Friday, July 29, 2016

The Day After - Indonesia 29th July 2016

Execution is a form of murder.......
                                                       
 "A violent storm and downpour of rain deluged the site at the moment of execution..." Le Monde, 29th July
       
 "German philosopher Immanuel Kant writes that judicial punishment can never be used as a means to promote some other good for civil society since a human being can never be instrumentalized merely as a means to another’s end.

That means that to punish someone for the purpose of deterrence is to use the person punished as a mere tool and thus to do him or her an injustice.

This is the main humanitarian reason why many countries in the world have abolished the death penalty.

Once the death penalty was considered a tool to deter future crimes. But because humanity was regarded as the most essential thing in the constitutions, capital punishment was removed.

"As Kant points out, humanity has to be inherent in judicial punishment. It implies that lex talionis (an eye for an eye) is invulnerable to deterrence.

Judicial punishment, therefore, should be a chance for offenders to be humanized or civilized.

Unfortunately, in the case of the death penalty, Indonesia strictly disregards this moral facet by manipulating and criminalizing offenders as tools of deterrence.

The Constitutional Court rejected in January last year yet another attempt to abolish the death penalty in the country, especially in drug and murder cases.

A judicial review of the capital punishment article in the Criminal Code was filed, among others by members of the Bali Nine, a group of Australian citizens sentenced to prison and death for smuggling drugs into Bali in 2005.

Over the last two years, Indonesia has executed 30 convicts, mostly foreigners, for drug-related crimes, defying international calls for an end to the death penalty.

Through the decision the government insisted that the death penalty is the only way to uphold humanity and sovereignty.

Such arguments seem very precarious. One could argue that capital punishment is a shock therapy. Consequently, executions result in shock and or fear of committing a crime and later on a decline in the number of certain crimes.

Execution is a form of murder, which is a crime and contradicts the logic of justice, but for the purpose of honoring the law it is made an exception.
It is because of this exception that the death penalty is legally and morally weak. On the moral side, capital punishment contravenes the values of justice, dehumanizes people and disrupts peace.
On the legal side, the death penalty is a reckless way to justify or institutionalize state crime or murder.
Put simply, we may understand why President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected clemency petitions from many quarters. His refusal appears to have something to do with the constitution, which legalizes the death penalty.
There is nothing wrong with it constitutionally, because as the President, Jokowi has to uphold the constitution and national law.
However, if we accept humanity as the essence of the law, the biggest problem that we should address does not concern Jokowi’s decision, but how to reform the Indonesian legal system in order to transmit humanity."

Charles Beraf, Jakarta Post 29th July 2016 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Philippines: Dagupan City honor student shot dead by vigilantes

Nothing seems right when an innocent person gets killed.
Last week, vigilante groups identifying themselves as the Dagupan Death Squad and the Pangasinan Death Squad claimed the responsibility for killing six individuals in the Pangasinan area.
However, at least one of the casualties of the vigilante killings does not fit the profile of a drug peddler or a drug user.
A 22-year-old college student named Rowena Tiamson, who was also an active member of a church choir, was shot to death by vigilantes. Her family and friends believe hers was a case of mistaken identity.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) confirmed that Tiamson was not among the people in their "drugs watchlist."
Tiamson was a consistent honor student who was described by her friends as a very kind person. She was supposed to graduate from her Mass Communications course this year.

The inevitable killing of innocents "happens". Mistaken executions occur even under the most developed legal systems. Extrajudicial killings are just criminal killings, without safeguards or even the faulty protection of legal procedure. Who were the killers? Why was Rowena killed? The only certain thing is that she is dead, there is no explanation, no answer to questions, just her body thrown on the wayside.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Executions in Indonesia on July 28th

                           
                                         Gate to Island of Death Prison
Indonesia is running a serious risk of executing innocent persons if it insists on going ahead with the executions of 14 death row convicts, expected on Friday.                                                                                          
The convicts, who have received official notification letters of their forthcoming execution on Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, are Indonesians Agus Hadi Bin Hadi, Freddy Budiman Bin H. Manan, Merri Utami and Pujo Lestari Bin Sukatno, Eugene Ape from Nigeria, Fredderikk Luttar (Zimbabwe), Humphery Jefferson Ejike Eleweke (Nigeria), Gurdip Singh (India), Michael Titus Igweh (Nigeria), Obina Nwajagu Bin Emeuwa (Nigeria), Okonkwo Nongso Kingsley (Nigeria), 0zias Sibanda (Zimbabwe), Seck Osmane (Nigeria, but Senegalese passport holder) and Zulfiqar Ali of Pakistan.

