The Politics of the Hangmans Noose: Judge, Jury & Executioner


  • by Thalif Deen (United Nations)
  • Inter Press Service

As Covid-19 restrictions that had previously slowed court processes were steadily lifted in many parts of the world, Amnesty International (AI) says, judges handed down at least 2,052 death sentences in 56 countries last year — an increase of nearly 40% over the last year. by 2020 – with major spikes in several countries, including Bangladesh (at least 181, out of at least 113), India (144, out of 77), and Pakistan (at least 129, out of at least 49).

Other countries that AI says use the death penalty include Egypt, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Belarus, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Yemen .

In military regimes such as Myanmar, the armed forces play a threefold role: judge, jury and executioner.

dr. Simon Adams, president of the Center for Victims of Torture, the world’s largest organization working with torture survivors and advocating an end to torture worldwide, told IPS that the recent execution of four pro-democracy activists by the military junta of Myanmar means a sickening return. to the “policy of the hangman’s noose”.

Arbitrary detention and torture have also been committed on an industrial scale, he said.

The military regime has detained more than 14,000 people since the coup (February 2021) and sentenced more than 100 to death. While many governments around the world have condemned the recent hangings, it will take more than words to end the atrocities in Myanmar, he stressed.

“People are clamoring for targeted sanctions against the generals, for an arms embargo and for Myanmar’s torturers and executioners to be held accountable under international law,” said Dr Adams, who also helped initiate the case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). ) in The Hague, where The Gambia is trying to hold Myanmar responsible for the genocide on the Rohingya.

London-based Amnesty International (AI) said last May that 2021 saw “a worrying increase in executions and death sentences as some of the world’s most prolific executioners returned to normalcy and courts were detached from the Covid- 19 restrictions.”

Iran was responsible for most of this increase, executing at least 314 people (up from at least 246 in 2020), the highest number of executions since 2017.

This was in part due to a marked increase in drug-related executions — a flagrant violation of international law that prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes other than willful murder, AI said.

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said last week that the United States was inciting executions by Burma’s military regime of pro-democracy activists and elected leaders Ko Jimmy, Phyo Zeya Thaw, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. condemn the strongest terms for exercising their fundamental freedoms.

“These reprehensible acts of violence further illustrate the regime’s complete disregard for human rights and the rule of law.”

He pointed out that since the February 2021 coup, the regime has continued to use violence against its own people, killing more than 2,100, displacing more than 700,000 and detaining thousands of innocent people, including members of civil society and journalists. .

The regime’s mock trials and executions are blatant attempts to eradicate democracy; these actions will never quell the spirit of the brave people of Burma (Myanmar), he added.

“The United States joins the people of Burma in their pursuit of freedom and democracy and calls on the regime to respect the democratic aspirations of those who have shown that they do not want to live another day under the tyranny of the military rule,” said Blinken. declared.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet condemned the execution of the four democratic activists by the military regime in Myanmar last week: “I am appalled that despite appeals from around the world, the military has carried out these executions without respect for human rights. This brutal and regressive move is an extension of the military’s ongoing repressive campaign against its own people.” “These executions – the first in Myanmar in decades – are brutal violations of a person’s right to life, liberty and security, and the guarantees of a fair trial. If the military expands on its killings, it will only become more deeply entangled in the crisis it has created itself,” she warned. The High Commissioner also called for the immediate release of all political prisoners and others arbitrarily detained, and urged the country to restore its de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty, as a step towards eventual abolition.

Meanwhile, Liz Throssell, a spokesman for the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva, said in a statement released on Aug. 2: “We regret today’s hanging of two men in Singapore and are deeply disturbed by the planned execution of two others on Aug. August. The two, a Malaysian and a Singaporean, were hanged this morning in Changi Prison after being convicted of drug trafficking in May 2015 and their appeals subsequently dismissed.

Two other men, Abdul Rahim bin Shapiee and his co-defendant Ong Seow Ping, are currently expected to be executed on Friday after Bin Shapiee’s family was informed of his fate on July 29.

Both were convicted in 2018 for possession of drugs for the purpose of human trafficking and their sentences were upheld on appeal. In the past, co-defendants were almost always executed on the same day. “We urge the Singaporean authorities to halt all planned executions, including those of Abdul Rahim bin Shapiee and Ong Seow Ping. We also call on the Government of Singapore to end the use of mandatory death sentences for drug offences, commute all death sentences to prison terms and immediately impose a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty,” the statement said. “The death penalty violates the right to life and the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and there is a growing consensus for its universal abolition. So far, more than 170 states have abolished or introduced a moratorium on the death penalty, both in law and in practice,” she noted. Agnes Callamard, AI secretary general, said that “China, North Korea and Vietnam continued to hide their use of the death penalty behind layers of secrecy, but as always, what little we saw is cause for great alarm.” ? The known number of women executed also rose from nine to 14, as Iranian authorities continue their abhorrent assault on children’s rights by executing three people under the age of 18 at the time of the crime, in violation of their obligations under international law.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia more than doubled its number of executions, a grim trend that continued into 2022 with the execution of 81 people in one day in March, according to AI.

In addition to the increase in the number of executions in Saudi Arabia (65, from 27 in 2020), there were significant increases from 2020 in Somalia (at least 21, out of at least 11), South Sudan (at least 9, out of at least 2) and Yemen (at least 14, out of at least 5). Belarus (at least 1), Japan (3) and the UAE (at least 1) also carried out executions, but had not done so in 2020.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (at least 81, out of at least 20), Egypt (at least 356, out of at least 264), Iraq (at least 91, out of at least 27), Myanmar (at least 86, out of at least 1), Vietnam (at least 119 out of at least 54) and Yemen (at least 298, out of at least 269), AI said.

AI said in 2021 in several countries that the death penalty was being deployed as a tool of state repression against minorities and protesters, with governments showing utter disregard for guarantees and limitations on the death penalty enshrined in international human rights law and standards.

Report of the IPS UN Office

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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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