giovedì 28 febbraio 2013

Refugees Flight to nowhere

The Economist

Refugees’ plight is worsening as their numbers grow and their nature changes

THEY are fast approaching 1m and their future is bleak. It is unlikely that the refugees who have fled the ghastly war in Syria will be able to return home anytime soon. Nor are many likely to start a new life abroad. They live in camps or shared rooms in neighbouring countries. They cannot work. Health care, education and other services are vestigial. “We are alive but not living,” says Yasser Jani, a 39-year-old chemistry teacher who, with his wife and children, has been in a camp in southern Turkey since July 2011.

The plight of Syria’s refugees exemplifies a growing global problem. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) counts 15.2m (4.8m of them Palestinians, looked after by a different UN outfit), with an additional 26.4m displaced within their own lands. But hosts are increasingly unfriendly to refugees, and ever more unwilling to allow them to settle permanently. Conflicts are becoming more protracted. The old ways of dealing with people fleeing across borders, designed for smaller numbers and shorter stays, rarely work anymore. The difference between refugees and economic migrants can be blurry; so is the standard of living of the new arrivals and the worst-off in the countries they arrive in.
Reluctance to accept refugees is growing. Even countries that have signed the UN’s Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, approved in 1951, are often loth to recognise asylum claims. Others are harsher still: unwilling in some cases to consider any uninvited guest as a refugee.

TunTun, a 41-year-old Karen from Myanmar, has spent 20 years in Thailand’s Mae La camp. He dare not return home, but cannot go elsewhere. The Thai authorities have not signed the convention and class people like him as illegal migrants. Some states try to turf them out. In 2007, for instance, Malawi’s government closed one of two camps for people from war-torn states including Rwanda and Somalia. President Joyce Banda has mooted closing the second, arguing that its population has been there too long.

At best, refugees have recognised status and are allowed to stay but even then most remain dependent on agency handouts or informal work to survive. Many are barred from public services such as health care or education. The number of those living in such limbo is increasing, mostly because more stay away from home for longer, or permanently: three-quarters of those registered with UNHCR have been in exile for five years or more.

Another reason is that the economic crisis has made rich countries stingier. America and Canada took in almost all of the 200,000 Hungarians who fled the 1956 uprising. Today more countries have resettlement programmes, but the numbers they take are only a tiny slice of the world’s refugee population. In 2011 only 62,000 were accepted; in 2012, it was 68,589.

Only rarely does a country raise its intake, as Australia did after many cases of people dying while trying to row there. The rich world is also cutting back on what it spends on aid to refugees. “The burnout is astonishing,” says Dawn Chatty who heads the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University.

Refugee populations are also more mobile than they used to be. Fund-raising pictures may still depict shoeless Africans in camps. But many refugees today are middle-class people crammed into cheap flats. That is the fate of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who fled sectarian bloodshed in 2006 for neighbouring Damascus and Amman. Their needs were not food, water and shelter, but psychological care and education. Some family members tried to commute to homes and businesses in Iraq.

Nought for your comfort

Aid agencies have had to adapt. UNHCR sends text messages with information; the World Food Programme mails electronic grocery vouchers, which give recipients more choice and remove the need for costly distribution networks. UNHCR, which once liked refugees to stay in easy-to-reach camps, now says it prefers them to lead a normal life in urban areas.

More refugees mingle with local people and more than 80% flee to poor countries already struggling to provide for their own citizens. Helping them increasingly resembles development aid, explains António Guterres, the head of UNHCR. Rather than providing services just for people registered with it, the agency works ever more closely with the governments and populations in countries that people flee to.

Before the war started in Syria, the UNHCR gave money to the country’s government to employ more teachers and doctors in schools and hospitals frequented by Iraqis. To prevent people getting envious, some charities set up services for all locals. The 2,800 people who took part in activities in Damascus for traumatised children set up by International Medical Corps, a California-based charity, were a mixture of Iraqis and Syrians.

David Apollo Kazungu, Uganda’s Commissioner for Refugees, says it no longer makes sense to treat refugees as a humanitarian issue. “Those who stay for years throw up developmental problems for us, such as how to find enough land, water and jobs for everyone,” he argues. Uganda has already tried to improve the lot for the nearly 200,000 refugees it hosts by placing them in settlements rather than camps, and by giving them land to farm.

Mr Kazungu believes that naturalising long-term refugees in the mainly poor countries they flee to would allow them to work and give them access to all public services. In return, he says, rich countries should give development cash and advice to host countries. His government wants to make it easier for refugees to apply for Ugandan citizenship, something Tanzania has already allowed. Regional agreements could help neighbouring countries share the burden of accepting extra people.

Better treatment for refugees may be no easier to sell in poor countries than rich ones. But officials reckon that accepting refugees could turn a burden into a benefit. Allowing them to work would increase economic activity and as citizens they would have to pay taxes. In some countries UNHCR is trying to move things in this direction. With funding from IKEA it has set up centres in Sudan and Bangladesh that offer training rather than handouts. The agency also asks host countries to let refugees work legally.

Though many refugees long for a more normal life, permanent solutions will not always work. Victims of the world’s most protracted modern refugee crisis, the Palestinians, for instance, do not want a new nationality because it would erase their right of return. More than six decades on, grandchildren proudly display the keys to their families’ former houses.

Maroc - Les parlementaires se mobilisent en faveur de l’abolition de la peine de mort


Députés et conseillers viennent de constituer un réseau contre ce châtiment suprême

«C’est un grand pas sur le long chemin de l’abolition ! » La députée PPS Nouzha Skalli ne boude pas sa joie devant ces 160 parlementaires, députés et conseillers appartenant aussi bien à la majorité qu’à l’opposition, qui viennent de se constituer en réseau pour l’abolition de la peine de mort.
Le projet mûrit depuis plusieurs mois déjà et pour ce faire, le comité préparatoire de la constitution de ce réseau –c’est le groupe parlementaire du Parti authenticité et modernité qui est à l’origine de cette initiative- a fait appel, explique cette ancienne ministre de gauche en charge de la Famille, de la Solidarité et du Développement social «à la conscience des parlementaires». «Tant il est vrai que la question de la suppression de ce châtiment cruel et inhumain relève de la conscience des uns et des autres. Sommes-nous autorisés à donner la mort et à priver une personne du plus sacré des droits, le droit à la vie?», s’interroge-t-elle.
Des parlementaires venus des rangs de l’USFP, du PPS, du PAM et de l’UC se sont passionnément engagés contre la peine de mort. On s’en souvient, ces quatre formations politiques ont officiellement réclamé l’abolition de ce châtiment suprême lors du grand débat public relatif à la réforme de la Constitution.
«Seuls deux partis politiques n’ont pas adhéré à ce réseau et ont décidé de l’ignorer. Il s’agit du PJD et du Mouvement populaire. On ne peut que regretter que des parlementaires refusent toute idée de débat sur une question de société éminemment importante. Ce que nous souhaitons, c’est l’ouverture d’un débat serein car tout pousse à l’abolition de la peine de mort chez nous», affirme ce député du PAM. La mobilisation du réseau parlementaire pour l’abolition de la peine de mort ne fait que commencer. «Il s’agit pour nous de faire en sorte d’inscrire le Maroc dans le mouvement international abolitionniste. 137 Etats ont aboli la peine capitale», explique N. Skalli. Le tout nouveau réseau qui vient en appui à la Coalition marocaine pour l’abolition de la peine de mort compte puiser ses atouts et son argumentaire dans la Constitution qui consacre le droit à la vie et interdit toute atteinte à l’intégrité physique. «Il ne faut surtout pas oublier que le Maroc a interdit et criminalisé la torture. Et la peine de mort est à nos yeux la forme la plus violente de la torture», soutient notre interlocutrice.
Autre objectif de ces parlementaires constitués en réseau, la ratification du deuxième Protocole facultatif se rapportant au Pacte international des droits civils et politiques, relatif à l’abolition de la peine de mort ainsi que l’adhésion au moratoire des Nations unies sur la suppression de ce châtiment.
115 condamnés dont deux femmes attendent dans les couloirs
de la mort
En décembre dernier, les abolitionnistes marocains ont reçu une douche froide. A la 67ème Assemblée générale des Nations unies, le Maroc s’est, contre toute attente, abstenu de voter en faveur de la résolution portant sur ce moratoire.
Les tribunaux marocains continuent de prononcer des sentences de peine de mort même si la dernière exécution d’un condamné à mort remonte à 1993. Aujourd’hui, 115 condamnés dont deux femmes attendent dans le couloir de la mort. «Au pays de la symbolique, il faut tout de même relever que dans le dossier Gdim Izik, le tribunal militaire a condamné à des peines de prison ceux qui se sont rendus coupables de l’assassinat de membres des Forces armées Royales», fait remarquer un activiste de l’Organisation marocaine des droits humains.
Les activistes se sentent pousser des ailes. Les clameurs de la suppression de cette sentence, cruelle et inhumaine, seront-elles entendues par un gouvernement dirigé par le PJD, un parti résolument anti-abolitionniste ? Au Conseil national des droits de l’Homme, c’est la circonspection qui est de mise. L’abolition de la peine de mort est une question sensible et délicate, y explique-t-on. «Comme toute question de société qui touche à la foi. Il faut bien l’admettre, la problématique de la peine de mort divise la société marocaine. Une partie très importante de la société est en faveur de ce châtiment. C’est pourquoi il est important d’engager un débat public et pluraliste sur cette question sachant que la peine de mort n’est pas un châtiment exemplaire, qu’elle ne fait pas reculer le crime et qu’elle rabaisse la société au niveau du criminel qui ôte la vie», expliquait en octobre dernier à «Libération» Driss El Yazami, le président du Conseil national des droits de l’Homme. «C’est par le débat et la conviction et non par un oukaze que nous pouvons avancer. D’autant qu’en matière de peine de mort, on n’est jamais à l’abri d’une erreur judiciaire », poursuit celui qui était membre de l’Instance équité et réconciliation, une instance qui a recommandé l’abolition de la peine capitale dans son rapport final.
L’abolition de la peine de mort est-elle au menu des réformes que le gouvernement Benkirane a l’intention d’engager? Pas si sûr. «La Constitution adoptée en juillet 2011 n’a pas interdit expressément ce châtiment suprême. D’ailleurs, un débat sur la question a divisé les membres de la commission consultative en charge de la réforme constitutionnelle. Ceux qui étaient contre l’abolition l’ont emporté. Certes, la Constitution consacre le droit à la vie. C’est un principe général que l’Etat doit garantir au quotidien et qu’il ne faut pas interpréter de manière stricto sensu », prévient un membre de la commission en charge de la réforme de la Constitution.
En terre marocaine, la peine de mort est une sentence prévue par 49 articles dont 33 dans le Code pénal.