More people have stepped forward to urge President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo not to proceed with the executions because of possible miscarriages of justice.

Pakistani convict Ali has been suffering from the effects of liver damage since May, allegedly the result of torture committed by security personnel during his detention.

According to Ali’s lawyer Saut Edward Rajagukguk, he has been treated unfairly since he was arrested in 2004 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for heroin possession.

The government of Pakistan has sought a postponement of the execution and requested a review of his trial. Pakistani Ambassador Aqil Naseem said the government of Pakistan respected the Indonesian legal system, but believed that the legal process against Ali was flawed.

“It didn’t provide justice to Zulfiqar. In the case, the prosecutor did not seek the death penalty,” Naseem told The Jakarta Post.

National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) commissioner Hafid Abbas has revealed neglected findings by an investigative team of the Law and Human Rights Ministry between 2002 and 2003.

After thorough examination of court rulings, historical background and field checks in Ali’s home country, the team concluded that the convict may be innocent.

It also recommended then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cancel Ali’s death sentence and order a further investigation into the case.

“I swear that the work of the team back then was accountable. I am sure that Zulfiqar is innocent,” Hafid said.

He added that then law and human rights minister Patrialis Akbar had submitted a thorough confidential report on the findings to Yudhoyono. “I believe the document is still at the State Palace. It’s worth re-checking to save Zulfiqar’s life. Every life matters,” Hafid declared.

Nigerian Eleweke is also among the death row convicts that reportedly received an unfair trial.

Director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), Sidney Jones, has submitted a dossier to the Post, containing chronology and evidence that indicates Eleweke may be innocent.

The dossier outlines police procedural violations, including the lack of a search warrant, a signed confession allegedly obtained through torture, as evidence pointing to Eleweke having no connection to the drugs for the possession of which he was convicted.

Eleweke filed appeals in 2004 and 2006 to the Supreme Court, in which key witnesses and related convicts testified that he had nothing to do with the case and was framed by Charles “Kelly” Kanu, a drug smuggler, because Eleweke implemented a no-drug policy and did not allow drug transactions in the restaurant he owned. The court rejected both of his appeals.

Indonesia’s Merri, meanwhile, was arrested by Soekarno-Hatta officials in October 2001 for possession of 1.1 kilograms of heroin.

Tangerang State Court sentenced her to death in 2002, after which she filed a plea to a higher court. But the Tangerang High Court supported the earlier verdict.

In 2003, the Supreme Court also rejected Merri’s appeal, and she had been on death row for 13 years before the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) finally set her execution date for this week.

As the executions are expected in less than 72 hours, Cilacap Prosecutor’s Office gathered legal and family representatives of the convicts and special envoys for document checks. Cilacap Police spokesman Adj. Comr. Bintoro said there would be 1,500 personnel deployed to secure the execution area.

Despite the irregularities in the cases raising questions as to whether the legal processes behind all the convictions were sound, the government has insisted the executions will go ahead.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that imposing the death penalty was in the hands of the courts. “The government only carries out the courts’ sentences, which are final and binding,” he said.

The Jakarta Post 27th July 2016

See highlighted section in following post. What else is there to say?


