Thursday, June 29, 2006

Indonesia: Thai Woman to be Executed

While Indonesia is not a signatory to the Convention on Civil and Political Rights which might strengthen the case for an appeal against the death sentence reported below, the right to life enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to life..." is being increasingly appealed to as the basis for a rejection of all applications of the death penalty. Experience has also shown that women involved in drug trafficking are often doing so at the instigation of a male accomplice with implications for reduced culpability.
We appeal for clemency in the following case and urge readers to email this item to their local Indonesian representative as a gesture of appeal.

The email address of the Thai embassy in Bangkok is:

INDONESIA :A Thai woman will be executed for drug trafficking after her appeal was turned down, an Indonesian government official said yesterday.

Boonyong Kaosa-art is among 16 people, including 10 foreigners, on death row for drug trafficking. Seven of the convicted are Nigerians, one is Nepalese and one is from Malawi. The rest are Indonesians.

Ms Boonyong, 48, was arrested in 2002 at the airport in Jakarta with 400gm of heroin capsules in her stomach.

The courts passed the death sentence in 2003 and the Thai government appealed for a reduced penalty in 2004.

Indonesia's National Anti-Drugs Agency has called for authorities to speed up the executions of the traffickers

Bangkok Post 29th June

Philippines, Abolition Welcome but Profound Concern Continues

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)

Open Letter
To Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,
President of the Philippines

Paris, Manila, 27 June 2006

Your Excellency,

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and its member
organization the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
take this opportunity to warmly welcome your decision of 24 June 2006,
on the eve of your trip to Europe and the Vatican, to sign into law the
legislation passed by the Philippines Congress, providing for the
abolition of the death penalty. The abolition of this cruel, inhumane
and irreversible punishment is a highly significant step. On this
momentous occasion, FIDH and PAHRA call upon you to mark a new
commitment to the absolute and unequivocal respect of the most
fundamental human right, the right to life.
FIDH and PAHRA express profound concern over reports of escalating human
rights violations in the Philippines, including extrajudicial
executions, arbitrary detentions and torture. Reports of extra-judicial
killings in the Philippines are received by our organisations with
alarming regularity. There is a growing pattern of politically
motivated killings, reported across a number of provinces nationwide.
Witnesses have reported victims being shot dead by unidentified men,
suspected of links with the military, police, and other security forces.
The principal targets of the shootings are human rights defenders,
journalists, lawyers, community leaders, and union workers who speak out
against the authorities. Groups and individuals identified with the
opposition are increasingly at risk. Over the past year dozens of
activists identified with opposition groups have been killed.

In the face of these violations, the authorities of the Philippines have
consistently failed to carry out effective investigations into these
crimes and to bring to justice those responsible. This climate of
impunity further fuels human rights violations.

It is the duty of the state to protect its citizens and to take action
to ensure respect for human rights, whoever is responsible for the
violations. The Philippines must abide by its obligations under
international agreements to which it is a party, notably the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which
recognises, under article 6, the inherent right of every human being to
life and provides that, " this right shall be protected by law. No one
shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life". Under articles 2 and 26 of
the ICCPR, all persons are entitled to the protection of the right to
life without distinction or discrimination of any kind, and all persons
must be guaranteed equal and effective access to remedies for the
violation of this right. Furthermore, article 4 of the ICCPR provides
that the right to life is absolute and that exceptional circumstances
such as internal political instability or any other public emergency
cannot be invoked to justify derogation.

FIDH and PAHRA urgently call upon the authorities of the Philippines to
fulfil the obligation to protect the right to life by conducting prompt,
thorough and impartial investigations into all extra-judicial killings,
to identify and bring to justice those responsible before independent
and impartial tribunals. Our organisations call upon you as President
to send a clear and strong message that these unlawful killings will not
be tolerated under any circumstances.

