Amnesty International Welcomes India's Reprieve of Man Sentenced to Death, Urges Indian Authorities to Commute All Capital Sentences

Press Release
March 28, 2012

Amnesty International Welcomes India's Reprieve of Man Sentenced to Death, Urges Indian Authorities to Commute All Capital Sentences

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) -- The final hour reprieve for Balwant Singh, due to be executed on March 31, was welcomed by Amnesty International today and acts as a reminder of the Indian government's need to commute all capital sentences in the country.

"Balwant Singh's reprieve is a welcome decision by the Indian government," said Bikramjeet Batra, Amnesty International's policy advisor. "His execution would have been the first in India in eight years, and would have set back the country's alignment with the global trend away from the death penalty."

Balwant Singh Rajoana was scheduled to be hanged on March 31 in the Punjab state, but his execution has been stayed, pending an appeal by the Punjab state government to India's President, Pratibha Patil. He was found guilty in 2007 of the 1995 assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

"This should be India's first step in moving away from the inhumane act," said Batra. "Indian authorities need to establish an official moratorium on executions, commute all death sentences and ultimately, abolish the death penalty in all cases."

Two thirds of all countries have abolished the death penalty.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Note to Editors

Amnesty International's report, Death Sentences and Executions 2011, with facts and analysis on the death penalty worldwide, published on March 27,  is available online: http://www.amnesty.org/en /news/death-penalty-2011-alarming-levels-executions-few-countries-kill-2012-03-27

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.