Arabie Saoudite. Un homme décapité pour trafic de drogue

Un ressortissant jordanien, condamné à mort pour trafic de drogue en Arabie saoudite a été décapité au sabre, dimanche, dans la région d’Al-Jouf (nord), a annoncé le ministère saoudien de l’Intérieur.
Fares al-Maghrebi avait été reconnu coupable d’avoir introduit dans le royaume saoudien "une grande quantité de pilules d’amphétamine", a ajouté le ministère dans un communiqué cité par l’agence officielle Spa.
Son exécution porte à 16 le nombre de personnes décapitées en Arabie saoudite depuis le début de l’année.
En 2012, 76 personnes avaient été décapitées, selon un décompte établi par l’AFP à partir de communiqués du ministère de l’Intérieur.
Le viol, le meurtre, l’apostasie, le vol à main armée et le trafic de drogue sont passibles de la peine capitale en Arabie saoudite, qui applique de manière stricte la charia (loi islamique).

Stati Uniti: spending review sulla giustizia... per risparmiare si liberano gli immigrati detenuti

Gli Stati Uniti iniziano a risparmiare sulle carceri. Mentre Washington cerca di evitare il “sequester”, l’insieme dei tagli automatici alla spesa che dovrebbe scattare dal primo marzo, l’agenzia per l’immigrazione annuncia la liberazione di centinaia di detenuti dai centri in cui vengono reclusi gli immigrati in attesa di essere esclusi. E Barack Obama torna a rivolgersi ai Repubblicani per evitare i tagli che definisce una mannaia per l’economia:
“Ci sono troppi repubblicani al Congresso, in questo momento, che rifiutano qualsiasi compromesso, nemmeno di fronte all’eliminazione delle scappatoie fiscali e delle spese inutili - ha detto il capo della Casa Bianca - Ricordate che nessuno chiede loro di aumentare i tassi di imposta sul reddito. Tutto quello che chiediamo riguarda le scappatoie fiscali e le deduzioni che solo pochi mesi fa, il Presidente della Camera, John Boehner, era disposto ad appoggiare”.
In una infuocata riunione a porte chiuse, Boenher ha esortato i rappresentanti del partito dell’Elefante a trovare un accordo, ma in pubblico è tornato all’attacco del Presidente: “Per sedici mesi, il capo dello Stato ha attraversato tutto il Paese tenendo comizi, invece di sedersi con i leader del Senato per cercare di dar vita ad un accordo sul disegno di legge”. I tagli colpirebbero in particolar modo il Pentagono. 800.000 impiegati civili andrebbero in licenza non pagata. “La nostra clientela è composta per il 60% da militari e da studenti delle scuole superiori - spiega Carla Palencia, manager di un fast food nei pressi di una base militare. Per noi sarà un disastro se taglieranno i fondi delle forze armate. Sarebbe un danno per l’attività”. I Repubblicani accusano Obama di usare i militari come espediente per evitare il collasso. Il Presidente replica che l’opposizione rifiuta l’aumento delle tasse per i più ricchi.
“Un certo numero di immigrati detenuti è stato liberato in tutto il Paese e sottoposto ad una forma di supervisione appropriata e più economicamente efficiente”, ha reso noto la portavoce dell’Ufficio immigrazione e dogane (Ice) Gillian Christensen. L’Ice, ha aggiunto, continuerà “a perseguire questi casi nei tribunali per l’immigrazione e, quando verranno ordinate, porterà a compimento le deportazioni”.
Non sono stati resi noti i numeri degli immigrati scarcerati, molti dei quali cercheranno presumibilmente di sottrarsi al controllo delle autorità. Ieri il ministro della Sicurezza Interna, Janet Napolitano, aveva avvertito che tagli indiscriminati avrebbero reso difficile il controllo dell’immigrazione clandestina.

Togo: Amnesty international «très préoccupée» par le sort des détenus


Dans une déclaration publique en date du 21 février, Amnesty International après avoir fait le point sur ces vagues d'arrestation dans le cadre de l'affaire des incendies des grands marchés de Lomé et de Kara se dit très préoccupée par le sort qui est réservé aux personnes détenues.

Faisant le point des échanges qu'elle a eu avec ces détenus dont plusieurs responsables politiques, la branche togolaise de cette organisation internationale révèle que « la moitié des personnes rencontrées par Amnesty International ont déclaré qu'elles n'avaient pas été clairement notifiées des motifs de leur arrestation ».

D'autres encore, toujours rencontrés par Amnesty International Togo, « ont affirmé avoir eu des difficultés à être assistés par un avocat », du fait d'un refus souvent opposé par les autorités de gendarmerie.

Ce sont là, entre autres situations qui inquiètent Amnesty International quand aux conditions de détention de ces individus ; des conditions qui sont contraires au droit international.

Cette structure cite entre autres cas, celui « notamment de Jean Eklou, le dirigeant des jeunes de l'Alliance nationale pour le changement (ANC), détenu à la Direction générale de la gendarmerie et qui a été menotté pendant les deux premiers jours de sa détention aux pieds et aux mains jour et nuit et obligé de dormir dans cette position.

Ces conditions de détention ne respectent pas les garanties mises en place par l'Ensemble de règles minima des Nations unies pour le traitement des détenus qui prévoit que les instruments de contrainte tels que menottes, chaînes, fers et camisoles de force ne doivent jamais être appliqués en tant que sanctions ».

Aussi, le cas de l'ex-député UFC, exclu du parlement, Ouro Akpo Tchagnao, préoccupe Amnesty International.

Arrêté le 28 janvier, il serait « resté 48 heures privé de nourriture et détenu dans un lieu qui n'était pas connu de ses proches.

Certaines personnes, détenues au lieu dénommé « la Réserve » ont dormi à même le sol alors que d'autres qui sont malades n'ont pas eu accès à un médecin.

C'est le cas d'Attiley Apollinaire, chauffeur de Jean Pierre Fabre, président de l'ANC, qui a des problèmes à la hanche et qui marche difficilement à l'aide d'une béquille ».

Il est à noter que dans le cadre de l'enquête sur les incendies de Kara (dans la nuit du 9 au 10 janvier) et de Lomé (dans la nuit du 11 au 12 janvier), ils sont 25 personnes membres ou proches de partis d'opposition à être arrêtées et détenues par la gendarmerie.

Ce qui laisse croire en une vague de répression contre des opposants politiques à quelques mois des élections législatives prévues pour cette année.

mercoledì 27 febbraio 2013

South Africa opposes Death Penalty


By Ratidzo Zinyama
South African Minister of Women and Child Lulu Xingwane has dismissed the possibility of reinstating the death sentence, describing it ‘as against the democratic values of the country.’

Despite an alarming rate of rape cases in the country for which some organisations have called for the death penalty, Minister Xingwane ruled out capital publishment.

“It is against our ethos of human rights,” she was quoted by News24.

She said the country would not consider castration of rapists as practiced by some other countries.

