ADPAN urges Philippines not to revive the Death Penalty

Philippines: Do not revive the Death Penalty

ADPAN strongly urges all members of the Philippine House of Representative and Senate to reject the reinstatement of the death penalty and uphold the rights to life as enshrined in the Constitution.

Reinstating the death penalty would violate Philippine’s international legal obligations, in particular, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the country has ratified.

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Singapore -Impending Execution of Chijioke Stephen Obioha on 18/11/2016 [A Media Statement]

Media Statement – Impending Execution of Chijioke Stephen Obioha on 18/11/2016

A Door to Hope

 Chijioke Case

 

Very soon, yet another individual is about to be executed in a state sanctioned hanging. According to Amnesty International, the date for the execution of Chijioke Stephen Obioha (a Nigerian national) has been set for this Friday, 18 November 2016.

 

On 9 April 2007, Chijioke was found in possession of more than 2.6 kilograms of cannabis, exceeding the statutory amount of 500 grams that under Singapore law triggers the automatic presumption of trafficking. Also in his possession were keys to a room containing additional prohibited substances, leading the authorities to presume him guilty of possession and knowledge of the drugs. In August 2010, an appeal against Chijioke’s conviction and sentence was rejected. In 2013, when amendments to Singapore’s mandatory death penalties laws kicked in, Chijioke initially refused to make use of his right to resentencing. In April 2015, his clemency appeal was rejected and his execution was set for May 2015. Just one day before the execution, he was allowed to apply for resentencing. Following legal advice that he would not qualify as a “courier” under the amended laws, Chijioke withdrew his application for resentencing. This led to the lifting of the stay of execution on 24 October 2016 and the setting of the execution date.

 

Chijioke has endured more than 9 punishing years in prison. He has been detained not for the purposes of treatment nor rehabilitation but for the purposes of awaiting execution. He has faced unprecedented mental anguish. Changes to the law in 2012 gave him a glimmer of hope but this was again snatched away from him. To our knowledge, Chijioke’s case is possibly the longest delay of an execution in Singapore’s history till today.

 

In Pratt and Morgan v Attorney-General for Jamaica, the Privy Council held that the delay of 5 years and 6 months which had elapsed since an accused’s conviction amounted to cruel and unusual punishment and breached his constitutional right not to be deprived of life.

 

 

A Door towards Hope

 

Arguments showing any prolonged delay in the execution of an accused could becapable of being a violation of human rights, as inhuman and as degrading. A plethora of international human rights instruments prohibit tortureor cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This prohibition is also found in numerous domestic constitutions.Studies on death row inmates reveal that delays and uncertainties cause depression, loss of the sense of reality, personality distortions, physical and mental deterioration. Judges in several American and Indian decisions have decided that though the death penalty itself may not be cruel per se, lingering delays in solitude with the knowledge of impending extinction that amounts to cruelty.

 

There was opportunity for Singapore to address the question of delay in death row in 1995. In Jabar v Public Prosecutorthe accused had been languishing in jail for over 5 years awaiting execution. His lawyers placed reliance on Indian cases andthe Jamaican case of Pratt and Morgan, however, the Court of Appeal found “dubious” reasons to distinguish those cases and the one before them.

 

The Court in Jabar’s case concluded that the situation in Singapore was markedly different because the death penalty was mandatory here unlike India. In contrast to the position held during Jabar’s case, Singapore’s mandatory death penalty regime had seen changes in 2012 to give discretion to judges in certain circumstances especially drug trafficking cases.Also, the Court in Jabar overlooked the fact that the unambiguous finding by the Indian Supreme Court was that supervening events might render a lawfully and justifiably imposed death sentence unlawful.

