Death Penalty Will Be Amended, Says Sponsor Of Hate Speech Bill

 

Sponsor of the bill to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, has said that the death penalty proposed for anyone found culpable will be amended by the senate.

Senator Sabi in a statement on Sunday explained that the bill will be fine-tuned to ensure that the clauses contained in its provisions to be passed into law, reflect the views of Nigerians when it goes through legislative input by the National Assembly.

The bill was read on the floor of the Senate on November 12 and Deputy Chief Whip who sponsored the legislation stated that it will address the dangers hate speech poses for the country.

READ ALSO: Sowore: SERAP Petitions African Commission Over ‘Harassment Of Sureties, Falana’

The Bill defines the act of Hate speech as, a person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

It adds that: Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

He added that contributions and inputs by critics and supporters of the bill will be welcomed by the Senate.

We have followed closely arguments for and against the hate speech bill and seen the reason why some kicked against it.

“Given the high respect which we have for Nigerians, we will make an amendment to the death penalty aspect that most Nigerians objected to so that a bill that meets their expectations is passed into law.

“Clearly from the conversations, Nigerians agree that we have a problem in the society today as a result of hate speech which has fuelled so many killings and violence, and is responsible for cases of depression and suicides.”

The lawmaker explained that the Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech to be established will guard against every act of discrimination against Nigerians by way of victimization.

The Commission, according to Abdullahi, will have an executive chairperson, a secretary and twelve commissioners appointed through a rigorous process involving the National Council of State, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Assembly.

“The overall concern is to curb violence and unnecessary loss of lives and livelihoods of Nigerians due to hate-induced violence.”

Hate Speech Bill: Propose Death Penalty For Corrupt Politicians, Falana Tells NASS

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has asked the National Assembly to make laws that will pronounce death penalty for corruption perpetrated by politically exposed persons.

Mr Falana while reacting in a statement to the hate speech bill currently debated by lawmakers described it as an encroachment on the legislative autonomy of the state governments.

A bill to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech, sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Sabi, was introduced on the floor of the Senate on November 12 and has generated reactions across the country.

The bill proposes that any person, who commits an offence deemed as hate speech, shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

READ ALSO: Senator Vows To Go Ahead With Bill To Establish Prohibition Of Hate Speech

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), explained that the National Assembly has no power to exercise such power because Hate Speech is not covered in the Exclusive Legislative and Concurrent Legislative Lists.

“Since we are operating a federal system of government the supreme court of Nigeria had declared in a number of cases that the national assembly lacks the constitutional powers to make laws outside its legislative competence, which are by implication residual matters meant for the houses of assembly of the states. Certainly, the hate speech bill is an attempt to encroach on the legislative autonomy of the state governments.

“However, it is pertinent to point out that the Penal Code and Criminal Code applicable in the northern and southern states respectively have made provisions for hate speech because it is a state offence. Hence, the house of assembly of each of the state has enacted laws against incitement, false accusation, sedition and criminal defamation.”

Mr Falana decried the move, urging the sponsors of the bill to uphold the decision of Nigeria’s founding fathers who created a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech.

“The decision of the founding fathers of this present constitution which guarantees freedom of speech which must include freedom to criticize should be praised and any attempt to derogate from it except as provided in the Constitution must be resisted. Those in public office should not be intolerant of criticism. Where a writer exceeds the bounds there should be a resort to the law of libel where the plaintiff must of necessity put his character and reputation in issue.

“Finally, while the leaders of the national assembly may want to advise the legislature in each of the states of the federation to review the applicable penal statutes to review the provisions on hate speech we are compelled to urge the few bloodthirsty legislators in the national assembly to amend the anti-graft laws to provide death penalty for grand corruption perpetrated by politically exposed persons to the detriment of development in the country.”

He added that even though the bill is sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives, it has been adopted by the Buhari-Led Federal Government.

He maintained that the constitutional validity of the Bill will be challenged in the Federal High Court if it is passed by the national assembly and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Malaysia To Abolish Death Penalty – Minister

 

Malaysia’s cabinet has agreed to abolish the death penalty, a senior minister said Thursday, in a decision hailed by rights groups.

Capital punishment in Malaysia is currently mandatory for murder, kidnapping, possession of firearms and drug trafficking, among other crimes.

The penalty is exclusively carried out by hanging in Malaysia – a legacy of British colonial rule.

Communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo confirmed the cabinet had resolved to end the death penalty.

“I hope the law will be amended soon,” he told AFP.

The government decided to scrap capital punishment because there had been strong domestic opposition to the practice.

The decision was welcomed by rights advocates.

“The death penalty is barbarous, and unimaginably cruel,” N. Surendran, an advisor with the Lawyers for Liberty rights group said in a statement.

Once the death penalty is scrapped, Malaysia will have the moral authority to fight for the lives of Malaysians facing death sentences abroad, he added.

