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Afzal Guru's execution points to worrying and regressive trend: Amnesty
Condemning the execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru 'in strongest possible terms', Amnesty International said it indicates a 'disturbing and regressive' trend towards executions shrouded in secrecy and the resumption of death penalty use in India.

Amnesty International India Programmes Director Shashikumar Velath expressed concern that this “very regrettably” puts India in opposition to the global trend towards moving away from the death penalty.

He also pointed out that serious questions have been raised about the fairness of Guru’s trial. Stating that he did not receive legal representation of his choice or a lawyer with adequate experience at the trial stage, he said these concerns were not addressed.

He recalled that before Ajmal Kasab’s execution in November, Indian authorities used to make information about the rejection of mercy petitions and dates of execution available to the public prior to any executions. “This new practice of carrying out executions in secret is highly disturbing,” Mr. Velath said.

He said that it is not clear whether Guru was given the opportunity to seek a judicial review of the decision to reject his mercy petition – a practice that has been followed in other cases. 

According to initial reports from Kashmir, he said, Guru’s family in Kashmir say they were not informed of his imminent execution, “in violation” of international standards on the use of the death penalty. The body was also not returned to the family for last rites and burial, in violation of international standards.

Amnesty International noted that India is among a minority of countries, which continue to use the death penalty. In total 140 countries, more than two-thirds of the world’s countries are abolitionist in law or in practice. In 2011, only 21 states in the world executed, meaning that 90 per cent of the world was execution-free.

It made it clear that Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. It opposes it as a violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

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