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03 May, 2008

Amnesty urges India to abolish death penalty

As about 400 people are languishing in Indian prisons on death row, rights body Amnesty International on Friday appealed to the government to immediately impose a moratorium on executions as an interim step towards abolishing death penalty.

The Amnesty International said at least 140 persons were sentenced to death in the last two years while about 400 were still in jails on death row.

In its report 'Lethal Lottery: The Death Penalty in India', the rights body alleged that the administration of death penalty in the country is "manifestly flawed and fraught with error".

"It is shocking that most death sentences handed down in India are based on circumstantial evidence alone. Over the 700 cases examined, more than 100 were found to have resulted in acquittals by Supreme Court.

"...These are perhaps the most blatant examples of arbitrary and deadly potential of the criminal justice system," the report claimed.

The rights body said they feared the Indian leaders lacked the "political courage and human rights leadership" to abolish death penalty.

"Public opinion often supports retention of the death penalty based on the erroneous view that it deters violent crime. It is therefore up to the nation's leadership to explain the futility of retaining executions on this basis," it said.

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