On the occasion of your trip to Europe and the Vatican and as the
President of an elected member state of the newly established United
Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), FIDH and PAHRA call upon you to
ensure the implementation of the extensive undertakings made to the
international community, on the occasion of the election of the
Philippines to the HRC, to ensure the protection and promotion of human

Yours sincerely,

Renato G. Mabunga
Sidiki Kaba

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Seminar on Death Penalty

สัมนาระดับชาติ เรื่อง การลงโทษประหารชีวิตในประเทศไทย

วันที่ ๓ - ๔ กรกฎาคม ๒๕๔๙ เวลา ๐๘.๓๐ - ๑๖.๓๐ น.

คณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ และสมาคมสิทธิเสรีภาพของประชาชน(สสส.)

ณ ห้องประชุม ๕๐๑ สำนักงานคณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Abolition of Death Penalty in Philippines

Abolition of Death Penalty in Philippines, an Example for Thailand
On 6 June, both the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives voted to repeal death penalty legislation. Philippines now joins the worldwide trend toward abolition of the death penalty and is the 125th nation to become abolitionist in law or practice.
In 1987 the Philippines set an historic precedent by becoming the first Asian country in modern times to abolish the death penalty for all crimes. However, the death penalty was reintroduced in late 1993 for 46 different offences. The death penalty was reinstated, not because it was a just punishment but because it was a high profile and desperate remedy to quench public anger at the rising tide of unchecked crime. Executions resumed in 1999 until former President Estrada in 2000 announced a moratorium on executions, which President Arroyo has continued, in practice, throughout her presidency.
On 15 April 2006 President Arroyo commuted all death sentences to life imprisonment in what is believed to be the largest ever commutation of death sentences in modern times. Four days later, President Arroyo marked as urgent, legislation to repeal the death penalty.

House of Representatives
By a vote of 119-20, the House of Representatives approved on a third and final reading Tuesday night, 6th June, the measure abolishing the death penalty in the country.
Speaker Jose de Venecia, who presided as the final vote was taken said the measure is a step that restores the sanctity of human life in the way the country dispenses justice. “We have taken this courageous decision because we believe in the sanctity of human life and in the value of justice not as an act of retribution. This is the mark of a higher civilization.”
“The penalty of life imprisonment is just as harsh as the death penalty,” said Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar, who was a member of the 9th Congress that had approved the death penalty.

The Senate
Sixteen senators voted for the abolition and one abstained.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said that the Death Penalty Law has no place in a Christian nation like the Philippines.Senator Sergio Osmena III stressed that the Death Penalty Law proved that it was not a successful deterrent against heinous crimes.Earlier, in a co-sponsorship speech on the abolition of the death penalty, Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws, declared that he supports “the abolition of the death penalty at the present time,” but does so rather” haltingly and hesitatingly” and voted “to abolish the death penalty albeit temporarily.”Gordon, himself a victim of grievous crimes when his father was assassinated and his niece brutally killed, stated that he is doing so “not just to be merciful but to be just”. ”It is so easy to kill a person to bring him to justice, but the lifetime suffering of a nation when it finds out that it has made a mistake is indelible,” he added.

Reasons behind abolition
The bill gave weight to the argument that death penalty is “not a deterrent to crime” and that “judicial error” is a possibility in all justice systems. It cited several other reasons for abolishing the death penalty, among them the following:
· death penalty is retributive justice, therefore vengeful and barbaric;
· it is the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment;
· it is irrevocable;
· it shuts out rehabilitative justice;
· it raises the likelihood of criminals becoming more violent for fear of being convicted by death sentence; and
· it is anti-poor
The measure’s proponents also argued the Philippines is violating international treaties, covenants and policies by “mere implementation” of the death penalty.The death penalty abolition affirms what the government is already practicing since President Arroyo’s administration has not carried out a single execution.

