Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network

India – Execution of 4 on 1/2/2020 stayed by Court, now government applying to set aside stay..

The execution of the 4, which was scheduled for 1/2/2020 was stayed Patiala House District Court, and now the Central Government is applying to the Delhi High Court to set aside the stay order..

Nirbhaya Case: Delhi HC Reserves Order On Centre’s Plea Challenging Stay On Execution Of Convicts

Senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing on behalf of convict Mukesh, said that the “Centre has sought the setting aside of the order of the Patiala House Court” when “an earlier Delhi High Court order has clearly said that any order of the trial court should be challenged in the Supreme Court only”.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Sunday reserved its order on a plea filed by the central government and Tihar Jail authorities challenging the order of Patiala House district court which stayed the execution of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case. A single-judge bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait reserved the order on the matter.

During the hearing, advocate AP Singh, who is appearing for convicts Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma, asked: “Why there was a hurry to execute the death sentence in this case only … Justice hurried is justice buried.” “They (convicts) belong to rural areas and Dalit families. They come to Delhi and get implicated. Mukesh and Ram Singh are Dalits. Both are brothers who came from a rural part of Rajasthan. It is not convicts’ fault. They cannot be made to bear brunt of ambiguity in the law,” Singh told the court.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing on behalf of convict Mukesh, said that the “Centre has sought the setting aside of the order of the Patiala House Court” when “an earlier Delhi High Court order has clearly said that any order of the trial court should be challenged in the Supreme Court only”.

Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Centre, alleged that the convicts were deliberately delaying the execution, adding that any delay in death sentence will have a dehumanising effect on the convicts.

A Delhi court last week stayed till further orders the execution of the four convicts — Akshay Thakur, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, and Vinay Sharma — which was earlier scheduled to take place on February 1.

The case pertains to the gang-rape and brutal murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012, by six people, including a juvenile, in Delhi. The woman had died at a Singapore hospital a few days later.

One of the five adults accused, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail during the trial of the case. – ABP, 2/2/2020

Nirbhaya: Govt challenges stay on execution, HC reserves verdict

New Delhi, February 2

The Delhi High Court on Sunday reserved its verdict on the Centre’s plea challenging the stay on the execution of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.

Justice Suresh Kait said it would pass an order after all parties concluded their arguments. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the high court that there was a “deliberate, calculated and well-thought-out design” by the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case convicts to “frustrate” the mandate of law by getting their execution delayed.

Mehta told Justice Suresh Kait that convict Pawan Gupta’s move of not filing a curative or a mercy petition was deliberate. The four Nirbhaya case convicts were playing with judicial machinery and trying the patience of the nation, he said. The high court was hearing the Centre’s plea challenging the stay on the execution of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case.

Advocate AP Singh appeared for convicts Akshay Singh (31), Vinay Sharma (26) and Pawan gupta (25) opposing the Centre’s plea to set aside the stay on the execution of the death sentence.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, representing the fourth convict Mukesh Kumar (32), raised preliminary objection to the Centre’s plea, saying it was not maintainable.

She contended that the Centre was never a party in the case proceedings before the trial court and while the government was accusing the convict of delay, it had woken up just two days ago.

“It was the victim’s parents who had moved the trial court for issuance of death warrants against the convicts. At no point the government approached the trial court to get the death warrants issued immediately,” John contended.

He told the HC that the Centre had moved a plea in the Supreme Court seeking clarification whether co-convicts could be executed separately. A 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012. — PTI – The Tribune, 3/2/2020

Singapore must stop targeting HR defenders and media(Malaysiakini)

This was a joint statement of 37 groups and 3 individuals, whereby ADPAN was one of co-signatories. It was carried by Malaysiakini, one of popular online media, and also by several other sites. OUR VOICES get to many more people when media reports on our statements. [See earlier post for the earlier statement)
Letter

Singapore must stop targeting HR defenders and media

Aliran et al

Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | We, the 37 undersigned groups and organisations, and three individuals, are appalled by Singapore’s denial and response to the highlighting of alleged “barbaric” unlawful practices in execution method that was highlighted vide a Jan 16 media statement issued by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL).

