Death Penalty

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Death Penalty: Iran Bars Executions of Minors for Drug Offenses, Continues to Execute Adults

The Islamic Republic of Iran will not execute minors for drug offenses, but will keep capital punishment for those convicted of murder. The policy change came in a judicial directive that was issued last year, but only made public last week. Iran executes more juveniles than any other country in the world, accounting for two-thirds of all underage executions worldwide, according to human rights groups.

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ceremonial drug burning for UN Anti-Drugs Day, Tehran
"The new directive bans execution of under 18 criminals only if they have committed crimes related to narcotics that carry death penalty," Deputy State Public Prosecutor Hossein Zabhi told the Associated Press. "Life imprisonment will be the punishment for juveniles convicted of first rate drug crimes," said Zabhi.

Zahbi added that no one under 18 has ever been executed for a drug offense in Iran. There are currently some 120 minors on death row there.

Iranian human rights activists welcomed the move, but said it was not sufficient. "Human rights activists won't give up the fight until execution of under 18 people is abolished altogether in Iran," said Mohammed Mostafaei, a lawyer who launched a campaign against the execution of juveniles.

Meanwhile, it is business as usual at Iranian gallows. According to the anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain, four men convicted of trafficking three kilograms of heroin were hanged Monday at a prison in the southeastern city of Zahedan. Zahedan is the capital of restive Sistan-Baluchistan province bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is a key transit route for drugs heading from Afghanistan to markets in Europe and the Middle East.

Death Penalty: Malaysia to Hang Three for Marijuana Trafficking, Executions Continue in Middle East

Twice in the past two weeks, courts in Malaysia have condemned people to death for marijuana trafficking offenses. Meanwhile, both Iran and Yemen have executed drug offenders in the past three weeks. Except where otherwise linked, information in this article comes from the global anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain.

In Malaysia, the High Court Wednesday handed down death sentences to two men, Kairil Anuar Abdul Rahman, 34, and Afendi Adam, 28, for trafficking a little under two pounds of pot six years ago. The pair, a restaurant worker and a painter, respectively, were arrested in March 2002 for selling 971 grams of marijuana. Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim said the court had no choice but to impose the death sentences after the men were found guilty. Attorneys for the pair are expected to appeal both the convictions and the sentences.

Two weeks earlier, the Shah Alam Higher Court imposed the death sentence on an Indonesian immigrant, Junaidi Nurdin, 32, for selling 979 grams of pot. Junaidi was arrested in April 2004 after he sold the stuff to an undercover policeman at a restaurant in Shah Alam. He, too, is expected to appeal.

Meanwhile, the execution of drug offenders continued apace in the Middle East. In Yemen, convicted Pakistani drug trafficker Birkhan Afridibar Hussein, 50, was executed at the Central Prison in Sanaa on September 17 after his death sentence was approved by the president of the republic. And in Iran, a man known only as Taher H. was hanged Tuesday in the northern city of Hamedan. Taher H. had been imprisoned on drug charges there, but escaped, only to be caught again with 530 pounds of heroin.

The executions of nonviolent drug offenders, almost exclusively in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, have added momentum to calls for a global moratorium on the death penalty and particularly against using the death penalty for drug offenses.

Death Penalty: More Executions in Iran, Saudi Arabia

Even as a worldwide campaign to end the death penalty for drug offenses gears up, the resort to the ultimate sanction continues apace, especially in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. According to reports compiled by the anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain, this month Southeast Asia is reporting no drug executions, but it's a different story in the Middle East, especially in Iran.

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International Anti-Drugs Day drug burn, Tehran
But not just Iran. On August 21, Saudi Arabia got in on the action, executing two Pakistani nationals for smuggling drugs. The pair were beheaded by the sword after they were caught smuggling heroin in the eastern city of Damman. That was the 63rd execution this year in the country, with drug offenders accounting for between a third and one half of them.

Meanwhile, in the Islamic Republic, the executioner has been busy this month. On August 7, three men convicted of drug trafficking and murder were executed in a prison in the holy city of Qom. Authorities provided no details of the murder for which they were convicted, but said they were caught with 1,080 kilograms of opium. They were identified only by first names.

Four days later, three unnamed convicted drug traffickers were hanged in a prison in the southeastern city of Zahedan. They had been caught with 30 kilos of morphine and 22 kilos of heroin.