Saudi Arabia Seeks Death Penalty For Cleric

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz attends the 29th Summit of the Arab League at the Ithra center in Dhahran, Eastern Saudi Arabia, on April 15, 2018.  STR / AFP

 

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor sought the death penalty against prominent cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awda at the start of his trial Tuesday in Riyadh, a year after his arrest, media said.

Awda faces 37 charges, the pro-government Okaz newspaper and other media close to the Saudi government reported, without offering any details.

Awda was among more than 20 people arrested in September 2017 in a widening crackdown on dissent in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

There was no immediate statement by the public prosecutor’s office.

“Reports that Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against prominent Saudi cleric Salman al-Awda,” tweeted Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Bringing the death penalty into a case like this is a major escalation in the level of repression.”

Awda was hospitalised in the western city of Jeddah after almost five months in solitary confinement, Amnesty International said in January, citing family members.

The rights group said his family had been denied any contact with him.

Amnesty said Awda was arrested a few hours after posting a tweet welcoming reports of a possible reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Qatar.

Saudi Arabia and its allies cut off all diplomatic and economic ties with the emirate in June accusing it of links to Islamic extremists, a charge Doha has categorically denied.

According to his family, the Saudi authorities had demanded that Awda and other prominent figures publicly back the kingdom in the dispute but he refused.

Saudi activists have said Awda’s brother Khaled has also been detained for disclosing the cleric’s arrest.

AFP

Pope Francis Calls For End To Death Penalty

Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience at Aula Paolo VI (Paul VI Audience Hall) at the Vatican on August 1, 2018. Andreas SOLARO / AFP

 

Pope Francis has declared the death penalty “inadmissible” in an update of Catholic believers’ most important guide to Church teaching, the catechism, the Vatican said Thursday.

“The Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person’,” the new text states.

The move comes after decades of hardening opposition from the Church to capital punishment, with Francis and his predecessors Benedict XVI and John Paul II all making similar pleas for it to be stopped.

John Paul II called for its abolition on a visit to the United States in 1999, while Benedict XVI said there was “the need to do everything possible to eliminate capital punishment,” without ever going as far as to ask for an edit of the catechism.

The Community of Sant’Egidio, an association that represents Christians in 70 countries and a long-time campaigner against the death penalty, expressed “joy” at the move.

“The Pope’s decision is a further push to the Church and Catholics, beginning with the Gospel, to respect the sacredness of human life and to work in every continent towards the abolishment of this inhuman practice,” the association said.

More than two-thirds of countries — including most predominantly Catholic states — have abolished or suspended judicial killings.

However, human rights organisation Amnesty International recorded at least 2,591 death sentences in 53 countries and nearly 1,000 executions in 2017 alone.

Amnesty says that those figures exclude China, which it claims does not make public announcements on the thousands of death sentences it passes.

 ‘Increasing awareness’ 

Francis approved the change to the catechism, which covers a wide range of moral and social issues, during a meeting in May with the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — Cardinal Luis Ladaria — the Church’s doctrinal watchdog.

In an explanatory letter to bishops, Ladaria says that the update highlights “the clearer awareness of the Church for the respect due to every human life”.

The update also says the Church will “work with determination” for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, added Ladaria.

“Recourse to the death penalty on the part of the legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good,” the new text says.

“Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes.”

Francis has long opposed the death penalty, saying that the execution of a human being is fundamentally against the teachings of Christ because, by definition, it excludes the possibility of redemption.

He has shown concern for prisoners, whom he regularly visits, advocating for their rehabilitation into society.

Speaking in October, he acknowledged that the Vatican itself had historically had “recourse to the extreme and inhuman remedy” of judicial execution, but said past doctrinal errors should be put aside.

“It doesn’t give justice to victims, but it feeds vengeance,” he said in June 2016, arguing that the biblical commandment “thou shall not kill” applies to the innocent as well as the guilty.

Francis has also called for an “international consensus” on the abolition of capital punishment.

AFP

Trump To Champion Death Penalty For Drug Dealers

US President Donald Trump speaks 
MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump on Monday will unveil a controversial call for drug traffickers to face the death penalty as part of his plan to combat America’s opioid epidemic — a move that appears to be as much about politics as policy.

The White House said the Republican leader will call for capital punishment for high-volume dealers “where appropriate under current law” during a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire — a state hard hit by the opioid crisis.

An estimated 2.4 million Americans are addicted to opioids, a class of drugs that include prescription painkillers, as well as heroin.

Trump’s move is designed to burnish his tough-on-crime credentials, and he pledged to fix the crisis when he took office a year ago.

But so far, he has struggled to make headway on an epidemic that kills an estimated 115 Americans a day due to overdoses, according to the government-funded National Institutes of Health.

Drug-related murder is already a capital offence in the United States, but no one has ever been executed using those rules.