The Philippine debate on the Death Penalty shows a remarkably clear discernment of the moral and practical issues involved. The rejection of the motive of retributive justice is rightly placed at the head of the list of motivation. The ancient appeal for retribution in the saying: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is rejected as vengeful and barbaric. This is at the heart of the matter and it is not a matter of logic but of an informed moral sense. The Philippines has gone through a fine analysis of the balance between killing and being killed in retribution, to come to the realization that they are not equal. The appropriate balance to killing is indeed punishment, but a punishment which allows for repentance, reform, and rehabilitation. We are not God, we did not create life, and having the power to take life away does not give us the right to do so.
The objection of the Philippine lawmakers that the death penalty is irrevocable refers to wrongful convictions:
Of the 1205 inmates on the Philippines’ “death row”, many have been wrongfully convicted according to human rights groups representing some of them. Only 230 of these convictions have been affirmed by the Supreme Court. One study citing a decision of the Supreme Court in July 2003 showed that the lower regional trial courts had close to a 72 per cent wrong conviction rate. In reviewing 907 death penalty cases, the Court admitted that 26 were dismissed, 555 modified, 65 acquitted, and 31 remanded. This underlines just how flawed is the system of justice in the Philippines.Most death penalty sentences are unsafe and those convicted are overwhelming the poor and unable to hire a lawyer. The public defender, no matter how dedicated, is inexperienced, under trained, has no resources or help to investigate the circumstances and uncover evidence that would exonerate his client and expose lies. Convictions are handed down despite the preponderance of reasonable doubt. The rich have the best of lawyers, power and influence, bribe officials and police, and scare off witnesses. They almost never get convicted.
The Philippines is very aware of problems raised by the commutation of execution to life imprisonment:
Arroyo urged religious leaders to help the government in the moral and spiritual transformation of convicts, particularly those serving maximum jail terms, who could not be given parole.The government will work on improving the country’s jail facilities to create an environment that is more conducive to the prisoners’ rehabilitation and reformation, she said.

Instead of death, the penalty is downgraded to life imprisonment without parole, under the Senate version.
Arroyo explained that convicts in the death row will be commuted to reclusion perpetua but they can still get the President’s pardon.
The farsightedness of Arroyo in leaving open a gate of hope to those condemned to permanent imprisonment is truly visionary. In a striking development, French prisoners whose death sentences had been commuted to perpetual imprisonment recently pleaded for execution to be restored as a better alternative to endless jail sentence. Human beings cannot live without hope and the humanity of the Philippine legislation shows remarkable understanding.
The acknowledgment of a Christian inspiration to the abolition is noteworthy. All religions claim to be inspired by the concept of mercy. Would that the nations of Asia learn a lesson from the heroic initiative of our neighbour country, finding a similar inspiration in their own religious traditions, to abrogate the hateful and barbaric practice of capital punishment.

Danthong Breen
Danthong Breen is president of the Union for Civil Liberty

Special to The Nation, Saturday 17th June

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Iran Shows Mercy to Nazanin

IRAN. NAZANIN DEATH PENALTY OVERTURNED, NEW TRIAL TO BE HELD May 31, 2006: the Iranian Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Nazanin, overturning the death sentence handed down to her for having killed her attempted rapist, the 'Sharq' daily reported. Nazanin, who has been imprisoned for over a year, was sentenced to hang in January this year. She claimed self defence during her trial after she stabbed a man to death in March 2005. Nazanin, who was 17 at the time, had been out with her niece and their boyfriends on a road west of Tehran when two men started harassing them and then tried to rape them after the boyfriends had run away. "I committed murder to defend myself and my niece, ...
See post below on campaign to save Nazanin

Friday, June 02, 2006

Death Penalty Thailand: Lethal Injection Faulty

LETHAL INJECTION: Inmate on Gurney Tells Guards "It's not working."

On May 2, 2006, the execution of Joseph Clark in Ohio was delayed 90 minutes because the execution team was unable to find a suitable vein to deliver the lethal chemicals. After the team tried repeatedly to find a vein, Clark called out, "It's not working, it's not working." The guards closed the curtains to block witnesses from viewing the execution chamber. Witnesses then heard Clark moaning and groaning from behind the curtain. The curtain later reopened after the execution team managed to find a vein in Clark's left arm and he was put to death. Clark's execution proceeded despite the issuance of a stay based on a lethal injection challenge a few days earlier in another Ohio case by a federal court.