Things got really busy last week. On August 20, two men were hanged after being convicted of drug smuggling inside a Tehran prison. One of them had been sentenced to life in 2007 for smuggling, but was upgraded after being caught doing it again while imprisoned. That same day, yet another drug trafficker was executed in Zahedan. Bahrum Nikpur was hanged after being found guilty of possessing 14 kilos of opium and six kilos of heroin. Also that same day, four people were hanged for rape and drug trafficking in an unspecified prison in Iran.

It is not clear if there were four drug trafficking rapists, whether it was rapists and drug traffickers executed together, or how many were rapists and how many were drug traffickers. All the same to anti-drug zealots, perhaps.

Death Penalty: More Executions in China, Saudi Arabia

Despite a global trend toward abolition of the death penalty, a number of countries continue not only to use the ultimate sanction, but to apply it to nonviolent drug offenders. The latest round-up of drug offender executions from the anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain includes the following:

  • Chinese media reported on July 11 that 10 people were executed in central China as "heinous criminals that seriously violated social law and order." Some were executed for murder, some for drug trafficking offenses. It is unclear how many of the 10 were drug offenders.
  • China was back at it again last week, when state media reported three members of an international drug trafficking group were executed in east China. They were accused of smuggling drugs into the country. No names were given for the executed Chinese drug offenders.
  • The Saudi Arabian official news agency reported Thursday that a convicted Nigerian drug trafficker was beheaded by the sword in Mecca. Shuaib Ali Mohammed had previous drug trafficking convictions and got a death sentence for trafficking cocaine.

Hands Off Cain presented its annual report on the state of the death penalty late this week. Look for an article here next week on how things are looking in 2008 and the state of the movement to end the death penalty for drug offenses.

Death Penalty: Indonesia Gives Go-Ahead for More Executions

Indonesian authorities executed two Nigerian men, Iwachekwu Okoye and Hansen Anthony Nwaliosa, for drug trafficking on International Anti-Drug Day, June 26. They were the first executions of drug offenders in the island nation since 2004, but Indonesian authorities are warning they won't be the last.

Executions for drug offenders had been on hiatus, but that has changed since the county's Constitutional Court upheld the death penalty for drug offenses late last year. Indonesia had suspended executions for drug offenders in 2006 while the court was considering the constitutional case and had not executed a drug offender for two years prior to that.

Now, the country's attorney general is warning drug offenders on death row their days could be numbered. In a statement late last month, Attorney General Hendarman Supandji said executions would be expedited for the 58 drug offenders sentenced to death there.

That could still take some time, Deputy Attorney General A. Ritonga told the New York Times on Sunday. "Death row inmates will only be executed according to the law, after their appeals are exhausted," he said.

Ritonga added that death row prisoners can apply for clemency. But Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has publicly said he will not pardon drug offenders.

Death Penalty: More Executions, More Death Sentences, A Glimmer of Hope in Vietnam

The resort to the death penalty for drug offenses continues apace. And it is the usual suspects. Here's what's gone on so far this month, with a glimmer of potential good news from Vietnam. (All information below comes from the anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain.)

June 9: Iran hanged a man convicted of drug trafficking in the northeastern province of North Khorasan, the Jomhouri Eslami newspaper reported. The unidentified man was executed in the prison of Bojnourd city for buying and trafficking four kilos of crystal methamphetamine.

June 10: The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, told reporters that no fewer than 60 Nigerian nationals face death sentences for drug offenses in Indonesia alone. The foreign minister had earlier pleaded with Indonesian authorities to commute a death sentence on one of his fellow citizens, but wondered how he could make the case for the others. "With over 60 Nigerians on the death row in Indonesia, how will the government be able to make a case for all of them?' he asked.

June 19: In a rare bit of good news on the death penalty front, Vietnam announced it is considering abolishing the ultimate sanction for 12 crimes, including smuggling and "organization of illegal drug use." Vietnam has sentenced dozens of people to death for drug offenses so far this year.

June 23: A Malaysian High Court sentenced a 59-year-old cook to death for trafficking 1.4 kilos of heroin in front of a hotel eight years ago. Tan Kok Tiong will go to the gallows, but his co-defendant got only 18 years. In Malaysia capital crimes include murder, rape, drug crimes, treason and possession of arms. Under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, a death sentence is mandatory for distributing drugs.

