ADPAN – Pakistan:- NO EXECUTIONS BASED ON MILITARY COURT’S DECISION WITHOUT BEING ACCORDED THE RIGHT TO APPEAL

ADPAN

Media Statement – 22/9/2017

NO EXECUTIONS BASED ON MILITARY COURT’S DECISION WITHOUT BEING ACCORDED THE RIGHT TO APPEAL

Abolish the Death Penalty, And  Re-Introduce the Moratorium on Execution Pending Abolition

ADPAN is appalled reports that another 4 persons, tried by Pakistan’s military courts, may be executed soon after their death sentence was confirmed by the Chief of Army. This Military Court, which came into being in January 2015, for the purpose of speedily trying persons accused of committing terrorist offences, falls short of international fair trial standards and requirements, including the denial of the right to appeal.

Decisions of these military courts, unlike normal criminal courts in Pakistan, are not subject to appeals to the High Court and/or the Supreme Court.

This denial of the right to appeal means appellate courts will not have the  opportunity of  analysing  the  evidence  produced  before  the military court  or  dwelling  into the “merits” of the case.  This reasonably will increase the possibility of miscarriage of justice, and hence the likelihood of a person not deserving the death penalty (or even an innocent person) to be wrongfully deprived of his/her life.

The Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa confirmed on Wednesday(20/9/2017)  the death sentences awarded to four alleged ‘ terrorists’. This ‘confirmation’ is really an execution order, and this four persons could thereafter be executed at any time. (Geo News, 20/9/2017; Sify.com 20/9/2017; Dawn 20/9/2017; Pakistan News Service – PakTribune 21/9/2017 ).

Shabbir Ahmed,  Umara Khan,  Tahir Ali and Aftabud Din, according to a government statement, vide the Inter Services Public Relations, stated that these 4 persons  were ‘involved in killing of 21 persons and injuring another person’ and also that ‘…arms and explosives were also recovered from their possession…’. It also stated that they were tried by military courts that then sentenced them to death.

Earlier this month, on 8/9/2017, it was also reported that Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa  had confirmed the death sentence of four other persons, being Raiz Ahmed, Hafeez ur Rehman, Muhammad Saleem and Kifayatullah. (Daily Pakistan, 8/9/2017). These persons were said to have caused the death of 16 persons, and that arms were recovered in their possession. It was also disclosed that 23 others were also awarded imprisonment of various durations by the military courts.

Pakistan had a moratorium on executions for about 8 years, until the end of 2014, when it was lifted for terrorist linked offences, and thereafter for other capital offences. Since then, about 471 persons have been executed for various crimes.

After the December 2014 terrorist attack at the Army Public School in Peshawar, the Pakistan government set up this military court for speedy trial of detained terrorists. The military courts (Field General Court Martial – FGCM) came into being in January 2015, by virtue of Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2015 commonly known as the 21st Constitution Amendment.  This legislation had a sunset clause, and would have expired on Jan 7, 2017.

However, in March 2017, President Mamnoon Hussain signed the 23rd Amendment Bill 2017, which has now become an Act of Parliament, that had the effect of extending duration of the military courts for another two years, starting from January 7, 2017.

Article 10 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that, ‘Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.’ The trying and sentencing of a person/s allegedly committing a certain kind of offence before a special ‘court’, different from the  court having the jurisdiction to try criminal cases in Pakistan may also be considered discriminatory,

Article 14(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Pakistan ratified in 2010, states   clearly that, ‘ Everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law.’

The current unavailability of the right of appeal to higher courts on convictions and/or sentences of these military courts is clearly is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and a denial of the right to a fair trial.

