BOTSWANA: Amnesty International appalled by secret execution

'Those who had authorised her execution failed to inform her family or lawyers of the execution date. The prison authorities refused access to her on the last day of her life. These acts of deception underline the inherent cruelty of this irrevocable punishment,' Amnesty International said.

Her lawyer had reportedly given notice of intention to petition for presidential clemency, following the rejection of her High Court appeal two months previously.

Amnesty International's Deputy Secretary General, in a letter handed over to the President of Botswana, Mr Festus Mogae, in London on 28 March 2001, had appealed to the President to grant clemency to Marriette Bosch. The organization took no position on the merits of her claims to innocence, but is opposed to the death penalty on the grounds that it constitutes a violation of the right to life as guaranteed in international human rights standards. The organization also noted that scientific studies have consistently failed to find evidence that the death penalty deters crime more efficiently than other, less drastic punishments.

Since February Amnesty International's membership throughout the world had been sending appeals to the Botswanan authorities to grant clemency to Mariette Bosch, a South African citizen, and urged President Festus Mogae to introduce a moratorium against executions.

In February 2001 Amnesty International had also appealed to the South African Government to reconsider its reported decision not to intervene in the matter of the death sentence imposed on Marriette Bosch.

The decision to view the case as a matter only of Botswanan national law and sovereignty seemed, in Amnesty International's view, to be inconsistent with South Africa's support at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for resolutions promoting an international moratorium on executions. It also seemed to be contrary to the strong stance the government has taken, despite public pressures, against restoring the death penalty in South Africa itself.

There have been reports in the last two days that President Thabo Mbeki may have made a direct appeal to the President of Botswana in this case.

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