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On Death Penalty, Amnesty'd Like Ban To Raise It, Says US Attacks Not Judicial

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 -- When Amnesty International issued a report on 2011 Death Sentences and Executions under embargo Monday, it counted 43 executions by the United States.

  Inner City Press asked AI's Jose Luis Diaz why this didn't include the situations recently described by Attorney General Eric Holder in which the US reviews an individual and then kills him, often with a drone, and if Amnesty considers these judicial executions.

  He replied, "we've requested the US administration to provide information on these kind of attacks, how they are decided and executed. There is a lot of opacity. We don't consider them judicial executions."

Inner City Press asked the US Mission to the UN for its response, two and a half hours before the embargo was to expire: "Does the US agree or disagree? Is the US engaged in extra-judicial executions? What stance will the US Mission to the UN take on the UN General Assembly death penalty resolution?"

  While at press time there not substantive answers to these questions, it was said the issues are decided at the legal division of the State Department in Washington and they may be responding to Amnesty's report.

  At the UN, Jose Luis Diaz noted that the death penalty can be imposed for example in Saudi Arabia for "sorcery," and for drugs in ten countries, mostly in Asia. Its press release noted that that "foreign national were disproportionately affected by the use of the death penalty, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand."

  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose first appearance before the Press at the UN involved him misstating the UN's position on the death penalty with regard to Saddam Hussein, has just passed through Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand on his way to Seoul. Inner City Press asked Jose Luis Diaz if Amnesty International thinks Ban should have raise the death penalty issue in these countries.

  "We would like him to raise it," he replied.

  Inner City Press asked, but does Ban raise it?

  "I don't know," replied Jose Luis Diaz of Amnesty International.

An inevitable contrast: after first refusing to even summarize its director Ken Roth's meeting with Ban Ki-moon, Human Rights Watch increasingly declines to criticize, or even defends, Ban's positions, which have culminated in Ban accepting without comment or opposition an alleged war criminal as his adviser on peacekeeping. HRW said it refused to provide any public summary in order to retain access. Access to what? Access for what? Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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