NEWSFLASH – INDIA – Resumption of Executions

21 November 2012

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) condemns the execution of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani national, who was hanged in Yerwada prison, in Pune City on 21 November.

Kasab was sentenced to death in May 2010. He was convicted of 80 charges including committing acts of terrorism and criminal conspiracy to commit murder. His final appeal for mercy was reportedly rejected by the President Pranab Mukherjee on 5 November.

This execution also ends an eight-year-long unofficial moratorium on executions in India; the last execution took place in August 2004. Yug Chaudhry a lawyer, who has been outspoken on Ajmal Kasab’s case, said, “Executing Kasab in the name of the Indian people will only feed a base instinct for retribution that will make our society more vengeful and violent.  It will not contribute to our safety or well-being in any way”.

There are currently over 300 people on death row in India and this latest execution is now a concern for 16 persons on death row whose appeals are awaiting clemency before the President.

This execution also comes only two days after the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee adopted a fourth draft resolution calling on all states to establish a moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing it. The General Assembly will be voting on the resolution in December.

ADPAN, whose members in India includes MASUM, Lawyers for Human Rights International, The Peoples Union for Civil Liberty and Amnesty International India, opposes the death penalty in all cases, and calls upon the Indian  government to place an immediate moratorium on all executions, to commute all death sentences and to work toward full abolition of the death penalty for all crimes.

ADPAN Newsflash – Japan

3 August 2012

ADPAN condemns the execution of Junya Hattori, 40, and Kyozo Matsumura, 31, carried out on 3 August in Japan. These executions are a further setback after Tomoyuki Furusawa, Yasuaki Uwabe and Yasutoshi Matsuda were hanged on 29 March this year – after nearly two years without executions. It is estimated that around 130 people are currently on death row in Japan.

Justice Minister Makoto Taki, who assumed office on 4 June stated on 14 June that he supports the death penalty because it’s on the books for heinous crimes and also explained that introducing the option of life without parole is not currently a priority.

Executions in Japan are carried out by hanging and prisoners are executed without advance notice given to their families and lawyers. The prisoners themselves are only told a few hours before or are occasionally taken straight from their cells to the gallows without any advance notice at all. ADPAN is also concerned that Japan still relies heavily on the daiyo kangoku (substitute prison) system, which allows the police to detain and interrogate a suspect for up to 23 days with very limited access to legal counsel. This puts suspects at great risk of torture and other ill-treatment in order to obtain a “confession” and ensure a conviction – Japan currently has a 99% conviction rate.

ADPAN opposes the death penalty in all cases, and calls upon the Japanese government to place an immediate moratorium on all executions, to commute all death sentences and to work toward full abolition of the death penalty for all crimes.

Out of the 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, 17 have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, one has abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes and 10 are considered abolitionist in practice, with Mongolia being the most recent country in the region to abolish the death penalty by ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

SINGAPORE – Media release of 2 March 2012 by the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC)

2 March 2012

On Thursday, 1 March 2012, The Straits Times published a special report on the death penalty in Singapore. As the death penalty is not often being discussed in the mainstream media, the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) welcomes the publication of the report and hope that it will lead to more public discussions on this issue. We would however, like to address a few points in our response.

1. In Singapore, where murder is a condemned crime, euthanasia is banned and suicides frowned upon, the existence of the death penalty and mandatory death penalty (MDP) is an irony that contradicts government’s and society’s effort to advocate on the sanctity of an existing human life.

2. The practice of death by hanging as a capital punishment also contradicts the campaign message of the Yellow Ribbon Project that was launched in 2004 by former President of Singapore, Mr S R. Nathan, which seeks to advocate for society to give ex-offenders and their families a second chance, accept and support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders into the society.

3. Death row inmates in Singapore consist mainly of drug mules, murderers and firearm criminals, whose cases are often not highlighted by the mainstream media with the intention to encourage public discussions on 1) the death penalty and alternative forms of punishment and 2) the root causes of capital offences.

4. Public knowledge of the death penalty, especially with regards to the MDP under the Misuse of Drugs Act, is also limited due to the lack of information readily available through education and within the mainstream media.

5. Furthermore, more than two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice but Singapore remains one of the countries that still holds on to such a practice claiming that the death penalty is an effective deterrent on capital offences. However, the absence of research and statistics on how the death penalty has contributed as a deterrent towards capital offences has brought us to question the deterrent factor of the death penalty in Singapore. SADPC would like to urge the government of Singapore to look into alternative methods of punishment that seek to rehabilitate criminals as well as to grant them the chance to become useful members of the society.

6. We would also like to take this opportunity to commend Singapore’s only human rights lawyer M Ravi in his legal cause against the death penalty and MDP. Ravi has worked tirelessly over the past few years to save death row inmates, mainly drug mules, from execution. Besides his legal work, he has also rendered emotional support towards the families of the inmates that he represents.

7. In other countries, a lawyer like Ravi would have been honoured with respect but in Singapore, he has often been criticised and some of his methods have been touted as ‘publicity stunts’ by his counterparts. The SADPC wishes to express our heartfelt appreciation to Ravi in recognising the efforts that he has contributed towards the cause. Without his passion and determination, 2010 would not have been an execution-less year for Singapore.

For media enquiries, please contact the following:

Rachel Zeng
Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign
rachelabsinthe@gmail.com