Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network

India – Cabinet approves death penalty for aggravated sexual assault of children

Cabinet okays death penalty for aggravated sexual assault of children

To curb child pornography, the amendment levies heavy fine for not deleting, destroying child pornographic material. Not reporting child pornography will also invite a hefty fine, the minister said.

INDIA Updated: Dec 28, 2018 23:22 IST

Anisha Dutta
Anisha Dutta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ravi Shankar prasad,Cabinet briefing,Modi govt
The Union Cabinet on Friday approved death penalty for aggravated sexual abuse of children as part of amendments to make the law governing crimes against children more stringent(Reuters/Representative Image)

Child sexual assault will be punishable with death sentence under amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, approved by the Union cabinet on Friday at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The amendments seek to make the law gender-neutral and sharpen its deterrent edge.

The death penalty will apply to cases of aggravated penetrative sexual assault on children below 12 years of age. Section 4 of the POCSO Act, which deals with punishment for penetrative sexual assault, now prescribes a sentence that’s not less than seven years in jail and may be extended to life imprisonment as the maximum punishment. The proposed amendments increase minimum imprisonment to 10 years which may extend to imprisonment for life.

Section 6 of the Act has been amended to read: “Whoever commits aggravated penetrative sexual assault shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life and shall also be liable to fine or with death”.

The death penalty will apply to cases of aggravated sexual assault, which refers to rape and gang rape.

“In the wake of gruesome and heart wrenching incidences, there has been a growing demand from the society to arrest the disturbing trend (of child sexual assault) by introducing stringent punishment including death penalty for the rape cases, “the ministry of women and child development said in a proposal to the cabinet, a copy of which has been reviewed by Hindustan Times.

The cabinet approved amendments in sections 4, 5, 6, 9, 14, 15 and 42 of the POCSO Act. “The modification is made to address the need for stringent measures required to deter the rising trend of child sex abuse in the country,” the cabinet said in a statement.

This is an initiative to strengthen the entire POCSO architecture and also enhance it to ensure that medicines or hormones are not be abused to destroy the childhood of innocents, said Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who briefed reporters on the Cabinet decisions.

The POCSO Act, 2012 was enacted to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and to safeguard their interests and well-being. The Act defined a child as any person below eighteen years of age. Certain sections of the Act, however, were not gender-neutral and applied only to female victims. The amendments seek to correct that.

“Government has always strived to seek justice for all the survivors of child sexual abuse, the most vulnerable section of society. I am extremely grateful to Modi and the cabinet for this momentous step in protecting children against abuse and harassment,” minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi said.

In cases of aggravated sexual assault, under section 5, the government also added a clause to include children sexually exploited in the course of communal or sectarian violence, or during a situation of natural calamity.

“Immediately after the earthquake in 2015, Nepal Government suspended International adoption, banned children from travelling without parents or guardians, and suspended the registration of new orphanages, yet in the following three months 513 children and women at the risk of being trafficked were intercepted. There were also reports of rape of young girls including a Kedarnath deluge survivor, in the media. Therefore, apart from the sectarian violence, natural calamity has been included,” the WCD ministry noted in its proposal.

The cabinet also approved an amendment to address child pornography. It proposed a fine for not destroying/or deleting/ or reporting pornographic material involving a child. The person can be penalized with a jail term or fine or both for transmitting/propagating/administrating such material in any manner except for the purpose of reporting it to the authorities.

Not everyone is convinced that the death sentence will deter sexual crimes against children, and there is concern that it may deter the reporting of such offences .

“To protect children, we need better implementation of existing laws, budgetary provision and strategic moves to create awareness among communities and children on the issues of child protection,” said Priti Mahara, director of policy, research and advocacy, Child Rights and You, a non-government organisation.

