India: call for Balwant Singh's execution to be halted

The execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana must be halted and an official moratorium on capital punishment established in India, Amnesty International said today in an open letter to the country’s Prime Minister , Manmohan Singh.

Balwant Singh’s execution in Punjab state is scheduled for 31 March. 

Balwant Singh was found guilty in 2007 of the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995. The death sentence was upheld by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in October 2010.

While death sentences continue to be imposed by Indian courts, no executions have been carried out in India since 2004 and if this goes ahead it would be the first in eight years.

Presently more than two-thirds of all countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Out of 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, 17 have officially abolished the death penalty for all crimes and ten are abolitionist in practice.

Amnesty International’s Policy Adviser, Bikramjeet Batra, said:

“Resuming executions after an eight year hiatus would place India in opposition to regional and global trends towards abolition of the death penalty.

“We urge Prime Minister Singh to stop the execution of Balwant Singh and establish an official moratorium on executions – and ultimately to abolish the death penalty in India for all crimes.”

Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Amnesty will publish its new report Death Sentences and Executions 2011 tomorrow (Tuesday 27 March) documenting the use of the death penalty globally in the last year.

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