Singapore claims that it is “untrue, baseless and preposterous”.

We are also shocked by Singapore’s invoking of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), and the issuing of notices and directions ordering LFL and three parties that have shared the allegations – Singaporean activist Kirsten Han, The Online Citizen website and Yahoo Singapore – to correct the false statements.

To comply with this Pofma Order, Singapore authorities said: “They will be required to carry a correction notice alongside their posts or articles stating that their posts or articles contain falsehoods”.

Non-compliance with the Pofma notice is a crime, and if convicted an individual may be liable to a fine not exceeding S$20,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, whereas others will be liable to a fine not exceeding S$500,000.

The notice can also lead to an access blocking order, whereby service providers will have to disable access by end-users in Singapore to the online location.

It is not a defence even if one has applied to the responsible minister to withdraw or vary the order, appealed to court or is “subject to a duty under any written law, any rule of law, any contract or any rule of professional conduct, that prevents the person from complying with the Pofma notice”.

It is deplorable to ask any human rights defender or media agency to publicly take a position that the alleged rights violations and/or injustices that they highlighted or reported on are false or contains falsehood.

Where there is an allegation of a wrongdoing or a crime, it is the duty of a human rights defender or any concerned person to highlight it, and thereafter, it falls on the relevant government, or relevant national, regional or international bodies to conduct the needed independent investigation and determine whether what was alleged was true or baseless.

Note that many investigations may even come to no conclusions due to insufficiency of evidence, and this should in no way lead to the assumption that the allegations were untrue.

A perusal of the LFL statement shows that the source of their information, amongst others, is from a credible source – a Singapore prison officer.

This would reasonably be someone who had first-hand knowledge of what was being alleged.

In the LFL statement, it also mentions that this officer is prepared to come forward and testify at the appropriate forum.

LFL also highlighted this allegation earlier, in its Nov 23, 2019 statement, where it said: “Finally, we’ve also received shocking information relating to the process of execution at Changi prison.

“We have incontrovertible evidence that unlawful and extremely brutal methods are secretly used in carrying out hangings by the Singapore Prison Services. We are prepared to reveal this evidence, supplied by prison officers, in due course.”

LFL, in the Jan 16 statement, also said it had written to the Singapore authorities and informed them it is prepared to meet them and hand over the evidence in its possession.

However, the Singapore government met LFL’s disclosures with deafening silence.

Significantly, the government also did not deny LFL’s allegation of brutality in carrying out hangings, which has been widely reported.

The Singapore government should have rightfully met with LFL, received the evidence and conducted a proper investigation and disclosed its findings.

According to law, police are not supposed to torture detainees, but the fact is that some police officers do torture and even kill those in their custody.

It may not the government’s fault, but the fault of these errant officers who did wrong.

But, if a government, after receiving information of such wrongdoings, chooses to do nothing about it, then it can be said that the government that “covers up” wrongdoings of public servants or simply ignores it may be just as guilty of the said wrongdoings.

The media is obliged to report to the public, and that includes statements and positions of ordinary people and human rights defenders.

Most media outlets, would as a matter of good practice, try to get a response from the alleged perpetrator or other relevant parties but the news ought never be stifled simply because the perpetrators (or interested parties) do not provide an immediate response.

Of course, most media will carry even a late response from the alleged perpetrator or other interested parties.

Obligations imposed on the media should not be the same as those imposed on individuals using social media.

Many good people who share news or views on social media, if they do get a response from alleged perpetrator or interested parties, will also usually share that response with their readership.

In Malaysia, many human rights violations and even crimes that were highlighted by HR Defenders or media were investigated by the government.

As an example, in Malaysia, it was the investigation by the New Straits Times Special Probes Team into the mass killings in Wang Kelian in 2015 that highlighted and suggested a massive, coordinated cover-up.

It revealed the human trafficking death camps had been discovered months earlier, but police only announced the discovery on May 25.

