Reports

ACHRS Report on the Death Penalty in the Arab World in 2007

ACHRS opposes and campaigns against the death penalty in all cases and wherever it is used. It considers the death penalty a violation of the right to life and the ultimate form of inhuman, cruel and degrading punishment.

In doing so, the organization in no way condones violent crime or questions the responsibility of governments to ensure that those who commit such crimes are brought to justice. However, in carrying out this responsibility, governments must abide by relevant international law and standards, including the abolition of the death penalty and the prohibition of torture.

Moreover, ACHRS highlights that execution is permanent and that while the death penalty is maintained, the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated.

Introduction

The death penalty, once an almost universal punishment, has seen a steep decline over the years and 2007 was no exception. In 2007 Albania, the Cook Islands and Rwanda abolished the death penalty for all crimes, with Kyrgyzstan abolishing capital punishment for ordinary crimes.[i][i[1]][1]

Under international law the right to life is protected in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 (ICCPR), which 157 states are currently party to.[ii][ii[1]][2] Without prohibiting the death penalty, the ICCPR only allows its use as a punishment for the most serious crimes.[iii][iii[1]][3] However, it is supplemented by the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR 1989, under which signatory states agree to abolish the death penalty. Currently 65 states are party to this treaty, including all EU states, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and the Philippines.[iv][iv[1]][4]

In 2007, the abolition of the death penalty was given a big boost by the passing of a UN General Assembly Resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.[v][v[1]][5] This was passed by 104 in favour, with 54 against and 29 abstentions.

However, while strides have been made worldwide in the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty, progress in the Arab World has been slower. This report will examine the death penalty firstly by giving an overview of the Arab World, before going on to examine the death penalty in each individual country in the region. It will then be followed by figures on the death penalty in the region and a conclusion will be made as to the status of the death penalty in the Arab world in 2007.

Overview of the Death Penalty in the Arab World

In 2007, the death penalty was still widely in use in the Arab World. As will be shown below, some Arab states have still not ratified the treaties protecting the right to life and prohibiting the death penalty, many have voted against calls for a global moratorium and very few have abolished capital punishment in law or in practice.

 – The ICCPR

The ICCPR, whilst not prohibiting the death penalty, restricts its use to a punishment only for the most serious crimes and as well as setting safeguards for those under sentence of death, such as the right to a fair trial[vi][vi[1]][6] and the prohibition on torture[vii][vii[1]][7]. It is therefore a useful safeguard against the excessive use of the death penalty.

One hundred and fifty-seven states, throughout the world, are parties to this treaty, including in the Arab World; Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. However, Comoros, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have yet to sign this important document.

ACHRS urges the governments of those countries who have not yet ratified the ICCPR to do so, to limit the use of capital punishment and as a first step towards the abolition of the death penalty.

 – The Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR

The Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR prohibits the use of the death penalty. This treaty represents a move closer to the universal prohibition of the death penalty for all crimes.

65 States have signed this treaty, roughly 30% of the 192 members of the UN[viii][viii[1]][8]. However, this is not reflected in the Arab states where just 5% of states are members, Djibouti being the only one.

ACHRS would like to praise Djibouti for becoming a party to the Second Optional Protocol and would like to encourage other Arab states to follow its example.

 – UN General Assembly Resolution on a Moratorium of the Death Penalty

In 2007, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. This represents a huge step forward in the campaign to end capital punishment and shows a real commitment to this aim on behalf of the international community.

104 states voted to pass this resolution, with 54 voting to against, 29 abstentions and 5 states absent. However, out of the Arab countries, only Algeria voted to pass the resolution. Bahrain, Comoros, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen voted against the resolution, Djibouti, Lebanon, Morocco and the UAE abstained and Tunisia was absent from the vote. [ix] [ix][9]

Statistically, out of the 192 member states of the UN General Assembly, roughly 28% of states voted against the resolution. However, when the Arab states are looked at, roughly 70% voted against the resolution. Arab states also accounted for around a quarter of the votes against the resolution, when they only account for around 10% of the UN member states.

ACHRS would firstly like to praise Algeria for voting to pass this momentous resolution and would secondly like encourage the other Arab states to follow its lead in the future and move to end the death penalty.

