World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


India: UN human rights experts welcome Supreme Court ruling

GENEVA (30 January 2014) – Two United Nations independent experts welcomed a recent decision by the Supreme Court of India to commute to life imprisonment the death sentences of 15 individuals, and to introduce guidelines safeguarding the rights of people on death row.

“This judgment by the Supreme Court reaffirms the value of human rights and respect for human life, as enshrined in the Indian Constitution,” said UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns.

“If the death penalty is to be used at all, international law clearly requires that it must follow a trial that meets the highest standards of fairness and due process guarantees,” he added.

On 21 January 2014, the Indian Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of 13 individuals after finding that there had been an unexplained and unreasonable delay by the authorities in deciding on their petitions for mercy.

Two other individuals had their death sentences commuted to life on the ground of mental illness. “I am pleased to see that the Supreme Court referred to international standards and confirmed that persons suffering from mental illness could not be executed,” said Mr. Heyns.

The Supreme Court also ruled that all death row prisoners should have regular mental health checks and appropriate medical care be given to those in need.

Other general guidelines by the Supreme Court on the treatment of persons on death row include: solitary confinement during the period awaiting a decision on the mercy petition is unconstitutional; persons sentenced to death are entitled to legal aid, including for filing mercy petitions; a notice of at least 14 days must be given prior to execution; a final meeting between the prisoner and their family and friends should be facilitated.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E Méndez, also welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. But he stressed that Indian courts must continue to ensure that capital punishment does not violate the absolute prohibition on torture or ill-treatment.

“The fact of being on death row itself and the methods of execution employed may render capital punishment tantamount to torture,” Mr. Méndez highlighted.

Under all circumstances the absolute prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the strict adherence to safeguards against them constitute fundamental limits on the use and enforcement of the death penalty, he said.

Mr. Heyns and Mr. Méndez, who had previously raised the case of several of the individuals concerned with the Indian Government, said the Supreme Court’s decision was a “significant step” but they urged India to go further and “establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty”.

The statement by the two experts was also endorsed by the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mads Andenas.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Leaked: UK Counter-Terrorism Training Material

The PREVENT Strategy has permeated all aspects of public life in the UK. It is important that the training provided to public sector workers to implement the strategy is scrutinised for its empiricism. To this end, CAGE has released the most comprehensive leak of PREVENT training material so far. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Aid Urgently Needed For Drought-Stricken Ethiopia

As the severity of ongoing drought in Ethiopia is exacerbated by the arid effects of ‘super El Nino’, ChildFund New Zealand is appealing to more New Zealanders to contribute to their growing aid response. More>>

'Very Concerned' After Court Ruling: UNHRC On Transfer Of 267 People From Australia To Nauru

Most of these people were reportedly brought to Australia from Nauru to receive medical treatment and are in a fragile physical and mental state. The group includes more than 12 women and at least one child who have allegedly suffered sexual assault or harassment while in Nauru. The group also includes 37 children born in Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Sanctions To Be Lifted: NZ Welcomes Implementation Of Iran Nuclear Deal

Duty Minister Nikki Kaye has welcomed the next stage in the historic nuclear deal between Iran, the Five Permanent (P5) members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany... “New Zealand has now started the domestic process for removing the UN sanctions." More>>

ALSO:

Pre-Davos Reports: 62 People Own Same Wealth As Half The World

Runaway inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population – a figure that has fallen from 388 just five years ago, according to an Oxfam report published today ahead of the annual gathering of the world’s financial and political elites in Davos.. More>>

ALSO:

Jakarta: UN Secretary-General On Attacks

The Secretary-General condemns the bombings and gun attacks in Jakarta today... there is absolutely no justification for such acts of terrorism. He hopes the perpetrators of today's attacks will be swiftly brought to justice. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news