Hoy día de la lucha contra la pena de muerte, deseo compartir las reflexiones y datos del Centro de Amman por los DDHH. No coicido en todo, pero desde luego sí en lo fundamental: NO A LA PENA DE MUERTE
On the anniversary of the World Day against the Death Penalty, the Amman Center and Maat Center warns against the misuse of the death penalty to quell the freedom of opinion, to suppress the freedom of expression and to liquidate the political opponents
12 October 2008
Professors of law and jurists have rejected the use by the Arab regimes of the death penalty for the purpose of political liquidation and for getting rid of the opposition. They said that the Arab governments should heed the call by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2007 to suspend the penalty because it is in contrast with the international conventions and the right to life.
The rejection was voiced at a seminar organized by the Maat Center for Jurist and Constitutional Studies, which is the coordinator of the Egyptian Coalition against the Death Coalition, and the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies [ACHRS] on the anniversary of the World Day against the Death Penalty. The seminar was held in Cairo on Saturday, 11 October 2008.
Ayman Aqeel, director of the Maat Center, which is the coordinator of the Egyptian Coalition Against the Death Penalty, told the seminar that there are 59 articles in the Egyptian law that provide for the death penalty while the Islamic Shari’ah [Religious Law] and some provisions of the law limited the application of the death penalty to the crimes of premeditated murder which could be remedied by the payment of blood money, the abduction and rape of women, and espionage at war time, provided that the defendants are given a fair trial.
Aqeel also declared that it was difficult to accept the views of the supporters of keeping the death penalty on the pretext that such a penalty would uproot the criminals. He explained that in many cases, the death penalty did not deter the criminals, or stop further crimes, or even was confirmed from the standpoint of the Islamic Shari’ah. Moreover, the mistake cannot be corrected if capital punishment is applied to an innocent person.
Aqeel added that the Amnesty International report for 2007 said that in 2007, the death penalty was applied against 1,860 persons in China, 307 persons in Pakistan, 271 persons in Algeria, 199 persons in Iraq, 100 persons in the United States, 100 persons in India, and 40 persons in Egypt. Meanwhile, Amnesty International could not determine the number of those who were executed in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran and Yemen for reasons involving the secrecy of information.
ACHRS representative and Coordinator of the Arab Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Attorney Manhal Al-Sidah, warned against the possibility that Arab regimes might deceive the world public by referring to the political crimes as terrorist crimes, particularly in the aftermath of enacting advanced laws in which the state of emergency is manipulated cleverly against the opposition.
Attorney Al-Sidah explained to the seminar that the organizations of the Arab Coalition Against the Death Penalty have launched the campaign against capital punishment depending on their own resources before Arab governments and organizations could offer material aid to the campaign. He also asserted the importance of the solidarity and cooperation between the Arab Coalition Against the Death Penalty and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
In remarks to the seminar, Political Researcher Abdul Nasser Qandeel voiced his rejection of the use of the death penalty in political trials, saying that the goal of deterrence was not reached in countries which kept the death penalty. He said that there are a total of 27,500 persons in the world awaiting their execution while the death penalty was passed against 3347 persons in 51 countries. He added that Iran has expanded the application of the death penalty, reaching 317 executions in 2007 compared to 177 people executed in 2006. In Saudi Arabia, 143 people were executed in 2007 compared to 39 people in 2006, and in Pakistan, 137 people were executed in 2007 compared to 82 executions in 2006.
Qanqeel condemned the statement by the Egyptian delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in which he said that the Egyptian government was keeping the death penalty in compliance with the provisions of the Islamic Shari’ah and refused to vote for freezing the death penalty which 104 states voted for revoking.
Qandeel said that the articles of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and several optional protocols rejected this brutal penalty. He added that a total of 91 countries in the world have eliminated the death penalty from their national laws. He also said that the trend of political inheritance whereby a son succeeds his father as president or ruler in the Arab countries is the reason for keeping the death penalty by these regimes which have to confront the internal opposition and to level treason charges to the opposition abroad.