It also questioned why the police ordered the destruction of these camps, which were potential crime scenes before they could be processed by forensics personnel?

The Malaysian government’s response was to investigate this case, and on Jan 16, it was reported that the Home Ministry will present a report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the Wang Kelian human trafficking incident to the Cabinet next week.

Hopefully, thereafter the report will be made public.

Like Malaysia, Singapore too should have conducted a comprehensive investigation on the allegations raised by LFL, and not try to “force” LFL and others who highlighted this issue to publicly admit that it contained falsehood.

Publicly highlighting allegations or facts of wrongdoings, rights violations and injustices today is a means of ensuring that justice is done, for otherwise relevant governments and enforcement authorities can sometimes chose to simply “cover-up” such allegations.

It is wrong for any government to use laws and crimes (with serious penalties) to prevent human rights defenders, media and others from highlighting allegations of wrongdoings.

Such laws that undermine the responsibilities of human rights defenders, including media, ought to be repealed. Freedom of expression, opinion and peaceful assembly ought to be protected.

The courage to highlight possible human rights violations, injustices and wrongdoings should be applauded, not stifled or penalised.

The media reported that the Singapore Minister of Communications and Information had on Jan 23 directed the Infocomm Media Development Authority to get Internet service providers here to block the LFL website for not complying with a correction direction issued under the fake news law.

Therefore, we call on Singapore to:

– immediately and unconditionally withdraw the notice and internet access blocking orders pursuant to Pofma that were directed at LFL, Kristen Han, The Online Citizen, Yahoo Singapore and others.

– ensure an independent and thorough investigation is conducted concerning allegations of unjust and barbaric practices that allegedly happened during the hanging of persons in Singapore.

– respect human rights defenders and media agencies, and not to stifle them from carrying out their responsibility and duty to highlight allegations of human rights violations and injustices.

– abolish the death penalty.


The above is a joint statement from Aliran, Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (Adpan), Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (Afad), Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons from Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir, Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters- HRDP in Myanmar, Asociación de Trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila–Atrahdom, Guatemala, Australians Against Capital Punishment, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (Masum), India, Dutch League For Human Rights, Empower Foundation Thailand, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (Find) – Philippines, German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Global Women’s Strike United Kingdom, Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center, Karapatan Alliance Philippines, LAW United Kingdom, Madpet (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture), Malaysian Trade Union Congress, Manushya Foundation Thailand, MAP Foundation (Migrant Assistance Program) Thailand, North-South Initiative, Odhikar Bangladesh, Payday Men’s Network United Kingdom. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (Pacti) India, People’s Empowerment Foundation Thailand, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia), Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign, Suaram Malaysia, Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance Nepal, The Advocates for Human Rights, The Day of the Endangered Lawyer Foundation, The Julian Wagner Memorial Fund Australia, Union for Civil Liberty Thailand, Workers Assistance Center Inc Philippines, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty/ Coalition mondiale contre la peine de mort, WH4C (Workers Hub For Change), Vucong, Giao (School of Law, Vietnam National University Hanoi), N Jayaram  (Journalist, Bangalore) and Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman (human rights defender from Bangladesh, in Hong Kong) – Malaysiakini, 2/2/2020

India – Capital punishment is a politicised, unjust, barbaric form of revenge. It is anything but justice.(an opinion)

India needs to abolish death penalty, and not hang 2012 Delhi gangrape convicts

Capital punishment is a politicised, unjust, barbaric form of revenge. It is anything but justice.

3 February, 2020 3:21 pm IST
Nirbhaya rapists are on death row in Tihar Jail
Graphic: Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint

Every year, trial courts in India award dozens of death sentences. Many of these eventually get commuted to life sentences. You don’t hear much clamour to hang these people. You don’t see outrage on the streets. You don’t see national TV channels interview the family of the victims in these cases on a daily basis.