 

Monday, July 18, 2016

6th World Congress against Death Penalty: Council of Europe

From Opening Address by Thorbjorn Jagland: Secrertary General of Council of Europe                               
You all know the many different arguments against capital punishment – ethical, social, financial even.
You don’t need me to repeat them.
But I do want to stress one basic truth which is sometimes downplayed in this debate.
There is no body of credible evidence to suggest that capital punishment deters crime.
None.
Across the world men and women – and children – are being executed on the basis of an unproven assumption: that it will
make their societies safer.
While, on the contrary, study after study says the same thing:
No one can prove that the death penalty works – still, after all this time.
You can compare Hong Kong, which abolished capital punishment in the 1990s, with Singapore, which massively increased
 its usage during the same period.
You can compare the United States with Canada, when only the former restored it.
Within the United States, you can compare those states which still use the death penalty with those states which don’t.
In every case, what do you find?
No detectable effect of capital punishment on violent crime.
For this reason – as much as any other – it is up to democratic nations, old and new, to lead the fight against the death penalty.
Because democratic government should be rational government. In Europe we got rid of government by superstition and
myth during the Enlightenment! Democracy, by contrast, embraces reason. And the only reasonable conclusion is that we
build our justice systems on evidence and fact.
Today I therefore repeat my call for the Federal Government of the United States to end its commitment to the death penalty.
President Obama: what a legacy that would be?
It is incomprehensible that one of the world’s leading democracies – built on the promise of individual liberty – still tolerates this medieval punishment.
I commend the numerous state authorities who have either abolished capital punishment or made steps towards it in recent
 years.
And I urge the White House to look around at the other death-penalty-nations and ask itself: do we really want to be part
of this club?
In Europe, too, there is more to be done.
The Council of Europe takes great pride in having been a driving force in making our continent death-penalty-free for more
than 800 million people.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Appearance of a leader countering the slaughter campaign of President Duterte

                                                                                                     
Senator Leila De Lima, former justice secretary and human rights chief, yesterday vowed to remain vigilant as the Duterte administration pursues what is shaping up to be a bloody war against crime and drugs, saying she will be the protector of civil liberties in case of law enforcement excesses.

She started the ball rolling on Thursday when she called for a congressional inquiry into the spate of drug killings and vigilante-style slayings amid Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs. The death toll has exceeded 100 since the President took office on June 30. De Lima emphasized the need for checks and balances among the branches of government, saying this mechanism “assumes a pivotal role in this context, now more than ever.”

“If I see that our Bill of Rights is already being compromised in the course of this campaign, I will not sit idly by and stay silent. Somebody must speak out against any attack on our civil liberties,” De Lima said in a text message. “We cannot allow any diminution of this constitutional precept because it remains to be the only guarantee against abuse of executive power,” she said.

It was with the same gusto that De Lima pursued an investigation into summary executions attributed to the Davao Death Squad, a vigilante purge team to which Mr. Duterte had been linked. Such stance had earned for De Lima Mr. Duterte’s sharp retorts, most notably during the campaign period. In one instance, the tough-talking Mr. Duterte told her to “shut up,” and threatened to file charges against her for the unabated drug peddling at the national penitentiary—an agency under the DOJ—despite her consecutive raids.  

“I will always assert the supremacy of the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, and the system of
checks and balances in our government,” De Lima said. “I will be doing a lot of balancing act both as an
anticrime and anticorruption crusader and a human rights advocate and defender.”

Based on news item in Philippine Daily Enquirer, 10th July 2016

 

 

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Duterte Drug War is a Killing Field

                                                                                                    
      
"PRESIDENT Duterte’s war on drugs is spiraling out of control, a top human rights lawyer and opposition lawmakers said yesterday as police confirmed killing more than 100 drug suspects and at least two senators expressed support for a proposed Senate investigation of the killings.
NOT AIR FORCE ONE President Duterte flies economy on board a Philippine Airlines plane on his way home to Davao on Thursday.
“President Duterte’s war on crime has spawned a nuclear explosion of violence that is spiraling out of control and creating a nation without judges, without law and without reason,” said Manuel Diokno, chair of the Free Legal Assistance Group.

Diokno, a prominent law professor, likened the killings to the actions of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, accused of killing thousands of dissidents during a 20-year rule that ended in 1986.

Rep. Teddy Baguilat said the President’s rhetoric “breeds a culture of violence and culture of retribution.

Baguilat and Sen. Leila de Lima have asked Congress to investigate the drug killings.

But the new chief of the Philippine National Police, Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, said police should not be cowed by the proposed congressional inquiry.

