Published: Fri, April 13, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Amnesty Lauds Progress in Death Penalty Abolition

Amnesty Lauds Progress in Death Penalty Abolition

Nigeria, according to the body, imposed the highest number of death sentences in the sub-Saharan Africa region in 2017.

"And the work we do is to say that the death penalty is against human rights and that some sentences are degrading and outdated", Kine Fatim Diop of Amnesty International's West Africa office told Africanews.

Speaking at the release of the group's annual death penalty report, Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International's adviser on the death penalty, said, "What was noticeable a year ago was that the government breached some of its own practices as we saw people who were applying for a retrial being executed".

"Nigerians are anxious and want to passionately appeal to the United Nations to help question the actual motive of AI and its persistent criticism of the Nigerian security forces who have spent the last few years working through extreme conditions towards ensuring that the Boko Haram insurgency, and all other forms of insurgency in the country are brought to a halt".

China aside, executions worldwide dropped from 1,032 in 2016 to 993 past year - a decline of four per cent.

"We consider this report, as totally undeserving and a joke taken too far by Amnesty International, at the expense of Nigeria's internal security and sovereignty".

Executions in the United States slightly increased in 2017, with 41 executions being recorded by Amnesty in the U.S., the report stated.

Speaking at the launch of the 2017 Global Death Penalty Report in Accra, Country Director of Amnesty International, Robert Amoafo Akoto revealed that seven people were sentenced to death in only 2017 but Ghana's prisons are now holding a total of 160 persons on death row, including six foreigners.

"We remain nonetheless highly concerned about the fact that almost half of the executions that we recorded [in Pakistan] are actually carried out after people were sentenced to death for terrorism-related offenses by a military court", Sangiorgio told RFE/RL.

Eliminating the death penalty would also save the lives of wrongly convicted inmates, argued those favoring Landry's bill, adding that the punishment violates the sanctity of life.

In October a year ago, Pope Francis spoke about the Catholic Church's changed attitude towards capital punishment, saying "It must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity". "The number of 993 worldwide executions does not include the thousands of people likely executed in China".

"When we look back 40 years ago when Amnesty International first started campaigning against the death penalty, there were only 16 countries that had abolished it". At least 21,919 people were known to be on death row at the end of 2017. "Cracks are appearing, even in the minority of countries that still execute people", said Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty in a statement coinciding with the report's release.

"The fact that countries continue to resort to the death penalty for drug-related offences remains troubling".

Amnesty International says at least 600 people were put to death and a total of 2,285 people now on death row in Nigeria. "The use of torture is absolutely prohibited under the UN Convention against Torture", the AI report stressed.

The report also said Iran had executed at least five people who were under 18 when their crimes were committed. "This shows there is still much work to be done in ending the death penalty in Malaysia", she said at the launch of the report here today.

However, she noted that despite the amendments passed on Nov 30, 2017, the delay in gazetting and enforcing the amended law had led to some accused being sentenced to death.

Some legislators also chafed at the religious leaders - including a nun and a representative for the Catholic bishops - saying the death penalty was immoral.

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