Cutting rope

Lobbying against the death penalty: Interview Amnesty International's Piers Bannister


Cutting rope
by Soheila Vahdati

Piers Bannister, a researcher on the death penalty for Amnesty International, has had an active role in international lobbying for a global moratorium on the death penalty. A resolution calling all states for a moratorium on executions, passed at the UN General Assembly Third Committee in November 2007, leads up to a vote by the UN General Assembly. Piers, who has kindly answered some of my question about the death penalty in a previous interview, kindly agreed to talk more about international lobbying for the resolution.

Vahdati: Congratulations for the success on the first round of voting. What groups were involved and how long they have been lobbying?

Bannister: Many groups from around the world worked for this under the banner of the organization the World Coalition against the Death Penalty. This widespread campaigning was illustrated by the number of governments who took the opportunity to be cosponsors of the resolution with well over 80 nations from numerous regions backing the initiative. The campaign for this resolution started in the summer but the campaign to have a vote has been running for many years, backed by the anti death penalty group Hands Off Cain.

Vahdati: What lobbying mechanisms did you use? Did you lobby around the UN premises, or were activists and NGOs contacting country officials directly? What countries did you focus on, the possible “nay” votes, or the countries with possible abstain votes?

Bannister: Many lobbying techniques were used. We held a meeting at the UN which was addressed by three men who faced execution for crimes they did not commit. The testimonies from the three – from Uganda, Japan and the USA – were extremely powerful and moved many who heard them.

We also lobbied directly to representatives at the UN and to governments in their capitals. We targeted countries which might be persuaded to vote for the resolution or at least abstain. We also encouraged countries that were already very against the death penalty to use their influence to persuade nations they have good relations with to take a stand against state killing.

We held press conference both at the UN and in other regions to support the campaign and educate the media about the global trend away from the use of the death penalty.

Vahdati: Did you ever talk to the Iranian representatives?

Bannister: The Iranian authorities’ policy on the death penalty is well known. Although we seek to change that policy by the power of our argument we took the decision to target our limited resources on governments we thought more likely to respond positively.

Vahdati: Which countries were most vehemently opposed to the moratorium? Did Iran express its opposition vocally?

Bannister: The most vocal governments were (in no particular order): Botswana, Singapore, Egypt, Iran, Barbados and other Caribbean nations. The Iranian representative spoke often about his country’s objections to the resolution saying the death penalty was needed to deal with the nation’s drug and other crime problems.

Vahdati: What were the major arguments against the moratorium?

Bannister: That the UN had no authority to ‘interfere’ in the judicial systems of member states, that the death penalty was required as a deterrent to violent crime and that this only came from ‘the west’. These arguments were fiercely contested by the many supporters of the resolution who believe the death penalty to be a grave violation of human rights, that human rights are the concern of the international community and that the death penalty has never been shown to deter violent crime above other harsh punishments.

Vahdati: When is the date of the final round of voting at the UN General Assembly? Will the lobbying continue till then or do you think it will pass as it did before?

Bannister: The final vote will be in the plenary session of the UN General Assembly on 18 December. We continue to lobby countries that have ceased to execute to vote in favour and hope to push the vote in favour over the 100 mark.

Vahdati: Any interesting experience you would like to share?

Bannister: This is a major turning point in the fight against the death penalty. It may not stop executions in China, Iran and the USA but Amnesty International does believe that it will influence other nations who are already considering abolition. In time, we also believe that the major executing states will start to reflect on the international communities view on capital punishment and consider ending the killing of their fellow citizens.

Vahdati: Thank you. I wish you and all of the people who are fighting against the death penalty success.


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HANG all those murderers and rapists!!

by Joseph Norder (not verified) on

That is the only way to preserve humanity. If someone murders, rapes, or destorys life of another human being, they deserve DEATH penalty. That is how it is suppose to be, otherwise we will have and endless chaos. Look at what the US of A is becoming, and you will learn your lesson. Even in elementary schools of some school districts in USA, there are metal detectors at elementary school entrances because kids as young as 8-9 years old are carrying weapons, knives, etc. When thses kids look at adults and see what can happen to them if they murder, rape or assult, then they will not be carrying guns and other weapons. Death penalty is the correct penalty for murder, rape and horrific assults on other human beings.


Flesh & Body: A lesson from the cannibalist

by Dr. Abol Hassan Danesh (not verified) on

If you kill it you must eat it and therefore if you cannot eat it you must abolish the death penalty...

Now let's see how much more taxes I have to pay to sustain the expensive prison system...

"It is all about money..."



by Mehdi on

The reason punishment is used in our society today is because as humans we have admitted that we do not have a way to rehabilitate individuals. Once "they go bad" we don't really know how to fix them and make them decent and ethical again. Death penalty, if you think about it, is really murder. The person is subdued and is no threat to us anymore but we hang him anyway - probably just "to get even" with him or just so that we feel something was done to him for what he did; not a very noble reason. And then we say "justice was done!" Whatever that means.