June 24: The Kuwaiti Supreme Court upheld a death sentence against a member of the royal family for drug trafficking. The royal, identified only as Sheikh Talal, was arrested along with two Lebanese, an Iraqi, a "stateless Arab" (Palestinian), and a Bangladeshi in April 2007 when police found 22 pounds of cocaine and 260 pounds of hashish. Three codefendants got life sentences, while two others got seven years each. Only one other member of the royal family has been sentenced to death -- for murder -- but that sentence was later commuted.

June 25: On the eve of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, courts in three Chinese cities executed three drug dealers and sentenced five more to death in a coordinated move designed to spotlight the country's tough approach to drug abuse. "As the number and scale of drug dealing cases have been increasing in recent years, the court has raised its strength to crack down," Zhang Zhijie, Deputy Chief Judge of the Second Intermediate People's Court of Shanghai Municipality, was quoted as saying by official Xinhua news agency. The Shanghai court handed down sentences in four drug trafficking cases on Monday, giving capital punishment in three of them. Two others were sentenced to death by the Intermediate People's Court at Shenzhen in Guangdong province which pronounced sentences in seven cases, it said.

Free, Private Screening of the Award Winning Film: Take

Prison Fellowship and Sojourners in partnership with Telos Films and Liberation Entertainment cordially invites you to attend a free, private screening of the award winning film TAKE. Q and A with the Director, Charles Oliver to follow the screening. Please RSVP to alex@takethemovie.com or (703)-962-7930. See www.takethemovie.com.
Date: 
Thu, 06/19/2008 - 4:30pm
Location: 
201 F Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
United States

From Draconian Drug Laws to Life Without Parole: Speaking Out Against Harsh Sentencing

With one in 100 American adults behind bars, more and more juries across the country are handing down sentences of life without parole. Now is the time to question what it means for society to turn from state-sanctioned executions to punishments that impose what many prisoners describe as "in-house death sentences." Join the New York chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and artist, writer, and activist *Anthony Papa in a public meeting to discuss prisons, harsh sentencing and why life without parole is cruel and unusual punishment. * Anthony Papa is communications specialist for the Drug Policy Alliance. He is an artist, writer, noted advocate against the war on drugs and co-founder of the Mothers of the New York Disappeared. Mr. Papa's stinging editorials about the drug war have appeared in news sources across the country. He is a frequent public speaker and college lecturer on his art and criminal justice issues. Mr. Papa is the author of 15 to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom (2004), a memoir about his experience of being sentenced to state prison for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense under New York's draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. For more information, see Campaign to End the Death Penalty at www.nodeathpenalty.org.
Date: 
Mon, 06/16/2008 - 7:00pm
Location: 
126th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam
New York, NY
United States

Death Penalty: Malaysia Sentences Two to Hang for Marijuana Trafficking, Iran Executes Nine Drug Sellers

Countries around the world, but particularly in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, continue to resort to the death penalty for drug offenses. This week, we report on more executions in Iran and death sentences for marijuana in Malaysia.

On Tuesday, a Malaysian court sentenced two Thai citizens to death for marijuana trafficking. The two men, Masoh Daloh, 35, and Romuelee Yakoh, 46, were convicted in the Kuala Lumpur High Court of trafficking 75 pounds of pot. They had been arrested in 2002 with 34 kilogram-sized slabs of marijuana in their vehicle. Both men have appealed their sentences.

Malaysia has hanged more than 200 people, mostly its own citizens, for drug trafficking offenses since it imposed the death penalty for them in 1975. It has come under recent criticism from Amnesty International over secrecy surrounding its resort to the death penalty, but the government denies any cover-up and insists the ultimate sanction is a necessary deterrent to criminality.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities announced May 5 that they had hanged 12 convicted criminals, including nine people convicted of drug offenses, according to the anti-death penalty organization Hands Off Cain. The nine drug offenders were hanged in the northeastern city of Bojnourd, not far from the Afghan border. One of them was hanged in public, the first reported public hanging since Iranian judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Sharoudi ordered an end to the macabre displays without his prior approval in January.

