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Massachusetts Action

Visit the Massachusetts Legislation page to take action on the Governor's reinstatement bill.

Federal Action

ACTION for abolition of the federal death penalty

The Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act, S 122 (full text), has been introduced and is before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It would, as the title suggests, abolish the death penalty under federal law. The bill had no co-sponsors last session, so any progress in that regard would be notable.

The object of this action is to put pressure on our two US Senators to co-sponsor this bill.

Senator Kennedy is strongly oppposed to the death penalty and sits on the Judiciary Committee, so his support would be especially valuable. Senator Kerry in the past has taken a strong principled position against the death penalty, but has become more equivocal; let's remind him of his abolitionist roots and get him back on board. Both are highly visible and influential leaders in the Senate, and you as their constituent possess among the most influential opinions for them.

Please write polite letters, expressing your opposition to the death penalty and urging Senators Kennedy and Kerry to co-sponsor S 122. detailed contact information

Remember: Massachusetts does have the death penalty, and only Congress can get rid of it.

For inspiration, read this Statement by Senator Russ Feingold.

International Action


 04 May 2006

 UA 118/06   Imminent Execution/ Unfair trial
 Mirza Tahir Hussain (m)
 Mirza Tahir Hussain is due to be executed on 1 June 2006
 following what Amnesty International believes to be an
 unfair trial. Mirza Tahir Hussain, who has been in detention
 for 18 years, has exhausted all possibilities of appeal and
 a mercy petition to the President has been rejected.
 Mirza Tahir Hussain was tried and convicted of murdering a
 taxi driver while traveling to the village of Bhubar from
 Rawalpindi, Punjab Province, on 17 December 1988. The taxi
 driver reportedly stopped the car and produced a gun, and
 Mirza Tahir Hussain, who was 18 years old at the time, was
 reportedly physically and sexually assaulted by the taxi
 driver. In the scuffle that followed, the gun went off, and
 the taxi driver was fatally injured.
 Mirza Tahir Hussain was sentenced to death in 1989 at the
 Sessions Court in Islamabad.  Following an appeal, this
 sentence was dismissed by the Lahore High Court, which noted
 discrepancies in the case. The case was returned to the
 Sessions Court where Mirza Tahir Hussain was sentenced to
 life imprisonment in 1994. Following a second appeal, the
 Lahore High Court then dismissed this sentence in 1996, and
 Mirza Tahir Hussain was acquitted of all charges against
 A week later, Mirza Tahir Hussain's case was referred to the
 Federal Shariat Court on charges from the original case,
 including robbery involving murder, which fall under Islamic
 offences against property law. The Federal Shariat Court's
 duties include reviewing laws to ensure they conform with
 Islamic doctrine and dealing with appeals of cases tried
 under Islamic Law. The entire case against Mirza Tahir
 Hussain was reopened, and in 1998, he was sentenced to death
 by the Federal Shariat Court, despite their acknowledgment
 that no robbery had taken place due to the taxi being hired.
 The death penalty sentence by the Federal Shariat Court was
 based on a split two to one judgement, with the dissenting
 judge strongly recommending that Mirza Tahir Hussain be
 acquitted. Amnesty International believes that Mirza Tahir
 Hussain has not received a fair trial due to the
 contradictory statements of the different courts. Also, the
 Islamic provision under which he was tried requires that the
 death penalty should only be imposed if reliable eyewitness
 accounts or a confession to the court are submitted. In this
 case, neither was obtained.
 The Supreme Court upheld the judgment in 2003 and dismissed
 an appeal in 2004. A petition for clemency was sent to the
 President in 2005 but was declined. The family of the taxi
 driver has refused compensation offered by the family of
 Mirza Tahir Hussain, as is permitted under Islamic law,
 which could allow Mirza Tahir Hussain to be pardoned.
 In 2005 at least 241 people in Pakistan were sentenced to
 death and at least 31 people were executed, the majority for
 murder. Many well-off convicts were able to escape
 punishment under provisions of the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance
 that allows heirs of murder victims to accept compensation
 and pardon the offender.
 Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all
 cases. The death penalty is a symptom of a culture of
 violence, and not a solution to it. It has not been shown to
 have any more deterrent effect than other punishments and
 carries the risk of irrevocable error. The death penalty is
 seen as the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading
 treatment and a violation of the right to life, as
 proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
 other international human rights instruments.
 RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly
 as possible:
 - calling on President Musharraf to use his powers under
   article 45 of the Constitution of Pakistan to commute the
   death sentence of Mirza Tahir Hussain on humanitarian
 - calling for a retrial in light of irregularities during
   his trial and conviction;
 - calling for an immediate moratorium on all executions in
   the country, in line with worldwide trends to abolish the
   death penalty with a view to an eventual abolition of the
   death penalty.
 President :
 General Pervez Musharraf
 Pakistan Secretariat
 Fax:        011 92 51 9221422
 E-mail:     via the president's website:
 Salutation:       Dear President Pervez Musharraf
 Ambassador Jehangir Karamat
 Embassy of Pakistan
 2315 Massachusetts Ave. NW
 Washington DC 20008
 Fax: 1 202 686 1544
 Please send appeals immediately. Check with the AIUSA Urgent
 Action office if sending appeals after 1 June 2006.
 Within the United States:
      $0.24 - Postcards
      $0.39 - Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
 To Mexico and Canada:
      $0.55 - Postcards
      $0.63 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
      $0.75 - Aerogrammes
 To all other destination countries:
      $0.75 - Postcards
      $0.84 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
      $0.75 - Aerogrammes
 Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement
 that promotes and defends human rights.

 This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including
 contact information and stop action date (if applicable). 
 Thank you for your help with this appeal.
 Urgent Action Network
 Amnesty International USA
 PO Box 1270
 Nederland CO 80466-1270
 Phone: 303 258 1170
 Fax: 303 258 7881