Posts Tagged ‘death penalty’

Canada asks China clemency for convicted drug trafficker

January 16, 2019

Canada urged Beijing on Tuesday to grant clemency to a Canadian sentenced to death for drug trafficking, after his sentence reignited a diplomatic dispute that began last month.

Ottawa has warned its citizens about the risk of “arbitrary enforcement” of laws in China following a court’s sentencing of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, to death on Monday, increasing a previous 15-year prison term.

Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg (C) is pictured during the retrial at which he was sentenced to death for drug trafficking

Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg (C) is pictured during the retrial at which he was sentenced to death for drug trafficking HO/AFP

The sentence came during a clash between Ottawa and Beijing over Canada’s arrest in December of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of telecom giant Huawei, on a US extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.

“We have already spoken with China’s ambassador to Canada and requested clemency” for Schellenberg, Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Sainte-Hyacinthe, Quebec.

Earlier, Beijing said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made “irresponsible remarks” for saying China chose to “arbitrarily apply” death penalties.

Freeland recalled Canada’s long-standing opposition to capital punishment.

“We believe it is inhumane and inappropriate, and wherever the death penalty is considered with regard to a Canadian we speak out against it,” she said.

In a move observers see as retaliation over the Huawei case, Chinese authorities detained two other Canadian citizens — a former diplomat and a business consultant — on suspicion of endangering national security.

The timing and swiftness of Schellenberg’s sentence, and the inclusion of new evidence, raised suspicion among observers.

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said China was “playing hostage politics.”

In response to Canada’s travel advisory on China, Beijing issued a similar response, urging its nationals to “travel cautiously.”

China executes one or two foreigners every year — nearly all for drug offences, according to John Kamm, director of the US-based Dui Hua Foundation rights group.



Canadian could face death penalty in China over drug smuggling charges

December 27, 2018

A Canadian is to appear before a court in northeastern China on Saturday for drugs charges, a government-run news portal said, amid frosty relations between Beijing and Ottawa.

The Liaoning People’s High Court identified the man as Robert Lloyd Schellenberg.

court museum in Beijing

This picture taken on December 20, 2018 shows a moot court in a court museum in Beijing. File photo: Wang Zhao/AFP.

In a brief statement published Wednesday, the court said he is appealing a drug smuggling case at 2:00pm (0600 GMT) on Saturday but gave no further details.

A government news portal,, said Schellenberg is Canadian and had smuggled an “enormous amount” of drugs.

China still has the death penalty for drug trafficking.

Canada’s foreign ministry did not immediately comment on the matter.

Ties between Beijing and Ottawa have been strained after China detained two Canadians — former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and China-based businessman Michael Spavor — whom they accuse of engaging in activities that “endanger China’s security”.

Kovrig is a senior advisor at the International Crisis Group think tank, while Spavor facilitates trips to North Korea, including visits by former basketball star Dennis Rodman.

Michael Kovrig Michael Spavor

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. File photo: Twitter.

Though no link has been officially made, the arrests seem to be in retaliation to Canada’s December 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a top executive at Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

She was detained on request from the United States, which has accused her of violating sanctions of Iran.

Another Canadian, a woman named Sarah McIver, is also being held pending deportation for working illegally in China.

UN committee criticizes human rights violations in Iran

November 16, 2018

Resolution singles out discrimination against women and the intimidation and persecution of religious minorities, and is virtually certain to be approved next month

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 29, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (AFP/ Don EMMERT)

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 29, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (AFP/ Don EMMERT)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A UN committee on human rights approved a resolution Thursday urging Iran to stop its widespread use of arbitrary detention and expressing serious concern at its “alarmingly high” use of the death penalty.

The General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee adopted the resolution by a vote of 85-30, with 68 abstentions. It is virtually certain to be approved by the 193-member world body next month.

The resolution “strongly urges” Iran to eliminate discrimination against women in law and practice and expresses “serious concern about ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.”

It singles out violations including harassment, intimidation and persecution against religious minorities including Christians, Gonabadi Dervishes, Jews, Sufi Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians and members of the Baha’i faith — and urges the release of religious practitioners including Baha’i leaders.

The resolution, sponsored by Canada, also calls on Iran to end “widespread and serious restrictions” including on freedom of assembly of political opponents, human rights defenders, labor leaders, environmentalists, academics, filmmakers, journalists, bloggers, social media users and others.

An Iranian Jewish youth group prays at the Rabeezadeh Synagogue in Shiraz in southern Iran, April 12, 2000. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

While the resolution welcomes the elimination of the death penalty for some drug-related offenses, it expresses serious concern at the “alarmingly high frequency” of Iran’s use of the death penalty, including against minors.