Hands Off Cain Daily eNewsletter - IRAN: 12 CONVICTS HANGED

[Courtesy of Hands Off Cain] In this issue: IRAN. 12 CONVICTS HANGED NORTH CAROLINA (USA). DEATH ROW INMATE WALKS FREE-129TH EXONERATION DRC. FIGHTING TO ESTABLISH THE UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE DEATH PENALTY SAUDI ARABIA. 3 PAKISTANIS EXECUTED FOR HASHISH SMUGGLING IRAN. 12 CONVICTS HANGED Drug traffickers after being executed in Iran May 5, 2008: Iran has hanged 12 convicted criminals, including nine drug traffickers and three rapists, the latest in a growing number of executions in the Islamic republic, reports said. Nine drug traffickers were hanged, one of them in public, in the northeastern city of Bojnourd, Kayhan newspaper reported, without giving the date of the executions. This appears to be the first report of a public execution in Iran since judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi ordered in January that there should be no more public executions without his approval. "One person was hanged in public," said Kayhan, without giving further details. Shahroudi's decree came after a growing number of public executions in Iran, including the hanging of two convicted murderers in the centre of Tehran. It was not clear if he had approved the reported public execution in Bojnourd. Meanwhile, three criminals convicted of kidnapping and raping at least 11 girls were sent to the gallows in the southwestern city of Ahvaz on May 3, the Quds newspaper reported. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- NORTH CAROLINA (USA). DEATH ROW INMATE WALKS FREE-129TH EXONERATION May 2, 2008: The state of North Carolina dropped all charges against Levon Jones, and he was freed after spending 13 years on death row. U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle overturned Jones's conviction two years ago, but he was held in prison awaiting a possible retrial until prosecutors announced that they were dismissing all charges. Judge Boyle criticized Jones's defense attorneys for "constitutionally deficient" performance, noting their failure to research the history and credibility of Lovely Lorden, the prosecution's star witness. The judge noted, "Given the weakness of the prosecution's case and its heavy reliance on the testimony of Lovely Lorden, there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." In April, Jones's new defense team filed an affidavit in which Lorden said, "Much of what I testified to was simply not true." She also stated that a detective coached her on what to say. Additionally, she collected $4,000 from the governor's office for offering the clues that led to the arrest of Jones. Jones's retrial was set to begin May 12th, 2008. Duplin County District Attorney Dewey Hudson decided to ask the judge in the case to drop all charges. Jones was originally convicted of robbing and shooting a bootlegger named Leamon Grady. Levon Jones is the 129th inmate to be exonerated and freed from death row since 1973. He is the 8th such inmate freed from North Carolina, and the 6th person in the country exonerated in the past 12 months. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DRC. FIGHTING TO ESTABLISH THE UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE DEATH PENALTY Liévin N'Gondji May 1, 2008: ongoing penal code reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo is giving abolitionists the chance to have the death penalty recognised as unconstitutional. The current Democratic Republic of Congo constitution, in place since early 2006, recognises the "right to life" and the "inviolable nature of human beings". A proposition for an article explicitly abolishing the death penalty was rejected by the national parliament during the text's elaboration in 2005. "We have submitted two requests, one to the director of public prosecutions' office and a second to the Ministry of Justice" to formally establish the unconstitutionality of the death penalty, explains Liévin N'Gondji, a lawyer and president of Culture for Peace and Justice (CPJ), member of the World and Congolese Coalitions against the death penalty. Thanks to international aid, the DRC's judicial system is being reformed and donors financing the project have invited CPJ to participate in the joint justice Commission, principally responsible for revising the penal code. N'Gondji estimates that "approximately three quarters of those present were in agreement" with his position on the unconstitutionality of capital punishment. According to N'Gondji, the Commission will make its recommendations to the government by the end of May. The latter should then make a decision quickly. "The next three months will be crucial", he believes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SAUDI ARABIA. 3 PAKISTANIS EXECUTED FOR HASHISH SMUGGLING May 1, 2008: Zargar Sadajan, Roajan Sodajar, and Naik Mohammed Malak Mohammed, all Pakistanis, were executed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after being convicted of receiving large quantities of hashish. A statement released by the Saudi Interior Ministry confirmed that the men were convicted by the court, and the verdict was approved by the Cassation Court and the Supreme Judicial Council.

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