“We will not do anything that is illegal as government. Well, we believe in human rights of all people and believe the courts are the body that should be given the authority to ensure the law takes its course.”

Xingwane was speaking at the court hearing of the two men accused of the rape and killing of Anene Booysen, 17, who was found at a local construction site on Saturday 2 February in Bregasdorp, near Cape Town.

She had been raped, brutally injured and disembowelled.

South Africa, still dealing with the effects of a violent apartheid past, has one of the highest rape incidences in the world. Violence against women has become normalized. For years there has been a brutal epidemic of rapes and murders on women and children, especially against black lesbian women. The country’s criminal justice system has not been able to deal effectively with this cancer.

With high unemployment rates and poverty levels in most of the country’s black townships, a prison sentence is not such a bad thing as it means free food, accommodation, clothes, health care system among other things, things that don’t come easy in impoverished communities.

The relevant authorities doesn’t seem to have a workable program to curb this crime.

Taiwan to Continue Enforcing Death Penalty

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Taiwan says it will continue to enforce the death penalty, despite international appeals to end capital punishment on the island.

Taiwan has executed 15 people since 2010, when it ended a five-year informal moratorium on the death penalty. Six people were put to death in the latest round of executions in December 2012.

The firing-squad executions have generated outcries from European Union members and human rights groups. Last week, Amnesty International gave Taiwan a petition calling for a suspension of the death penalty with more than 100,000 signatures from French citizens.

Taiwan Deputy Justice Minister Chen Shou-huang tells VOA only murderers who kill more than one person or use brutality face the death penalty. He says the government is seeking understanding from its critics.

He says Taiwan has reached out to diplomats in European Union countries and diplomatic missions throughout the world to explain, in specific terms, the reasons why Taiwan must enforce the death penalty.

Opinion polls in Taiwan indicate 77 percent of the public supports capital punishment. Cases such as the murder of a 10-year-old boy in December particularly stimulate popular support.

Space is also harder to find for convicts sentenced to the alternative life in prison.

But, despite the logistical and political merits, questions still remain. Two years ago, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou apologized for the wrongful execution of a soldier accused of murdering a child in 1996.

And, some observers say international criticism of Taiwan's decision could diminish efforts to distinguish, itself, diplomatically from China, which claims sovereignty of the self-ruled island and also administers the death penalty.

Since Ma took office in 2008, he has tried to use so-called "soft power" to highlight Taiwanese cultural and humanitarian achievements that China cannot match.

Lin Hsin-yi, executive director with the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, says human rights criticism from abroad will hurt the soft-power cause.

She says human rights represents the best possibility for Taiwan to express its soft power. She says, in a comparison of the human rights performances of Taiwan and China, Taiwan’s government might say it is seen by the world as superior in terms of democracy, freedom and strength of human rights. But now, she says, suddenly you might see China advancing.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said this month that foreign criticism of its death penalty will not impact relations with other countries.

Oregon Lawmakers Consider Death Penalty Repeal

Oregon Public Broadcasting

SALEM, Ore. – More than a year ago, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stunned people by enacting a moratorium on the death penalty. It happened just weeks before the scheduled execution of two-time murderer Gary Haugen. At a hearing Tuesday, lawmakers took up the question of whether to ask voters to repeal the death penalty altogether. But it’s not clear whether that will actually happen.

Dan Bryant knows the unique pain of learning a loved one has been murdered. His mother was stabbed to death by a mentally-ill relative in 1998.

"Five years later, her killer died while under the care of the State Hospital," Bryant says. "His death did nothing to bring closure, relief or any sense of justice to me or my family."

Now, the Eugene minister is asking lawmakers to send a repeal of the death penalty to Oregon voters. Ending capital punishment in Oregon would have to be done at the ballot. That's because Oregon voters put it in the state Constitution nearly 30 years ago.

Supporters of a repeal such as Portland Democratic Representative Jules Bailey say the death penalty is costly and carries the risk of executing someone who is innocent.

"We can do better than this as Oregonians and we can do better for Oregonians by imposing a life sentence for a life taken."

Few people spoke up in favor of the death penalty at the legislative hearing, though Oregon prosecutors have long fought any attempt to ban capital punishment.

For Terri Hakim, it's a personal matter. Her husband, Oregon State Trooper William Hakim, was one of two officers killed when a bomb exploded at a Woodburn bank in 2008. Two men are now awaiting execution for the murders. And Hakim wants to make sure they stay on death row.

"If my husband was still alive doing his work, I probably wouldn't be here today," she says. "It is now affecting me personally."

There are 37 people on Oregon's death row. Just two killers have been put to death since Oregon reinstated the death penalty in 1984. But both men in those cases dropped their appeals -- in a sense volunteering to die.

The governor back in the 90s who let those executions proceed was John Kitzhaber. He’s now back in office and he regrets that decision. The Democrat is lobbying lawmakers to send voters the death penalty repeal. But fellow Democrat and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jeff Barker closed the hearing without calling for a vote.

"There was a lack of support from some members. I don't think we would have the votes today to have moved it."

That leaves the fate of the legislation in doubt, even before it faces the scrutiny of Oregon voters.

Atheists face extensive discrimination, UN rights council told

The Guardian

Humanist group raises concerns amid new efforts by Muslim countries in UN to ban denigration of religion

Atheists, humanists and freethinkers face widespread discrimination around the world, with expression of their views criminalised and even subject to capital punishment, the United Nations has been told.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) said atheism was banned by law in a number of states where people were forced to officially adopt a faith.

"Extensive discrimination by governments against atheists, humanists and the non-religious occurs worldwide," said the union, which has 120 member bodies in 45 countries.

In Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan "atheists can face the death penalty on the grounds of their belief", in violation of UN human rights accords, the IHEU said in a document submitted to the UN human rights council.

In several other countries legal measures "effectively criminalise atheism [and] the expression and manifestation of atheist beliefs" or lead to systematic discrimination against freethinkers, it said.

Three of the states on the rights council – Pakistan, Mauritania and Maldives – have legislation providing for death for blasphemy against Islam, a charge that can be applied to atheists who publicly reveal their ideas.

The paper was submitted as the council opened its annual spring session against a background of new efforts in the UN by Muslim countries to obtain a worldwide ban on denigration of religion, specifically what they call Islamophobia.

Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, told the council there was a "rising trend" of Islamophobia. "We condemn all sorts of incitement to hatred and religious discrimination against Muslims and people of other faiths," he said.

This month a senior official of the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) said the body would focus on getting agreement on criminalising denigration of religion in coming talks with western countries.

Last November the head of the 21-country Arab League told the UN security council in New York that his organisation wanted a binding international framework to ensure "that religious faith and its symbols are respected".

The IHEU and other non-governmental rights groupings argue that many Muslim governments use this terminology and the concept of "religious blasphemy" within their own countries to cow both atheists and followers of other religions.

A number of these governments "prosecute people who express their religious doubt or dissent, regardless of whether those dissenters identify as atheist", the IHEU document said.

Islamic countries including Bangladesh, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey had also stepped up prosecution of "blasphemous" expression of criticism of religion in social media such as Facebook and Twitter, it said.

OIC countries have 15 seats on the council, all from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, making up almost a third of the rights body.

Iran: l’Ong Iran Human Rights; 500 esecuzioni da ottobre 2012 in carcere Mashad

Sarebbero circa 500 le condanne a morte eseguite in segreto, dall’ottobre dello scorso anno ad oggi, nel carcere Vakilabad di Mashad, nell’Iran nordoccidentale. Lo denuncia Iran Human Rights (Ihr), un’Ong che si batte contro la pena di morte nella Repubblica Islamica, secondo cui le esecuzioni sono riprese negli ultimi mesi dopo uno stop dovuto alle “pressioni internazionali” sul governo di Teheran. Negli ultimi cinque mesi, si legge sul sito di Ihr, le impiccagioni si sono tenute a Vakilabad a intervalli regolari: il mercoledì e la domenica di ogni settimana e in ogni occasione sono saliti al patibolo almeno 10 detenuti, con punte anche di 50 esecuzioni tra novembre e dicembre. Tra loro, stando agli attivisti dell’Ong, sarebbe stato impiccato anche un minorenne. Come hanno spiegato fonti in Iran a Ihr, sono proseguite anche nelle ultime settimane le esecuzioni a Vakilabad, in gran parte di persone condannate per narcotraffico, ma anche di molti cittadini afghani, i cui corpi non sono stati sepolti nel loro Paese d’origine ma in una sezione speciale del cimitero di Mashad Behesht-e-Reza.

martedì 26 febbraio 2013

UN chief reaffirms call for moratorium on death penalty

UN News Centre

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today reiterated his call for a global moratorium on applying the death penalty, stressing the United Nations’ long history of opposing the practice and the growing momentum among the international community to permanently end it.