 

We argue that the fact that the sentence is mandatory does not detract from the mental anguish and torment he had to endure as a result of the delay.At this stage, we are not challenging the judicial death penalty sentence itself, but rather to its execution after such an inordinate delay.We place little emphasis on the duration of the delay itself as thismay cause unnecessary controversy in semantics in what is deemed as “unreasonable delay”. It should also not matter also whether it was the accused himself who caused the delay as it would be acceptable for him to take every step conceivable to turn his ill fate around.As a way forward, we wish to emphasise on the actual effects or consequences of the delay in depriving his life and personal liberty.

 

The Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign and several other local and international human rights groups are working tirelessly to campaign on behalf of Chijioke to halt the execution.The impending execution of Chijioke is clearly unlawful under international law and arguably under Singapore law. We are looking to work closely with our Nigerian counterparts and international community to make a difference.

 

We call upon the Singapore Government to reconsider its decision and commute the death sentence imposed on Chijioke.

 

 

  1. Ravi,

Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

 

 

 

Pakistan Supreme Court rules schizophrenia ‘not a mental disorder’ allowing mentally ill man to be executed

Pakistan Supreme Court rules schizophrenia ‘not a mental disorder’ allowing mentally ill man to be executed

Judges say hanging Imdad Ali is legal because condition is ‘a recoverable disease’

Lizzie Dearden
@lizziedearden
Thursday 20 October 2016

8K
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Activists from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) carry placards during a demonstration to mark International Day Against the Death Penalty in Islamabad on October 10, 2015 AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan’s highest court has ruled that schizophrenia does not qualify as a “mental disorder” under the country’s legal definition, paving the way for a mentally ill man’s execution.

The United Nations warned it would be against international law to hang Imdad Ali, who was sentenced to death over the murder of a religious scholar in 2002.

In 2012, the 50-year-old was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and psychosis that doctors said impaired Mr Ali’s “rational thinking and decision-making capabilities”, and was declared clinically insane in a medical report the following year.

But he lost his final appeal last year and has since had his execution stayed by a last-minute appeal lodged by his wife at the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, judges ruled that the execution can go ahead, after finding that Mr Ali’s schizophrenia is not a permanent condition and varies according to the “level of stress”.

Reprieve, a UK-based legal charity, said the court claimed that “it is, therefore, a recoverable disease, which, in all the cases, does not fall within the definition of ‘mental disorder’ as defined in the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001”.

The decision Mr Ali could be executed as early as 26 October, despite a medical assessment in September concluding his illness appeared to be “treatment resistant”.

Previously, the same court said a large proportion of prisoners in Pakistan suffer from mental illness and that authorities “cannot let everyone go”.

Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said: “It is outrageous for Pakistan’s Supreme Court to claim that schizophrenia is not a mental illness, and flies in the face of accepted medical knowledge, including Pakistan’s own mental health laws.

“It is terrifying to think that a mentally ill man like Imdad Ali could now hang because judges are pretending that schizophrenia is not a serious condition.

“Pakistan’s President needs to urgently intervene to stop this sickening attempt to hang Imdad.”

The UN’s human rights office has called on the government to halt Mr Ali’s execution and to launch a re-trial “in compliance with international standards”.

“It is a violation of death penalty safeguards to impose capital punishment on individuals with a psychosocial disability,” said a panel of experts from the Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR).

“The courts have disregarded medical reports asserting that the defendant has a psychosocial disability and have not conducted an independent evaluation of his mental health status.

“Implementing the death penalty under these conditions is unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution, as well as a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.”

The body said Mr Ali was referred for mental health treatment a year before the alleged murder but that the illness was not mentioned in the court ruling sentencing him to death.

In September, the first secretary of Pakistan’s permanent mission to the UN said the government was examining the country’s penal code to determine whether the death penalty could be “narrowed” amid criticism over Mr Ali’s case.

More than 400 people have been executed since the government lifted a four-year moratorium on the death penalty in 2014, following the Taliban’s massacre at a school in Peshawar.

Capital punishment was initially only restored for terror offences but later reinstated for kidnapping, murder, blasphemy and other capital crimes, leaving more than 8,000 prisoners on death row. – Independent, 20/10/2016