 – The Arab Charter on Human Rights

On the 24th January 2008 the Arab Charter on Human Rights, signed in 1994, came into force with the ratification of the seventh state, the UAE. Other states that have ratified this treaty are; Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Libya, Algeria and Bahrain.

However, Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, immediately announced that this treaty was not supported by the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights.[x][x[1]][10]

The Arab Charter, while guaranteeing the right to life, allows for the death penalty and there are concerns that it allows for the execution of persons under the age of 18.[xi][xi][11]

While it is commendable that the Arab League now has a charter in force that guarantees fundamental rights, the inclusion of provisions allowing the death penalty, especially for minors, is deeply concerning.

 – Retention/Abolition Overview

In 2007, only one Arab state, Djibouti, had abolished the death penalty for all crimes,[xii][xii[1]][12] but Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, whilst allowing for capital punishment in law, are abolitionist in practice.[xiii][xiii[1]][13]

However, Bahrain, Comoros, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen all retain the death penalty.[xiv][xiv[1]][14]

This is a very high proportion of states and in fact, the proportion of Arab States that still have the death penalty is the highest in the world, with;

 –  77% of Arab states retaining capital punishment, compared to;

 –  48% of Asian states (excluding Arab nations),

 –  37% of states in the Americas,

 –  31% of African states (excluding Arab nations),

 –  2% of European states,

 –  0% of Pacific states (including Australia and New Zealand)

 –  A world average of 32% [xv] [xv][15]

These statistics show that the prevalence the death penalty has in Arab countries, is not reflected in the rest of the world. No other region comes close to the percentage of Arab states that, in 2007, still retain the death penalty and, in fact, the Arab region is the only area to have more than half of the states still using capital punishment.

ACHRS urges nations in the Arab World to change these statistics by abolishing the use of the death penalty in both practice and in law.

Country Profiles on the Death Penalty

 – Algeria

 Despite the problems Algeria has faced over the years, it remains in 2007 as a country that has abolished the death penalty in practice.

No executions have been carried out since 1993 in Algeria; however capital punishment remains a penalty in law.[xvi][xvi[1]][16] According to the 2007 report of the Algerian Human Rights Council, the death penalty is prohibited in Algeria for persons under the age of 18, for pregnant women and for new mothers until the child is 24 months old. Despite modifications to the penal code since 2000, capital punishment remains a sentence for a number of crimes, including drug offences, counterfeiting and fraud.

It is reported that in 2008, a court in Algeria handed down 3 death sentences in abstentia to three alleged Islamic militants for the crimes of murder, terrorism and kidnapping.[xvii][xvii[1]][17] Since all death sentences have been commuted to life imprisonment in Algeria since 1993, it is hoped that the government will follow suite, however Algeria is encouraged to abolish the death penalty in law to prevent the giving of sentences of the death penalty altogether.

Algeria is a party to the ICCPR; however it has not yet signed the Second Optional Protocol.

Algeria was the only nation in the Arab world to vote for the UN General Assembly moratorium on the death penalty and we commend its decision to do so. This marks an important step forward in the abolition of the death penalty and we congratulate Algeria on being the only Arab state to have voted for this resolution.

 – Bahrain

 Bahrain remains a retentionist country and in recent years, in a disturbing development, it has revoked what was essentially a policy of abolition in practice that had been in place for 30 years.

In 2007 a new anti-drugs law was passed, which proscribes the death penalty as a punishment for certain crimes, in addition to the new counter terrorism law passed in 2006.[xviii][xviii][18]

In 2007  two death sentences were given, which is concerning as in 2006 Bahrain overturned it’s formal policy of abolition in practice, which had been in place since 1977, except for one execution in a time of political turmoil.[xix][xix][19] Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have appealed to Bahrain for the resumption of the de facto moratorium and ACHRS now does the same.

In 2007, Bahrain also announced the creation of a National Council for Human Rights. It is hoped that when this body is fully functioning, it will aid Bahrain in putting a stop on executions and removing the death penalty in law.

