The UK’s Green MEPs, Jean Lambert and Keith Taylor, have written to the UK Indian High Commission urging the Government of India to repeal the death sentence imposed on Balwant Singh Rajoana following his conviction for the assassination of Chief Minister, Beant Singh.
Jean and Keith call on the authorities to commute the sentence and to establish an official moratorium on capital punishment, with the ultimate aim of abolishing the death penalty in India for all crimes.
The full letter can be read below:
Imminent Execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana on 31 March, India
We write concerning the case of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who is scheduled to receive the death penalty on 31 March 2012 in India. He is due to be hanged at 9am in Central Jail, Patiala.
India retains the death penalty and many death sentences are passed in India each year. However, it is to be welcomed that no executions have been carried out since 2004.
We write as longstanding opponents of the death penalty, a view shared by many of our constituents in London and the South-East and across the world. The execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana would break the de-facto moratorium in India and set a dangerous precedent for future executions in the country.
Progress has been made across the world in terms of abolition of the death penalty, with more than two-thirds of all countries having now abolished the death penalty in law or practice. No executions were recorded in Japan for the first time in 19 years, and out of 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, 17 have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and 10 are abolitionist in practice.
A resumption of the death penalty, if it proceeds, would place India in opposition to regional and global trends towards abolition of the death penalty.
We understand that the Government of India has the sole authority to prevent the execution, since the Government in the Union Territory of Chandigarh, where Balwant Singh was handed the death sentence, does not have the power to commute that sentence.
We are therefore writing to urge the Indian Government to stop the execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana as a matter of urgency.
India has a potentially influential role in helping to end the death penalty globally, and to that end we would also urge the India Government to establish an official moratorium on the executions and to commute the death sentences of all prisoners in the country, with the ultimate aim of swiftly abolishing the death penalty in India for all crimes.
Please communicate these concerns to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the other relevant authorities in your Government.
Thank you for your kind attention to this urgent matter.
Jean Lambert MEP
Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London
Keith Taylor MEP
Green Party Member of the European Parliament for South-East England