ADPAN calls on Pakistan not to proceed with the executions of persons convicted and sentenced to death by the military courts, until they have been accorded the right to a fair trial including the right to have the conviction and sentence reviewed by a higher tribunal, which would reasonably be the High Court and thereafter the Supreme Court of Pakistan;

ADPAN calls for the repeal of the Constitution Amendment/s and the law that created these military courts;

ADPAN calls for all persons charged with a crime in Pakistan be tried by the already existing criminal courts of Pakistan, and shall be accorded a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;

ADPAN calls on Pakistan to immediately re-impose a moratorium on execution, pending abolition of the death penalty.

 

Charles Hector
For and on behalf of ADPAN (Anti Death Penalty Asia Network)

ADPAN – STOP HARASSMENT OF KIRSTEN HAN, ANTI-DEATH PENALTY ADVOCATE AND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

ADPAN

 

Media Statement – 5/9/2017

STOP HARASSMENT OF KIRSTEN HAN, ANTI-DEATH PENALTY ADVOCATE AND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

ADPAN(Anti Death Penalty Asia Network) is perturbed by the fact that Singapore is now investigating Human Rights Defender and Anti-Death Penalty activist, Kirsten Han, allegedly for illegal assembly, in connection with a candle light vigil hours  before Malaysian Prabagaran Srivijayan was executed at 6.00 am on 14 July 2017.

On 3/9/2017, more than 7 weeks later, 2 police officers showed up at her house and handed her a letter saying that they were investigating an offence of “taking part in a public assembly without a permit”. (FMT News, 5/9/2017). It must be noted that the police were present during the said vigil outside Changi Prison, which was attended by anti-death penalty advocates and family members, and it was allowed to proceed on condition that no candles were lighted.

As such, one could ask whether this current action by Singapore is an harassment of a Human Rights Defender and Anti-Death Penalty advocate.

Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assemble is a universally recognized fundamental human right, as stated also in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The impositions of requirements like permit applications and the need to give prior notice of several days to the authorities, effectively undermines the right to Peaceful Assembly and protest, which at most times needs to carried out speedily to be effective and/or relevant.

In the case of Prabagaran, on 13/7/2017,  there was a hearing of an application at the Singapore Court of Appeal for a stay of execution until an application before the Malaysian courts for a referral of the case to the International Court of Justice(ICJ) was heard and finally disposed off, which reasonably should have been granted. The Singapore Court of Appeal, heard and dismissed the application in the late evening, and decided that the execution proceed as scheduled at dawn on 14/7/2017. No appeal against this decision was practicable in the few hours overnight.

In these circumstances, where a life was in the balance, it is alarming to suggest that the peaceful assembly attended by respectful persons, under the watch of the police, hours before Prabagaran was hanged, was ‘illegal’ because no permit was obtained.

It is absurd, to even suggest that the peaceful assembly and protest attended by persons, hours before Prabagaran was hanged, was ‘illegal’ because no permit was obtained.

It must also be pointed out that 29 year old Prabagaran who was sentenced to death for the offence of drug trafficking allegedly committed in April 2012, maintained his innocence until the very end.

In Malaysia, on or about 20/7/2017, the authorities prevented the entry of Adilur Rahman Khan from Bangladesh, a current Executive Committee member of ADPAN, from attending and participating in the ADPAN General Assembly and Malaysian National Conference on ‘Abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia and in Asia-Pacific’ that was happening in Kuala Lumpur on 20-22 July. According to Adilur, no reasons nave been given by the Malaysian authorities for the denial of entry to date. Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) is currently investigating the matter, and we hope to hear their findings soon.

ADPAN is appalled by this growing trend of harassment and violation of human rights of Human Rights Defenders and anti-death penalty activists in the ASEAN region.

ADPAN calls for immediate discontinuation of this investigation against Kirsten Han, an anti-death penalty advocate and Human Rights Defender.

ADPAN calls for the removal of all hurdles and restriction that prevent the exercise of one’s fundamental right of peaceful assembly and protest.

ADPAN also reiterates its call for the abolition of the death penalty, and the imposition of a moratorium on execution pending abolition.

