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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    April 27, 2020

    Following Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it plans to end the use of the death penalty against people below the age of 18 at the time of the crime in cases not involving the counter-terror law, Amnesty International has called on the country to totally abolish the death penalty.

    “While this represents a significant step for Saudi Arabia if implemented, the country’s continued use of the death penalty reached a shocking high last year with 184 recorded executions,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director.

    “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment; no country should still be using it and Saudi Arabia’s record is particularly bad in this respect. Saudi Arabia must now establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely.

    “It should also not be forgotten that dozens of peaceful human rights activists remain detained following convictions in grossly unfair trials solely for campaigning for equality and justice in a vastly repressive environment.”

    April 21, 2020
    Saudi Arabia, Iraq, South Sudan, and Yemen bucked a global trend with spikes in executions Global executions fell by 5%, hitting a 10-year low

    Saudi Arabia executed a record number of people in 2019, despite an overall decline in executions worldwide, Amnesty International said in its 2019 global review of the death penalty published today. The Saudi authorities put 184 people to death last year, the highest number Amnesty has ever recorded in a single year in the country.

    Meanwhile the number of executions doubled in Iraq, and Iran retained its place as the world’s second most prolific executioner after China, where the exact number of people put to death remains a state secret. However these states are bucking a global trend which saw global executions decrease for the fourth consecutive year to at least 657 in 2019 from at least 690 in 2018 -- the lowest recorded figure of the past decade.

    March 24, 2020

    Reacting to news that the Colorado legislature has signed a bill to repeal the death penalty, Kristina Roth, Senior Program Officer at Amnesty International USA, stated:

    "Colorado becomes the 22nd state to have abandoned the death penalty, bringing this country one state closer to joining the over two-thirds of the countries in the world that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. This is the kind of human rights leadership this country needs, now more than ever.

    "The Governor must also be commended for commuting the death sentences of people currently on death row.

    "The death penalty is irreversible, it is ineffective, and it does not deter crime. The way the death penalty is carried out is painful, violent, and inhumane, and it is weaponized in this country disproportionately against communities of color. The use of the death penalty as a punishment is outdated, fundamentally broken and must end once and for all."

    Background: 

    February 12, 2020

    Hồ Duy Hải says the authorities tortured him into signing a confession for theft and murder. The trial also had serious errors, including ignoring his alibis and other vital evidence. Twice he came close to execution.

    The stress of his pending death sentence took a huge toll on his family. His mother, Nguyễn Thị Loan, told Amnesty International: “It has been 11 years since he was arrested, and our family was torn apart. I can no longer bear this pain. Just thinking about my son suffering behind bars hurts me so much.”

    August 21, 2019

    In response to a ruling by a court today in El Salvador under which Evelyn Hernández was acquitted of charges for aggravated homicide, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This is a resounding victory for the rights of women in El Salvador. It reaffirms that no woman should be wrongly accused of homicide for the simple fact of suffering an obstetric emergency. Now that Evelyn has been acquitted, Amnesty International calls on El Salvador to end the shameful and discriminatory practice of criminalizing women once and for all by immediately revoking the nation’s draconian anti-abortion laws.”

    Background information

    On 6 April 2016, Evelyn Hernández, 21, suffered an obstetric emergency in her home in El Salvador which resulted in the loss of her pregnancy. Once at hospital, attending staff reported her to the police. She was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 30 years in jail for aggravated homicide. In 2018, a higher court overturned this ruling and ordered a re-trial.

    July 09, 2019

    Thirty academics and political figures facing trumped-up charges, including espionage for the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition, were sentenced to death by the Sana’a-based Huthi-run Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) following a fundamentally flawed legal process, said Amnesty International.

    Out of 36 individuals who were on trial, 30 were handed down death sentences. Amongst those is Youssef al-Bawab, a 45-year-old father of five and linguistics professor and political figure, who was arbitrarily arrested in late 2016. He was charged in April 2017, alongside 35 others, with several offences carrying the death penalty. Throughout his detention, proceedings against him and others in the same case were seriously flawed, and included enforced disappearance, excessive pre-trial detention, undue delays in his trial, incommunicado detention, allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and lack of access to legal counsel and medical care. 

    May 31, 2019

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA

    Reacting to news that the New Hampshire legislature has voted to repeal the death penalty, Kristina Roth, Senior Program Officer at Amnesty International USA stated:

    “We welcome this outstanding news. With this vote, New Hampshire will become the 21st state to have abandoned the death penalty. This inhumane practice is the ultimate irrevocable punishment and denial of human rights. It does not deter crime and disproportionately impacts communities of color. This system is fundamentally broken and must end once and for all.”

    Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally.

    For more information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    April 09, 2019
    Global executions fell by 31%, reaching lowest figure in at least a decade But several countries saw a rise in executions, including Belarus, Japan, Singapore, South Sudan and USA Thailand resumed executions, Sri Lanka threatened to follow suit China remained world’s top executioner, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Viet Nam and Iraq

    Global executions fell by almost one-third last year to the lowest figure in at least a decade, Amnesty International said in its 2018 global review of the death penalty published today. The statistics assess known executions worldwide except in China, where figures thought to be in their thousands remain classified as a state secret.