“A global moratorium is a crucial stepping stone towards full worldwide abolition,” Mr. Ban said in a message delivered by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang.

“Capital punishment is inconsistent with the mission of the United Nations to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person,” Ms. Kang read, during an event at the Human Rights Council in Geneva organized by the International Commission against the Death Penalty, an independent body opposed to capital punishment.

The UN General Assembly first voted on a moratorium in 2007, and again in December 2012 with the support of 111 countries, 41 against and 34 abstentions. The resolution called for a progressive restriction on the use of capital punishment and eliminating it entirely for felons below the age of 18 and pregnant women.

Although not legally binding, the UN moratorium on executions carries moral and political weight.

“The United Nations system has long advocated the abolition of the death penalty. International and hybrid tribunals supported by the UN do not provide for capital punishment, nor does the International Criminal Court,” Mr. Ban’s message noted.

Approximately150 countries have either abolished the death penalty or do not practice it, but Mr. Ban noted that some recently reinstated the practice.

Thousands of people are executed each year, “often in violation of international standards, such as the right to fair trial and due process,” Mr. Ban said.

He added that the death penalty is still used for a wide range of crimes that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” and based on information that is not transparent.

In addition, sometimes “wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice” can occur in well-functioning legal systems that sentence and execute persons who have been ultimately proven innocent, Mr. Ban said.

India - Gandhi's granddaughter opposes death penalty for rapists

The India Express

Natasha Chaku
Amid a debate in India over capital punishment for rapists, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, Ela Gandhi, Monday said death sentence is not the solution to end violence against women and society needs to promote gender consciousness.
"Capital punishment itself will not change the attitude towards gender. Nor will Anna Hazare-led stir on bringing a law against corruption alone change the system," said Ela Gandhi, a former South African MP during her visit to Australia.
The social activist, who is working to end domestic violence thinks the society needs to "become more gender conscious". "There has to be real community outreach programmes with parents, with young people in schools. Everywhere, gender consciousness needs to be a part of the syllabus of every child," she said.
She also expressed shock over alleged murder of model Reeva Steenkamp by gold medalist paralympian Oscar Pistorius. "Steenkamp's death by her boyfriend has reinforced the unfortunate fact that South Africa is battling with the deep-rooted culture of violence," she said.

Italia - Belluno: suicidio nel carcere di Baldenich, nell'istituto è il secondo caso dall’inizio dell’anno
Un giovane detenuto si è suicidato nel carcere di Baldenich. È il secondo caso dall’inizio dell’anno. La notizia non è stata ancora confermata dall’amministrazione penitenziaria, ma il passa parola ha raggiunto nel pomeriggio di sabato i social network.
Il problema delle carceri italiane è noto. In primo luogo c’è il sovraffollamento: vi sono 62mila detenuti a fronte di 46mila posti, come è stato rilevato all’inizio di febbraio 2013 in concomitanza della visita del capo dello Stato al carcere di San Vittore a Milano. Inoltre c’è quello che la Corte di Strasburgo ha chiamato il “trattamento inumano” motivo per il quale ha condannato l’Italia.

lunedì 25 febbraio 2013

Italia - Rifugiati - Chiudono i centri, 13mila in strada "Agli immigrati buonuscita di 500 euro"

La Repubblica
Il Viminale dichiara la fine dell'emergenza umanitaria a partire dal 28 febbraio. La protesta delle associazioni. Le prefetture: non abbiamo i fondi per dare l'assegno ai richiedenti asilo venuti dalla Libia. La polemica: "Abbandoniamo queste persone senza garantirgli un futuro" PALERMO - Dopo una proroga di 60 giorni, il governo decreta la fine dell'emergenza umanitaria e congeda i tredicimila richiedenti asilo in fuga dalla Libia e dal Nordafrica sbarcati a Lampedusa un anno e mezzo fa ancora ospitati nelle strutture dedicate con una sorta di "buonuscita": 500 euro a testa e via. Dal 28 febbraio, la Protezione civile "molla" la gestione di intere famiglie che da mesi attendono il riconoscimento dello status di rifugiato. E parte la mobilitazione del mondo delle associazioni che, con un tam tam sul web, danno il via, da oggi, a una grande mobilitazione a sostegno dei rifugiati. "Riappropriamoci di piazze, strade, spazi vuoti, università o scuole", è l'appello sul sito di Melting pot che ha fatto alzare la guardia alle questure di tutta Italia.

Avviare i profughi all'uscita dal sostegno e, se possibile, anche dall'Italia è la direttiva che il Viminale ha comunicato ai prefetti e ai soggetti attuatori del programma di accoglienza partito un anno e mezzo fa quando in 28.000 diedero l'assalto a Lampedusa. Con una circolare inviata la scorsa settimana, il Dipartimento per l'immigrazione ha ordinato alle prefetture di approntare entro il 28 febbraio i titoli di viaggio per i profughi, cioè il documento che, in assenza di passaporto, può consentire la libera circolazione in Italia, e soprattutto quelle che vengono definite "misure per favorire percorsi di uscita". E dunque rimpatri volontari e assistiti e una somma, 500 euro a testa, per organizzarsi il futuro. "Per
la copertura finanziaria questo Dipartimento accrediterà le relative risorse", si legge nella circolare del Viminale. Nelle prefetture sanno poco e niente. "Siamo in attesa di chiarimenti - dice Teresa Cucinotta, prefetto vicario di Palermo - tutte le strutture, alberghi, centri sociali, cooperative che fino ad ora hanno ospitato i profughi in regime di convenzione sanno da tempo che dal 28 non saranno più a nostro carico. La buonuscita dovremo distribuirla noi ma dovranno accreditarci delle somme".

Cosa succederà dal 28 febbraio è un punto interrogativo. "Stiamo consegnando alla strada migliaia di persone senza futuro - dicono le associazioni - il colpevole ritardo con cui il governo ha disposto il rilascio dei permessi di soggiorno ha ingabbiato i rifugiati: senza permesso, senza carta d'identità, senza titolo di viaggio, senza quindi poter scegliere di restare, di lavorare, oppure di ripartire. Una vera fortuna in denaro si è persa tra le pieghe di convenzioni e burocrazie, finita in tasca di albergatori e cooperative a copertura dei loro affari". Duro anche il commento del Consiglio italiano dei rifugiati: "Invece di spendere centinaia di milioni di euro solo per la fornitura di vitto e alloggio con gli stessi soldi avrebbero potuto finanziare un programma di integrazione lavorativo e alloggiativo". Un miliardo e 300 milioni di euro, 46 euro a persona per ogni giorno di ospitalità che salgono ad 80 per i minori. Ora si torna alla gestione ordinaria.

Sudan: ANHRI Demands the Halt of the Execution Sentence against a Darfurian Activist

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), demands today the immediate halt of the execution sentence issued against “Bakri Mous Mohamed” the Darfurian activist, on December 31, 2012 and the execution was adjourned more than once and he would be executed in the next few days.

The Sudanese authorities have arrested Bakri Mousa Mohamed, the Darfurian activist in 2009 on the background of participation in the protests that brokeout to denounce the repressing of the displaced people from Southern Sudan by the security forces after the authorities fabricated murder crime to him and allegedly said that he involved in this crime. The Durfarian court of Appeal senteced him for 10 years in 2009 and sent to Couper Prison in Khartoum 2010.

On December 31, 2012, a prison officer toled him of amending the sentence of imprisonment to execution, Muhamed was taken to the halter three times; in which every time, the execution adjourns for 35 days and the last of these periods will end in days.ANHRI said that “the arrest of Bakri Mousa Mohamed and fabricating the charge of involvement in a murder due to his opposition to the repressive regime tools, is a serious violation to the freedom of expression and participation in the peaceful gathering in addition to the demonstrations that were guaranteed by all the international treaties and norms”.

ANHRI added that “the trial of the activist was clear from the due process standers, especially, after the amending of the sentence issued against him from imprisonment to execution which deemed to be a serious violation to the law. It isn’t allowed to re-start the trial of a person for the same crime after the end of all the levels of litigation and he begin to implement the sentence. Moreover, the re-trial started without his knowledge and without access to defense, which is guaranteed by the law and the constitution of Sudan in addition to all the relevant international treaties and charters”.

ANHRI asserted on in case of the implementation of the sentence, that all legal legitimacy conditions were violated, it will be an intended murder away from the frame of law.

ANHRI calls the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the Darfurian activist and drop all the charges pressed on him. ANHRI also calls the authorities to conduct an immediate investigation to reveal the involved persons in arresting and fabricating the charge to the activist and hold them accountable. In particularly, as Bakri suffered serious violation to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantee the right to protest. It is also a violation to the African charter to human rights which stipulated that the necessity to due process in the trial of the persons if their conviction were proved. As provided for in Article no. 7 of Chapter I: Human and Peoples’ Rights, the first part on the rights and duties.