He said the PNP would solve the country’s illegal drugs problem in three to six months.

The PNP said 103 drug suspects who resisted arrest had been killed, but insisted the policemen operated within the boundaries of the law.

“They put in danger the lives of our police officers who then had to defend themselves,” PNP spokesperson Dionaldo Carlos said"

                                                                                                                                        Philippine Daily Enquirer, 9th July

Thailand already travelled this path; in 2003 up to 3,000  persons were gunned down, without judicial identification or procedure. The claim that such slaughter can solve the problem of drugs is a fallacy, and causes immense damage to civil society. The PNP claim to solve the illegal drugs problem in three to six months is a mirage. The insistence that the police acted in self defence is a tired  worn excuse, clearly false when the various circumstances of the killings are read. For example:
 
"Mitra was found dead in his backyard with multiple gunshot wounds.

In Sariaya town, Alejandro Sante Umbrete, another suspected pusher, was shot dead by an unidentified assailant in Barangay Talaan Aplaya early yesterday.
Umbrete, according to Sariaya police chief Supt. Alex Dimaculangan, was on the list of drug suspects in Lucena City.

Another drug suspect, Midelito Montealto Chumacera, was killed while he was driving a jeepney by a motorcycle-riding assailant in Barangay Concepcion Uno in Sariaya".  Ditto 

These examples surely do not indicate a confrontation with police officers.

Yes, President Duerte may well travel in an economy plane seat, but he cannot claim absolute power of life and death. The protests already raised in the Philippines must be echoed in Asia and throughout the world.

Events in the Philippines and Death Penalty Thailand
The movement for abolition of the death penalty, as well illustrated in the Recent Congress in Oslo, is a worldwide issue. We advance and we fail together. This is especially true of the movement for abolition in South East Asia, ASEAN. There have been few advances in abolition in the region, and the threat of the Philippines to reinstate the death penalty has resonances in other ASEAN countries who are cool to human rights advances in ASEAN member states, but who derive comfort from regressive measures elsewhere which fortify their own dismal practices. It is in this perspective that the Death Penalty in any ASEAN state influences that of Thailand. We follow each others example and plead the cause of common practice according to shared Asian Values, which could and should have a positive connotation but is rather the notorious excuse for the worst of human practice rather than the better.  As member citizens of ASEAN we have an interest and the right to observe and comment on practice in other ASEAN countries. We do not have to wait for unanimous consensus, nor do we neglect the right to comment on the internal practice of other members of the alliance, which mightily  affect internal practice in our own country.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

President Duterte of Philippines initiates a rampage of non-judicial killings

                                                                                   
Before dawn on Friday a bullet-riddled body was found in a Manila slum with a sign on it that read: “I am a Chinese drug lord,” local police said.
The murder bore all the hallmarks of an extrajudicial killing, which would make it the first of Duterte’s presidency.
Manila police district deputy director for operations Marcelino Pedroso told AFP the death was being considered a summary execution because the victim was apparently killed due to alleged involvement in drugs. He said there were no suspects.
With Duterte’s encouragement, police had already killed dozens of alleged or suspected drug traffickers in the time between his May 9 election victory and Thursday’s inauguration.

Drug crimes have been declared by the UNHCHR not to be 'most serious crimes' which might be subject to the death penalty, Besides, there is no evidence that executions are effective in controlling drug crime. Meanwhile the recently elected president of the Philippines is invoking extrajudicial killings as a measure to control drug crime. The Philippines like most Asian countries are plagued by drugs; but the Philippines is ever more plagued by extrajudicial killings. Under Duterte, drugs will certainly flourish further, and extrajudicial killings will exceed all bounds.  