Qandeel pointed out that Articles 47 and 57 of the Egyptian constitution warned against infringement on the freedom of expression, and consequently, the death penalty should not be used against the opposition. He explained that in the Egyptian legislation, there are a total of 105 crimes punishable by death, including 44 crimes that are punishable by death on the strength of the penal Code, 41 crimes spelled out by the Military Law, and 19 crimes punishable by death on the strength of the Drugs law, and one crime punishable by death on the strength of the Firearms and Ammunitions Law.
Qandeel said that the death penalty was passed against defendants who underwent political trials four times in Egypt’s contemporary history from 1906 until 1965 ever since the Danshway incident in al-Manufiyah in 1906. Khamis and al-Baqari were executed by a decision of the Movement of the Free Officers amid the silence of the politicians and intellectuals.
He pointed out that in the aftermath of the al-Manshiyah incident on 26 October 1954, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood Group in Egypt underwent trial by a court falsely called the People’s Court. In 1965, Muslim Brotherhood leader Sayyid Qutoub and two of his colleagues were tried and executed. But the sentences were issued by a court that was formed after the occurrence of the incident for which the defendants were tried. An advance criminal charge was leveled against the defendants, who could not appeal the sentences because there was no provision for the appeal in the court which tried them.
In remarks to the seminar, Member of the National Council of Human Rights, Dr Nabeel Hilmi, highlighted the need for jurist and political pressure to commute the death penalty. He pointed out that the death penalty has been used for political purposes during the Palestinian battles and in the trial of the late Iraqi President Saddam Husayn, who was tried by a Kurdish judge, although the Kurds of Irbil refused to watch the humiliating scene of his execution.
Hilmi said that the penalty of life imprisonment or imprisonment for a long period of time might be the best alternative for the death sentence. He called for the activation of the payment of the blood money in crimes of premeditated murder and the clarification of the provisions of the Koran and the Sunnah on the scope of the application of the death penalty. He said political opponents could become national heroes if their political movements win over the regimes, and therefore, they should not face a penalty that deprives them of the right of life, all the more so because they only differ in their views with the regimes of their countries.
Cassation Court Attorney, Isam Al-Islamabouli, said in his address to the seminar that he supports the abrogation of the death penalty and that it should be limited to the crime of premeditated murder while giving the right to the family of the victim to accept the blood money.
He added that the trials held by the Egyptian judiciary lack constitutionalism because they are void of eight conditions that should be provided in political trials. These conditions are as follows: the court should be a national, natural, fair, even-handed, neutral, non-biased, independent and public. He noted that the defendant should have the right of appeal and rejected the casual or accidental appointment of attorneys to defend political defendants. He said that the system of the blood money in Islam could be used to justify the case of Hisham Tal’at Mustafa who is accused of instigating to kill show business woman Susan Tameem. He explained that in this case, the Koranic provision would be applied in Egypt on the strength of its internationalism in a crime in which the authorities and the judiciary of the United Arab Emirates in Dubayy are investigating.
Al-Islambouli also drew the attention that there were at least nine cases of political executions in the period falling between 1906 and 1952. Death sentences were passed against 18 persons from 1952 until 1965 while seven persons were executed in the period falling between 1971 and 1981, 63 persons from 1981 until 1994, and 12 persons from 1944 until 2008.
Asked about the disappearance of the body of Khalid Al-Islambouli [the assassin of the late President Anwar Sadat], he said that the family of “martyr” Khalid Al-Islambouli did not receive his body although court sentences were issued ordering the government to hand over the body to his family. He added that the rights of the clan, in which he is a member of its five branches, have been violated and its members arrested as the defendants were undergoing trial in the case of the assassination of the late President Anwar Sadat. The government was content to notify the family that it has executed Khalid Al-Islambouli.