    Following a change to its anti-narcotics laws, executions in Iran – a country where the use of the death penalty is rife – fell by a staggering 50%. Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia also showed a significant reduction in the number they carried out. As a result, execution figures fell globally from at least 993 in 2017, to at least 690 in 2018.

    March 19, 2019

    The Singaporean authorities must halt the imminent execution of Micheal Anak Garing, a Malaysian national, Amnesty International said today.

    Garing and another man, both from Sarawak, Malaysia, were convicted of murder by the High Court of Singapore in 2014 for killing a man during an armed robbery that took place in 2010. Garing was sentenced to death.

    His family was recently informed that his execution is scheduled to take place on Friday 22 March.

    “Once again, Singapore threatens to inflict the kind of cruelty it claims to oppose. No matter how heinous the crime, the death penalty is a degrading and inhuman punishment. We denounce its use in all circumstances,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Singapore Researcher at Amnesty International. “The Singaporean authorities must immediately halt their plans to carry out this callous execution.”

    This would be the first execution to take place in Singapore this year that Amnesty International is aware of. The Singaporean authorities carried out 13 executions in 2018, but details of the executions are not publicly available.

    March 14, 2019

    The announcement today that the mandatory death penalty will be abolished for 11 offences should be considered Malaysia’s first step towards total abolition of the death penalty.

    “The government has sadly reneged on its earlier commitment to abolish the death penalty in totality, but we urge the government to keep its promise to abolish the death penalty once and for all at the soonest opportunity,” Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said today. 

    On 13 March 2019, Deputy Minister in charge of Law Mohamed Hanipa Maidin announced to Parliament that the Government is proposing to introduce sentencing discretion for 11 offences under the Penal Code and Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, which currently carry the mandatory death penalty. The change would leave the imposition of the death penalty at the hands of judges.

    March 13, 2019

    Today the California Gov. Gavin Newsome signed an executive order placing a moratorium on executions. The order will affect over 700 people on death row.

    “This is an important step towards establishing a better criminal justice system that respects human rights,” said Kristina Roth, senior program officer of Amnesty International USA’s criminal justice program. “California has made a significant move toward being on the right side of history as momentum continues against the death penalty. While this is an important development, we will continue to work for the complete abolition of the death penalty in all states and nations around the world.”

    Amnesty International USA opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. As of today, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

    This statement available at: https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/california-governor-signs-moratorium-on-executions/
     

    February 28, 2019

    South Sudan authorities executed at least seven people in February 2019 alone, three of whom were from the same family. This is as many as were executed in the whole of 2018 and represents a shocking spike in the use of the death penalty in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “This confirms our fears that South Sudan authorities have absolutely no respect for the right to life as they continue to totally disregard the fact that the world is moving away from use of the death penalty,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    In December 2018, Amnesty International raised the alarm that the eastern African country had in that year executed more people than in any other year since its independence in 2011.

    The executions in 2018 followed the transfer of at least 135 death row prisoners from county and state prisons to Wau Central Prison and Juba Central Prison, which are equipped with gallows to carry out executions.

    February 26, 2019

    Sri Lanka’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, should halt his plans to resume executions after more than four decades to execute at least 13 people for drug-related crimes, Amnesty International said today.

    In an open letter published today, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Kumi Naidoo, urges President Sirisena to fulfil Sri Lanka’s international commitments, respect the right to life, and shun executions that have been proven to have a unique  deterrent effect on crime.

    “Executions, Mr. President, are not a show of strength but an admission of weakness,” Kumi Naidoo writes in the open letter. “They represent the failure to create a society where the protection of the right to life triumphs over the temptations of vengeance.”

    “For those of us who believe that human life must hold the highest value, taking it away is the lowliest act. We understand this clearly when a person commits murder, but we choose to forget it when the state puts someone to death, inflicting the same pain and loss on others who bear no responsibility for the crime.”

    February 22, 2019

    The Iranian authorities must immediately halt plans to execute three young men who are on death row for crimes that took place while they were under the age of 18, said Amnesty International.

    The organization has learned that Mohammad Kalhori, Barzan Nasrollahzadeh and Shayan Saeedpour, who were all convicted for separate crimes that took place while they were minors, are at risk of imminent execution.

    “The Iranian authorities must act quickly to save these young men’s lives. Failing to stop their execution would be another abhorrent assault on children’s rights by Iran. International human rights law strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty against people who were under the age of 18 when the crime was committed,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Its use is horrendous in all circumstances but is even more appalling when it is used as punishment against people who were under 18 when the crimes took place and within a judicial system that is blatantly unfair.”

    February 13, 2019

    Egyptian authorities today hanged three prisoners convicted of killing a police officer during clashes that erupted in the weeks following the deadly Rabaa massacre. The executions brought the total number of executions in Egypt to six within a span of two weeks.

    Responding to the news, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director Najia Bounaim said:

    “These executions, which come just days after three other people were put to death in separate cases, mark an alarming escalation in executions so far this year.

    “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and its use is appalling under any circumstances, but it is even more so given that all six execution

    victims were sentenced based on confessions they said were extracted under torture. The shocking flaws in Egypt’s justice system have seen hundreds sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials in recent years.

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