India's secret executions raise concerns

New Delhi (AP) — For 11 years the family of a convicted terrorist waited and wondered about his fate as he sat on death row. Two weeks ago they found out — from television. Mohammad Afzal Guru had been hanged in secrecy in a faraway jail in New Delhi. Agovernment letter informing them of the imminent hanging arrived at their home in Kashmir two days after he was dead.

"No words can describe the pain. It was like a bolt from the sky. Our whole family is still locked in that moment. We're still struggling to reconcile with that moment," said Yasin Guru, the dead man's cousin.

India has hanged two men in the past three months, its first executions in eight years. In a departure from past practice, both were done in secrecy. Rights activists worry the government has set a precedent that could impact the nearly 500 people on death row in India, including four men whose mercy pleas — their last hope of life — were rejected by India's president last week.

"The new practice of executing in secret without prior notification to relatives is deeply worrying," said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, who heads the India chapter of Amnesty International.

Three months earlier, Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman of a 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, was hanged in equal secrecy. His execution was announced several hours later.

Many believe that the government wanted to avoid violent protests in Kashmir — where a separatist campaign has just begun to wane — that would have erupted had Guru's hanging been announced beforehand.

But that's no consolation to his family or relevant to human rights activists and lawyers who see the two secret hangings as an assault on the values of democratic India.

Guru was convicted in the 2001 attack on India's Parliament that killed 14 people when five heavily armed gunmen entered the high-security parliament complex and opened fire. Eight police personnel were killed before the five attackers were shot and killed. A gardener also died.

Guru's wife, 13-year-old son and other family members were stunned when they heard on television news that he had been executed, said Yasin Guru, the cousin. Convicts facing imminent execution are normally allowed a last meeting with their families.

"The world's biggest democracy did not even have the courtesy to inform us," he said, adding the family was now demanding that the government hand over his body, which has been buried in Tihar jail in New Delhi, where he was executed Feb. 9.

The government says it sent a letter, dated Feb. 6, informing Guru's family of the execution. But it was mailed Feb. 8, one day before his execution and reached his family in Sopore in Kashmir on Feb. 11, two days after Guru was hanged.

"The most distressing failure of official compassion and public decency was in denying Afzal Guru's wife and teenage son the chance to meet him for the last time before his execution," activist Harsh Mander wrote in the Hindustan Times newspaper.

T.R. Andhyarujina, a former solicitor general of India, called Guru's execution "an inhumane act" that serves as "the most callous death sentence carried out by the government of India."

Kasab, the convict in the Mumbai terror attack, was a Pakistani. India said it informed Pakistan about the imminent execution and asked Islamabad to inform his family. Kasab's family did not claim his body.

There was little outcry over his execution, partly because of the deep revulsion that his actions evoked in India. The two and a half day attack by Kasab and his comrades in November 2008 left 166 people dead and is seared in the memory of most Indians. Because Kasab was a foreigner with no local ties, family or support, his execution did not cause the same kind of blowback that Guru's did.

Most of that anger was evident in Kashmir which erupted into violence after the news of Guru's hanging came out. Many Kashmiris also believe that he did not receive a fair trial.

Even Kashmir's chief minister, Omar Abdullah, an ally of the Indian government, said it was unacceptable that the family was not told of the execution and allowed to say goodbye.

"If we are going to inform someone by post that his family member is going to be hanged, there is something seriously wrong with the system," he said.

The secrecy goes against the humanitarian values the Indian state professes to uphold, said Rebecca John, a Supreme Court lawyer.

"The fact that the family was not informed, it reflects not only a weak state, but a brutal state; a state that does not believe in basic human rights," she said.

The use of the death penalty, on the books since 1860, has been unheard of recently. In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled that it should be given only in the "rarest of rare" cases. The executions of Kasab and Guru were the first time in eight years India had put anyone to death.

According to the government, 476 people were on death row in 2012. With most appealing for clemency through India's slow-moving judicial system, few will likely end up facing execution.

Rights activists point to the irrevocable nature of the death penalty and the rise in cases where DNA evidence has overturned convictions. They fear executions shrouded in secrecy deprive defendants of any last-minute legal recourse.

Attention is now focused on the four men on death row in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu whose mercy pleas were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee last week, nine years after they filed them.

They were convicted in 1993 of involvement in a land mine blast that killed 22 people, including several police, who were on their way to arrest a notorious smuggler.

On Wednesday, they earned a short reprieve when the Supreme Court gave them six weeks to pursue a last bid for clemency.

Another case is that of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted in the 1995 killing of a former chief minister of India's Punjab state. Last year, the present chief minister, Prakash Singh Badal, took the lead in getting Rajoana's execution postponed while he filed another appeal in the Supreme Court.

Political experts say that Guru was hanged within days of Mukherjee turning down his clemency plea, which is unusual in India. They feel it was done with an eye on upcoming general elections expected next year.

The quick and quiet executions will allow the government to claim it is being tough on terror, without angering any major constituency, and perhaps winning accolades from the majority Hindus.

"This secret hanging is a clear message to Kashmiris that Indian laws are only meant to protect the state and its officials," said Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights activist.

Tibet - Nuova immolazione - È un ragazzo di vent’anni - La nona dall'inizio dell'anno - 105 dal 2009

RAI Giornale Radio
Un altro monaco tibetano si è immolato in Cina per protestare contro l'occupazione del Tibet. Il giovane si è dato fuoco nel cortile di un monastero nella regione di Haidong. Le autorità cinesi hanno messo sotto stretto controllo la comunità religiosa impedendo a chiunque di entrare o uscire

Secondo le informazioni, il giovane, Phagmo Dhondup che ha meno di 20 anni, si è immolato ieri sera intorno alle 20 nel cortile del monastero Jhankhyung, nella regione di Palung a Tshoshar Haidong per i cinesi).

I monaci del monastero hanno trasportato il giovane nell'ospedale del villaggio vicino, nella stessa cittadina dove vive Phagmo Dhondup e le sue condizioni sono al momento sconosciute, anche se secondo alcune fonti il giovane sarebbe morto. Le autorita' cinesi hanno messo sotto stretto controllo il monastero, inviando numerosi agenti che vietano a chiunque di entrare o uscire dal luogo religioso. Quella di Phagmo Dhondrup e' la 105ma immolazione che avviene come protesta per la occupazione cinese del Tibet e il ritorno del Dalai Lama, dal 24 febbraio 2009, da quando sono cominciate questo tipo di proteste estreme. Dall'inizio di quest'anno sono nove le immolazioni in Cina, alle quali si aggiunge quella dello scorso 13 febbraio a Kathmandu in Nepal. Le autorita' cinesi stanno stringendo il cerchio nei confronti di coloro che, secondo loro, aiutano le immolazioni.

Fino ad ora hanno condannato a reati vari che arrivano fino alla pena di morte una quindicina di tibetani. L'ultimo ad essere condannato e' stato un giovane che dovra' scontare due anni perche' gli agenti hanno trovato sul suo cellulare delle immagini di alcune immolazioni. Nel mirino degli agenti cinesi, anche gli amici e parenti che offrono condoglianze ai genitori o ai familiari di coloro che si sono immolati.

domenica 24 febbraio 2013

Over 27,000 Syrian refugees enter Jordan last week

Amman, (Petra) -A total of 27,410 Syrian refugees crossed into Jordan last week of which 9721 entered the Kingdom during the last 72 hours.
An official source at the General Command of the Jordan Armed Forces said that the refugees represent various age groups including children, women, elderly people, patients and injured.
"Humanitarian aid was provided to the refugees before they were transferred to the Zaatari Refugee Camp, while the injured were hospitalized at military and civilian hospitals" the source added.

North Carolina - Judge Finds Racial Bias in Three More Death Penalty Cases Under State Racial Justice Act

Defendants Resentenced to Life Imprisonment Without the Possibility of Parole

Fayetteville, NC – Three North Carolina death-row inmates were resentenced to life in prison without parole after a state judge found that racial discrimination in jury selection played a key role in securing their sentences.

Tilmon Golphin, Christina Walters and Quintel Augustine will spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibility of parole, under the provisions of the North Carolina Racial Justice Act. The law, passed in 2009 and one of only two such statutes in the nation, allows death-row inmates to present evidence that race influenced their sentencing process. All three were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The Court takes hope that acknowledgment of the ugly truth of race discrimination revealed by Defendants’ evidence is the first step in creating a system of justice that is free from the pernicious influence of race, a system that truly lives up to our ideal of equal justice under the law,” Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks ruled.

Cassandra Stubbs, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, said the ruling affirmed that racial bias has no place in capital cases.

“In his historic ruling, Judge Weeks found pervasive evidence that prosecutors used race when deciding who should serve on capital juries. Whether we look at the big picture of the statistical evidence or the close-up evidence from the prosecutors' notes, there was overwhelming proof of discrimination,” Stubbs said. “The court sent the unmistakable message that prosecutors must change their jury selection practices if they want to seek the death penalty.”

