Amnesty asks India to put immediate moratorium on executions

New Delhi, Dec 13: The international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International has written to President of India Pranab Mukheree and sought abolishing of death sentence and immediate moratorium on executions.
 In the letter, Chief Executive Amnesty International G Ananthapadmanabhan  referred to the recent execution of Ajmal  Kasab, Pakistani gunman, who was caught alive during 2008 Mumbai attacks.
 “Kasab had committed grave and serious offences, and Amnesty had consistently expressed its sympathies and condolence to the victims of his actions and their families. However, by executing him, the Indian state has violated the internationally recognized right to life and has signalled a step away from the regional and global trends towards abolition of the death penalty,” Ananthapadmanabhan said in his letter. 
 As of today, 140 countries in the world have abolished death penalty in law or practice. Most recently, Mongolia became the 140th country to join this group by becoming a state party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, on 13 March 2012. In the Asia-Pacific region, 17 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, 10 are abolitionist in practice and one –Fiji– uses the death penalty only for exceptional military crimes.
 “Amnesty is concerned about the manner in which Indian authorities carried out Ajmal Kasab’s execution on November 21,” Ananthapadmanabhan said.
 Ananthapadmanabhan said Amnesty International is concerned about nine petitions for mercy involving 14 individuals that have been sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs for consideration for a second time, which we understand is usual practice when there is a new minister in office.
 “One of these petitions concerns Muhammad Afzal Guru who was sentenced to death for his alleged involvement in the 2001 Parliament attack.” 
 “Amnesty International has found that these trials did not conform with India’s obligations under international human rights law. Amnesty opposes death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. It opposes it as a violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” Ananthapadmanabhan said.
 “The use of the death penalty in Indiais riddled with systemic flaws. Of particular concern are: the broad definition of “terrorist acts” for which the death penalty can be imposed; insufficient safeguards on arrest; obstacles to confidential communication with counsel; insufficient independence of special courts from executive power; insufficient safeguards for the presumption of innocence; provisions for discretionary closed trials; sweeping provisions to keep secret the identity of witnesses; and limits on the right to review by a higher tribunal,” he said.
 He urged Indian government to commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment and halt plans to carry out further executions, and establish an official moratorium on executions as the first step to abolishing the death penalty.
 “Wherever mercy petitions have been rejected, respect the practice of promptly informing the individual, his/ her lawyers, his/ her family, of the decision, reasons for the decision, and proposed date of execution, as well as the public, of any scheduled execution,” added Amnesty chief executive.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 14 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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