INDIA – By Executive Order, Not Parliament, India introduces death penalty for rape of girls below 12…

India has  sadly just introduced the death penalty for rape of a minor. This was not done after Parliament debates and approves a law – but rather by way of an Executive Order, which was approved by Cabinet on Saturday(21/4/2018), and subsequently by the President…This is also Election year, and the new ordinance/order also is gender biased…

 

With regard to rape or gang rape of a girl below the age of 12, the cabinet said the accused would be sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment, imprisonment for life or death.

Death penalty for rape of minors: President approves ordinance

TNN | Apr 23, 2018, 04:05 IST

 NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday approved the ordinance to strengthen the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

In the wake of an increase in incidents of rape of minors, the cabinet had on Saturday approved a number of measures to amend the POCSO Act.The ordinance seeks death penalty for rapists of girls below 12 years of age and stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape particularly of girls below 16 years.
The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 to 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment.

The punishment for gang rape of a girl under 16 years will be imprisonment for the rest of the life of the convict.With regard to rape or gang rape of a girl below the age of 12, the cabinet said the accused would be sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment, imprisonment for life or death.The cabinet also decided to put in place several measures for speedy probe and trial of rape cases. It has also provided for a six month time limit for disposal of appeals in rape cases.- Times of India, 23/4/2018

India’s death penalty for rapists of young girls could push them to kill

With the majority of rapes committed by someone known to the victim, the new law could drive offenders to murder to avoid detection

A man walks past a graffiti depicting a message in protest against rape, in Jammu, on 22 April
A man walks past graffiti protesting against rape, in Jammu. Reporting the crime in India’s patriarchal family structure is often fraught with victim shaming and further alienation. Photograph: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters

On Saturday India’s government approved the death penalty for convicted rapists of girls under the age of 12, amid a groundswell of public outrage following the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Jammu and Kashmir state.

The shocking case involved a girl from the Bakarwal nomadic tribe, who was out grazing her horses when she was abducted, drugged and murdered after a week of torture and repeated rape. It led to a nationwide outcry for swifter justice.

However, the hastily issued executive order is facing criticism from activists and politicians, who say the death penalty, usually meted out for severe crimes in India, will not be a deterrent to child rapists without an overhaul of the criminal justice system.

“I am afraid this [executive order] has very little credibility because what is required is certainty of punishment,” the leader of Communist Party of India (Marxist), Brinda Karat, told reporters.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau data from 2016, in 94.6% of cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim – usually a brother, father or someone from the family’s social circle. Reporting rape in India’s patriarchal family structure is often fraught with victim shaming and further alienation.

Child rights activists fear the introduction of the death penalty will make families more likely to cover up sexual crimes, and that rapists might kill their victims to avoid detection.

Critics are also concerned that the order, which was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet on Saturday, makes no mention of boys. In a country where male children often grow up in an atmosphere that discourages them from showing vulnerability, experts say such a discriminatory legal provision will fail boys who have been sexually assaulted.

Unlike the current Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso) 2012, which is gender-neutral and defines any person under 18 as a child, the new ordinance will stop boys who have been sexually abused from seeking the same justice accorded to a girl of their age, says gay rights activist Harish Iyer.

“I principally stand against the death penalty. This discriminatory legislation implies what boys are taught growing up – that they have to be the protector and not the protected. Children are vulnerable to sexual assault, irrespective of gender,” Iyer said.

A nationwide survey of crimes against children conducted by the ministry of women and child development in 2007 found that half of India’s children had been sexually abused.

Iyer said the new executive order was a shortcut for an overhaul of a criminal justice system that often discriminates against the poor. “This is sexism of a different nature, it favours one gender. What about protection of intersex children? Unless the crime is female foeticide, which is specifically gender-oriented, this is a shortcut for real measures.”

A man beats an effigy of one of the rapists at a protest against three rapes of girls, in Ahmedabad, India.
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A man beats an effigy of one of the rapists at a protest against three rapes of girls, in Ahmedabad, India. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

He said the government should prioritise fast-track courts, child-friendly police stations, and a national registry of sex offenders. The new law proposes stricter punishment for convicted rapists of children under 16 years of age. Its definition of the victims and proposed age limit has triggered a debate about categorising victims of the same crime.

