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Cases and developments in 2003
of men and women are on death rows around the world, waiting to be executed
by the state. Amnesty Internationals members are constantly writing to
governments raising theirs concerns, calling for the prisoners death sentences
to be commuted. Here follows a few of these cases.
Amnesty International has recently learned that Afsaneh Nouroozi is at
imminent risk of execution after the death sentence against her was upheld
by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Sayed Ali
Khamenei, is the only authority able to grant clemency at this stage.
Afsaneh Nouroozi was reportedly arrested in 1997 after killing the Head
of Police Intelligence in Kish, Southern Iran. She allegedly acted in
self-defence in order to protect herself from being raped. Afsaneh Nouroozi
is being held in Bandar Abbas prison in southern Iran, which is notorious
for its poor conditions. Amnesty International has recorded 83 executions
so far this year in Iran, although the true figure may be much higher.
Hakamada Iwao, aged 67, has been in prison for nearly 37 years and Under
sentence of death for over 34 years. He is detained in Tokyo Detention
Centre. He is said to be in poor mental and physical health as a result
of his long imprisonment. Hakamada Iwao was accused of the murder on 30
June 1966 of the managing director of Kogane Miso plant at Yokosuna, Shimuzu
City and his (the managing directors) wife and two children. He was again
arrested in August 1966; he was reportedly interrogated for periods lasting
on average some 12 hours a day, with one period alleged to have lasted
over 16 hours, for a period of 23 days. Hakamada Iwao has consistently
claimed that he was forced to confess to the charges of which he was convicted.
At least 118 people are under sentence of death in Japan, some 50 of whom
have had their sentences finalised and can be executed at any time. Prisoners
are told less than two hours before execution that they are going to be
killed; families and lawyers are never informed of the decision. Most
condemned prisoners are held on death row for many years, and endure considerable
Ahmadu Ibrahim and Fatima Usman were originally convicted for extra-marital
relationship by a Sharia court in Niger State and sentenced, in absentia,
to death by stoning in May 2002. They did not have legal representation
during their first trial. They now have a defence lawyer working on their
case. The lawyer is supported by Baobab for women's human rights, a Nigerian
NGO. Their appeal is now pending.
year five people were sentenced to death under new Sharia penal legislation.
One of them was Amina Lawal whose sentence to death by stoning was overturned
by a Sharia Court of Appeal in Katsina State on 25 September this year.
Since 1999 new Sharia penal legislation have been introduced in 12 northern
states in Nigeria. These new laws provide for mandatory death sentences
for consensual sexual relations outside marriage and murder cases.
Saudi Arabian national, Mas'ud bin Ali bin Muhammad bin Gimeshan al-Gahtani
may be executed at any time. He was arrested in 1991 in connection with
the murder of Musfir bin Ogaym al-Dawsari. He faced an unfair trial and
was only informed of his conviction for murder after eight years in prison.
Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty for a wide range of offences, which,
in addition to violent crimes, include some with no lethal consequences,
such as sorcery, certain sexual offences, drug-related offences and apostasy
(converting from Islam to another religion). Sentencing occurs after trials
which fall short of internationally agreed standards - trials are held
behind closed doors and defendants do not have the right to formal representation
by a lawyer. At least 40 people have been executed since the beginning
John Clayton Smith is scheduled to be executed in Missouri on 29 October
2003. He was sentenced to death in 1999 for the murder of his former girlfriend
Brandie Kearnes and her stepfather, Wayne Hoewing, in 1997. John Smith
has chosen to drop any further appeals against his conviction and death
sentence. He has been diagnosed with mental illness, specifically bipolar
disorder with psychotic features, and is on medication in prison. On death
row in August 1999 he was treated for an apparent suicide attempt and
placed on suicide watch. The USA is approaching its 900th execution since
resuming judicial killing in 1977. More than 700 men and women have been
executed since 1990, and almost 60 already this year. Those executed since
1977 include child offenders, the mentally impaired, the inadequately
represented, people whose guilt remained in doubt, and foreign nationals
denied their consular rights after arrest. The US death penalty remains
arbitrary, discriminatory and error-prone. More than 100 people have been
released from death rows since 1977 after evidence of their innocence
emerged. Eighty per cent of those executed since 1977 were put to death
for killing whites, even though whites and blacks are the victims of murder
in the USA in approximately equal numbers.
Amnesty International received information in May that Abror Isaev and
Nodirbek Karimov had been sentenced to death for murder. Amnesty International
fear that they may face imminent execution. Amnesty International received
reports that Abror Isaev was ill-treated in the death chambers of Tashkent
prison. Following this he reportedly tried to commit suicide. There were
strong indications that Abror became mentally disturbed while on death
row; the authorities have reportedly ignored these signs, in violation
of international standards and domestic law. Scores of people are executed
every year after unfair trials in Uzbekistan. Many of them were tortured.
'Confessions' extracted under torture are routinely used as evidence in
trials. Amnesty International have no exact figures about death sentences
and the number of executions in Uzbekistan since there are no official
figures. In all cases that came to Amnesty International's attention,
prisoners were executed in secret. Their families were often only informed
months later; they were not informed about the place of the execution
and were not told where their relative was buried. Therefore they do not
even have a location over which to grieve. Many search for years in the
hope of finding the grave.
Spanish national, Nabil al-Mankali, is at risk of imminent execution.
According to press reports, President Ali Abdullah Saleh ratified the
death Penalty against Nabil al-Mankali on 11 September. Nabil al-Mankali
was convicted on charges of planning acts of sabotage and assassination,
in connection with a bombing incident in Aden in July 1997. Nabil al-Mankali
and 27 others were reportedly tortured in order to force them to confess
to the charges. The "confessions" were then admitted as evidence
in court and the 27 co-accused given prison sentences. Amnesty International
has long-standing concerns about the use of the death penalty in Yemen,
particularly as death sentences are often passed after proceedings which
fall short of international standards for fair trial.
Tajikistan - scope of death penalty reduced
The Tajikistan parliament approved in July draft amendments to
the Criminal code proposed by President Imomali Rahmonov. Among the amendments
were the abolition of the death penalty for women, for boys aged under
18 at the time of the crime and for men over 60, and a reduction of the
articles in the criminal code carrying a possible death sentence from
10 to five. The present amendments will enter into legal force once they
have been signed by President Rahmonov.
closer to a death penalty-free zone
On 1 July, Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human
Rights And Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights,
ECHR), which bans the death penalty in all circumstances, entered into
force. Protocol No 13 closes the gap under Protocol No. 6 to the ECHR,
which prohibits the death penalty except for acts committed in times of
war or imminent threat of war in those countries that have agreed to be
bound to it. Only four Council of Europe member states have neither signed
nor ratified Protocol No. 13: Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation
and Turkey. To date, Protocol 13 has been ratified by 18 countries and
signed by 23. Paraguay ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 18 August 2003 and Timor-Leste
ratified it on 18 September 2003 bringing the total number of ratification
to 51. San Marino signed the Second Optional Protocol on 26 September
2003 bringing the total number of signatories to 8.
: Amnesty International.