In 2006 the Kingdom of Bahrain ratified the ICCPR, for which it is to be congratulated, however it has yet to ratify the Second Optional protocol and voted against the UN General Assembly moratorium. We would urge Bahrain to return to its prior stance of abolition in practice and to aim for eventual abolition in law.

 – Comoros

 Comoros remains a retentionist country in 2007; however there have not been reports of an execution in Comoros since 1997.

Comoros has not ratified the ICCPR, which is a cause for concern, and it voted against the moratorium on the death penalty.

 – Djibouti

Djibouti is the only Arab state to have abolished the death penalty in law, which occurred in 1995. ACHRS commends Djibouti for being the first Arab state to do so. Djibouti has not executed anyone since independence from France.

Djibouti is a party to the ICCPR and is the only Arab state to also be a party to the Second Optional Protocol. However, Djibouti abstained in the vote on the General Assembly moratorium, which is concerning in a state that is otherwise committed to the abolition of the death penalty.

 – Egypt

Egypt is a retentionist country and regularly both sentences people to death and executes them. Since 1981 Egypt has been ruled under a state of emergency, giving the government far ranging powers.

It is estimated that, in 2007, over 20 people were sentenced to death in Egypt. Although no reports of executions in 2007 could be found, information is hard to come by about the death penalty and the number of executions could therefore be much higher. What is known is that in early 2007 Egypt sentenced three persons to death, in what was widely criticized as an unfair trial and in 2006 four people were executed.[xx][xx[1]][20]

Egypt has been a party to the ICCPR since 1982 but has yet to ratify the Second Optional Protocol. Egypt voted against the General Assembly moratorium on the death penalty.

Egypt is urged to end its use of the death penalty and to ratify the international agreements prohibiting capital punishment.

 – Iraq

Iraq is a retentionist country and in 2007 continued to record a high number of executions. More than 270 execution sentences have been handed down since 2004, propelling Iraq to become the fourth most executing country in the world, according to Amnesty International.

2007 was no exception, with 121 sentences of death penalty being handed down in the first four months and with reportedly 29 executions, bringing the total number of executions since 2004 past 107.[xxi][xxi][21] The government of Iraq has also now, reportedly, started asking for the extradition of persons to return to Iraq to face the death penalty.[xxii][xxii[1]][22]

According to UNAMI, under the Baghdad Security Plan, emergency regulations provided that crimes such as murder, rape, theft, abduction and the destruction of public and private property would be punished in accordance with the 2005 Anti-Terror law, i.e. punishable by execution.[xxiii][xxiii[1]][23] This appears to contravene the ICCPR, which only allows the death penalty for serious crimes, which destruction of property does not seem to be. It is hoped that, now that the Baghdad Security Plan has effectively ended, these regulations will be rescinded.

UNAMI has also expressed concerns about the fairness of trials in death penalty cases, including; deliberations that are often swift, defendants sometimes not being told of the charges they face and defendants not being allowed to submit information on appeal.[xxiv][xxiv[1]][24]

It is also concerning that in 2006 the Kurdistan National Assembly suspended a three year moratorium on the death penalty, which was not reinstated in 2007.[xxv][xxv][25]

Iraq has been a member of the ICCPR since 1971; however it has not signed the Second Optional Protocol. Iraq was also one of the countries that voted against the moratorium on the death penalty.

Iraq is urged to dramatically reduce the number of sentences of death penalty given and the amount of executions carried out, with a view to eventual abolition. It is also urged, in the meantime, to only execute those who have committed the most serious crimes and to ensure that the trials of those who face the possibility of the death penalty are fair.

 – Jordan

Jordan is a retentionist country that has regularly sentenced people to death. In 2006 at least four prisoners were executed and 42 were sentenced to death, 17 of whom were sentenced in their absence.[xxvi][xxvi[1]][26]

However, there have been no reports of executions carried out in 2007 and in late 2006 the Jordanian Parliament passed a law reducing the crimes that carry the death penalty sentence.[xxvii][xxvii[1]][27] However, the death penalty still remains in place for murder, rape, terrorism, drug trafficking, treason and espionage.[xxviii][xxviii[1]][28] Despite questions over the effectiveness of this reduction, limiting the crimes eligible for capital punishment is a step in the right direction.