“What’s the explanation for death penalty for ‘gang rape of children below 12 years’? The state is a man. Why else would the reproductive age of a girl be the determining factor for the kind of punishment meted out to the rapists?” journalist Kota Neelima wrote in a Facebook post.

In 2016 India recorded an alarmingly low conviction rate (18.9%) for crimes against women. In that year, of all the child rape cases that came before the courts under the Pocso, less than 3% ended in convictions.

An issue of such a grave nature should have had a public discourse with participation from civil society stakeholders. By its nature, an executive order can be announced by the president of India on recommendation from the federal cabinet and does not require consultation.

After the gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi in 2012, India introduced tougher rape laws and launched fast-track courts, but the measures have not deterred violent sexual crimes.

In addition, homelessness and poverty increase the vulnerability of children to sexual predators as parents have to leave them on their own to go to work, making them easy targets.

In an election year, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to be seen as proactive in taking strong steps to make India safer for women. However, it is implementation, the real challenge in India, that will determine its true intention.- The Guardian, 24/4/2018

Malaysia – Delay in Coming Into Force Law That Abolishes Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking results in 10 unnessarily sentenced to death

Another 3 sentenced to death since MADPET’s last statement –

Lorry attendant to hang for drug trafficking two years ago- Malay Mail Online, 9/2/2018
2 friends to hang for trafficking drugs. – The Malaysian Insight, 8/2/2018

 

MADPET – Malaysian Gopi Kumar is 6th victims of Minister’s Delay bringing into force law that abolishes mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking

Media Statement –25/1/2018

Malaysian Gopi Kumar is 6th victims of Minister’s Delay bringing into force law that abolishes mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking

MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) notes that despite the fact that the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 receiving royal assent on 27/12/2017, that effectively abolishes the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, the failure of the Minister to do the needful to bring the law into force has resulted in Malaysian judges still having no choice but to sentence convicted drug traffickers to death.

‘…”Since there is only one sentence provided for under Section 39B of the Act, the court hereby sentences all the accused to death,” he [Judge Datuk Ghazali Cha] said….’(The Sun Daily,22/1/2018). Until the new Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force, Judges continues to have no discretion but to sentence those convicted to death.

The most recent victim was Malaysian lorry driver S. Gopi Kumar, 33, who was sentenced to death(The Sun Daily, 24/1/2018). Earlier, on 17/1/2018, it was reported that 5 others, Malaysian A. Sargunan, 42, and four Indian nationals(Sumesh Sudhakaran, Alex Aby Jacob Alexander, Renjith Raveendran and Sajith Sadanandan ) were convicted and sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court on Wednesday (Jan 17) for drug trafficking under Section 39B (1)(a) Dangerous Drugs Act 1952(Star, 17/1/2018). As not all cases get reported by the media, there may be many others that have been sentenced to death, who may not have been if not for this Ministerial delay.

A perusal of the Malaysian official e-Federal Gazette website on 25/1/2018, shows that the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017, that received royal assent on 27/12/2017, has still not come into force. In comparison, other laws that received royal assent on the same day like the Income Tax(Amendment) Act 2017, came into force on 30/12/2017. Even some laws that received royal assent later on 29/12/2018, like the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (Amendment) Act 2018 has already come into force since 11/1/2018.

When the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force, it will finally abolish mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking that have existed since 1983. Judges, will thereafter, have the discretion to impose a sentence for drug trafficking other than the death penalty, being life imprisonment with whipping of not less than 15 strokes, for the offence of drug trafficking.

Section 3(2) of Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 states, ‘ (2) Any proceedings against any person who has been charged, whether or not trial has commenced or has been completed, and has not been convicted under section 39b of the principal Act by a competent Court before the appointed date, shall on the appointed date be dealt with by the competent Court and be continued under the provisions of the principal Act as amended by this Act.’

This means that any person even already on trial for drug trafficking(section 39B), so long as they have yet to be convicted, can still enjoy the benefits of Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017. But, until the Minister do the needful, to ensure this law comes into force, judges will continue to have no discretion but to impose the mandatory death penalty on those convicted before the new law applies.

The new law, sadly, do not provide any remedy to those already convicted and/or for the 800 or more currently on death row by reason of having been convicted for drug trafficking.

Hence, as of today, Malaysian Gopi Kumar and possibly 5 or more that have already been convicted by the High Court before the new law come into force, are victims of a great injustice and may be hanged to death.