6th World Congress on Abolition of the Death Penalty

                                                                                                                
Perhas the strongest argument in favour of retaining the death penalty is that it is a necessary deterrence to serious crime. The following was a slide presented during the Congress by Professor Jeffrey Fagan during the session "Progress and Setbacks in Asia: Lessons to be learnt"
 
The Problem with Deterrence
 

No empirical evidence of a deterrent effect from execution. The
evidence was deeply flawed (NRC Report). 
Persons committing a death-eligible crime have motivations that
overwhelm their worry about the possibility of execution.
They also strongly discount the actual risk of arrest and execution

There is no evidence that drug prices or drug markets are affected by
executions for drug crimes. 
The claims that drug crimes cause deaths are based on poor empirical
evidence. If drugs do not cause deaths, there is no basis to assume
that executions will reduce deaths. It also is a moral hazard from
which there is no recovery.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Sixth Congress: Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort

                                                                                       
                                               
The sunset in Oslo was brighter than the future of abolition

The 6th Congress against the Death Penalty organised by Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort took place in Oslo on the 21st to the 23rd of June 2016. This congress was organized in the continuity of the 5 first. An additional congress, the regional congress against death penalty was previously held in June 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, becoming the first congress to be held in Asia.
 
The observation is simple : Today 4/5 of the United Nations member states have either abolished or no longer use the death penalty. The abolition seems within reach. Nevertheless we also observe that 2015 has known the largest number of executions since 25 years. 1634 persons in 25 different countries have been killed at least. This number is terrifying and requires our full dedication to this fight for human rights.

In order to spread the abolitionist values to the retentionist countries the Congress explored some aspects of the death penalty focusing on retentionist countries or regions of the world.

A closer look at countries such as Belarus, China, USA has been taken as well as particular regions such as Asia or regions under Sharia law.

Important themes were also discussed including the revival of death penalty to sanction terrorist acts, the difficult task to deal with medias while confronted to a death penalty case, the vulnerability of migrants and minorities facing the death penalty sentence… A good overview of the worldwide situation has been given.

               Many actors involved at every scale of the combat for abolition were present: from officials to lawyers and from NGOS to victims. If everybody at the congress seemed to agree that abolition is an urgent necessity, little commitment has been made. We heard some promises from the Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic or from Lebanon which are abolitionist countries de facto but we were waiting from real engagements from retentionist countries such as Malaysia which unfortunately haven’t been taken. We believe that the weight of words changes things but speeches won’t save those sentenced to death and real decisions need to be taken from these countries.

The first step for these countries is the establishment of a moratorium or at least the reduction of the death penalty use to premeditated murders. Interestingly these crimes represent only a small proportion of the people condemned to the death sentence. Nevertheless this reduction isn’t in any way the final objective of this combat. The death penalty shall be abolished for all crimes without conditions, universally and forever.
                                                                                                                           Lucie Michel

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Philippines: A Programme of Death

                                                                                            
THE 17TH Congress will spend its maiden year pushing three ambitious items on the incoming Duterte administration’s agenda: the switch to a federal government, restoration of the death penalty and lowering of the age of criminal liability, according to the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

Alvarez said that in the first two years of the Duterte administration, he planned to reinstate capital punishment for heinous crimes. During the campaign, Duterte had promised to reinstate the death penalty.

As mayor for over two decades in Davao City, Duterte is known for his iron-fist stance on crime, and is known to have links to “death squads” notorious for killing criminals in the city.

Addressing arguments that the death penalty was not known to be a deterrent to crime, Alvarez argued that: “There’s been no death penalty for many years but crime is still increasing.”

The death penalty was abolished under the 1987 Constitution with the caveat that it may be reimposed, with Congress approval, for heinous crimes. It was reimposed during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada, and stopped during the term of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The hatchet man appointed by newly elected President Duterte of the Philippines, has outlined a chilling programme for the coming years. There is nothing of democracy, the economy, or civil society, rather the establishment of autocratic rule, death, and extension of criminality to the young. Most extraordinary of all is the open proclamation of extension of the term of a man who has not even yet been elevated to power. 
Of course those who helped achieve abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines are disappointed in the outcome. "The same prisoners as before rot in jails, the same violence prevails across the country, families of victims and the imprisoned are still without assistance". But abolition in itself is not the end of crime, it is rather the beginning of a new era of justice. The respect for human life which replaces the death penalty must be the basis of a new culture of life; if no effort is made then, indeed nothing improves. The failure to build on abolition cannot be blamed on abolition itself.