More good news

USA - Maryland votes to abolish death penalty

Maryland is the 18th state to abolish the death penalty after a vote on 15 March 2013. The trend in the US is towards abolition, largely due to the campaign for death row citizen Troy Davis. Although, sadly, he was executed, the campaign shone a light on inherent flaws in the US death penalty legislation.

Oman - Activists and Writers

On 23 March 2013 Sultan Qaboos pardoned all activists and writers convicted in 2013 for insulting the ruler, IT crimes and unauthorised protests.

One of them, a woman, has been studying for a PhD at the Centre for Arab and Islamic studies at Exeter University (although we are not sure whether she was among those pardoned).

AI welcomes this decision but sees it only as the first step towards freedom of expression and assembly in Oman. It is hoped that the current repressive laws are repealed. In February 2013, many activists went on hunger strike for 7-10 days in protest to delays of their Supreme Court hearings. It appears that trials of some activists are still ongoing.

Maldives - Abuse of 15 year old girl

AI welcomes the government's move to add to the mounting national and international concern about the sentence of flogging of a 15 year-old girl, imposed by the Juvenile Court. She had been sexually abused and was sentenced on 26 February 2013 to 100 lashes and 8 months' house arrest on a charge of fornication.

The government has acknowledged that she should be treated as a victim, not an offender, and "her rights should be fully protected".

Religious groups had publicly supported her flogging. 

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