Rep. Democrática del Congo - Líderes africanos firman un acuerdo para la paz

Un niño congoleño en uno de los campos de
refugiados de la ONU. | Reuters

Addis Abeba - Varios líderes africanos han firmado un acuerdo en un encuentro Addis Abeba para lograr la paz en el este de la República Democrática del Congo, una zona devastada por la violencia.
El Secretario General de la ONU, Ban Ki-Moon, dio la bienvenida al acuerdo, pero subrayó que "es sólo el principio de una promesa que requerirá un firme compromiso" de de los países de la región, para calmar una zona rica en recursos minerales y llena de la maldad de muchas rebeliones.

Los presidentes de la República Democrática del Congo, Sudáfrica,Mozambique, Ruanda, Congo y Tanzania han hecho el viaje a Addis Abeba para firmar este acuerdo. Los representantes de Uganda, Angola,Burundi, la República Centroafricana y Zambia también han estado presentes.

El documento prohíbe a los países el apoyo a los movimientos rebeldes y anima a una serie de reformas para el establecimiento de ley en el este de la RDC, donde las instituciones públicas son particularmente débiles.

Además, los países signatarios acordaron impulsar, en cooperación con la comunidad internacional, la paz y el desarrollo económico en la RD Congo y en toda la región en su conjunto.

El presidente congeleño, Joseph Kabila, dijo en Addis Abeba que "es hora de abrir un nuevo capítulo en la historia de la región, un capítulo más glorioso que el de las dos últimas décadas". Kabila insistió en que "es urgentemente necesario que garanticemos a la gente en nuestros países su derecho a la vida".

Sobre el terreno, medio millón de personas sigue desplazado por el conflicto, que no deja de ser una prolongación de guerras anteriorescuyo origen es el genocidio hutu en la vecina Ruanda y la venganza tutsi posterior en territorio congoleño, en el que escondieron los genocidas.

En el este de la República democrática del Congo, una zona ingobernable por el Gobierno de Kinshasa, se han hecho fuertes milicias contratadas por señores de la guerra que pagan sus servicios con los beneficios que obtienen de las minas ilegales. El M23 del criminal Bosco Ntaganda es el último de estos grupos en desestabilizar la zona.

El nombre de M23 (23 de mayo) viene de la fecha en la que se firmó el acuerdo de paz de 2009. Los rebeldes dicen que el pacto no ha sido respetado por Kinshasa, una afirmación negada por el gobierno, que siempre ha sospechado que este grupo es una herramienta de Ruanda para mantener viva la guerra y el coltán barato.

Medio Oriente: morte detenuto palestinese, incidenti a Hebron Sale tensione, 4.500 i detenuti palestinesi in sciopero fame


Tel Aviv - Gravi incidenti sono in corso a Hebron (Cisgiordania) e nei villaggi vicini in seguito alla morte ieri in una prigione israeliana di Arafat Jaradat, un palestinese originario di quella zona. Decine di dimostranti sono rimasti intossicati da gas lacrimogeni o contusi da proiettili rivestiti di gomma sparati dall'esercito israeliano per riportare l'ordine. Nelle carceri israeliane, sono saliti a 4500 i detenuti palestinesi in sciopero della fame per protesta.

POST OF THE WEEK - "Vado alla casa di Gesù, non possono toccare né la mia anima, né il mio spirito" (Carl H. Blue)

Italia - Immigrazione, rivolta al CIE di Torino - Cinque poliziotti contusi

Disordini ieri sera al Centro di identificazione ed espulsione di Torino dove un gruppo consistente di ospiti ha dato vita a una rivolta bruciando materassi e lanciando oggetti. Cinque poliziotti - fanno sapere le forze dell’ordine - sono rimasti contusi e la struttura ha riportato diversi danni. La situazione è stata riportata alla calma poco prima delle 22. Quattro uomini di origine nord africana sono stati arrestati per resistenza e lesioni a pubblico ufficiale e danneggiamento aggravato. La piena funzionalità della struttura è già stata ripristinata - spiegano dalla Questura di Torino - dopo che i danni sono stati riparati.

sabato 23 febbraio 2013

Montana - Committee kills death penalty bill

The Montana Standard
Helena — On a mostly party line vote, the House Judiciary Committee on Friday rejected and tabled a bill that would have abolished the death penalty and replaced it with life imprisonment without parole.
House Bill 370, by Rep. Doug Kary, R-Billings, failed on a 11-9 vote. Eleven Republicans opposed the bill, while Rep. Clayton Fiscus, R-Billings, joined the eight Democrats in supporting the bill.
Rep. Margie MacDonald, D-Billings, said the death penalty is no deterrent to murder. North Dakota never has had capital punishment, but has a lower murder rate than Montana does, she said.
Rep. Virginia Court, D-Billings, called the death penalty “an expensive option” that doesn’t work as a deterrent. She said both inmates on death row in Montana have been there for 20 years, with the state already spending more tan state has already spent more than $20 million to defend them.
She cited studies in other states that showed the death penalty, counting appeals, was far more expensive than life imprisonment.
Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, said, “We were told about innocent people being sentenced to death, but Montana is not executing innocent people.”
Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, said the state has put innocent people behind bars.
“Montana does make mistakes,” she said, noting that three imprisoned people in Montana have been exonerated.
Rep. Carolyn Pease-Lopez, D-Billings, said she was voting to abolish the death penalty.
“This is likely to come down on people of color more than people of the dominant society,” said the Crow tribal member. “The death penalty disproportionately affects American Indians.”
“Do we have state-sanctioned homicide?” Hill asked. “I am extremely surprised that this goes down on a partisan vote again. This is not a partisan issue.”

Tokyo - Pena di morte: Dura protesta a ministro giustizia all'indomani tre impiccagioni

La camera delle esecuzioni in un carcere di Tokyo. 
Japan - Tokio - La Lega parlamentare giapponese per l'abolizione della pena di morte ha presentato oggi una dura protesta al ministro della Giusitizia, Sadakazu Tanigaki, all' indomani della sua decisione di firmare il decreto di esecuzione per impiccagione di tre condannati a morte. Shizuka Kamei, leader della Lega che ha 200 iscritti circa tra deputati e senatori di quasi tutti i partiti, ha esortato Tanigaki a 'informare attivamente l'opinione pubblica sul trend mondiale verso l'abolizione' della pena capitale.

Rifugiati: Unhcr, molte vittime nell'Oceano Indiano - Quasi 500 perite nel 2012

(ASCA) - Roma - Per coloro che fuggono dalle guerre e dalla miseria, l'Oceano Indiano e' diventato uno dei tratti di mare piu' letali al mondo. Su circa 13 mila persone salpate su imbarcazioni di trafficanti nel 2012, quasi 500 sarebbero perite in mare a seguito di avarie o ribaltamenti.
Sono le stime dell'Alto Commissariato delle Nazioni Unite per i Rifugiati (UNHCR), che ha espresso ''forte preoccupazione per il crescente numero di vittime nell'Oceano Indiano tra coloro che fuggono dal proprio paese in cerca di sicurezza e migliori condizioni di vita altrove. Tra loro molte persone di etnia Rohingya provenienti dal Myanmar''.
Nell'ultimo episodio, che risale solo a una settimana fa, circa 90 persone - ritenute di etnia rohingya - sarebbero morte di sete e di fame durante un viaggio durato quasi due mesi. Lo scorso fine settimana la marina dello Sri Lanka ha soccorso oltre 30 persone sopravvissute a questa tragedia al largo delle coste orientali del paese. L'UNHCR sta cercando di ottenere un contatto diretto con i superstiti per verificare la loro situazione e valutare le loro necessita'.

venerdì 22 febbraio 2013

Cameroun: La peine de mort - Une épée sur la tête des détenus

La situation à New-Bell remet au goût du jour, le débat sur la suppression de cette sentence capitale.

Même s'il réside encore dans la cellule "spéciale 01", Mapac Josué, 41 ans, mais en paraissant plus de 60, pense pouvoir, un jour, retrouver la liberté. Condamné à mort en 2001 pour assassinat à Yabassi, il a fait appel. Depuis, il a appris que sa condamnation à la peine capitale a été commuée en un emprisonnement de 25 ans. " J'ai seulement peur de la maladie, parce qu'ici, en prison, si tu tombes malade, non seulement il est difficile que tu en sois extrait pour les soins, mais pire, tu dois être pris en charge par ta famille. Pour moi qui n'ai que ma pauvre mère je vais seulement mourir ", confie-t-il, déséquilibré.