But the important thing is that there is no rehabilitation science. Currently we have something called psychology or psychiatry which uses electric shock, lobotomy (cutting the brain casually with no science behind it), damaging drugs (poisons) and other forms of tortue to "adjust" the individual. But there isn't even a scientific definition for what is an "adjusted" individual. The whole thing (apparently considered "science") is nothing more than mumbo jumbo, with devestating effects on people and our society. Currently psychiatrists are selling their dangerous potions and profiting from turning the world into addicts. And the governments pay them for this! These boys and girls PRETEND that they know how the human mind works. Nothing can be further from the truth! All you have to do is open any psychology or psychiatry book and read a few lines. Most of their books says it itself right at the very begining that psychology and psychiatry are very vague and basic terms such as insanity or mental illness CANNOT be defined!



Because of this pretence existing in our society; because we are in denial that we don't know anything about human mind, there is no effort to even try to know about it. Everybody just assumes that we already know! And there are thousands of psychologists and psychiatrist every day "diagnosing" and fixing people. There is No such a thing! It is only a drugging-for-money profitable business with no slightest scienve involved.



So unless we realize what the problem is and we deal with it, I am afraid the issue of punishment, and its worse form, the death penalty will not go away.


Turf war

by Abol Hassan Danesh, Sociologist (not verified) on

Follow up...

Deaer Faribors....

Just as an example look at Oprah Winfrey who has turned herself into a wild guerrilla out of cage after getting gherself implicated in American presidential election by aligning herself with anothe bomb in street called Obama. Yes my friend.. that is how you lose your vision and go blind by not being able to hold on to your "TURF" to win the turf war...


Stick to your profession

by Abol Hassan Danesh, Sociologist (not verified) on

Dear Farib-ors,

Please stick to your medical practice and don't get involved in things that are not in your domain and in your areas of your expertize. Your engilsh is truly aweful and you should do something about your atrocious writing before hitting the key board.

I rather see your name to appear in a newspaper describing your breakthrough in MD in bold and in large font.

Before it is too late regain your concentration on your chosen field of expertise that wins you both bread and prestige and therefore avoid those people who have "Tricked" you into "This" to water down your energy and thus making a mockery out of you.

Just look at what you have written (Proper English) and syou will become ashamed of yourself.

Simply incoherent and aweful!



by Faribors Maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

As just in "IRANIAN" come the speech about YES or NO to death penalty some poeple may think IRI is the only country in which "INOCENT YOUTH" are made to Hangmen day by day. One can read in the same site to same time about that 21 year old man who has killed as he was 16. these two messages accompolish each other and so they are not brought accidently. No body thinks and not even dares to think that many otzher countries out of the area of the Islamic world also know and prctice the death penalty. In the United States, as far as is known, nobody has got the death sentence because of political failoures. In the islamic world somtimes are political and religous offences can not be 100% differentiated. Anyhow from Indonesia to Andalusia is being involved in Drugbusieness is, I say short, as well as. Please just acknowledge the following: Kuwait upholds death sentence for royal
The verdict is unique in its kind among Persian Gulf states.
The Kuwaiti appeals court has upheld a death sentence for a member of the al-Sabah ruling family convicted of drug trafficking.

The court did not issue an immediate explanation of its decision in the case against Sheik Talal Nasser al-Sabah, his lawyer Fahed al-Sayyar said.

Al-Sayyar declined to comment on the ruling, saying only there is still one more court of appeals to hear the case.

The January verdict was believed to be the first time that a member of a ruling family in one of the Persian Gulf Arab states received the death sentence for a drug offense.

The criminal court said Talal 'threatened society, especially young people who bought hashish and cocaine from him,' and 'deserved no mercy. '

The sentence must be confirmed by the Supreme Court and then signed by the ruler before the royal could be executed by hanging.
it is well known that a DEALER, specially if she/he is a Usre too in UNCURABLE. And i think one should remember what an old farsi Poet has said: CHOOBE TAR RA CHENAN KEH KHAHI PIECH / NASHAVAD KHOSHK JOZ BE ATASH RAST. The message i have reffered to shows also the Influence of the young modern Democracy the Iranians - I mean the ones who live in IRI, hacve founded it and will defend it - on the neighborstates. Till years ago it was just unthinkable that a relative of "His Majesty" could be brought to court. and now? I for my part, in halve of my intelektual and general knowledge see myself capable to decide about Death penalty. by this hesitation i take into account what i have written hier and say: If I had to decide I were not against.........Greeting


Leap: Revolution, Devolution and Evolution

by Poet Danesh (not verified) on

He comes
Before me
And says;;;
O sir...
I am sick of being oppressed
I am sick of being screwed all the time
I am sick and tired of being exploited
And being taken advantage of
Please help me...
But when I show him the way
He comes to me and says
Stop the nonesense at once!
This is blasphemy
I used to have a high regard for you
But from now on no more...
In response I tell him in farsi tongue
"Shoma raa be khair maa raa be salaamat"
Doctor poet Danesh
Copyright ©2007 Doctor poetDanesh

Azarin Sadegh

How can I contact him?

by Azarin Sadegh on

I would like to contact him regarding the imminent execution of Ali Mahin Torabi, the child prisoners who is going to die this Wednesday or Saturday.






I'm FOR death penalty

by Saeed Kafili (not verified) on

The problem is the implementation of death penalty. In very small number of cases, involving murder, abuse of children, and other heinous crimes, it may be the appropriate remedy(Of couse then you are opening the gate for brutal regimes to execute their opponents, but that's another discussion).