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Rights group condemns Libya executions

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Tuesday condemned the recent execution [press release] of 18 people in Libya [JURIST news archive]. The executed were charged with pre-meditated murder and several were foreign nationals from Chad, Egypt, and Nigeria. AI reiterated their opposition to the death penalty [JURIST news archive] under all circumstances as a form of cruel punishment and inhumane treatment. They also expressed their concern about the fairness of the Libyan legal system stating, "In the case of Libya, we fear that death sentences are handed down after proceedings which fail to satisfy international standards for fair trial." AI noted that the execution of the foreign nationals was particularly troubling because they are at a disadvantage under the Libyan legal system and because a disproportionate number of foreign nationals are executed in the country. They called on Libya to impose a moratorium on all executions, move toward abolishing the death penalty, and commute the sentences of the more than 200 people currently awaiting execution.

Use of the death penalty continues to be an international concern. In February, Under-Secretary-General Sergei Ordzhonikidze [official profile] praised the increasing number of countries [text; JURIST report] that have suspended or abolished the death penalty. Also in February the Supreme People's Court of China [official website, in Chinese] issued new guidelines for limiting capital punishment [JURIST report] in Chinese courts, relying on a policy of "justice tempered with mercy." In January, Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia announced that he would suspend the death penalty [JURIST report] and commute the sentences of all prisoners currently on death row to 30 years in prison. In November, the Russian Constitutional Court [official website, in Russian] extended [JURIST report] a moratorium on the death penalty until the country's parliament ratifies an international treaty abolishing capital punishment.

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