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India should ban death penalty: Amnesty International

Though India did not carry out any executions in the last five years, a noted human rights body on Tuesday called on the government to ban death sentences.

London: Though India did not carry out any
executions in the last five years, a noted human rights body
on Tuesday called on the government to ban death sentences.

In its annual report, `The Amnesty International`
welcomed India not having any cases of executions since 2004,
but urged the government "to improve its mixed record and move
faster on the incremental path to abolition".
"For the fifth consecutive year India did not carry out
any execution although numerous death sentences were imposed,"
the report said.

"A crucial step for the Indian government is to accept
the Supreme Court`s suggestion to empower bodies such as the
Law Commission or the National Human Rights Commission to
carry out comprehensive research into the death penalty,"
Claudio Cordone, Interim Secretary General, said.

He expressed disappointment that India had included the
death penalty in a proposed amendment to the Anti-Hijacking
Act and that the country had voted against a death penalty
moratorium in the UN General Assembly in 2007 and 2008.

A number of judgments of the Supreme Court recognised
arbitrariness of the application of death penalty in India,
Cordone said.
One judgement, the report of the rights body on `Death
penalty in India`, observed, "extremely uneven application of
(the rarest of the rare formulation) has given rise to a state
of uncertainty in capital sentencing law which clearly falls
foul of constitutional due process and equality principle."

According to it, judges called for "credible research by
the Law Commission of India or the National Human rights
Commission to encourage an informed discussion and debate on
the question of death penalty."

In the same judgement, the Supreme Court also
acknowledged the United Nations General Assembly moratorium
resolution and the global move against the death penalty,
noting in particular the abolitions by South Asian States of
Nepal and Bhutan and the positive developments in Philippines
and South Korea, it said.

The report said more people were executed in Asia than in
the rest of the world combined. The vast majority of
executions were carried out in China, although at least 26
executions were known to have been carried out in seven other
countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Bangladesh (3), Japan
(7) and Vietnam (at least 9).

At least 819 death sentences were known to have been
imposed, including 50 in India, it said.

The report said at least 17,118 people were awarded death
sentence as of Dec 31, 2009. China again refused to divulge
exact figures on its use of death penalty.


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