EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 21/01/97
EXTRA 01/97 Death penalty / Legal concern 6 January 1997
COMOROSSaid Ali Mohamed
Youssouf Hamadi, aged 40
The three men named above have been convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
Said Ali Mohamed was sentenced to death on 31 December 1996, Youssouf Hamadi
on 3 January 1997 and Mohamed Youssouf on 4 January. The sentences follow
a recent statement by President Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim announcing a crackdown
on murderers, and Amnesty International fears that the three men are at risk
of imminent execution.
Although entitled by law to appeal against their sentences, the judges for
the Cour de Cassation (Appeals Court) have yet to be named by the National
Assembly and the court is not operational. Amnesty International is concerned
that the men may be denied their right to appeal. In September 1996, another
man, Youssouf Ali, was denied his right to appeal and publicly executed just
days after he was sentenced to death.
Under Islamic law it is forbidden to carry out executions during the month
of Ramadhan which starts this year on 10 January and Amnesty International
is concerned the men may be executed before Ramadhan starts.
Youssouf Ali's execution was the first execution in Comoros since the country's
independence in 1975 and came shortly after a statement made by President Taki
in which he announced a crackdown on violent crime and warned that the death
penalty would be applied. He was also reported to speak of “our justice being
too slow, it moves at the speed of a tortoise”. (see EXTRA 149/96, AFR 21/01/96,
25 September 1996.)
Amnesty International recognizes the rights and responsibilities of governments
to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences, but opposes the death
penalty in all cases as the ultimate violation of the right to life and the
right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, the
death penalty has never been shown to have a unique deterrent effect on crime,
and is brutalizing to all involved in its application.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/express/airmail letters in
French or your own language:
- expressing concern at the death sentences passed on Youssouf Hamadi, Said
Ali Mohamed and Mohamed Youssouf;
- urging that the men be allowed to exercise their right to appeal to an
independent and impartial higher appeal court;
- reiterating Amnesty International’s concern at the public execution of
Youssouf Ali in September 1996 without him being able to exercise his right
- explaining Amnesty International’s unconditional opposition to the death
penalty in all cases and urging that the death sentences, if confirmed by an
appeal court, be commuted to a more humane punishment.