 

Charles Hector

Sarmad Ali

For and on behalf of ADPAN

 

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) is a regional network of organization and individual members committed to working for the abolition of the death penalty in Asia-Pacific.

 

 

 

Singapore – Anti-Death Penalty Activist, Kirsten Han summoned over Singapore vigil for Prabagaran

Human Rights Defender and Anti-Death Penalty Advocate Kirsten Han being investigated for ‘illegal assembly’ about 7 weeks after ‘candle light vigil’ outside Changi Prison for Prabagaran Srivijiyan hours before he was hanged on 14/7/2017. Harassment?

Kirsten-Han

Activist summoned over Singapore vigil for Prabagaran

FMT Reporters

| September 5, 2017

 

Kirsten Han says she has been told to present herself for questioning after she attended a candlelight vigil for Prabagaran outside Changi Prison the night before he was executed.

PETALING JAYA: An activist and freelance journalist has been summoned over her participation in a candlelight vigil in Singapore for Malaysian S Prabagaran, who was hanged in the city state about two months ago.

Kirsten Han had attended the vigil outside Changi Prison on July 13, the night before Prabagaran was hanged.

In a Facebook post yesterday, she said the small group had put up photos of the 29-year-old and lit tea lights. About 15 minutes later, however, police officers arrived on the scene and told them they were not allowed to light candles or put up photos, and that the objects would have to be confiscated.

“We complied – we blew out the candles and handed them over (after a little while, because they were hot).

“We were then told that we could stay outside the prison as long as we didn’t light candles or set up any more photos,” she said.

On Sept 3, however, two police officers showed up at her house and handed her a letter saying that they were investigating an offence of “taking part in a public assembly without a permit”.

The letter also summoned Han to present herself for questioning as she “may be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case”.

Han said she was not able to make the time scheduled in the letter but was told by the officers that it would be possible to reschedule.

“I understand that it is the police’s duty to protect law and order and to uphold the laws of our country.

“But when a simple, non-violent, quiet vigil for a man about to be hanged by the state is deemed an illegal assembly worthy of a police investigation, perhaps it is time to think about whether we are striking the right balance between public order, freedom of assembly and compassion,” she said.

Prabagaran was convicted for drug trafficking in Singapore and hanged after the country’s Court of Appeal dismissed his application to stay his execution.

He was convicted in 2012 after 22.24g of diamorphine, a pure form of heroin, was found in his car at the Singaporean immigration checkpoint as he tried to enter the country.

However, he maintained his innocence, claiming that he did not own the car he drove and was not aware of the drugs being in it.

Earlier this year, he turned to the Malaysian courts to compel the government to start legal proceedings against Singapore before an international tribunal for denying him a fair trial.

On March 24, Prabagaran failed to obtain leave at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to compel the Malaysian government to start proceedings against Singapore.- FMT, 5/9/2017

Function 8: Stop harassment and intimidation of citizens participating in civil society activities

Local non-government organisation, Function 8 has issued a statement to condemn the police harassment of anti-death penalty activists who held a vigil outside Changi Prison on the night of 13 July 2017 for Prabagaran Srivijayan who was to be executed at dawn on 14 July 2017. Members of Prabagaran’s family were at the vigil, and anti-death penalty activists turned up to support the grieving family members.

Function 8 states that Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore guarantees the right of citizens to freedom of speech, expression and assembly.

“The act of issuing and having the police personally delivering letters which require the said activists to appear at police stations to assist in investigations, almost two months after the event, goes against the spirit of our Constitution and is a waste of Police resources. We call upon the Minister for Home Affairs to rescind the action of the police, to cease the investigation, and to stop the harassment and intimidation of citizens participating in civil society activities.” wrote the NGO. – Online Citizen, 4/9/2017 

* The Online Citizen also have a photo of Kristen Han’s FB post, and a video

Kirsten Han is from We Believe in Second Chances, a member of ADPAN