"Innocence matters" is one of the slogans used by activists opposing the U.S. state of Georgia's execution of Troy Davis, up until the day the sentence was carried out by lethal injection on Sep. 21.
Capital punishment continues to exist because in some countries people are barraged with propaganda depicting it as a curb on crime, which it is not, said Federico Mayor Zaragoza, chair of an international commission against the death penalty that inaugurated its new headquarters in Geneva Monday.
"Is Afzal Guru really the person that so many Indians supposedly want dead? Or are they taking out their frustrations on an easy target?" asked Human Rights Watch, referring to the death sentence handed down to the Kashmiri man who was convicted of conspiracy in the 2001 suicide attack on the Indian Parliament.
Campaigners from around the world have called upon the Arab League and on the African Commission on Human and People's Rights to explore the possibility of adopting regional protocols to abolish the death penalty.
"I think Mumtaz Qadri carried out his action in a highly emotional state and should not be given the death penalty," Mufti Muhammad Naeem, founder of Binoria University International, a religious seminary in Karachi tells IPS. Qadri has been sentenced to death on two counts for assassinating Punjab governor Salman Taseer in January this year.
A Taiwan military tribunal has confirmed that the late Air Force private Chiang Kuo-ching had been wrongfully executed in August 1997 for the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl. But campaigners against the death penalty doubt that this will restore the moratorium on capital punishment the Taiwan government broke in April last year.
The image endures of the death penalty in force across the Arab world because it is considered somehow Islamic, and because most regimes are undeniably autocratic. But campaigners on the ground say the death penalty might just be in place because the people want it. Which would make it in essence a democratic institution.
The approval by the UN General Assembly in December 2007 of the Resolution for a Universal Moratorium against Capital Punishment was a fundamental step forward not only for the anti-death penalty campaign but also for the affirmation of the rule of law and of those natural rights historically won and often written into national law but not always respected.
Islamic regimes look for provisions and precedents to carry out the death sentence in the name of Islam. But, says Dr. Mohammad Al-Habash, director of the Islamic Studies Centre in Damascus, they are not looking enough at 13 provisions within the Quran to commute the death sentence to a lesser punishment.
Despite government efforts to curb the number of people it puts to death, China continues to execute more people than the rest of the world combined, and corporal punishment remains popular among the citizenry.
In a country where capital punishment is rare, human rights activists are surprised by a sudden move to hang a Sikh separatist militant convicted for bombing attacks on a senior police officer and a Congress party politician in the early 1990s.
Unlike the Middle East, North Africa has recently given signs it is moving away from capital punishment. The exceptions, however, are Egypt and Libya, which still have the death penalty and voted against the three UN General Assembly resolutions on a capital punishment moratorium adopted in 2007, 2008 and 2010. In Libya, at least 18 persons were executed in 2010.
In a country where the death penalty enjoys vocal support from both the government and the public, lawyer and politician Duma Boko is not afraid to stand firmly against it. Boko will be in court on Apr. 15 to argue for the life of a client against daunting odds.
On Apr. 15, Michael Molefhe and Brandon Sampson will appeal against their death sentences in the Court of Appeals in the Botswanan capital, Gaborone.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that it would not hear an appeal by death row inmate Troy Davis, in what could be the end of the legal road for the Georgia prisoner whose case has garnered international support.
After trying unsuccessfully for years to design a flawless death penalty system, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill Wednesday abolishing capital punishment in the state of Illinois.
Revelations that an Air Force private had apparently been wrongfully executed 15 years ago for the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl have reopened the debate over Taiwan’s retention of the death penalty.
Civil society is more coordinated and stronger at an international level today thanks to the Internet, and cyberspace can play an important role in efforts to eradicate the death penalty, says Federico Mayor Zaragoza.
A young Malaysian’s legal battle to escape the hangman’s noose in Singapore is finding new hope. "He has a 50-50 chance of being spared," Madasamy Ravi, the lawyer appearing for 23-year-old Yong Vui Kong, said in a telephone interview from the city-state.
Claiming it is the best answer to an escalating murder rate, the eight-month-old People's Partnership coalition has tabled legislation to amend Trinidad and Tobago's Constitution to resume executions.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the UN in December 1948 recognises the right of all people to life (Article 3) and categorically states: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment."(Article 5)