As it stands now, under even the new law, after conviction and being sentenced to death by the High Court, the Appellate Courts also will not have the capacity to change the death sentence to imprisonment, unless they choose to acquit them of drug trafficking, or possibly elect to convict for for a lesser offence that does not carry the mandatory death penalty.

In light of the adequacies of the new upcoming drug law, Malaysia must really table another new law that will result in the commuting of sentence of all those currently on death row by reason of being convicted of the offence of drug trafficking, and even other offences that carries the mandatory death penalty. This will be just for 2 Malaysians and 4 foreigners sentenced in 2018.

This new law could be tabled in the up-coming Parliamentary session this March 2018. This is the most reasonable approach, considering that there are more than 800 on death row, and judicial review of the sentence of so many may really be a difficult or near impossible task.

It must also be reminded, that Malaysia was looking at abolishing the death penalty, especially the mandatory death penalty. While the new Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 will do away with the mandatory death penalty for just one offence – drug trafficking, mandatory death penalty still exist for murder and so many other offences, some of which are offences that do not result in any grievous injury and/or death to victims.

As such, Malaysia need to speedily table new laws, which will at the very least abolish the mandatory death penalty – returning discretion to judges to mete out appropriate just sentences based on the facts and circumstances of each and every case.

In the meantime, while Malaysia works towards abolition, there must justly be a moratorium on executions.

MADPET reiterates its call on the Minister to do the needful to ensure that Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force immediately without any further delay;

MADPET also calls for all trials of persons charged under section 39B(drug trafficking) be stayed, or where trial is almost over, that courts do not proceed to convict until after Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force. This will prevent any further injustice on any other person, as had embarrassingly happened to Gopi Kumar and 5 or more, who have in 2018 sentenced to death just because of the delay of the law that abolishes mandatory death penalty coming into force;

MADPET reiterates the call for Malaysia to speedily abolish all other remaining mandatory death penalty offences, other than drug trafficking, and returning sentencing discretion to judges; and

MADPET also reiterated the call for a moratorium on all executions, pending the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia.

Charles Hector

For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

Note:-

The Official E-Federal Gazette Website

http://www.federalgazette.agc.gov.my/eng_main/main_akta.php?jenis_akta=Pindaan

Refer also the earlier MADPET Statement related to this issue dated 19/1/2018. – Minister’s Delay Resulted in Judge Having No Choice but to Sentence A. Sargunan and 4 others to Death

Lorry driver to hang for trafficking over 45kg of drugs

Posted on 24 January 2018 – 11:23pm
Last updated on 25 January 2018 – 10:57am

 

Picture for representational purpose only. — AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: A lorry driver was sent to the gallows by the High Court here today after being found guilty of two counts of trafficking over 45 kg of drugs, two years ago.

Judicial Commissioner Datuk Mohamad Shariff Abu Samah meted out the sentence against S. Gopi Kumar, 33, after finding that the prosecution had succeeded in raising reasonable doubt at the end of the defence’s case.

Mohamad Shariff said the court found that the accused had control, possession and knowledge of the drugs found in his Proton Perdana car and at his rented house, which he moved into in 2015.

“I do not believe the excuses given by the accused that he did not know about the drugs found in the car and at the house on grounds that they (car and house) were accessible to the public,” he said.

Gopi Kumar committed the offence in his car at Jalan 10/18A, Taman Mastiara, Batu 5, Jalan Ipoh, Sentul here at 12.45am on June 22, 2016, and at his home on Jalan 15/18A in the same area at 1.45am on the same date.

For that, he was charged under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries a mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

The court also sentenced the man to four years’ jail and five strokes of the cane for another charge of being in possession of 16.2 gm of methamphetamine in the same house at the same time and date.

He was ordered to serve the jail sentence from the date of his arrest on June 22, 2016.

A total of 11 prosecution witnesses and one defence witness – the accused himself, were called to testify in the trial which began on June 14, 2017.

DPP Ahmad Nazneed Zulkifli prosecuted, while Gopi Kumar was represented by counsel New Sin Yew. — Bernama – The Sun Daily, 24/1/2018

Malaysian, four Indian nationals to hang for drug trafficking

Posted on 22 January 2018 – 05:21pm
Last updated on 22 January 2018 – 05:35pm

 

Picture for representational purpose only. — AFP

SHAH ALAM: A local man and four Indian nationals were sent to the gallows by the High Court here on Jan 17 after being found guilty on two counts of trafficking 5.8kg of drugs at a house which doubled as a drug processing laboratory five years ago.

