Malaysia and Pakistan supports 2018 UNGA Resolution on Moratorium on Executions pending Abolition of Death Penalty

Death penalty: Global abolition closer than ever as record number of countries vote to end executions

After a record number of UN member states today supported at the final vote a key UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Expert Chiara Sangiorgio said:

“The fact that more countries than ever before have voted to end executions shows that global abolition of the death penalty is becoming an inevitable reality. A death penalty-free world is closer than ever.

“This vote sends yet another important signal that more and more countries are willing to take steps to end this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment once and for all.

“The result also shows the increasing isolation of the 35 countries that voted against the resolution. Those countries still retaining the death penalty should immediately establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards full abolition.”

Background

121 of the UN’s 193 member states voted in favour of the seventh resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty at the UNGA plenary session in New York, while 35 voted against and 32 abstained. 117 had done so in December 2016. This resolution was proposed by Brazil on behalf of an Inter-Regional Task Force of member states and co-sponsored by 83 states.

For the first time, Dominica, Libya, Malaysia and Pakistan changed their vote to support the resolution, while Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana and South Sudan moved from opposition to abstention. Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Mauritius, Niger, and Rwanda once again voted in favour of the call for a moratorium on executions, having not done so in 2016.

Five countries reversed their 2016 votes, with Nauru moving from vote in favour to vote against and Bahrain and Zimbabwe switching from abstention to opposition. Congo and Guinea changed from voting in favour to abstention.

When the UN was founded in 1945 only eight of the then 51 UN member states had abolished the death penalty. Today, 103 of 193 member states have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, and 139 have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In 2017 executions were reported in 22 UN member states, 11% of the total. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. – Amnesty International, 17/12/2018

Thailand – Activist call for abolition of DP – starting with ban on death sentences for female convicts

Rights activists push for ban on death sentences for female convicts

national January 16, 2019 01:00

By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

HUMAN RIGHTS defenders are calling for an end to capital punishment for women as a next step forward to achieving the universal abolition of death sentences in Thailand.

A public forum hosted by the Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) on Monday discussed a proposal to ban the death sentence for female inmates in Thailand, and concluded that executing women is not only ineffective in suppressing crimes but also contributes to additional social problems.

Assoc Professor Gothom Arya, director of Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, has pushed for the abolishment of capital punishment for all convicts, but acknowledged strong public opinion in favour of retaining the sentence.

A gradual step-by-step approach to abolition would better suit the country, Gothom suggested, adding that it is more practical than going against majority public opinion and abolishing it in one move.

Thailand has already abolished death sentence for pregnant women and youth, so it appears the next step would be to officially end the execution of female convicts,” he said.

“We need a new round of legislative reforms that abolishes the execution of women, just like our current law prohibits the execution of pregnant women and youth.

In addition to an active campaign for legislative reform, he emphasised that human-rights defenders must work on raising public awareness so society can understand the flaws of capital punishment.

Though the execution of women is not common in Thailand – with only three female convicts executed since 1932, with the last being put to death 19 years ago – it is believed neither male nor female convicts are safe from capital punishment under the current political climate.

Last year Thailand was on the verge of being recognised for not carrying out a death sentence for 10 consecutive years. Despite capital punishment still being meted out by judges, no convict had been put to death in Thailand since 2009. However, this record was broken when the authorities executed a 26-year-old male convict on June 18, 2018.

Most countries have stopped carrying out the death sentence. The UCL has been campaigning against capital punishment, as this unacceptable practice is in direct conflict with the basic principles of human rights. The group said Thailand will ultimately find it impossible to go against the global trend.

Also, the UCL noted that putting female convicts to death has proved to be ineffective in maintaining justice in society and has  led to tougher social problems.

Angkhana Neelapaijit, a National Human Rights Commissioner (NHRC), noted that studies on the statistics and backgrounds of female prisoners in Thailand have found that most were sentenced for crimes related to domestic violence and narcotics.

“These crimes were not caused by personal wickedness. Instead, these women were forced by the circumstances, their environment and problems in our social structure to commit these crimes. So killing these women will not solve the problem,” she said.

Hence, she said, the authorities should change their attitude toward the corrections system and prioritise treatment for the wrongdoers and turn them into good citizens, instead of punishing them severely for their crimes.

Human-rights lawyer Natthasiri Bergman emphasised that many women behind bars were breadwinners and mothers, so locking them away or putting them to death greatly affects their families.

Natthasiri also cautioned that keeping these women away from their children forces the young ones to grow without maternal care.

“The impact from the absence of a mother is significant, and can contribute to more crimes, violence and other social problems in the future,” she added. – The Nation, 16/1/2018

 

Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) is a member of ADPAN

Bangladesh -Death Penalty for Non-Violent Drug Offences law comes into force

Bangladesh to Begin Hanging People for Non-Violent Drug Offences

Source: Flickr

People in Bangladesh now face execution for a range of non-violent drug offences.