Officials indicated there would be no attempt to change the law to make the death penalty mandatory for trafficking alone, a move that would well run afoul of Supreme Court rulings on proportional punishment.

In those rulings, the high court suggested that nothing other than murder can be considered a capital offence.

Rally the base 

With Republicans at risk of losing control of Congress in legislative elections in November, Trump is keen to rally his base ahead of the polls behind a tough-sounding message.

A series of special elections have seen Republicans struggle to match the intensity of anti-Trump sentiment, with high turnout among Democrats delivering a series of shock victories.

Most polls show Trump’s approval rating hovering around 40 percent, with supporters and opponents expressing intense feelings either way.

This announcement is likely to be no different in terms of how the public reacts.

Around 55 percent of Americans are in favour of the death penalty for murder, the lowest levels in decades.

Trump has previously mooted the “ultimate” punishment for drug dealers.

“Some countries have a very, very tough penalty — the ultimate penalty,” he said in March. “And, by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do. So we’re going to have to be very strong on penalties.”

Trump has praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose war on drugs has led to the extra-judicial killings of alleged traffickers.

Philippines police say they have killed 4,100 drug suspects as part of the campaign, while rights groups claim the real toll is around three times the number. The International Criminal Court is investigating.

Experts say that the apparent link between low drug use and capital punishment in places like Singapore can be misleading.

Iran, they point out, also has the death penalty for drug use but still has one of the highest rates of opiate addiction in the world.

Many Democrats oppose the idea of executing drug dealers, and changing the law would require an act of Congress.

“We will not incarcerate or execute our way out of the opioid epidemic,” Democratic Senator Ed Markey said last week.

“Extreme proposals like using the death penalty only perpetuate a harmful stigma associated with opioid use disorders and divert attention from meaningful conversations and progress on expanding access to treatment, recovery, and other public health initiatives,” he said.

Trump is set to also announce measures to tackle “over-prescription, illicit drug supplies, and insufficient access to evidence-based treatment.”

AFP

Pope Wants Catholic Opposition To Death Penalty Increased

Pope Francis called Wednesday for categoric opposition to capital punishment to be written into an update of the most important guide to Catholic teaching.

His comments, which will be controversial with many fundamentalist Christians and some Catholics, came in a speech to clerics attending a conference in Rome to mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The catechism is a question and answer guide to what Catholics should think about a wide range of moral and social issues.

Acknowledging that the Vatican itself had historically had “recourse to the extreme and inhuman remedy” of judicial execution, Francis said past doctrinal errors should be put aside.

“We have to restate that, however grave the crime that may be committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it attacks the inviolability and the dignity of the person,” he said.

The execution of a human being was fundamentally against the teachings of Christ because, by definition, it excluded the possibility of redemption, he argued.

The Catholic church has steadily increased the strength of its opposition to the use of capital punishment in recent years.

Pope John Paul II made an appeal for a global consensus on abolition in 1999 and Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI issued a similar call in 2011.

The 1992 text of the catechism says authorities should take appropriate measures in the interest of the common good without excluding the use of the death penalty in extremely grave cases.

More recent updates say justifying circumstances are now rare if not practically inexistant. And a version of the catechism aimed at younger people now includes a question, “Why is the Church opposed to the death penalty?”

Francis has made clear his own personal opposition to the death penalty on numerous occasions.

“It doesn’t give justice to victims, but it feeds vengeance,” he said in June 2016, arguing that the biblical commandment “thou shall not kill,” applied to the innocent as well as the guilty.

 

AFP

Group Calls For Abolition Of Death Penalty In Nigeria

HangingInternational Human Rights group, Avocats Sans Frontières, has called on Nigeria to abolish death penalty in the country’s laws.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the group’s Country Head, Ms Angela Uwandu, said that Nigeria needs to adopt a restrictive pronouncements on death penalty since several cases have shown that it has not served as a deterrent to crimes.

Ms Uwandu disclosed that the goal of the group was to ensure abolition of capital punishment in the Nigeria.

In pursuit of this goal, over a hundred inmates have had their cases reviewed and ultimately regained freedom following the completion of the Save Lives Project by the Avocats Sans Frontières.

Former death row inmate, Calistus Ike, was one of the freed inmates. He spent 23 years of his life in prison, first, he was on the list of inmates awaiting trial for seven years and thereafter, he was placed on death row for another sixteen years. He was said to have gone through all these for a crime he did not commit.

According to the human rights group, the case of Calistus Ike was similar to that of many inmates in the Nigerian prison system. In worse cases, some of them are awaiting trial for crimes that should not attract death penalty.

This has been the argument of the opponents of death penalty in Nigeria, according to Ms Uwandu, as the debate over whether death penalty should be abolished or not continues to be in public discourse in Nigeria.

