By Petar Hadji-Ristic
BERLIN, Oct 17 (IPS)
In rich and poor countries alike poverty and the death penalty are almost always inextricably bound together, according to a worldwide survey of experts and human rights activists carried out by journalists as part of the IPS Death Penalty Abolition Project.
“In its 40 years of fighting against the death penalty, Amnesty International (AI) has constantly witnessed the relationship between poverty and the death penalty,” Piers Bannister, coordinator of the rights organisation’s death penalty team, told IPS. Social standing, wealth or race were the overriding factors in deciding who received the death penalty — not the severity of the crime.
Penal Reform International (PRI), an organisation with a long history of campaigning for death penalty abolition and the rights of prisoners, echoed these views. “Imprisonment and poverty are closely linked,” Mel James, PRI policy director said, adding that many countries lacked the technical resources to investigate serious crimes adequately and to “ensure that the innocent are not wrongly accused.”
In China, the world’s most populous country, the number of executions is a state secret, according to Antoaneta Bezlova, IPS correspondent in Beijing.
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