Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'Macron-economy' pun already worn out

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War

Read more

FOCUS

Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Terrorist ransoms: Should governments pay up for hostages?

Read more

ENCORE!

Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche star in 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Read more

WEB NEWS

India: journalist launches "Rice Bucket Challenge"

Read more

WEB NEWS

Russian aid convoy: Mission accomplished?

Read more

WEB NEWS

Actor Orlando Jones lauches 'Bullet Bucket Challenge'

Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • French unemployment rises 0.8% in July to record high

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande puts young ex-banker in top economy post

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    Read more

  • Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

    Read more

  • Airstrikes and Assad - Obama’s military conundrum in Syria

    Read more

  • IMF’s Lagarde investigated in French corruption case

    Read more

  • American journalist held captive in Syria arrives in US

    Read more

  • In pictures: The ministers in France's new government

    Read more

  • 'Lasting' ceasefire agreed for Gaza, Abbas says

    Read more

  • Far-right ‘Russian Jihad’ fighters cross into Ukraine

    Read more

  • Rebels 'shoot down' UN helicopter in South Sudan

    Read more

  • Air France pilots threaten September strike

    Read more

  • WHO seeks stricter regulation for e-cigarettes

    Read more

Asia-pacific

India brings back death penalty over rape, terrorism

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-13

Four men found guilty in last year’s fatal gang rape of a student in New Delhi are to be sentenced on Friday. Prosecutors have sought the death penalty but activists warn that the rise of executions in India will not solve the problem.

Outside a district court in the Indian capital of New Delhi, protesters bearing placards that proclaim, “Hang all the rapists” have been breaking out in a now-customary “Hang the criminals” chant over the past few days.

The chants have turned into a rallying cry for many Indians outraged by the rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December 2012.

On Friday, four men convicted of the crime are set to learn their fate when a New Delhi judge delivers a verdict on a case that sparked a national outcry.

The prosecution has called for a death penalty.

"The common man will lose faith in the judiciary if the harshest punishment is not given," special public prosecutor Dayan Krishnan told trial judge Yogesh Khanna during a court session on Wednesday.

The parents of the victim, who may not be identified for legal reasons, also support a death sentence. "They finished my daughter, they deserve the same fate," the victim’s father told reporters outside court earlier this week.

Under Indian law, the death penalty is reserved for the "rarest of rare" cases. Even when it is imposed, the authorities have rarely carried out executions.

But an eight year unofficial moratorium on executions in India ended on November 12, 2012, with the hanging of a Pakistani citizen convicted of multiple murders in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. Months later, a man convicted in the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament was also executed.

Following the massive public outcry in the wake of the horrific December 2012 rape and murder, India passed a tough new anti-rape law.

"The new law introduced the option of the death penalty for rape in two situations: when the woman dies or ends up in a vegetative state, and in some cases of repeat offences of rape,” said Yug Chaudhry, a Mumbai-based criminal lawyer, in a phone interview with FRANCE 24.

‘Death for rape’

A human rights lawyer and vocal opponent of the death penalty, Chaudhry believes India’s political leaders have bowed to popular pressure while failing to address the root of the problem.

“The death penalty diverts attention from the main issues: the safety of women in the street, education and police reform,” he said.

But many Indians such as Niharika Midha, who launched an online petition "Death for rape” last December, support the death penalty and want to see the new legislation properly implemented.

In a phone interview with FRANCE 24 from Britain, where she has been living for the past three years, Midha said she was moved to act by the sheer brutality of the crime. “I felt far away but the case affected me profoundly. My family, my friends live in India. This could happen to them,” she explained.

Like Chaudhry, Midha also demands better a police response to crimes against women in a country where most cases are not registered and victims’ rights are routinely compromised by law enforcement officials. “But it will take 30 years,” said Midha, referring to long-term structural changes and reforms. “Meanwhile, these criminals should not be released,” she added.

Turning ‘to the guillotine for a quick-fix solution’

Activists and members of Indian civil society groups, however, argue that the death penalty is not a quick fix solution to India’s deeply rooted patriarchal attitudes.

While welcoming the guilty verdict against the four men, Indian women’s rights groups have cautioned against a death sentence, noting that research across the world has shown that capital punishment does not act as a deterrent and fearing the case would set a dangerous precedent for all rapes to be punished by hanging.

In 1983, India's Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty should only be used in “the rarest of rare cases” -- a ruling that has seen hundreds of death sentences commuted to life in prison over the past few years.

But the unofficial moratorium ended with execution of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunmen in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Chaudhry, who unsuccessfully defended a pardon for Kasab, holds the current Indian President Pranab Mukherjee responsible for the new wave of executions. "His predecessors rejected six clemency pleas over 15 years. He has denied 20 during his first year in office,” said Chaudhry.

In a column in The Huffington Post, Sajid Suleman, a human rights researcher, noted that India’s recent use of the death penalty, “gives the impression that when the root cause of the crime is complex and the solution requires a long term strategy, the Indian authorities turn to the guillotine for a quick-fix solution. The execution of a Pakistani will not resolve the territorial dispute with Pakistan,” wrote Suleman.

“One might expect the Indian public to be angry at their government's unwillingness to prevent crimes from happening, rather than calling for more severe punishments for the perpetrators once a crime has been committed,” he added.

India currently has about 400 prisoners awaiting the death penalty, according to local news reports.

If the four convicted men in the New Delhi rape and murder case do receive the death penalty, India's high court will still have to confirm the sentences. The four are expected to file appeals, so proceedings could still go on for months or even years.

 

Date created : 2013-09-12

  • INDIA

    All four Delhi gang-rape suspects found guilty

    Read more

  • INDIA

    Outrage in India as teenager gets 3 years in gang-rape case

    Read more

  • INDIA

    Indian teenager found guilty in Delhi gang-rape case

    Read more

COMMENT(S)