Jordan has been a member of the ICCPR since 1975 but has yet to implement the Second Optional Protocol. It voted against the moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

ACHRS congratulates Jordan on not executing anyone in 2007 and hopes that this will be the start of a policy of abolition in practice. ACHRS also urges Jordan to adopt the optional protocol to the ICCPR and to move towards abolition in law.

 – Kuwait

Kuwait is a retentionist country that regularly sentences people to death. It has executed 72 people in four decades of the death penalty.[xxix][xxix[1]][29]

In 2007 it was reported that just one execution occurred, but in 2008 Kuwait has already handed down 5 sentences of the death penalty.[xxx][xxx[1]][30]

Kuwait is a member of the ICCPR and has been since 1996. However Kuwait has not signed the Second Optional Protocol and it voted against the UN General Assembly death penalty moratorium.

Kuwait is urged to abolish the death penalty in practice, with a view to eventual abolition in law.

– Lebanon

Lebanon is a retentionist country but has not used the death penalty to a great extent over the years, with only 51 executions reported since independence.

The last execution in Lebanon is reported to have been in 2004, there is currently a draft law before Parliament which would abolish the death penalty and a poll conducted a few years ago suggested over 70% of lawmakers would vote to abolish capital punishment. However, while this seems positive, there are still perhaps 24 inmates on death row in Lebanon.[xxxi][xxxi[1]][31]

Lebanon has been a party to the ICCPR since 1972, but has yet to ratify the Second Optional Protocol. Lebanon abstained in the General Assembly vote on the moratorium of the death penalty.

ACHRS regards the limited use of the death penalty and its non-use for the last 4 years as positive signs in Lebanon and hopes this is a sign of a policy of abolition in practice. ACHRS also urges Lebanon to pass the draft abolition law that is before Parliament.

 – Libya

Libya is a retentionist country that has begun using the death penalty with greater frequency in the last few years.

In 2008, it has been reported that 4 Ghanaians have been executed already[xxxii][xxxii[1]][32], however there were no reports of executions in either 2007 or 2006.[xxxiii][xxxiii][33]

The most publicized case of the death penalty in Libya for 2007 was that of the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor, who were found guilty and sentenced to death for the deliberate infection of 426 children with the virus, HIV. In July 2007, the Libyan government agreed to drop the sentences in exchange for monetary compensation to the victims and their families and the medics were returned to their home countries.[xxxiv][xxxiv[1]][34]

The death penalty remains a punishment for not only crimes such as terrorism and murder in Libya, but also for crimes such as speculating in foreign currency during a blockade and for those who call for the establishment of an organization or grouping proscribed by law.[xxxv][xxxv[1]][35]

It is particularly concerning with regards Libya that firstly, information about the death penalty is hard to come by and secondly, that the death penalty continues to be a punishment for economic and political crimes.

Libya has been a party to the ICCPR since 1970 but has not ratified the Second Optional Protocol. It voted against the UN General Assembly moratorium on the death penalty.

ACHRS urges Libya to be more open in providing data on the death penalty and begs it to halt any further executions.

 – Mauritania

Mauritania remains an abolitionist in practice and has not executed anyone since 1987, making it 20 years of abolition in 2007.

However, Mauritania remains a cause for concern. The death penalty remains a punishment in law for the crimes or murder, rape, high treason, apostasy, homosexuality and torture.[xxxvi][xxxvi[1]][36] In addition, as recently as 2005 at the trial of suspected plotters of a coup d’etat, the prosecution pressed for the sentence to be the death penalty.[xxxvii][xxxvii[1]][37]

This concern is compounded by Mauritania’s vote against the General Assembly moratorium on the death penalty and that, while it is a party to the ICCPR, it has failed to ratify the Second Optional Protocol.

Mauritania is congratulated on its 20 year moratorium on capital punishment but it is also urged to prohibit the death penalty in law and to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 – Morocco

Morocco in 2007 remained an abolitionist in practice. There is also growing pressure internally and externally on Morocco to become an abolitionist state in law.[xxxviii][xxxviii[1]][38]

The last execution in Morocco occurred in 1993 and the current monarch, King Mohammed VI has yet to sign an execution order. However, the death penalty remains a crime in law, with many sentences of death penalty handed down. There may be up to 156 inmates currently on death row.[xxxix][xxxix[1]][39]

While there is a draft law before Parliament to abolish the death penalty, some anti-death penalty activists from within Morocco suggest that there is a degree of public apathy towards abolition, which is stalling the process.[xl][xl[1]][40]

Morocco is a party to the ICCPR, however it has not yet ratified the Second Optional Protocol and in the vote on the UN General Assembly moratorium on the death penalty, Morocco abstained.

There are signs that Morocco may become the second Arab state to prohibit the death penalty in law, which ACHRS commends.

 – Oman

Oman remains a retentionist country; however there are no reports of it having executed anyone in 2007. Indeed there are no reports of executions occurring in Oman since 2004, although 14 were reported in 2001 and one man was sentenced to death in 2006.

Oman is not a party to the ICCPR and voted against the UN General Assembly moratorium on the death penalty, both of which are very concerning.

Oman is congratulated on not executing anyone for the past three years and is requested to sign the ICCPR as the first stage to removing capital punishment.

 – Qatar

Qatar in 2007 remains a retentionist country. While no executions have been reported since 2003, at least 20 people remain on death row and in early 2008; a Doha appeal court confirmed the death sentence of a Qatari national.[xli][xli[1]][41]

Qatar is not a party to the ICCPR and voted against the GA moratorium on the death penalty.

Qatar is congratulated on not executing anyone for the past 4 years and is urged to sign the ICCPR as the first stage in removing capital punishment.

 – Saudi Arabia

In 2007, Saudi Arabia remains a retentionist state. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest records of execution in the world, especially when considered as a proportion of the population.

Crimes punishable by beheading in Saudi Arabia include not only murder and rape but also apostasy, highway robbery, sabotage, adultery, homosexuality, drug trafficking and witchcraft.

It is estimated that two thirds of people executed in Saudi Arabia are foreigners and there are reports that many do not know the sentences given to them, that people are signing confessions without knowing what they are signing[xlii][xlii[1]][42] and that persons are being executed without warning. [xliii][xliii][43] There are also reports of people being executed for crimes such as witchcraft, which have no basis in law and are improvable in a court.[xliv][xliv[1]][44]

It has been estimated that there were 147 executions in 2007, over 4 times as many as in 2006.[xlv][xlv][45] In the first three months of 2008, there have reportedly already been 10 death sentences given and 21 people executed.[xlvi][xlvi[1]][46]

Saudi Arabia has not ratified the ICCPR and it voted against the UN General Assembly’s moratorium on the death penalty.

ACHRS in very concerned about Saudi Arabia’s high execution rate and urges it to dramatically reduce the number of sentences of death penalty given, with a view to eventual abolition.

 – Somalia

Somalia is a retentionist nation and has reportedly carried out a number of executions in the last few years.

In 2007, it was reported that 3 people were executed and there are reports of at least 1 execution being carried out so far in 2008.[xlvii][xlvii][47] There are disturbing reports of an execution being carried out within hours of the sentence of death penalty in 2006.

There are also alarming reports of high numbers of extra-judicial executions being carried out in Somalia, with some estimating that there have been 1’300 deaths between 2006 and 2007.[xlviii][xlviii][48]

Somalia is a member of the ICCPR but has not yet ratified the Second Optional Protocol. Somalia voted against the UN General Assembly resolution on a moratorium on the death penalty in 2007.

Somalia is strongly urged to prevent extra-judicial killings, not to carry out any more executions and to move towards abolition of the death penalty in law.

 – Sudan

Sudan remains in 2007 a retentionist country.

Crimes punishable by death in Sudan include; murder, rape, armed robbery, waging war against the state, apostasy and prostitution. Sudan allows the execution of minors.

Sudan regularly executes; in 2007 it reportedly executed 2 people[xlix][xlix[1]][49] and in the first three months of 2008, it has reportedly already executed 7 people.[l][l[1]][50]

There are also questions over the fairness of trials in Sudan and reports of extra-judicial killings happening in Sudan, by members of the security forces.[li][li[1]][51]

Sudan has ratified the ICCPR, but not the Second Optional Protocol. It voted against the UN General Assembly Moratorium on the death penalty.

Sudan is strongly urged to end the execution of minors and to prevent extra-judicial killings as a priority and to eventually abolish the death penalty altogether.

 – Syria

Syria is a retentionist state that regularly executes people.

In 2007, it has been reported that 5 people were executed for murder.[lii][lii[1]][52] However, due to the difficulty in obtaining information on executions in Syria, the figure could be much higher.

The death penalty is a punishment in Syria for, amongst other crimes, murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking, treason, verbal abuse of the government and support of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, there are reports of activists claiming that abolition of the death penalty in Syria is possible in the future, but that it might be contingent on regional stability.[liii][liii[1]][53]

Syria is a party to the ICCPR, but has not ratified the Second Optional Protocol. Syria voted against the UN General Assembly Moratorium on the death penalty and spoke out strongly against it in the debate.[liv][liv[1]][54]

Syria is urged to provide more information about the use of the death penalty as a priority and to seek to abolish it altogether.

 – Tunisia

Tunisia is abolitionist in practice; the last execution in Tunisia was in 1991. However, sentences of death penalty are still handed down by the courts, which the President usually commutes to life imprisonment.[lv][lv[1]][55]

In early 2008, a Tunisian Appeals court upheld the sentences of death penalty for 30 men convicted of terrorism.[lvi][lvi[1]][56] This represents a failure by the courts to acknowledge Tunisia’s abolitionist in practice stance and it is hoped that the government will commute the sentences of those involved.

In a positive move, the Tunisian parliament in 2008 introduced welcome legislation that would abolish the death penalty in law in Tunisia within 2 years, if passed.

Tunisia is a party to the ICCPR; however it has not yet ratified the Second Optional Protocol. Tunisia was absent from the General Assembly Moratorium on the Death Penalty vote.

The proposed law of the Tunisian Parliament is to be congratulated and it is hoped that this may spur on other countries in the region to seek abolition in law.

 – United Arab Emirates

The UAE is a retentionist country but the use of the death penalty in practice appears to have decreased over the years.

However, in 2008 the death penalty was used in the UAE, with the execution of a man convicted of two murders.[lvii][lvii[1]][57] While the death penalty remains rare in the UAE, this is an unwelcome development in a state where most sentences of death penalty have been commuted in the last few years.

The death penalty remains available in the UAE for crimes including; murder, rape, treason, apostasy, adultery and drug-trafficking.

The UAE has not ratified the ICCPR and abstained in the vote on General Assembly moratorium on the death penalty.

The UAE is urged to ratify the ICCPR as a precursor to the eventually abolition of the death penalty. ACHRS is also concerned about the reuse in the death penalty after an absence in the UAE.

 – Yemen

Yemen is a retentionist state that regularly executes people.

In 2007, it is reported that 8 people were executed for the crimes of robbery and murder.[lviii][lviii[1]][58] There were also reportedly at least 30 executions in Yemen in 2006[lix][lix][59] and at least one sentence of death has already been given in 2008.[lx][lx][60] Hundreds remain on death row.

Crimes for which the death penalty can be given include; murder, rape, adultery and speech or action against Islam.

Yemen is a party to the ICCPR but it has not ratified the Second Optional Protocol. Yemen voted against the General Assembly moratorium on the death penalty.

Tables

– Estimated executions in 2006 and 2007 per state

2007

2006

Country

0

0

Algeria

0

3

Bahrain

0

0

Comoros

0

0

Djibouti

0

4

Egypt

29

65

Iraq

0

4

Jordan

1

10

Kuwait

0

0

Lebanon

0*

0

Libya

0

0

Mauritania

0

0

Morocco

0

0

Oman

0

0

Qatar

147

39

Saudi Arabia

3

7

Somalia

2

65

Sudan

5

2

Syria

0

0

Tunisia

0**

0

UAE

8

30

Yemen

195

229

Total

* However 4 executions have already reportedly occurred in 2008

** However 1 execution has already reportedly occurred in 2008

 Activities against the death penalty in 2007 by ACHRS and PRI*

Type of Activity

Country Targeted

Date

ACHRS and PRI held a seminar in Amman entitled ‘The Death Penalty: Challenges and Alternatives’

Jordan

March

ACHRS, PRI and the Yemen Organization for Democratic Rights and Freedoms held a seminar on the death penalty in Sana’a

Yemen

June

After the conference above, participants formed the Yemen coalition against the death penalty

Yemen

June

ACHRS, PRI and Maat for Juridical and Constitutional Studies held a workshop on the death penalty in Cairo

Egypt

June

After the conference above, participants formed the Egypt coalition against the death penalty

Egypt

June

ACHRS and PRI held a regional conference on the death penalty in Amman. Representatives from eight Arab countries attended.

Arab Region

July

ACHRS, PRI and the Mauritanian Society for Sustainable Development, Human Rights and Good Governance Groups held a seminar on the death penalty in Nouakchott.

Mauritania

August

After the conference above, participants formed the Mauritanian coalition against the death penalty.

Mauritania

August

ACHRS and PRI published a book entitled, ‘The Death Penalty and the Right to Life in the Arab World’, sponsored by the EU

Arab Region

Throughout 2007

* Please see the full report of ACHRS’ activities against the death penalty for more information.

Conclusions

2007 in the Arab World has given mixed results with regards the death penalty.

Djibouti continues to be the leading state in the Arab World on the abolition of capital punishment. Its legal abolition of the death penalty and ratification of the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR sets a clear example to the Arab World. The only cause for concern is its abstention from the vote on the UN General Assembly Moratorium on the Death Penalty.

The North African states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Mauritania continue to be abolitionist in practice and we would urge them to become abolitionist in law. Morocco has shown good signs of progressing towards this for a number of years and the Tunisian Parliament’s draft law is a welcome development for 2008. We also commend Algeria‘s vote for the General Assembly moratorium, especially as it was the only Arab state to do so.

Of the other states, some appear to have improved in 2007 and be on their way towards abolition in practice, as a precursor for abolition in law. Comoros, Lebanon, Oman and Qatar have not executed anyone within the last few years, although Comoros and Oman are urged to ratify the ICCPR as a matter of priority. Jordan did not execute anyone in 2007 and reduced the scope of the use of the death penalty. These actions are to be congratulated and states are encouraged to move further towards removing the death penalty entirely.

However, other states appeared to have regressed in 2007. Bahrain and the UAE appear to have begun executing people again in recent years, after long periods of commutation of sentences. Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen all have high rates of execution and these do not seem to have diminished dramatically in 2007, with Saudi Arabia, actually increasing the number of executions almost fourfold.

ACHRS’ 2006 report on the Death Penalty highlighted transparency as a big problem in assessing the death penalty in the Arab World and this again seems to be the case in 2007 with countries such as Syria and Yemen lacking openness about the number of sentences of death penalty being given and executions being carried out.

The outlook for 2008 and the future is hopeful though. There is getting to be more of a balance between abolitionist and potential abolitionist states and those that are committed to the death penalty in the Arab World, in addition the number of executions per annum continues to drop. While the Arab region was mostly against the General Assembly Moratorium on the Death Penalty, encouraging signs, such as Algeria‘s vote for the resolution and the UAE’s abstention, were there. It is hoped that by the next report, there will be more than one Arab state that has abolished the death penalty in law and that other states will have become abolitionists in practice

 

[i] [i][1] Amnesty Website – http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/abolitionist-and-retentionist-countries

[ii] [ii][2] OHCHR Website – http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/3.htm  

[iii] [iii][3] ICCPR 1966 Art. 6

[iv] [iv][4] OHCHR Website – http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/12.htm#reservations  

[v] [v][5] GA Resolution A/62/439/Add.2  

[vi] [vi][6] ICCPR Art. 14

[vii] [vii][7] ICCPR Art. 7

[viii] [viii][8] UN Website – http://www.un.org/members/list.shtml

[ix] [ix][9] Democracy Coalition Project Scorecard 2007 – www.demcoalition.org/pdf/UNGA%20Scorecard%202007%20Chart.pdf  

[x] [x][10] UN Website http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25447&Cr=human&Cr1=rights

[xi] [xi][11] FIDH http://www.fidh.org/spip.php?article5224

[xii] [xii][12] Amnesty International Death Penalty; Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries from : http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/abolitionist-and-retentionist-countries   

[xiii] [xiii][13] As above

[xiv] [xiv][14] As above

[xv] [xv][15] All data taken from the amnesty report listed above, statistics calculated by the author

[xvi] [xvi][16] From the Amnesty International Report 2007

[xvii] [xvii][17] International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/02/24/africa/AF-GEN-Algeria-Terror-Trial.php  

[xviii] [xviii][18] Human Rights Watch World Report 2008 – http://hrw.org/wr2k8  

[xix] [xix][19] UN Human Rights Council Summary of Stakeholder Submissions to the UPR 2008

[xx] [xx][20] From www.amnesty.org, www.hrw.org

[xxi] [xxi][21] UNAMI Human Rights Report April – June 2007

[xxii] [xxii][22] http://www.richard.clark32.btinternet.co.uk/overview.html

[xxiii] [xxiii][23] UNAMI Human Rights Report Jan-April 2007

[xxiv] [xxiv][24] As above

[xxv] [xxv][25] n.20

[xxvi] [xxvi][26] http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/middle-east-and-north-africa/east-mediterranean/jordan  

[xxvii] [xxvii][27] http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=34648

[xxviii] [xxviii][28] As above

[xxix] [xxix][29] http://deathpenaltyinformation.blogspot.com/2006/12/kuwait-man-alive-5-hours-after-being.html

[xxx] [xxx][30] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idstato=10000031&idcontinente=23

[xxxi] [xxxi][31] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idstato=10000293&idcontinente=23

[xxxii] [xxxii][32] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idcontinente=25&nome=libya

[xxxiii] [xxxiii][33] Amnesty Report 2007

[xxxiv] [xxxiv][34] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/24/world/africa/24france.html

[xxxv] [xxxv][35] n. 31

[xxxvi] [xxxvi][36] http://www.wmin.ac.uk/law/page-461

[xxxvii] [xxxvii][37] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idcontinente=25&nome=mauritania

[xxxviii] [xxxviii][38] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6291907.stm

[xxxix] [xxxix][39] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idcontinente=25&nome=morocco

[xl] [xl][40] http://deathpenaltyinformation.blogspot.com

[xli] [xli][41] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idstato=10000290&idcontinente=23

[xlii] [xlii][42] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idstato=10000007&idcontinente=23

[xliii] [xliii][43] http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/02/21/saudia15377.htm   

[xliv] [xliv][44] http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/02/14/saudia18051.htm  

[xlv] [xlv][45] HRW World Report 2007

[xlvi] [xlvi][46] n.30

[xlvii] [xlvii][47] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idstato=10000096&idcontinente=25

[xlviii] [xlviii][48] http://oromo.org/osg/pr43.htm

[xlix] [xlix][49] http://www.richard.clark32.btinternet.co.uk/apr07.html

[l] [l][50] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idcontinente=25&nome=sudan

[li] [li][51] http://www.extrajudicialexecutions.org/communications/sudan.html#2006

[lii] [lii][52] http://www.richard.clark32.btinternet.co.uk/oct07.html

[liii] [liii][53] http://deathpenaltyinformation.blogspot.com

[liv] [liv][54] http://deathpenaltyinformation.blogspot.com

[lv] [lv][55] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idcontinente=25&nome=tunisia

[lvi] [lvi][56] Amnesty http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/tunisia-courts-decision-uphold-death-sentence-failure-redress-injustice

[lvii] [lvii][57] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idstato=10000029&idcontinente=23

[lviii] [lviii][58] http://www.richard.clark32.btinternet.co.uk/jul07.html

[lix] [lix][59] Amnesty  Report 2007

[lx] [lx][60] http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idstato=10000024&idcontinente=23

Related Articles

Back to top button