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Abolish death sentences
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Dear Editor,

I would like to bring to your urgent attention about my concern about Devinder Pal Bhullar, Mahendra Nath Das, Murugan and Santhan and Arivu (alias Perarivalan). I ask you kindly to immediately reconsider the decision to deny clemency in their cases and to establish an official moratorium on executions. While death sentences continue to be imposed by the Indian courts, no executions have been carried out since 2004. The debate on the death penalty has intensified markedly in India in recent years.

In law or practice, more than two-thirds of all countries have abolished the death penalty. Most recently, Mongolia became the 141st Country to have joined this group by becoming a State party to the second optional protocol on the International Covenant on Civil and political rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, on 13th March 2012. Out of 141 countries in the Asia pacific region, 17 have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, 10 are abolitionist in practice and one, Fiji, uses the death penalty only for exceptional military crimes.

The use of the death penalty in India is riddled with systemic flaws. Of particular concern is the broad definition of ‘terrorist acts’ for which the death penalty can be imposed; insufficient safeguards on arrest; provisions that allow confessions made to the police to be admissible as evidence; obstacles to confidential communication with the counsel; insufficient independence of special courts from executive powers; insufficient safeguards for the presumption of innocence; and limits on the rights to review by a higher tribunal.

I oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception, as a violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The desirability of the abolition of the death penalty has long been recognized in the international law and standards. The International Covenant on civil and political rights, which allows the use of death penalty under certain circumstances, clearly states in Article 6.6 that no provision that no provision in it, should be invoked ‘to delay or to prevent the abolition of the capital punishment’. The UN human rights committee, the expert body established under the Article 6 of ICCPR to monitor its implementation, has said in its general comment no. 6 of 30th April 1982 that Article 6 of the ICCPR ‘refers generally to the abolition in terms, which strongly suggest that abolition is desirable’. The Committee concluded that ‘all measures of abolition should be considered as progress in the enjoyment of the right to life’. India is a State party to the ICCPR and had a legal obligation to comply with the provisions of the treaty.

—Konstantin Lipp, Rechbergstr,

34, 73540 Heubach, Germany
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News Updated at : Wednesday, September 19, 2012
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