February 26, 2016

IDPN 2016  Issue 09


Iraq: Fifteen-year-old Ayham Hussein has been publicly killed by beheading by the Islamic State.  Ayham was caught enjoying pop tunes (western music) on a portable CD player.  He was murdered in Mosul, after being quickly tried and convicted by a Sharia court.



Italy:  Pope Francis has called for a worldwide abolition of the death penalty.  His remarks come during the Holy Year of Mercy.  He referenced that during such years of “Jubilee,” we are to forgive debtors and prisoners.  Pope Francis referenced the commandment “You shall not kill,” noting that it applied to all.  He also stated that the death penalty is no longer needed as there is now a means to “efficiently repress crime without definitively denying the person who committed it the possibility of rehabilitating themselves.  During his speech, the Pope also called upon Christians to improve the conditions of jails “so that they respect the human dignity of people who have been deprived of their freedom.”  In the past, Pope Francis has also spoken out against life in prison, believing that all criminal should have a chance at rehabilitation.



Malaysia: An online poll has determined that over half of those surveyed support ending mandatory death penalties.  Currently, various crimes including murder, firearm possession, kidnapping with ransom, waging war agains the King, and drug offenses, all receive mandatory death penalties.  According to this poll, the majority of Malaysians would support allowing judges to have discretion when sentencing.  The government has supported removing mandatory death sentences for some crimes, such as drug offenses.



Pakistan:  In 2015, the first full year in which the nation had resumed executions following a massive, deadly school attack, a total of 324 individuals were executed, making it the nation with the third most executions in the world.  When Pakistan lifted its moratorium in execution in 2014, it was originally stated that only terrorists would be executed.  That statement was quickly discarded, as the nation began executing individuals for a variety of crimes that had resulted in a death sentence.  Only approximately 1 in 10 executions were terror related.


A Christian man, Shafquat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, his wife, have both been sentenced to death for blasphemy.  They were convicted of sending a text to their local imam in which they blasphemed the Prophet Mohammed.  Both alleged that they were tortured into confessing.  Emmanuel stated that he confessed only to get the police to stop torturing his wife.  Both claim that the phone from which the text was sent had been stolen from them months before the text was sent.  A lawyer for the couple is arguing that there is no evidence linking the phone to the couple at the time the text was sent.


On Tuesday, February 23, 2016, Faiz and Ramzan were executed by hanging at Central Jail Sahiwal.  Faiz was executed for the murder of a man named Barat in 1992.  Ramzan was executed for the murdering three women in 2004.  The execution of a third man, Ghulam Murtzaz was postponed after he reached an agreement with the victims family.  Also executed on Tuesday, was Mumtaz Ahmad, who was convicted of murdering Noor Muhammad Khaira over 24 years ago.


On Wednesday, February 25, 2016, Nemat Gul was executed by hanging at the Central Jail of Mainwali.  Naimat killed another man over a marriage dispute in 1993.  Also executed on Wednesday, was Idrees at Kot Lakhpat Jail.  He was executed for killing three children in Faisalabad.


On Thursday, February 27, 2016, Imran Sabir and Arshad were executed by hanging.  Imran was executed at Sahiwal Central Jail.  He was convicted of killing three individuals in 2003.  Arched was executed at Gujranwala Central Jail for abducting and molesting a 12-year-old girl.



Saudi Arabia:  On Tuesday, February 23, 2016, Saudi national Mufrih bin Ahmed Khamis was executed by beheading in Abha.  Mufrih was executed for kidnapping and attempting to rape his employer.  He also kidnapped her baby.  He was the family’s driver.  He also robbed and beat the women.



United States of America:  Lawmakers in Mississippi have passed a bill that would allow the state to protect the identities of members of execution teams, suppliers of the lethal injection drugs, and others involved in the execution process.  The bill was, in part, drafted by State Attorney General Jim Hood.  He cites the harassment of those connected to execution by anti-death penalty advocates as a reason this secrecy bill is necessary.  Many other states have passed similar bills for the same reason.


Lawmakers in South Carolina are considering a bill that would protect the names and identities of those connected with lethal injections.  Such a bill may possibly allowed the state to resume executions.  South Carolina currently uses a three-drug protocol: pentobarbital, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride.  Recently, the drugs possessed by the state expired and they have been unable to procure more of the first two drugs.  Supports of the bill claim that it is necessary in order to procure the drugs, as pharmacies do not want to sell the drugs to department of corrections because they are then harassed by death penalty opponents.  Opponents to bill claim that it could lead to inferior drugs resulting in painful executions.


The Florida House of Representatives have approved a bill that would allow juries to sentence a defendant to death by a vote of 10-2, meaning only 10 of the 12 jurors must vote for a sentence of death in order for it to be granted.  The bill now heads to the Florida Senate.


Senator Steve Urquhart in Utah has sponsored a bill that would eliminate capital punishment in the state.  It has passed a Senate committee by a vote of 5-2.  The bill will now be heard before the whole Senate.  Interestingly, in the state House of Representatives, a bill is being considered which would allow the death penalty in cases of human trafficking if a person would to die in the course of being trafficked.  



Zimbabwe:  The nation is taking steps to potentially eliminate the death penalty.  According to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwe, all women and those under the age of 21 have been removed from facing the death sentence.  He has also spoken out about his belief that the nation will soon abolish capital punishment.  Mnangagwe once faced execution himself under the Rhodesian regime and sympathizes greatly with those on death row.  Abolishing the death penalty is also supported by the UN Human Rights Council, who included it in a list of recommendations the nation could make to improve human rights.