Iran’s deputy UN ambassador, Eshagh Al Habib, dismissed the resolution as a “political charade,” saying promoting the human rights of Iranians “is not simply a legal and moral responsibility, but a paramount requirement of national security.”

“Similar to any other country, deficiencies may exist, and we are determined to address them,” he said. “However, it is not for those who traditionally, historically and practically supported colonialism, slavery, racism and apartheid to lecture Iranians on human rights.”

Alluding to the resolution’s sponsor and more than 30 co-sponsors, including the United States, Al Habib said that threatening cuts in financial and development funds to get votes “further exposes the dishonesty of these self-assured champions of human rights.”

Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi of Saudi Arabia, a regional rival of Iran, said, “The Iranian people continue to suffer under a regime that does not respect human rights, that denies freedoms, that persecutes religious and racial minorities.” He called on Iran not “give shelter to terrorists.”


Saudi crown prince has nothing to do with Khashoggi’s death

November 15, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, said that Saudi Crown Prince has nothing to do with the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a press conference on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution announced the results of the investigation around Khashoggi’s death and called for the killing of five people who confessed to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

ALSO READ: Jubeir: Saudi judiciary independent, effective; rejects international meddling

They added that 21 people are being investigated, and 11 have been charged in the murder, however, they said that the system of criminal procedure prohibits the disclosure of the names of the accused.

The prosecution also stated that Khashoggi’s body was dismembered after he was murdered following a physical altercation, and moved out of the consulate. They added that five of the accused are the ones who transferred his body outside of the consulate, and another one gave the dismembered body to a local collaborator. He said that a sketch of this collaborator was drawn, and it will be given to the Turkish authorities.


Arab News

Investigations into Khashoggi’s murder will continue until all questions are answered

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir speaks during a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on November 15, 2018. Jubeir rejected the Turkish demand for an international inquiry into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (AFP)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is still seeking answers to a number of questions in the investigation into Jamal Khashoggi’s death, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said at a press conference Thursday.

Saudi Arabia is committed to holding those involved in Khashoggi’s murder accountable through the judiciary, and investigations into Khashoggi’s murder will continue until all questions are answered, Al-Jubeir said.


Khashoggi killing: Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty for five suspects; Crown Prince cleared

November 15, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of the suspects charged in the murder case of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. However, he denied Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement.

Picture of Jamal Khashoggi in front of screen showing his fiancée (picture-alliance/AP/J.S. Applewhite)

Saud al-Mojeb, the kingdom’s top prosecutor, announced on Thursday that he was recommending the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects who have been charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

He did not name the suspects. In total, 21 people have been arrested in connection with the case.

Crown Prince bin Salman exonerated

Khashoggi, a regular contributor to US newspaper The Washington Post, was a staunch critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. His murder cause international outrage, and many believe it could not have been carried out without bin Salman’s knowledge.

The prosecutor, however, claimed the crown prince was not involved in the killing. He said the highest-ranking member of the Saudi leadership implicated in the operation was former deputy intelligence  chief Ahmad al-Assiri, who has since been fired for ordering Khashoggi’s forced return.

A spokesman for the prosecution told reporters that plans to assassinate Khashoggi were set in motion on September 29.

“The crime included a fight and injecting the citizen Khashoggi with a drug overdose that led to his death,” the official said.  The body was dismembered and handed over to a local collaborator, he added. He did not give any details on the location of the body.

Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get some paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancée raised the alarm when he did not return. After weeks of denials and under growing international pressure, Riyadh finally admitted that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in a “rogue” operation.

The case has caused a row between the kingdom and Turkey, whose government insists the suspects should be tried in Turkey. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the Saudi prosecutor’s statement “positive but insufficient,” insisting that Khashoggi’s murder was “premeditated.”

ng/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters)


Saudi Arabia Seeks Death Penalty Over Khashoggi Killing

November 15, 2018

The journalist’s death provoked a global uproar against the kingdom



RIYADH—Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has charged 11 people over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and has sought the death penalty for five of them in a case that has drawn a barrage of criticism of the kingdom and strained ties with the U.S.

Mr. Khashoggi, a government critic, was killed inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 by a team of operatives sent from Riyadh, an incident that has provoked a global uproar against the kingdom.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Arab News Photo

Saudi Arabia launched its own investigation into the killing of Mr. Khashoggi. The office of Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor on Thursday said 10 people remain under investigation but haven’t been charged so far in connection to the murder.

The prosecutor didn’t immediately release the names of those whom it has indicted.

Turkish officials say Mr. Khashoggi was tricked into entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month and murdered, his body cut into pieces.

The case has complicated relations between Riyadh and Washington, which has cultivated close ties with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s day-to-day ruler, and has placed Saudi Arabia at the center of its Middle East policy.

Write to Margherita Stancati at

Israel could enact death penalty for convicted Palestinian killers of Israeli civilians and soldiers

November 5, 2018

PM reportedly tells lawmakers that opposition from the security establishment shouldn’t stall controversial bill championed by defense minister

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit the IDF's West Bank Division, near the Israeli settlement of Beit El, on January 10, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit the IDF’s West Bank Division, near the Israeli settlement of Beit El, on January 10, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the go-ahead Sunday for lawmakers to advance a controversial bill calling for the death penalty for convicted Palestinian killers of Israeli civilians and soldiers, reportedly rejecting the advice of the security establishment.

Meeting coalition party heads to set the legislative agenda for the week, the prime minister said there was nothing preventing the proposal, which has been stalled since January, from being put to Knesset votes and becoming law.

Netanyahu told coalition heads that opposition from both the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Defense Forces should not prevent lawmakers from advancing the bill, Israel Radio reported Monday morning.

Although the death penalty formally exists in Israeli law, it has only ever been used once — in 1962 in the case of Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust. It is technically allowed in cases of high treason, as well as in certain circumstances under the martial law that applies within the IDF and in the West Bank, but currently requires a unanimous decision from a panel of three judges, and has never been implemented.

The bill, proposed by Yisrael Beytenu and championed by the party’s chairman, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, would allow a simple majority of two to one judges to impose the  death penalty.

Liberman said at the opening the of Knesset’s winter session last month that the passage of the bill was a condition for his party to remain in the coalition.

The prime minister’s authorization, first reported by Israel Radio, came after Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the chairman of the Jewish Home party, requested that the bill be advanced, the minister’s spokesman confirmed to The Times of Israel, following accusations by Liberman that the party was holding up the legislation.

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman (back) and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett (front) seen during a Knesset session on May 11, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

On Sunday, Bennett, whose religious-nationalist Jewish Home will battle with Liberman’s secular right-wing Yisrael Beytenu over the votes of many hawkish Israelis in the upcoming Knesset elections, accused the defense minister of “ruining Israel’s deterrence” against Palestinian terror attacks.

Bennett was referring to a separate bill pushed by his party, proposing to transfer families of terror convicts away from their home communities and resettle then elsewhere in the West Bank as a punitive measure.

“What Liberman isn’t willing to do via the Defense Ministry, we will do today via legislation,” Bennett tweeted. “Over the last two years, Liberman ruined Israel’s deterrence. Terrorists aren’t afraid. They know their homes won’t be demolished, that their families will receive NIS 12,000 ($3,250) per month [from the Palestinian Authority] and they will be glorified as martyrs.”

He added that his party would present the bill for a vote in the Knesset plenum on Sunday, so that terrorists “will be afraid again.”

In response, Liberman’s party said it would “support any bill that aids the fight against terror.” But, he said, “that doesn’t change the fact that the Jewish Home has for about a year been thwarting the passage” of the death penalty bill.

That legislation won initial backing in a January preliminary reading in the Knesset, despite some coalition lawmakers expressing reservations over the legislation. Its progress since then has been repeatedly delayed due to opposition from the security establishment.

Following Sunday’s decision, it will now face deliberations in the Knesset’s Constitution and Law Committee before being brought to a vote in the plenary.


Saudi Arabia’s barbaric plan to behead a human-rights activist

August 28, 2018

Israa al-Ghomgham has spent nearly three years in prison for her nonviolent advocacy of greater rights for Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority — and now her government wants to execute her.

It’s barbaric.

Ghomgham, 29, is to be tried before the Saudi terrorism tribunal on charges solely related to peaceful human-rights activism, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

New York Post

Along with five other Shiites, she faces beheading (the usual Saudi mode of execution) for fomenting protests in the Qatif area of Eastern Province — “crimes” that include chanting slogans hostile to the regime, filing protests, posting on social media, seeking to inflame public opinion and providing moral support to rioters.

Exercising what ought to be free speech, in other words. And none of it remotely related to terrorism — although the Specialized Criminal Court has already sent other protesters to the executioner.

Image may contain: 1 person, hat, beard and closeup

Mohammad bin Salam, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

This comes amid a supposed push to liberalize Saudi Arabia under Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince who’s running the kingdom. Is MBS’s control that thin, or does he approve?

As Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director, puts it: “Every day, the Saudi monarchy’s unrestrained despotism makes it harder for its public-relations teams to spin the fairy tale of ‘reform’ to allies and international business.”

The next hearing in the case is Oct. 28. If the prince is truly serious about reform, that date will bring the immediate release of Ghomgham and her co-defendants.

Image result for Wahhabi

Has Saudi Arabia Arrested Imam and Preacher of the Grand Holy Mosque in Makkah?

August 26, 2018

The case could be about the mixing of unrelated men and women

Saudi Arabia has yet to confirm or deny the reports of Sheikh Dr Saleh bin Mohammed Al Talib, Imam and Preacher of the Grand Holy Mosque in Makkah, being detained by authorities.

Image result for Saleh al Taleb, photos

On Sunday, the social media advocacy group Prisoners of Conscience, which monitors and documents arrests of Saudi preachers and religious scholars, had stated that Sheikh Saleh was arrested after he delivered a sermon on the duty in Islam to speak out against evil in public.

According to Al Jazeera’s report published on Wednesday, Arabic news website Khaleej Online reported that in his sermon, Sheikh Saleh “derided the mixing of unrelated men and women at concerts and other mixed entertainment events”.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, in an interview to CBS News in July, had said: “We have extremists who forbid mixing between the two sexes and are unable to differentiate between a man and a woman alone together and their being together in a work place. Many of those ideas contradict the way of life during the time of the Prophet (pbuh).”

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, beard, hat and closeup

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman

Hours after his reported arrest, Al Jazeera added, both of Sheikh Saleh’s Engish and Arabic Twitter accounts were deactivated.

Yahya Assiri, a UK-based Saudi human rights activist, was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that the kingdom’s “authorities are looking at everyone that’s influential and has a presence on the scene”.

On Wednesday, human rights groups had said that Saudi prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for five human rights activists, including, for the first time, a woman.

The five stand accused of inciting mass protests in mainly Shiite areas of the Sunni-ruled kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province. Human rights groups said that the execution threat is a calculated bid to stifle dissent.

The Saudi government, however, has not confirmed that the activists face the death penalty.

Trudeau doubles down on Canadian criticism of Saudi Arabia — Beheadings planned for incitement to disobedience of the ruler in KSA

August 25, 2018

The prime minister is the latest Canadian official to take aim at Saudi human rights record amid diplomatic spat

The two countries have been embroiled in a diplomatic dispute for weeks (AFP)

Image result for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, photos

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern on Thursday over reports that human rights activists in Saudi Arabia face the death penalty in the latest and most high-profile statement to date in an ongoing diplomatic spat between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia and Canada are locked in a diplomatic dispute triggered by Canadian criticism of the kingdom’s human rights record, but Trudeau said Canada continues to “engage diplomatically” with Saudi Arabia.

Human rights groups say Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five human rights activists, including, for the first time, a woman – Israa al-Ghomgham.

Executions, most commonly beheadings, usually take place in Saudi Arabia after the decision is ratified by the king – in this case, King Salman bin Abdulaziz. At least 65 people have been executed in 2018 so far, according to the Cornell Law School Center on the Death Penalty.

The defendants had been in pre-trial detention for nearly three years on charges of organising anti-government protests, incitement to disobedience of the ruler, and providing moral support to participants in anti-government protests in the Shia-majority eastern region of Qatif.

“I think it’s important to have positive relationships with countries around the world,” Trudeau told a press conference in British Columbia.

“At the same time, we have expressed our concern with the sentence handed down by Saudi Arabia, our concern for defending human rights and our shared values all around the world,” he said.

“Canada will continue to stand up strongly for human rights,” he added.

The Saudi government has not confirmed that the activists face the death penalty.

Two weeks ago, Canada sparked fury in Riyadh by calling for the immediate release of detained activists, including award-winning women’s rights campaigner Samar Badawi.

Saudi Arabia froze all new trade and investments, moved to pull out thousands of Saudi students from Canadian universities and pledged to stop all medical treatment programmes in Canada. State airline Saudia also suspended flights to Toronto.

In the end, the kingdom gave its students an extension until 22 September according to several universities.

Earlier this week, Saudi authorities detained friends and relatives of Canada-based Saudi activist Omar Abdulaziz.

“They have been arrested to blackmail me into stopping my online criticism of the human rights violations committed by the Saudi government,” Abdulaziz told Middle East Eye on Thursday.