death sentence was the fact that killing of a male child would lead to an end of the family lineage, stated the SC.The legal fraternity reacted sharply to the development. A retired judge of the Bombay high court, B H Marlapalle, who now practices in the Supreme Court, said on Wednesday from Delhi: “The reasoning that murder spelled an end of the family lineage and thus requires death sentence for the killer is not justifiable to bring the case in the rarest of rare category. Yes, there were other factors that the court has listed and the sentencing is based on the facts of each case, but does it mean that a male child has more value or is more precious than an only female child, who cannot take forward a family’s lineage?”

The SC had said: “Purposefully killing the sole male child, has grave repercussions for the parents… Agony for parents for the loss of their only male child, who would have carried further the family lineage, and is expected to see them through their old age, is unfathomable. Extreme misery caused to the aggrieved party, certainly adds to the aggravating circumstances.”

Senior criminal counsel Nitin Pradhan said: “The reasoning that the misery caused by death of the only male child, which brings an end to the family name, would be an added aggravating factor to justify capital punishment for the killer has no standing in logic or law. It reflects the mindset of the majority in a patriarchal society.”

Feminist advocate Kamayani Bali Mahabal said: “The apex court is reinforcing patriarchal values in its judgment. How can they do that when all of us (activists) are trying to demolish it. Is the agony of losing an only male child more than losing an only female child, merely because the son would have carried forward the family lineage? The judgment may come as a huge leap back for the women’s movement.”

Retired Supreme Court judge B P Singh said the judgment would not be a “precedent for future cases when an only male child is killed”. Citing a 1956 SC judgment, Singh said: “Inferences drawn in one criminal case is not binding precedent in successive cases. The findings in criminal cases are on the facts and circumstances of that case. Rarity depends on how cruel, heinous and barbaric the act of murder is, how beyond the ordinary it is.”

 

#India -35-year-old awaits murder trial in a juvenile home #WTFnews


Manish Sahu : Lucknow, Thu Jan 17 2013, IE
FP

For over three months now, an observation home in Bareilly meant for juveniles undergoing trial or convicted by the Juvenile Justice Board has had a 35-year-old resident. Rakesh (name changed) was shifted to the home on September 29 as a local court declared that he was a minor at the time of his alleged involvement in a case of dacoity and murder in Shahjahanpur district in 1988.

A daily wage labourer, Rakesh is married and has four children. His eldest son is 12 years old.

Rakesh is estimated to have been around 11 when the crime was committed. Bareilly Observation Home superintendent Chabinath Rai said he was lodged there on the order of the Juvenile Justice Board. “Considering his age, we keep him away from other inmates. Till now, no inmates have objected,” said Rai.

Tasneem Kausar, a member of the Juvenile Justice Board at Shajahanpur, said they were only following the norms of the Juvenile Justice Act.

The incident dates back to December 1988, when unidentified men beat up residents of a house in Shahjahanpur, fired at them and decamped with valuables. Two of the injured later died. Police arrested seven persons in the case — Jai Ram, Rakesh, Lalla Ram, Nandu, Sadhu, Nanne and Lalla.

In April 1989, Sadhu and Lalla Ram were discharged for want of proof. Rakesh’s lawyer Virendra Pal Singh Chauhan said “trial of only three persons was conducted”. On December 12, 2011, a court held Nanne, Jagdish and Rakesh guilty.

“Before the court could pronounce the sentence, I told it that Rakesh was a minor at the time of the incident. In his statement before the court earlier that year, Rakesh had mentioned his age as 34. This means he was a minor in 1988. The court did not pronounce Rakesh’s punishment, but sentenced Nanne and Jagdish to life imprisonment,” said Chauhan.

On September 28 last year, the sessions court declared that Rakesh was a minor during the incident and referred the matter to the Juvenile Justice Board.