“We need robust victim and witness protection system, support system for victim and families during and after the trials. 94.6% of the cases of sexual offence perpetrators are known to the victims, and therefore – because of the familiarity of the child with the offender – the bigger worry is that capital punishment may serve to deter the reporting of cases. It may even lead to destruction of evidence by murdering the victim,” Mahara added. – Hindustan Times, 28/12/2018

Pakistan – CJP suspends mentally-ill prisoner’s execution

Following uproar, CJP suspends mentally-ill prisoner’s execution

By Our Correspondent
Published: January 12, 2019
Top judge has fixed the case hearing on January 14. PHOTO COURTESY: TWITTER/@(SaifullahAwan40)

Top judge has fixed the case hearing on January 14. PHOTO COURTESY: TWITTER/@(SaifullahAwan40)

 

ISLAMABAD: After appeals from human rights advocates to suspend the execution of a mentally-ill prisoner Khizer Hayat, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar deferred the order late Saturday night.

The top judge took notice of the execution orders after media reports that a district and sessions judge scheduled Hayat’s execution on January 15 at the Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail.

The mentally-ill convict was diagnosed as a schizophrenic by medical authorities at the correctional facility.

Justice Nisar not only suspended the order, but has also fixed the case hearing on January 14.

Rights’ organisations and activists were campaigning to have his the mentally-ill prisoner’s execution suspended, as well as, his case be reviewed in court.

Earlier in the day, Iqbal Bano, the convict’s mother, moved the court calling for the suspension of his death sentence on the grounds of mental illness. – The Express Tribune, 15/1/2019 https://tribune.com.pk/story/1887029/1-following-uproar-cjp-suspends-mentally-ill-prisoners-execution/

Japan hangs 2 inmates, matching highest-ever year’s total of 15

Japan hangs 2 inmates, matching highest-ever year’s total of 15

KYODO NEWS KYODO NEWS – Dec 27, 2018 – 19:05 | All, Japan

Japan executed two death-row inmates Thursday, the Justice Ministry said, bringing the number of executions in the country this year to 15, matching the highest-ever figure marked in 2008 since the government resumed the death penalty in 1993.

The two were 60-year-old Keizo Okamoto, a former senior member of a crime syndicate, and 67-year-old Hiroya Suemori, a former investment adviser. They were sentenced to death for the murder-robbery of the president and an employee of an investment advisory company in 1988.

“It was an extremely cruel case in which they robbed the victims of their precious lives for selfish reasons. (The executions) were the result of numerous careful considerations,” said Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita, adding he signed an execution order on Tuesday.

Yamashita also said he believes abolishing the death penalty is “inappropriate.”

The hanging of the two in Osaka in the morning brought the number of executions under the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in 2012, to 36.

The executions were the first since July, when AUM Shinrikyo cult guru Shoko Asahara and 12 former members of the cult were executed over a two-day period.

With the executions of the two, the number of inmates under sentence of death stands at 109 in Japan.

Japan’s system of capital punishment has drawn international criticism, although some polls suggest the majority of the Japanese public support it. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has called for it to be abolished by 2020, demanding instead lifetime imprisonment without parole.

Human rights group Amnesty International Japan expressed its concern that the country “may have started treading a path toward mass executions,” citing that the latest executions were only five months after the punishments on the 13 AUM members.

It also said in a statement that “the Japanese government seems to be acting completely against the global movement” toward abolishing capital punishments after the U.N. General Assembly adopted this month a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, with a record-high 121 countries supporting it.

Yamashita said the government has carefully considered the gravity of each case, denying a view it is speeding up executions before finding it difficult to carry out the death penalty next year amid the enthronement of a new emperor as well as the Tokyo Olympics.

(Osaka detention center)

Thursday’s executions came on the heels of the establishment earlier this month of a lawmakers’ group to discuss the future of Japan’s death penalty system, with more than 50 lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties taking part.

A 2014 government survey revealed that 80.3 percent of Japanese people aged 20 or older favored capital punishment, down from a record 85.6 percent in the previous survey in 2009. A total of 9.7 percent said the death penalty should be abolished, up 4 points.

Dec 27, 2018 | KYODO NEWS

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