Amnesty warns against death sen­tences in Egypt, Nige­ria


Egypt and Nige­ria ac­counted for an “alarm­ing rise” in the num­ber of death sen­tences handed out around the world in 2014, of­ten on the back of se­cu­rity con­cerns, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said Wed­nes­day.

The Lon­don-based rights watch­dog also crit­i­cized Pak­istan for lift­ing a mora­to­rium on the ex­e­cu­tion of civil­ians in the wake of the Pe­shawar school massacre by Tal­iban mil­i­tants in De­cem­ber.

“It’s a very wor­ry­ing devel­op­ment in 2014 that there has been this in­crease in death sen­tences,” Au­drey Gaugh­ran, Amnesty’s di- rec­tor of global is­sues, told AFP at the launch of a re­port on cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment.

“The death penalty isn’t jus­tice,” she said.

Ti­tled “Alarm­ing rise in death sen­tences as gov­ern­ments re­sorted to cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment to com­bat crime and ter­ror­ism, the re­port recorded 2,466 death sen­tences dur­ing last year — a 28-per­cent in­crease from 2013.

The num­ber of ex­e­cu­tions — 607 — went down by 22 per­cent how­ever from the pre­vi­ous year, although Amnesty warned th­ese num­bers did not count ex­e­cu­tions in China where death sen­tences are kept se­cret.

“There is no ev­i­dence that the death penalty is any more of a de­ter­rent to vi­o­lent crime or ter­ror­ism than other forms of pun­ish­ment,” Gaugh­ran said.

China had the high­est num­ber of ex­e­cu­tions in the world, fol­lowed by Iran (289, as well as at least 454 not ac­knowl­edged by the au­thor­i­ties), Saudi Ara­bia (90), Iraq (61) and the United States (35), the re­port found.

It also noted that Be­larus — the only Euro­pean state that still al­lows cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment — ex­e­cuted three peo­ple in 2014 com­pared to none in 2013.

But the over­all pos­i­tive trend was for fewer coun­tries to use cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment, said Amnesty, which has been cam­paign­ing against the death penalty for nearly 40 years

“The num­bers speak for them­selves — the death penalty is be­com­ing a thing of the past,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral.

“The few coun­tries that still ex­e­cute need to take a se­ri­ous look in the mir­ror and ask them­selves if they want to con­tinue to vi­o­late the right to life.

‘Deeply dis­turb­ing’

A ma­jor ex­cep­tion in 2014 was Egypt, where the num­ber of death sen­tences rose to 509 from 109 in 2013.

“This in­cluded mass death sen­tences against 37 peo­ple in April and 183 peo­ple in June fol­low­ing un­fair mass tri­als,” the Amnesty re­port said.

Since the ouster of Is­lamist leader Mo­hamed Morsi in July 2013, at least 1,400 of his sup­port­ers have been killed in a heavy crack­down against crit­ics of Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah el-Sissi.

Death sen­tences in Nige­ria also shot up to 659 in 2014 from 141 in 2013 — mainly linked to the Boko Haram Is­lamist in­sur­gency in the coun­try’s north.

In Pak­istan, Amnesty said seven peo­ple were ex­e­cuted fol­low­ing the Pe­shawar school attack in which 141 peo­ple were killed, in­clud­ing 132 chil­dren.

In China, the au­thor­i­ties used the death penalty as a way of crack­ing down on un­rest in the Uighur au­ton­o­mous re­gion of Xin­jiang.

At least 21 peo­ple were ex­e­cuted in the mostly Mus­lim re­gion in 2014, in­clud­ing three who were sen­tenced fol­low­ing a show trial in a sta­dium in front of thou­sands of spec­ta­tors, the re­port said.

Amnesty also found that around the world there were 113 ex­on­er­a­tions for death row pris­on­ers in 2014.

“It’s ob­vi­ously deeply dis­turb­ing be­cause it un­der­lines how fre­quently peo­ple who are in­no­cent are sen­tenced to death,” Gaugh­ran said.

In the United States, she pointed out that re­stric­tions on ac­cess to lethal in­jec­tion drugs meant that some states were now look­ing at al­ter­na­tive ways to ex­e­cute pris­on­ers.

“The op­por­tu­nity wasn’t taken in the United States to step back and talk about abo­li­tion, talk about mora­to­ri­ums on ex­e­cu­tion.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.