Judge Datuk Ghazali Cha handed down the sentence to A. Sargunan, 42, and four Indian nationals, namely Sumesh Sudhakaran, 30, Alex Aby Jacob Alexander, 37, Renjith Raveendran, 28, and Sajith Sadanandan, 29, after finding that the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubts against the prosecution’s case.

A total of 13 prosecution witnesses and nine defence witnesses were called to testify in the trial which began on March 1, 2016.

All the men were convicted of trafficking in methamphetamine weighing 4.3kg and ketamine weighing 1.5kg at the house in Jalan Sungai Lalang, Semenyih, at around 9am on July 26, 2013.

They were charged under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries a mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

In his judgment, judge Ghazali said after hearing the argument from both sides, he found that there was an undisputed fact in the case, namely all the accused were at the scene when arrested.

In addition, he said another undisputed fact was that the premises was indeed used for processing drugs as the methamphetamine was found exposed on the table and the ketamine, under the staircase.

“Based on the evidence, the court also found that all DNA profiles taken at the scene had been linked to all the accused, such as towels, gloves and toothbrushes. which have been proven by the chemist.

“Apart from that, it also cannot be disputed that the premises was always locked and the doors shut tightly with all the accused working only at midnight and early mornings.

“Although the accused said that they were at the premises for cleaning work and had other work shifts, it was supported by other evidence,” he said.

On Sargunan’s defence that he worked as a taxi driver and happened to be at the scene, the judge found his testimony to be a mere fabrication as the man’s DNA profile was found on towels and shirts found at the premises.

He also said that the evidence of all the four Indian nationals were unreliable as it contradicted their previous recorded statements.

“It is impossible that they do not know the house is a drug processing lab. They all had access to the items in the premises including the drugs.

“Since there is only one sentence provided for under Section 39B of the Act, the court hereby sentences all the accused to death,” he said.

The prosecution was conducted by deputy public prosecutor Deepa Nair Thevaharan while Sargunan was represented by lawyers Datuk N. Sivananthan and Low Huey Theng.

The four Indian nationals were represented by counsel Jayarubbiny Jayaraj. — Bernama – The Sun Daily, 22/1/2018

The Malaysian E-Federal Gazette Website as seen today

Thu , 25 January 2018

Amending Act

Showing page 1 of 12

No. Publication Date Act No. Title Date of Royal Assent Date of Commencement Download
1 10-01-2018 A1563 ARBITRATION (AMENDMENT) ACT 2018 29-12-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
2 10-01-2018 A1562 TOURISM INDUSTRY (AMENDMENT) ACT 2018 29-12-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
3 10-01-2018 A1561 MALAYSIAN MARITIME ENFORCEMENT AGENCY (AMENDMENT) ACT 2018 29-12-2017 11-1-2018
4 10-01-2018 A1560 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CORPORATION OF MALAYSIA (AMENDMENT) ACT 2018 29-12-2017 11-1-2018
5 10-01-2018 A1559 MALAYSIAN AVIATION COMMISSION (AMENDMENT) ACT 2018 29-12-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
6 29-12-2017 A1558 DANGEROUS DRUG (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 27-12-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
7 29-12-2017 A1557 SUPPLY ACT 2018 27-12-2017 30-12-2017
8 29-12-2017 A1556 INCOME TAX (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 27-12-2017 30-12-2017
9 29-12-2017 A1555 LABUAN BUSINESS ACTIVITY TAX (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) ACT 2017 27-12-2017 30-12-2017
10 30-11-2017 A1554 PRIVATE EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 10-11-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE

Israel approves preliminary death penalty bill for ‘terrorists’..

Israel approves preliminary death penalty bill for ‘terrorists’ with Netanyahu’s blessing

Israel approves preliminary death penalty bill for 'terrorists' with Netanyahu's blessing
Despite massive opposition from Israeli lawmakers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was influential in the Knesset’s decision to support a bill that would allow both military and civil courts to sentence terrorists to death.

In a narrow 52-49 vote, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, approved the first draft of a bill which could make it easier for terrorists to be handed the death penalty. Current military law allows a person to be sentenced to death for an act of terrorism, but only if such a sentence has the unanimous support of all three sitting judges.

