5 Death Penalty Myths Debunked

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In advance of the release of our 2014 Global Death Penalty Report tomorrow, here are 5 of the most common misconceptions about the death penalty.

MYTH #1
The death penalty deters violent crime and makes society safer.

FACT
There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect.

More than three decades after abolishing the death penalty, Canada’s murder rate remains over one third lower than it was in 1976.

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HAPPENING NOW: Mozambique Debating Rape-Marriage Legislation

This month, Mozambique’s Parliament debates proposed revisions to Article 223 of the country’s Criminal Code which would allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry the survivor of the rape (Photo Credit: AFP/GettyImages).

This month, Mozambique’s Parliament debates proposed revisions to Article 223 of the country’s Criminal Code which would allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry the survivor of the rape (Photo Credit: AFP/GettyImages).

Imagine if you reported a rape, only to discover the law is on the side of your rapist.

A couple months ago, we shared the story of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old girl in Morocco who was forced to marry the man who raped her. Months after being married, Amina committed suicide by swallowing rat poison. Amina’s death caused an outcry in Morocco and throughout the region.

In January, nearly two years after Amina’s death, the widely-criticized clause in Morocco’s Penal Code sanctioning the marriage was finally abolished.

But elsewhere in Africa, the struggle is far from over.

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How Nigerians Are Fighting Back Against Oil Companies

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By Joe Westby, Amnesty International Corporate Campaigner and Onyekachi Okoro, Media for Justice Program, Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD)

“People are dying silently. The oil companies bring sickness to our communities,” a man from a polluted community in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state told us.

But when it comes to oil spills in the Niger Delta, it’s not what you’ve suffered or what you know; it’s what you can prove.

This simple fact has hampered communities from obtaining justice, even when their lives have been turned upside down by pollution. Because the oil companies have significant control over determining vital data about oil spills, the affected communities lack reliable and impartial information, meaning they can’t effectively tell their side of the story.

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HAPPENING NOW: Horrific Violence and U.N. Peacekeepers Are Nowhere to Be Found

Want to learn more about the crisis in the Central African Republic? Check out this story map created by Angela Chang, Amnesty USA's Crisis Prevention & Response Advocate.

Want to learn more about the crisis in the Central African Republic? Check out this story map created by Angela Chang, Amnesty USA’s Crisis Prevention & Response Advocate.

By Natalia Taylor Bowdoin, Amnesty USA’s Central African Republic Country Specialist

It’s a miracle she survived.

Amnesty’s crisis team met an 11-year-old Muslim girl in the Central African Republic this month. She was the lone survivor of a horrific assault on the village of Bouguere – in a country where sectarian violence has spiraled out of control.

Amnesty came to this region to investigate reports of mass killings and forced evictions of Muslims. Throughout our travels, we found case after case of mayhem and death.

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ACT NOW: Take Action to Fight Back Against Nigeria’s Anti-LGBT Law

With the stroke of a pen, the President has essentially turned Nigeria into one of the world’s least tolerant societies (Photo Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images).

With the stroke of a pen, the President has essentially turned Nigeria into one of the world’s least tolerant societies (Photo Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images).

In January, Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act into law. This act imposes a 14-year prison sentence for attempting to marry a partner of the same sex.

Nigerians convicted of same-sex public displays of affection, or of participating in organizations or meetings related to LGBT issues face ten years of jail time.

In the weeks since President Jonathan signed the law, Nigeria has seen a sharp increase in anti-LGBT mob violence and the arrest of dozens of LGBT people.

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What Everyone Ought to Know About Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law

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NOTE: This text is from a New York Times Letter to the Editor in response to the article “Ugandan President Signs Anti-Gay Bill.”

The new antigay law in Uganda is alarming and, sadly, not shocking. You note that it follows the passage of similar legislation in Nigeria and fits within a growing trend that Amnesty International reported on last July.

The developments in Uganda and Nigeria underscore the depth to which many African leaders are determined to go, not only to discriminate against a segment of their populations, but also to incite hatred and potentially acts of violence. It is a failure of their obligations, internationally and regionally, to protect the rights of people living within their borders and a failure of governance.

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