Le cas de Josué est rare. De nombreux autres condamnés demeurent dans l'incertitude totale, parfois depuis plus de vingt ans. Une situation intenable qui pose la question de la suppression de la peine de mort. D'autant plus qu'au Cameroun, les dernières exécutions remontent à 1997. Depuis cette date, sous l'action des Ongs nationales et internationales qui souhaitent que le pays abolisse la peine capitale, aucun condamné n'a été exécuté. Au regard de la loi, " toute condamnation à mort est soumise au Président de la République en vue de l'exercice de son droit de grâce. Tant qu'il n'a pas été statué par le Président de la République sur la grâce du condamné, aucune condamnation à mort ne peut recevoir exécution ".

Pour les défenseurs des droits humains, le fait de garder pendant longtemps en détention des condamnés à mort est une torture supplémentaire. " Selon la loi, la prescription d'un crime est de 20 ans. C'est-à-dire qu'au-delà de 20 ans, une peine qui n'est pas exécutée est prescrite. Les condamnés à mort, qui ont déjà passé plus de 20 ans en prison, ne devraient donc plus être exécutés et, dans ce cas, que devient leur statut juridique : condamné à vie ou à perpétuité ? Le Cameroun doit abolir la peine de mort et nous oeuvrons pour cela ", insiste Me Nestor Toko, avocat et président de l'association Droits et Paix.

Dieu pour seul refuge
Incertains sur leur sort, abandonnés par leurs familles, la plupart des condamnés à mort s'en remettent à Dieu. " Après votre incarcération, vous recevez quelques visites. Une fois condamnés à mort, cela devient difficile, vous ne voyez plus personne ", explique Semengue Roger. En dix ans de détention, il n'a reçu que trois visites de sa mère qui vit à Ebolowa. Aucun de ses frères, soeurs et amis ne s'est déplacé. De nombreux détenus ne reçoivent qu'une ou deux visites après plusieurs années, voire aucune. Les Ongs, qui visitent les prisons, leur apportent tout aussi difficilement assistance, tout comme les avocats qui préfèrent les cas mineurs, même quand ils sont payés par des bailleurs de fond dans le cadre de l'assistance judiciaire aux démunis.

Dieu demeure donc le seul refuge. Les congrégations religieuses, surtout les catholiques, comptent parmi les fidèles visiteurs des condamnés à mort. " La foi habite le condamné à mort. Nous craignons Dieu et respectons ses commandements et le louons tous les jours ", fait remarquer Semengue Roger. Il a été baptisé en prison et est désormais le coordonnateur de la communauté Saint Egidio de ce quartier. Pour se prendre en charge, il fabrique des chapelets qu'il vend à bon prix à tous les détenus. Mem Hans, lui, est le président du mouvement St Maximilien Marie Corbeau, prêtre jésuite devenu saint patron des condamnés à mort pour avoir donné sa vie en échange de celle d'un condamné à mort, affirment les catholiques.

Comme eux, tous les condamnés à mort prient à longueur de journée et assistent à tous les offices religieux. L'Eglise le leur rend bien et leur apporte à chaque fois assistance, contribuant ainsi à les éloigner spirituellement de l'abîme de la mort.

Maryland - Senate panel approves measures on death penalty repeal, tighter gun-control

Washington Post

The same Senate panel, which voted 6 to 5 for the repeal bill, later signed off on sweeping gun-control legislation, another top O’Malley priority, in a voting session that stretched until nearly midnight.
After making several changes, the panel voted 7 to 4 in favor of the bill, which would ban assault weapons, preclude more mental health patients from purchasing firearms, tighten school security and impose some of the strictest gun-licensing requirements in the country.
Both are marquee measures for O’Malley (D) in the 90-day session, which reaches its midpoint Friday. The House of Delegates is poised to weigh both bills in coming weeks.
The approval of the repeal bill followed spirited debate from members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee on both sides of the issue.
“Human beings make mistakes,” said Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), the panel’s chairman, who argued that Maryland risked executing an innocent inmate by keeping capital punishment on the books. “No matter how hard we try . . . to find a way to beat all the error out of our system, I don’t believe that’s possible.”
Opponents of the repeal countered that lawmakers were robbing prosecutors of an important tool.
“We really are reducing our ability to deal with the most severe crimes committed in our state,” said Sen. Joseph M. Getty (R-Carroll), who voted against the repeal. “In many cases, these are crimes against humanity that need a sufficient sanction.”
All six members of the panel who voted for the bill are Democrats. Two other Democrats joined three Republicans in opposing the repeal.
The Judicial Proceedings Committee has long been seen as the biggest stumbling block for repeal legislation.
Maryland, where five prisoners sit on death row, would become the 18th state to outlaw capital punishment. Death sentences would be replaced with life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Ultimately, the issue could be decided by voters. If a repeal passes, opponents have vowed to take advantage of a process in Maryland that allows citizens to petition just-passed laws to the ballot.
Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) was considered the swing vote on the Senate committee.
During the debate Thursday, Zirkin said he had managed to separate his emotional response about people who commit murders from his legal analysis of the issue.
“As heinous and awful as these individuals are, I just think the state should not be involved in these executions,” Zirkin said.
Although the death penalty remains on the books in Maryland, the state has not executed a prisoner since 2005. The state’s highest court ruled in 2006 that new regulations on lethal injection would have to be adopted for capital punishment to continue. Under O’Malley, that has not happened.
With Zirkin’s support, there are 26 senators who are either co-sponsoring the repeal bill or who have said in interviews that they plan to support it. That’s two more than are required to pass bills on the Senate floor.

Italia - Castrovillari (CS) - Due bambini di uno e due anni in carcere con la loro mamma che sta per partorire - Appello dell’Associazione “Diritti Civili”

Il leader del Movimento Diritti Civili, Franco Corbelli, interviene su un nuovo caso legato al dramma dei bambini in carcere e chiede che “si ponga fine a questa barbarie dei bimbi in cella con le loro mamme detenute”.
“Il caso di oggi - afferma Corbelli - è ancora più grave e inaccettabile, si tratta di due bambini, il piccolo Antonio Giuseppe, di un anno e mezzo, e la sorellina Chanel, di due anni, che vivono in cella, nel reparto femminile del carcere di Castrovillari, con la loro giovanissima mamma calabrese detenuta, S.I., 27 anni, incinta e in attesa del terzo figlio”.
Si può tenere in una cella - prosegue - una intera famiglia, addirittura due bambini e la loro mamma che sta, tra poche settimane, per partorire? La giustizia deve fare il suo corso e deve essere uguale per tutti, ma non si possono far pagare colpe e tenere in una cella dei bambini e la loro mamma incinta. Questa - dice - non è una giustizia giusta e umana. È semplicemente una disumanità, una barbarie, anche se applicata nel rigoroso rispetto della legge. Quella donna incinta (condannata in primo grado, che non conosco, così come non conosco la sua vicenda processuale) e i suoi due bambini non possono e non devono restare in una cella, ma rimandati tutti a casa, con la concessione degli arresti domiciliari alla giovane donna.
Domiciliari che sono stati , da pochi giorni, revocati alla donna perchè avrebbe incontrato persone (familiari) non autorizzati. Confido nella sensibilità e umanità del giudice del tribunale di Castrovillari chiamato a decidere su questo drammatico caso umano. Auspico che anche questo appello venga accolto, così come è avvenuto nei mesi scorsi per altri due casi di giovane mamme detenute, che vivevano in cella con i loro bambini, che siamo riusciti (nel dicembre e nell’ottobre dello scorso anno) a far scarcerare”.

giovedì 21 febbraio 2013

Zimbabwe prisons to review death sentences

Associated Press
Zimbabwe prison officials said Wednesday that they are not in a hurry to engage the services of a newly-appointed hangman to execute the 77 inmates on death row and will review their sentences.
Prison authorities want to give prisoners facing execution a "chance to live," official Huggins Machingauta said. He said all death sentences will be brought before the cabinet of ministers for a review to commute them to life.
"We are in no hurry to hang anyone. It is our wish and hope that they get a reprieve," Machingauta said.
The hangman's post was vacant for about seven years since the previous one retired in 2005. State media reported earlier this month that prison officials said they found a new hangman.
A new proposed draft constitution endorsed by the country's two main political parties exempts women, men under 21 and those over 70 from the death penalty. The charter, which will be put to a referendum on March 16, only allows for the imposition of death penalty for cases of "aggravated murder."
Civic rights groups, however, want the "total abolition" of the death penalty.
Edison Chiota, head of a prisoners' rights group, Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender, said Wednesday his group is against what he called the selective way the law would be applied under the new constitution.
"People are all the same without taking gender and age differences into account," Chiota said.
He said if Zimbabwe decides to continue with the executions it must adopt international best practices of execution such as the lethal injection that do not cause excessive pain.
Chiota said Zimbabwe uses the oldest method of hanging called "the long drop" where the prisoner is made to stand on a trap door. The trap door is opened for the noose to break or dislocate the neck.
"Hangings are outdated," Chiota said.
A prison officer who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job said he is still haunted by several executions he witnessed in his 20 years of service at Harare's Central Prison.
"The method is gruesome and inhumane, I wouldn't recommend anyone to witness it," he said. "One only needs to read the log book in which the executions are entered to have chills run down the spine."
The officer said it was a "harrowing ordeal to have to accompany someone to such a brutal end."

