Friday, March 28, 2014

Amnesty International raps Putrajaya for carrying out executions in secrecy

MARCH 27, 2014
Amnesty International Malaysia today criticised Malaysia for continuing to carry out executions in secrecy, in direct violation of international standards.
"Only one in 10 countries worldwide used the death penalty last year," said executive director Shamini Darshni.
"It is shameful that Malaysia is still part of this isolated group where judicial systems are used to kill people."
One person was executed for murder while the other was for drug trafficking. Both executions were shrouded in secrecy.
She said that there were at least two executions which were known to have taken place in Malaysia last year.
"Authorities did not make any public announcement about the imminent executions nor were there any posthumous information about the executed individuals," Shamini said.
There was also a notable rise in death sentences imposed last year compared to 2012, Amnesty International found in its annual review of the death penalty globally.
"Last year's executions were disappointing because there had been genuine progress towards abolishing the death penalty in Malaysia," Shamini said.
She urged Putrajaya to review the law on mandatory death sentences for drug offences, as had been promised in 2012.
"The secrecy around executions in Malaysia has allowed Putrajaya to effectively kill individuals without public scrutiny," she said.
"Transparency is a safeguard of due process. But Putrajaya seems to be trying to hide its human rights abuses from the world."
Earlier this month, Putrajaya rejected all recommendations to establish a moratorium on executions and abolish the death penalty.
The recommendations were made by fellow United Nations member states at the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.
Amnesty International today published its report on the death penalty worldwide in 2013.
At least 778 executions were known to have been carried out in 22 countries in 2013, compared to 682 and 22 respectively in 2012.
These numbers, however, do not include China, where Amnesty International believes thousands were executed – more than the rest of the world put together.
But with executions treated as a state secret, the correct figure is impossible to determine.
The alarming rise in executions in 2013 was mainly due to Iran and Iraq, where authorities markedly stepped up their use of the death penalty.
The top five executing countries in 2013 were China (thousands), Iran (369), Iraq (169), Saudi Arabia (79) and the USA (39).
Despite the setbacks in 2013, there has been a steady decline in the number of countries using the death penalty over the last 20 years, and there was progress in all regions last year.
Many countries who executed in 2012 did not implement any death sentences last year, including Gambia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, where authorities again suspended the use of the death penalty, the report said.
Belarus also refrained from executions, meaning Europe and Central Asia was execution-free for the first time since 2009.
Twenty-five years ago, 37 countries actively implemented the death penalty.
This number had fallen to 25 by 2004 and was at 22 last year, said the report.
Only nine of the world’s countries have executed year on year for the past five years.
Methods of executions in 2013 included beheading, electrocution, firing squad, hanging and lethal injection.
Public executions took place in Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.
People faced the death penalty for a range of non-lethal crimes including robbery, drug-related and economic offences, as well as acts that should not be a crime at all such as “adultery” or “blasphemy”.
The report also said many countries used vaguely worded political “crime” to put real or perceived dissidents to death. – March 27, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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