The new draft legislation seeks to amend the current order, and wants it replaced by a simple majority decision of the judges. The bill, sponsored by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, also aspires to expand the potential use of death penalty beyond the military courts, seeking its application in Israeli civil courts. Israel has carried out only two executions in its modern history.

The current proposed regulations does not single out any religion or ethnicity, and if adopted, would apply to both Jewish and Palestinian terrorists. The Israeli definition of “terrorism” however, is rather broad and includes, for instance, knife attacks on military personnel, which are often committed by teenagers. In August 2016, Israeli lawmakers approved the so-called Youth Bill, legalizing the imprisonment of Palestinian minors as young as 12, should they be are suspected of grave crimes, such as acts of terrorism against the state of Israel. While the draft law still has to pass through three more readings, the age of the “terrorists” has not yet been discussed.

Fierce debates Wednesday, however, raged around the ethical application of the death penalty and its compatibility with Judaism. While Judaism allows for capital punishment, Talmudic law as followed by ultra-Orthodox members of the Jewish community argues that the death penalty ceased with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Following their religious conviction, members of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party walked out before the vote to consult with rabbis on the issue.

Netanyahu voiced support for the bill, despite the fact that previous Israeli governments, including those headed by him, have rejected all prior death penalty initiatives. “There are extreme cases, where people commit terrible crimes and don’t deserve to live,” the PM argued. “We’re changing the law for these situations.”

Netanyahu’s stance was supported by MK Yisrael Beytenu who proposed the bill. He said, “When terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons end up going free [in prisoner exchanges], I think the most moral thing is for [terrorists] to get the death penalty.”

Others, however, voiced strong opposition to the proposed capital punishment legislation. “The death penalty will not contribute anything to the war on terrorism,” said MK Eyal Ben-Reuven. “The opposite is true. Instead of deterring, it will strengthen the terrorists, who will turn into shaheeds [Arabic for martyr]. Israel has proven abilities to deal with terrorism without giving up on the strength in our values and without using our enemies’ methods.”

Opposition lawmaker Tzipi Livni called the bill “reckless, 100 percent politics,” adding, that “The defense establishment opposes the death penalty.” Just prior to the vote, the head of Israel’s internal security service (Shin Bet) Nadav Argaman also voiced strong opposition, noting that the “terrorist death penalty law will lead to wave of kidnappings” of Jews around the world to force Israelis to release convicted Palestinian prisoners before they are executed.

Wednesday’s vote was already slammed by the European Union’s ambassador to Israel. “The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity. It constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment, does not have any proven deterrent effect and allows judicial errors to become irreversible & fatal,” the EU mission said on Twitter.

In August, a poll published by the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute found that 70 percent of Israeli Jews “strongly” or “moderately” supported the death penalty.  – RT News, 4/1/2018

Israel’s new death penalty bill ‘targets Palestinians’

by

The proposed law is backed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [Tsafrir Abayov/Reuters]
The proposed law is backed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [Tsafrir Abayov/Reuters]

The Israeli government‘s proposal to make it easier for judges to hand out the death penalty for “terrorist activity” has been condemned as “fascist” by Palestinian politicians and rights groups, who fear it will give Israel legal cover to target Palestinians.

A bill to amend existing legislation regulating the use of the death sentence passed its preliminary reading in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, on Wednesday with backing from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

Aida Touma-Suleiman, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Knesset, told Al Jazeera on Friday that while the bill does not specify any group, it is “intended mainly for the Palestinian people”.

“It’s not going to be implemented against Jews who are committing terrorist attacks against Palestinians for sure,” she said, describing the bill’s authors as “extreme right”.

“This is a fascist bill, contributing to an atmosphere of fascism inside Israeli society, which is directed towards Palestinians.”

Under existing laws, Israel’s civilian courts reserve the use of the death penalty for Nazis and Nazi collaborators convicted of committing murder during the Holocaust, while military courts can hand out the sentence if a panel of three judges unanimously agrees to issue the punishment.

The proposed changes will add an additional clause to Israel’s penal law, allowing the death penalty to be used against those convicted of “terrorist activity”, which is defined by the bill as “a deliberate attempt to murder civilians in order to achieve political, national, religious or ideological objectives.”

It will remove the requirement for military court panels to unanimously agree on issuing the punishment, instead requiring a simple majority of two of the three judges.