Libya arrests foreign 'missionaries' Four foreign nationals accused of distributing Christian literature, a charge that could carry the death penalty

The Guardian
Four foreigners have been arrested in Libya on suspicion of being missionaries and distributing Christian literature, a charge that could carry the death penalty.
The four – a Swedish-American, Egyptian, South African and South Korean – were arrested in Benghazi by Preventative Security, an intelligence unit of the defence ministry, accused of printing and distributing bible pamphlets in the city.
Libya retains a law from the Muammar Gaddafi era that makes proselytising a criminal offence potentially punishable by death. The arrests underlined the sometimes difficult relationship i churches and the new authorities.
"Proselytising is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100% Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security," security official Hussein Bin Hmeid told Reuters.
All four remain in custody in Benghazi, and local reports say they may appear in court next week.
It is reported that the foreigners, who have received consulate assistance from their embassies, have been in Libya for some time and had contracted a local printer to produce pamphlets explaining Christianity. Security officials have focused on those pamphlets said to have already been distributed.
Benghazi lawyer and human rights activist Bilal Bettamer said Libya was a wholly Muslim country and Christians should not be trying to spread their faith. "It is disrespectful. If we had Christianity we could have dialogue, but you can't just spread Christianity," he said. "The maximum penalty is the death penalty. It's a dangerous thing to do."
Preventative Security is a unit created from several rebel formations during the 2011 uprising, although until now it has had a low profile, and this is Libya's first known arrest on proselytising charges since Libya's Arab spring revolution. Three years ago, several dozen British, American and Dutch missionaries were arrested and expelled from Morocco on similar charges.
Libya, a conservative Muslim country, has no known Christian minority, and churches, the preserve of foreign residents, have seen few of the attacks seen in Egypt and Tunisia, where there have been church burnings.
But Libya is home to groups of Islamist extremists blamed by some for the attack in September on the US consulate in Benghazi, in which the ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three US officials were killed.
The minority Sufi sect has felt the brunt of extremism in Libya, with more than 70 sites attacked, including the bulldozing by militants backed by police of Tripoli's prominent al-Sha'ab mosque last summer.
Christian symbols have also been targeted. A bullet narrowly missed the priest of Tripoli's Greek Orthodox church last year, with another attack destroying icons.
In April, militants filmed themselves wrecking tombstones and the cenotaph at two Commonwealth war graves cemeteries in Benghazi, and in January two Egyptian christians were killed by a bomb that exploded in the coptic church in Misrata. The international committee of the Red Cross last year suspended its activities in much of the country after its offices in Benghazi and Misrata were bombed.
Tripoli's Anglican Church of Christ the King held its normal Sunday service on Sundaywith the priest, Reverend Vasihar Baskaran, saying that, as during the Gaddafi era, the authorities placed no restrictions on worshippers.
But he said the five Christian churches in Tripoli have a tacit agreement with the authorities not to proselytise. "We don't distribute literature, so we don't have any problems," he told the Guardian. "It is better not to indulge in these activities because we respect Libyans. We respect their religion."
The Anglican church, present in Tripoli for more than 200 years, has no Libyans in the congregation, and Revd Vasihar said he had yet to meet a Libyan Christian.
On Sunday, Libya's de facto head of state, speaker of congress Mohammed Magariaf, pledged that Libya would incorporate sharia law into its future constitution, during a speech in Benghazi to mark the second anniversary of the 2011 revolution.

In Italia oltre 7.500 rifugiati, Sicilia regina dell' accoglienza

Palermo, (TMNews) - In Italia ci sono oltre 7.500 i rifugiati e i richiedenti asilo accolti nell'ambito dei progetti territoriali. Secondo i dati dello Sprar, sistema di protezione per richiedenti asilo e rifugiati, illustrati a Palazzo dei Normanni di Palermo, la Sicilia fa la parte del leone con il 20% dei posti finanziati. Un fatto che spinge il presidente dell'Assemblea Regionale Siciliana, Giovanni Ardizzone, a sollecitare una legge regionale sull'immigrazione in Sicilia, da scrivere assieme ai sindaci e alle associazioni di volontariato. "Ho una forte sollecitazione da parte dell'Anci, dai sindaci che gestiscono i centri di accoglienza, a farci promotori come Assemblea di una legge che riguardi l'immigrazione in generale".L'assessore regionale all'energia Nicolò Marino invita a vedere l'immigrazione nella giusta prospettiva: come una risorsa, non un problema. "Non possiamo vedere il fenomeno dell'immigrazione come un fatto di sicurezza, come un peso, o un problema razziale. Non è possibile". "L'immigrazione - conclude Marino, va vista con l'occhio del domani"

Japan hangs three death row inmates - The first executions under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

BBC News
Japan has hanged three death-row inmates, the first executions under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The three were put to death in the early hours of Thursday, the Justice Ministry has confirmed. One of them was convicted of killing a young girl.
Japan traditionally executes several prisoners at a time. These are the first executions since September 2012.
Japan is one of the few industrialised nations to retain the death penalty, usually reserved for multiple murders.
"I ordered the executions after giving careful consideration to the matter," Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said in a press briefing.
"These were extremely cruel cases in which victims were deprived of their precious lives for very selfish reasons."
The three men hanged were indentified as Kaoru Kobayashi, 44, who killed a seven-year-old girl, Masahiro Kanagawa, 29, who killed one man and injured seven others outside a Tokyo shopping mall in 2008, and Keiki Muto, 62, who killed a bar owner for money in 2002.
Rights group Amnesty International's branch in Japan has said that it "strongly condemns" Thursday's executions.
Though the majority support the death penalty, rights groups say Japan's death row is particularly harsh, with the condemned allowed few visits and little exercise.
Sometimes held for decades, they are not warned in advance of when they will be put to death.
Rights groups also highlight Japan's 99% conviction rate, with most convictions based on confessions, as worrying, correspondents say.
There are currently more than 130 people on death row, including Shoko Asahara, the mastermind behind the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway.
No executions were carried out in 2011, but they were restarted in March 2012 under the previous Democratic Party government. Mr Abe came to power in a landslide election win in December 2012.
Official figures in Japan as of 2011 put support for capital punishment at over 80%.

mercoledì 20 febbraio 2013

Australia - One hundred refugees perish on voyage - Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor

Source: Herald Sun

Some of the 32 Burmese asylum seekers rescued by
the Sri Lankan navy. 
Source: The Daily Telegraph
ALMOST 100 dead asylum seekers headed for Australia were thrown overboard one by one by starving shipmates - and new Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor admits he has no short-term solution to slow down the influx of boats.

Mr O'Connor said 98 Burmese refugees died terrible deaths as they drifted without food. Their boat was found off Sri Lanka this week.
He admitted there had probably been other deaths in similar circumstances.
The Sri Lankan navy released shocking photographs of some of the 32 emaciated survivors, who ran out of food 21 days ago and had been at sea for two months.
"People floating around, people emaciated and 100 people might have perished. It just has to end," Mr O'Connor said. "It was nowhere near (Australia), I am advised it (the boat) was on its way here. A lot of people are just disappearing, out of sight, out of mind. Boats disappearing. It is very hard to put a number on it. Too many."
Despite declaring "we should never allow people smugglers to determine who we take in as refugees" and that "there are no Oskar Schindlers" in the people smuggling trade, Mr O'Connor admitted stopping boats would not be done quickly. But the government would continue to work through Houston panel recommendations, he said.
Australia has seen more than 33,000 people arrive since Labor was elected in November 2007, and dismantled the Howard government's Pacific Solution, which Mr O'Connor claimed would also have failed in the existing circumstances.
He said boat arrivals were a "constant pressure" for governments. "This cannot be done overnight, it can only be done over time," he said. "Anyone who says they can stop the boats will have to eat a lot of words if they're ever put into a position to have to do it."
He was critical of a lack of co-operation from the Coalition but has yet to make contact with opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison.
Mr O'Connor was also yet to speak with his counterparts in Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka but planned to.
He said he was focusing on building permanent camps in Nauru and PNG.
A migrant himself, Mr O'Connor's first memory of
Australia was in a Nissen hut in a migrant hostel with his Irish parents and siblings.
His parents migrated to Australia in the late 1960s.
Mr O'Connor said it was not "right" or "safe" for people to come by boat: "If I can do anything to reduce that, I will."

He rushed from East Timor to Christmas Island on the day of the 2010 boat tragedy and comforted rescuers as they described seeing women clinging to their babies rather than taking ropes to save themselves. "I saw things I wouldn't want to see again," he said. "If anyone tells me it is just a line you don't want to endanger people's lives, it's not just a line."