• Friday, January 26, 2007

    Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and Okeke Nelson Malachy executed by Singapore

    Singapore has executed Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and Okeke Nelson Malachy despite the recent appeal by the Special Rapporteur. For more information, see Ruth Youngblood, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, “Clemency call falls on deaf ears". More links to coverage, including the notice of execution from the Central Narcotics Bureau, at the blog Singabloodypore.

  • Friday, January 25, 2008

    Death sentence of Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi

    The Special Rapporteur has issued a press release in which he “called on the Government of Singapore not to proceed with the planned execution of Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi”. He explained that:

    “It is a fundamental human right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Alston said. “The standard accepted by the international community is that capital punishment may be imposed only when the guilt of the person charged is based upon clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts.” Alston indicated that these rights are recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. “Singapore cannot reverse the burden and require a defendant to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he didn’t know that he was carrying drugs,” Alston said.

    The trial judge appears to have accepted that Mr Tochi might not have realized that the capsules he was carrying contained heroin, stating that “[t]here was no direct evidence that he knew the capsules contained diamorphine, or that he had found that out on his own” but that “ignorance did not exculpate him”. He was convicted and sentenced to death. (The death sentence is mandatory for the offence of trafficking more than 15 grammes of heroin.) The appeal court rejected the trial court’s suggestion that it was irrelevant whether Mr Tochi had knowledge of what he was carrying. Nevertheless, it upheld his conviction. The appeal court reasoned that under Singapore law such knowledge is presumed until the defendant rebuts that presumption “on a balance of probabilities”, concluding that, “It is not sufficient for [a defendant] merely to raise a reasonable doubt.” His appeals have been exhausted and, reportedly, his petition for clemency has been rejected.

    . . .

    Alston also said that Singapore law making the death penalty mandatory for drug trafficking was inconsistent with international human rights standards. “Singapore’s decision to make the death penalty mandatory keeps judges from considering all of the factors relevant to determining whether a death sentence would be permissible in a capital case,” Alston said.

  • Friday, January 19, 2007

    Update on the case of Munir Said Thalib

    Activist’s widow fights for truth on his murder", Sydney Morning Herald (20 January 2007)

  • Friday, January 12, 2007

    Press release on executions in Iran

    The Special Rapporteur has issued a press release: “Iran must stop executions of Ahwazi Arabs sentenced to death following a secret, grossly unfair trial":

    We are fully aware that these men are accused of serious crimes, including having tried to overthrow the Government after having received military training by US and UK forces”, the UN experts said. “However, this cannot justify their conviction and execution after trials that made a mockery of due process requirements.

  • Friday, January 05, 2007

    Saddam Hussein’s co-defendants granted stay of execution

    The co-defendants of Saddam Hussein who also on death row – Barzan Ibrahim Al-Hassan and Awad Hamad Al-Bandar – were granted a stay of execution. (Damien McElroy, “Hanging of Saddam’s half-brother postponed", Telegraph (London).)

    Yesterday Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions gave a radio interview discussing the execution of Saddam Hussein. He commented that:

    It’s a fine line between carrying out summary justice and carrying out justice according to the rule of law. The rule of law takes time, it gives lots of opportunities to people who we consider to be basically pretty nasty and not very deserving, and there’s always the temptation to take shortcuts. But as soon as you take those shortcuts, you come very close to the behaviour of any authoritarian regime, and certainly that of Saddam himself.

  • Thursday, January 04, 2007

    Coverage on need for death penalty reforms in Iraq

    The Associated Press has released an article drawing on the Special Rapporteur’s press release and covering the “reforms necessary to ensure the independence and fairness of the Iraqi justice system”.

  • Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Press release on execution of Saddam Hussein

    The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions has issued a press release, “Tragic mistakes made in the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein must not be repeated".

    The Special Rapporteur has previously corresponded with the Government of Iraq on its use of the death penalty and on the killing of defense lawyers during the Dujail trial.