However, miscarriage of justice remains a problem in criminal justice in many countries around the world.

Delta State Lawmaker Upholds Death Penalty Law

Victor OcheiThe Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Victor Ochei, has said that the capital punishment law passed in the state is achieving its deterrence purpose.

On Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, on Monday, the Speaker said that since the law was passed the rate of kidnapping the state had reduced.

He pointed out that it was not possible to completely rid the society of crime, but emphasised that such laws were necessary to put a check to crime and ensure security of lives and property.

“The capital punishment has achieved its aim of deterrence and putting the law in place is just an extra mile we had to go to put deterrence to crime.

He explained that the law did not only recommend death penalty but also had other intricacies that would involve everybody in the state in making sure that the communities were secured.

“Part of the law, as passed by the State House of Assembly, stipulates that the owner of any building used by kidnappers to keep hostages would lose the house if the suspected kidnappers were found guilty.

“Security is for everybody and traditional rulers have been tasked with ensuring that communities under their control identify individuals living in the communities,” he explained.

On the issue of Crude Oil Theft, which has gained international interest as it was cutting deep into Nigeria’s revenue, Mr Ochei stated that the State Assembly could not mad laws that would check the trend, saying that “issues on Crude Oil are exclusive to the National Assembly”.

The speaker, however, stressed the need to breakdown the exclusive list to allow the state handle issues that directly affect it.

The Governor of the State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, had at an investors meeting in London few days ago, called on stakeholders in the oil sector to assist in checking Crude Oil Theft, explaining that only experts with vast knowledge in mining could be involved in the crime.

FG, States To Meet On Review of Death Penalty Policy

The federal government hopes to engage state governments to review the death penalty in the nation’s laws.

Speaking when he took his turn at the on-going ministerial platform, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, a senior advocate of Nigeria explained that since the country is a federation, the federal government cannot compel states to do away with death penalty.

Adoke observed that the global debate on the desirability or otherwise, of its abolition has not assumed a momentum to command global agreement on death penalty abolition.

He expressed optimism that when the time comes, the laws would be amended to provide an alternative to death penalty.

President Goodluck Jonathan had directed state governors to exercise their constitutional rights by signing death warrants of death row inmates in order to reduce the rising level of criminality in the country.

Four death row inmates have been hanged by officers of the Nigeria Prison Service in Edo state. The inmates were convicted of crimes ranging from murder, rape to armed robbery.

Minister Seeks Death Penalty For Rapists

If the proposal of the Women affairs Minister, Zainab Maina is accepted by the President, then Nigerians should expect death penalty on convicted rapists in the country.

The Minister of Women affairs told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that her ministry is determined to tackle rape by pushing for the passage of the bill.

According to her “we are also trying to make the police set-up a gender desk in every police station to handle such cases so that serious punishment, perhaps death sentence would be handed to culprits,”

Experts however anticipate some challenges in implementing this law, because of the stigma attached to rape, as many people are scared to disclose they have been raped.

Death penalty already exists for crimes such as murder and there is a bill before the national assembly to also make rapists pay the supreme price.

Dickson Approves Death Penalty For Kidnappers In Bayelsa

The Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson on Wednesday affirmed his position on the prescription of death sentence for kidnappers by signing into law the Bayelsa State kidnapping and Allied offences bill 2013.

Assenting to the bill passed by the legislative arm of government, the governor said that he would not hesitate to sign the death warrant of any person or group of persons caught in the act of kidnapping and other related offences.

Mr Dickson said, “I like to say this, if you are involved in any act of kidnapping, let me warn you today, don’t come near Bayelsa. We have put measures in place. I have just a short while ago commissioned 15 fast moving patrol boats for use by our security forces to ensure maritime security and safety.

“If you try that, whether it is in sea-piracy or kidnapping, we are going to get you. We will make it difficult for you to succeed and whoever you are and wherever you are operating from, we are going to get you.

“I am aware that the security forces have made several arrests and most of the young men and women who were involved in the recent kidnappings that took place are presently under custody. Any of them found guilty of the offence will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

“Today with this bill having been signed into law, we have entered a new phase in terms of the provision of the legal infrastructure that will support our fight against kidnapping and related offences.

“It is morally indefensible for young people for whatever reason to go under the cover of darkness, armed with illegal weapons, terrorize villages and old people in their homes and then forcefully abduct and rough handle old people and take them as an article of trade. That is morally indefensible.

“It cannot be justified under any circumstance at all. As a government, we are by this law sending out a strong message of condemnation and that we are prepared and determined to work with our able security agencies as a team together to flush out such criminals from within Bayelsa or wherever they are operating from.

“As I said earlier, and most people know that when I say something, I do it. I will not hesitate to sign a certificate,(warrant) of execution.
“Anybody who doesn’t listen and commits any of the offences prohibited by this law, and who is tried and convicted will face the penalty.”