The Narcotics Control Act 2018, which came into effect on 27 December, mandates either the death penalty or life imprisonment for anyone convicted of committing a range of drug offences. Such crimes include trading or producing over 25 grams of heroin or cocaine, and trading or producing over 200 grams of methamphetamine (colloquially known as “yaba”), Dhaka Tribune reports. Trading or producing less than 200 grams of methamphetamine, or less than 25 grams of cocaine or heroin, will now be punished by between two and 10 years imprisonment.

Under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898, “when any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that he be hanged by the neck till he is dead”.

According to Harm Reduction International, the last known death sentence for a drug offence in Bangladesh was in 2009. That now looks set to change.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan claims that such strict punishments are necessary to dissuade people from drug use; “This youth society loses their ability to work, service attitude, and creativity, due to drug addiction and they become a burden for the nation in the process”. He added that the implementation of the new law meant that “We’ll surely succeed in controlling drugs”.

The movement towards implementing capital punishment for drug offences in Bangladesh began in 2017, following an apparent rise in methamphetamine use, and increasingly heated political discussions on the subject. As TalkingDrugs reported, the country’s Department of Narcotic Control warned that the country “[needed] to do something drastic without any delay to come out from this evil situation. Otherwise, the whole nation may immediately start suffering so much [that it] will go beyond recovery and repair”.

In the interim period, between officials voicing their desire for the death penalty and the law coming into effect, authorities seemingly began their own illegal and deadly drug war – bearing similarities to the ongoing slaughter under President Duterte in the Philippines. Hundreds of people have been killed by law enforcement in 2018 for alleged involvement with the drug trade. Authorities have claimed that all those killed were shot to death in exchanges of gunfire, but human rights groups and some witnesses claim people are being executed – some for political reasons or personal vendettas entirely unrelated to drugs.

Khan has warned that “this war will continue until we bring [drugs] under complete control”. He denounced those killed as “not good people”, and said there was “no question” that they all sold illegal drugs.

The lack of evidence and oversight in these killings suggests that the state may continue to execute people under the new drug law without sufficient proof of guilt.

Executing people for drug offences is a violation of international law. Article 6.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights reads: “In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes”. In 2017, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recognised that “’the most serious crimes’ … has been interpreted to mean only crimes involving intentional killing”.

Including Bangladesh, there are 33 countries – including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the US – which retain the death penalty for drug offences. – Talking Drugs, 27/12/2018

Revised narcotics control law gets tough with drug traders

  •  Published at 01:30 am December 21st, 2018
RAB detains suspects during an anti-drug drive in Dhaka’s Geneva Camp on Saturday Mehedi Hasan

File photo: RAB detains suspects during an anti-drug drive in Dhaka’s Geneva Camp Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

 

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said drug traders used to get released from jail taking advantage of loopholes in the previous law. The amended law contains no such loopholes

 

The newly amended law in the Narcotics Control Act 2018 imposes the death penalty or life term imprisonment on drug traders, restricting their release from punishment for such crimes.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said drug traders used to get released from jail taking advantage of loopholes in the previous law. The amended law contains no such loopholes.

He said this at a workshop on the review of different aspects for enforcing the amended Narcotics Control Act 2018, at the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) in Segunbagicha of Dhaka on Thursday, reports UNB.

“We’ve already achieved enough success in preventing militancy and terrorism. We’ll surely succeed in controlling drugs, Inshallah,” the home minister said.

On October 27, the Narcotics Control Bill was passed in Parliament with a provision of either death sentence or life-term imprisonment as punishment for producing, trading, and using 200 grams or more of yaba, or more than 25 grams of heroin and cocaine.

According to the new law, the punishment for transporting, trading, storing, producing, processing, applying, and using 200 grams of yaba, or its principal ingredient amphetamine, is death penalty or life-term imprisonment.

Yaba and amphetamines were included in the list of Category A narcotics in the new law, even though they are not there in the existing Narcotics Control Act of 1990.

The new law will come into effect on December 27.

The home minister said they formulated the new law bringing necessary amendments to the Narcotics Control Act 1990. All departments concerned, including law enforcement agencies and the DNC, can work jointly from December 27 as per the new law.

Describing young people as the country’s assets, he said drugs stand in the way of millions of young educated youths to change the country. “This youth society loses their ability to work, service attitude, and creativity, due to drug addiction and they become a burden for the nation in the process.”

Asaduzzaman said drugs like yaba are poisoning society and families, affecting people from all classes. “The use of yaba has seen a rise at all levels — from poor  day-labourers, students of schools, colleges and universities, to the rich.”

He said godfathers of yaba peddling will be punished under the Money Laundering Act while the DNC can take action under the new law, in case any new drug emerges.

Security Services Division Secretary under the Home Ministry, Farid Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury, and DNC Director General, Md Jamal Uddin Ahmed, also addressed the program. – Dhaka Tribune, 21/12/2018