Saturday, March 26, 2016

Secrative and Meaningless Executions in Japan

Tokyo - Japan executed two death row prisoners on Friday, 25th March, the justice ministry said, dismissing calls from rights groups to end capital punishment.

Convicted murderers Yasutoshi Kamata and Junko Yoshida were executed by hanging, bringing the total number of people put to death since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in 2012 to 16.
Yoshida, 56, killed two men in the late 1990s as part of a plot to obtain insurance money, the justice ministry said. She is the fifth woman to be executed in more than 60 years.
Kamata, 75, was convicted of murdering four women between 1985 and 1994 -- and a nine-year-old girl who started screaming as he tried to sexually abuse her.

Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki, who authorised the executions, said they had committed "extremely heinous" crimes that "took the precious lives of the victims for very selfish reasons".

1.       The death penalty is subject to a UN General Assembly vote in favour of a worldwide moratorium
2.       One of those executed is a woman; the execution of women is particularly repellant
3.       The other was 75 years old, exempt from execution even in countries that retain the death penalty
4.       Those condemned to death in Japan are held in solitary confinement for decades and then executed without advance notice.
5.       Two executions in Malaysia, two in Japan, …….

Friday, March 25, 2016

Secretive and Mandatory Executions in Malaysia

From the Guardian, 25th March, 2016
“The execution was done between 4:30 and 5:30 this morning,” lawyer Palaya Rengaiah told the Guardian. “They were hanged to death.
Rengaiah said the families received a letter two days before the execution, advising them to make a last visit to the men and funeral arrangements. He said the men were told on Thursday that they would be hanged on Friday.
Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu, 35, Ramesh Jayakumar, 34, and his brother Sasivarnam Jayakumar, 37, were sentenced to the gallows after they were found guilty by the high court of murdering a 25-year-old man in a playground in 2005. The trio claimed during court sessions that they were acting in self-defence after being attacked by a group that included the victim.
The Malaysian prison’s department said there were currently more than 1,000 inmates awaiting execution, although none had been killed since 2013.
Amnesty International has condemned what it called a “last-minute” execution of the men accused of murder, an offence that carries a mandatory death sentence.
In Malaysia, information on scheduled hangings are not made public before, or sometimes after, they are carried out. Several high-level officials have spoken against mandatory death sentences in Malaysia, a decades-old law that is also imposed on serious drug, treason and firearms offences.
Days after, government minister Nancy Shukri, said she hoped to amend the penal code to abolish the death sentence. “It is not easy to amend, but we are working on it. I hope to table it next year in March,” Shukri told reporters, adding that the punishment had done little to reduce the number of crimes committed. The motion has not been put to parliament.
Executions in one ASEAN country affect the attitude of the others. Ultimately, they will move together to retention or abolition. Against a de facto reduction of executions in the region, the savage executions in Malaysia are a setback for abolition in the whole region. A setback in one country is a setback for all. 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

The Matter of RE-ENACTMENT by Royal Thai Police

Bangkok Post reports a reenactment scenario

“KHON KAEN — A 42-year-old woman caught in Waeng Yai district for repeatedly stabbing and burying alive her newborn son confessed she had done it because she did not want him.

Suda Thongdee of Waeng Yai district was taken on Saturday for a crime re-enactment in a paddy field in Non Sawan village in the district, where her newborn child was found buried alive with multiple stab wounds.

She was escorted under tight security as angry people cursed and yelled at her.”

The news account published on the Bangkok Post website of 27th February reports an event which is standard practice in police investigation procedures of crime action, and Thai media compliance with the practice. The account illustrates succinctly the practice and its reporting. In the first sentence guilt is established. The second sentence presents to us visual proof of the veracity of the guilt. The final sentence reports on the acceptance of the sentence by an angry people. Why is this parody of the justice system allowed to continue?

Among the most basic rights of modern justice is “to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person”[1] while in custody. Secondly, is the “right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”[2]. Finally is right to fair trial “by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law”[3]

The practice of public reenactment is abhorrent to the rights outlined above, rights guaranteed by Thailand’s ratification of the International Convention cited. When challenged for its non-conformity to obligations imposed by a ratified International Convention, Thailand frequently responds that it is not obliged by requirements not yet codified in Thai law. This is a fallacious response as the obligations to make adaptations of Thai law to align it with treaty obligations is itself a binding obligation which cannot be postponed. Even in the interim the obligations have binding power and cannot be ignored.

It is clear that the practice of “reenactment” takes place under some form of compulsion and in the absence of legal counsel to the accused. Guilt is presumed, and the public conditioned to prejudge court decision. On occasion the participant in the charade has suffered violent attack by enraged onlookers.

Publication of the article cited above led to the following comments:

“ There's no excuse for this regardless of the lack of safe havens. A death sentence is appropriate here.”

“May be she should also be stabbed and buried alive as no one want her”

" The woman wasn't some hapless teenage girl, but a middle-aged woman who callously assaulted her baby. I hope she and whoever else is involved feel the full weight of the law."
A subsequent article probed and asserted motivations for the murder. In true Bangkok Post tradition the sources of the later revelations were not revealed, but one can surely identify them as the woman still appears to lack the protection of legal counsel. This website protested in a comment to the Post, but the comment was ignored.
We have received other complaints and accounts of the practice of reenactment and wonder at the immunity granted court decisions when this prejudicial practice continues.  

[1] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,  Article 10.1

[2] Idem, Article 14.2

[3] Idem, Article 14.1