When asked by Palestinian Knesset member Ahmad Tibi on Wednesday about whether the law would apply to Jews who carry out attacks, such as “those who burned the children in Duma”, Netanyahu replied: “In principle, yes.”

Tibi’s reference was to a 2015 arson attack carried out by a Jewish settler in the occupied West Bank village of Duma, which left three Palestinians, including a one-year-old baby, dead and another child seriously wounded.

Dawoud Yusef of the Palestinian rights group Addameer, which advocates for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, cast doubt on Netanyahu’s assertion that the move would also apply to Jews.

“What we’ve seen in the past is that Avigdor Lieberman has been pushing for this as part of his agreement to join Netanyahu’s coalition,” Yusef said, referencing Netanyahu’s defence minister and hard-right coalition partner.

“He’s come out and said that this will only apply to Arabs. When he says Arabs, we assume he means Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”

‘Biased judicial system’

Lieberman, whose party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) put forward the bill, has in the past advocated the use of the death penalty against “Arab terror”, and in a Facebook post about the bill on Wednesday, the minister declared: “Jewish blood is not cheap.”

Yusef said if the bill ends up passing, it would represent a “slippery slope”.

“We really see this as a pandering to the extreme elements in the Israeli government and we’re not sure in the current climate, where that’s going to end.”

Given Israel’s position as occupying power, its biased judicial system against Palestinians, and precedence over the years, such a bill can only be read to target Palestinians who Israel characterises as terrorists, a term whose definition in Israel is so broad and encompassing.

Maha Abdullah, Legal Researcher at Al Haq

Maha Abdullah of the Palestinian human rights organisation, Al Haq, told Al Jazeera it would further compound Israel’s hold over the occupied territories.

“It should be noted that most Palestinian political detainees are tried by Israeli military courts,” she said.

“Given Israel’s position as occupying power, its biased judicial system against Palestinians, and precedence over the years, such a bill can only be read to target Palestinians who Israel characterises as terrorists, a term whose definition in Israel is so broad and encompassing.”

While Israel has a long history of carrying out targeted assassinations of its opponents, judicial executions are very rare.

In 1948, the Israeli army court-martialed and executed Meir Tobianski after accusations that he had passed on intelligence to the Jordanian army, but the officer was later posthumously exonerated of the charges.

In 1962, the state executed the former SS commander Adolf Eichmann for his part in the Holocaust. SOURCE: Al Jazeera News, 5/1/2018

January 3, 2018 / 11:07 PM / 9 days ago

Israeli death penalty advocates win preliminary vote in parliament

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s parliament gave preliminary approval on Wednesday for legislation that would make it easier for a court to impose a death sentence on assailants convicted of murder in attacks classified as terrorism.

FILE PHOTO: Israeli lawmakers attend a vote on a bill at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

Israeli military courts – which handle cases involving Palestinians in the occupied West Bank – already have the power to issue the death sentence, although this has never been implemented. The only case of an execution in Israel was carried out against convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962.

The amendment to the penal code would still require three more readings if it is to become law. Currently, a death penalty can only be imposed if a panel of three military judges passes sentence unanimously. If the amendment is adopted, a majority verdict would suffice.

Wednesday’s motion was brought by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ultra-nationalist in the conservative coalition government, who advocates tough action against Palestinian militants. Fifty-two of parliament’s 120 members voted in favor, and 49 were opposed.

Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club which represents Palestinians jailed in Israel, denounced the vote as ”an expression of the state of blindness and confusion in the policies of this fascist regime (where) extremist parties race to pass racist laws.

“While the world moves toward repealing the death penalty, Israel is working to ratify this law, which is directed against the Palestinians,” Fares told Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted for the motion but said that such legislation required deeper discussion and that the matter would now be considered at ministerial level before further debate in the Knesset.

In remarks to lawmakers, he said: “I think that in extreme cases, when somebody slaughters and laughs (as he kills), he should not spend the rest of his time in jail and should be executed.”

Asked by an Israeli Arab lawmaker whether he would also apply this reasoning to Jewish militants convicted of killing Palestinians, Netanyahu said: “In principle, yes.”

The successful vote was the latest in a number of motions brought by right-wing coalition members who feel able to pressure Netanyahu’s brittle government into enacting hard-line legislation. – Reuters, 3/1/2018