 

Here’s the data: Between 2000 and 2014, Indian courts sentenced 1,810 people to death, according to Project 39A of the National Law University in Delhi. More than half of these were commuted to life imprisonment by the courts. A quarter of the convicts were acquitted (such as former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani). Of these hundreds of cases, only the high-profile ones seem to actually meet the hangman.

 

Yet, the 2012 December Delhi gangrape case, commonly known as the Nirbhaya case, is different. It is a high-profile case. It ‘shocked the conscience of the nation’. And so, the men who raped and killed must be hanged. Can we please hang them before 8 February? There’s an election in Delhi and the BJP would like to show an achievement.

 

So, the Narendra Modi government is very unhappy that something as serious as taking away people’s lives can be delayed by a few days because the convicts want to make a case to not be hanged, to live unhappy prison lives instead.

 

Rarest of the not-so-rare

 

There’s something obscene and rotten about the death penalty in India.

We don’t discuss or debate it because the Right-wing accuses us of defending rape, murder, terrorism if we defend the death penalty.

 

No, opposing the death penalty does not imply defending the unspeakable horrors inflicted by death row convicts. It is not a debate over crime, but over justice. What is justice? What is just punishment? What do we speak of when we speak of justice and punishment?

 

After Afzal Guru, Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon were hanged, next are the ‘Nirbhaya’ killers. Does it strike anyone that only high-profile criminals are getting executed? That alone should be grounds enough to not hang Nirbhaya’s killers. There are so many cases of gangrape and murder out there, but only these four are to be hanged.

 

According to the Supreme Court of India, the death penalty is to be given in the “rarest of the rare” cases. How rarest of the rare is gangrape followed by murder? Do you hear anyone clamour for the death penalty for the Kathua rapists? Do you see the victim’s family being interviewed every day?

Cases of rape-and-murder have been rising along with the number of death sentences given by courts.

 

Despite widespread awareness that there could be a death penalty in such cases, rapists seem to be killing their victims more frequently. That’s because, many fear, the death penalty is the biggest incentive to murder. They don’t want the victim to stay alive and file a complaint or give a testimony in court.

 

Undoing death

 

The certainty of punishment rather than the degree of punishment will deter more crimes. Most state governments are yet to set-up fast-track courts for sexual offences. They don’t have money, they say. Hanging the Delhi rapists and murderers will satisfy our bloodlust, but it won’t make justice any faster.

 

If killing the killers is justice, why don’t we argue for raping the rapists, robbing the thieves, setting on fire the houses of arsonists?

 

The ugly truth about the death penalty in India is that it is a political tool. The politically embattled UPA-2 government hanged Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab to show that it was a strong government. Guru was not hanged for years but suddenly, national politics found an opportune time to do it.

 

Now, it turns out that there may be some doubt over whether Afzal Guru really deserved to die. He had claimed that he did whatever he did on the behest of a Jammu and Kashmir police officer. In 2020, the same police officer, Davinder Singh, was arrested ferrying terrorists.

 

We can’t make that police officer confront Afzal Guru face-to-face today because Afzal Guru is dead.

 

That’s the thing about the death penalty. It can’t be undone.

 

There have been cases where the Supreme Court has, many years later, admitted mistakes in awarding the death penalty. In 2009 the Supreme Court admitted it had  wrongly sentenced to death 15 people over 15 years.

 

If there’s a mistake in awarding life sentence to someone, you can undo that mistake, release the person, perhaps even give compensation. How do you undo death?

 

Civilised ways of seeking closure

 

In a country where Maya Kodnani gets acquitted and a cop accused of being Afzal Guru’s handler goes unquestioned, the death penalty is a bad joke. Across the world, 102 countries have completely abolished the death penalty. And some more have abolished it in practice.

The countries that have death penalty are countries India usually doesn’t like to be clubbed with. Except for the US, they are mostly not democracies. It is time we had a debate over abolition.

 

Supporters of the death penalty will often say, what if it was your sister? Families of victims don’t get to decide what is just punishment. That is for a society to decide together. And yes, closure is important. But the death penalty is not the only way families of victims can achieve closure. There are more civilised ways to do that. – The Print, 3/2/2020

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