Urgent call to annul Hafez Ibrahim’s execution

Press release
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FIDH and its member organisation in Yemen, Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF) call upon the Yemen authorities to annul the execution of Hafez Ibrahim, sentenced to death even though he was a minor at the time of the crime and to commute the sentence.

Sentenced to death by the court of first instance of Taiz in 2005 for a murder he allegedly committed when he was 16, Hafez Ibrahim was to be executed on April 6th 2005. The Head of State ordered a stay of execution, due to the Human Rights Minister’s intervention, to allow time to obtain a pardon from the family of the victim and to seek a commutation of the death sentence.

In July 2007, in the absence of the family pardon, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence that was scheduled to be carried out on 8 August 2007. After international pressure, Hafez Ibrahim’s execution was postponed to 11 August 2007. On that day, the Attorney General at the Public Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that the execution would be effectively suspended for three additional days.

FIDH and SAF express their deep concern regarding the procedural irregularities of the trial. The Law Court, which denies that Hafez Ibrahim was minor when he unintentionally committed the murder, has always refused to clarify the real age of Hafez. In addition according to the information received, during the trial, the judge did not hear witnesses or the defense counsel. Moreover, the concerned judicial authorities allegedly ignored the appeal submitted by Hafez’s lawyer.

Our organisations ask for a review of the trial. The application of the death penalty to a minor is contrary to Yemeni and international law and violates Article 31 of the Yemeni Penal Code and Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Yemen in 1991.

FIDH and its member organisation in Yemen express once again their opposition to death penalty in any circumstance anywhere. They recall that the death penalty fundamentally contradicts the principle of human dignity proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that its abolition is an aim of many international human rights instruments, including the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The deterrent effect of death penalty has, moreover, never been proved.

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