Archive for the ‘justice’ Category

July 8, 2009

bg/ish: Justice in Yemen? Justice in America?

Hamdi al-Kabas, an 11 year old boy in Yemen, went into a barbershop last December for a haircut. He was raped, and then murdered by the barber, Yehya Hussein al-Raghwah. “After brutally attacking him, the barber cut his body into pieces and dumped them outside the capital Sana’a.”

His fate?

According to The Daily Mail: “First he leaves the city’s central prison, handcuffed and dressed in white robes. Fear etched on his face, he is surrounded by soldiers as he is led towards a ceremonial red carpet.

He is allowed to say a final prayer, his shirt is then ripped open before he is laid face down. As a police official reads out his sentence for the last time, a doctor oversees his treatment and crowds – which appear to include children – jeer and punch the air, some filming his final moment on their mobile phones.

A soldier brandishes his machine gun at the nape of the barber’s neck, and within a split second it is all over.”

It’s also worth noting that, according to the Daily Mail, that Yemen “has a poor human rights record and it is unclear if the barber had a fair trial.”

Personally, I don’t have any reason or grounds to express doubt or concern as to whether or not this man received a fair trial or not. In all honesty, that concerns me very little. Why?

Well, according to Amnesty International, Yemen executed 15 criminals last year, ranking them #13 on the list of countries in the world who still enforce the death penalty. China ranked #1 with 470 executions. The United States, ranked #7, with 42 executions.

It’s easy to assume that a country like Yemen, may be executing people without fair trial. It’s also far too easy to assume that the United States executes criminals based solely on fair legal proceedings. How many of the 42 executed in the US last year were convicted under circumstances similar to those of Ronald Kitchen and Marvin Reeves?

Ronald and Marvin spent the last 18 years (13 on death row for Ronald) in prison for a crime they were wrongfully convicted of. They were freed on July 7th after being granted a new trial, only there will not be a new trial as the Attorney General’s office has announced that it cannot meet the burden of proof necessary for a retrial.

The original case against Ronald and Marvin “rested mainly on a “confession” obtained from Kitchen under the watch of former Chicago police Commander Jon Burge. As commander, Burge oversaw the beatings and torture of dozens of suspects, all of them Black men, at Area 2 and 3 police headquarters during the 1970s and ’80s.

Burge and his subordinates used electroshock, suffocation and severe beatings in order to extract confessions. Ronnie testified that he was beaten with a blackjack and a telephone book, and was told by one of the officers during his interrogation, “We have ways of making niggers talk.”

I have mixed feelings about the death penalty. If that barber in Yemen did indeed rape, then brutally murder that 11 year old boy, then by all means I think he got exactly what he deserved. I’m more concerned with the fact that there are too many cases in the United States that lead to convictions based on false evidence, confessions extracted through torture, or worse yet, the “crime of being Black”. How many of our prisoners sitting on death row are there wrongfully?

This is all just food for thought really. It’s safe to say that no justice system is perfect. However, clearly, in Yemen they don’t fuck around.

See more photos from the execution in Yemen here: