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April 12 programme - LIVE

Peter van Dyk | 18:00 UK time, Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Today we're starting the programme with reaction in Iraq to the comments by Interior Minister Bayan Jabr that sectarian death squads operating in Baghdad are not part of the security forces.

First up, we spoke to Akif and Hassan in Baghdad.

Akif told us how people were barricading their streets to protect against the death squads, which he said were the thing people in Baghdad most worried about.

Hassan said he didn't think the squads were part of the security forces but Akif wasn't so sure - he wondered how they could move about the streets after dark when the police and army were in control.

Akif thought that the Sunni/Shia tension was being used to push people into political decisions they wouldn't usually make, while Hassan, who is Sunni, said it created difficulties with his friends at college.

Dr Zafar then joined the programme from Basra in the south of Iraq. He said the situation in Basra was better than in Baghdad but that there were still a lot of crimes committed - perhaps by the police and the authorities.

The doctor said people who criticised the local government could find themselves "silenced".

He said that after the fall of Saddam he was so enthusiastic about the future of his country but about seven months ago the struggle became too much and now he is hoping he will be able to emigrate. He complained that the politicians couldn't explain, four months after the election, why there is still no government.

Hassan agreed that intellectuals were frustrated and had left or wanted to leave because their lives were such a struggle while politicians did so well. Akif however was more hopeful.

I think most of the attacks are carried out by people who have lost the favours of the last regime. Islamic extremists may also take part.
Fahd from Yemen.
I'm making this statment on the assumption that I might be wrong. Iraqis have alowed pettyness to run away with their common sense.
Manuel, Nigeria
The violence in Iraq shows that America has lost control there. Peace can only come if America allows Iraqis full control by withdrawing.
Bakassi, Yola, Nigeria
I think very strongly that Iran is behind all sectarian attack to undermine the west.
Michael, Sierra Leone
America should leave Iraq, and stop emphasis of Shia/Sunni divide

Mob rules in Italy

The arrest of Italian mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano, the 'Phantom of Corleone', after 43 years in hiding, has forced the election from the headlines.

Andrea in Sicily said the arrest was a great coup for the outgoing government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Leonardo was reluctant to give Mr Berlusconi so much credit, and pointed out that Bernardo Provenzano was not involved in mob killings on the street so his arrest wouldn't change things on the street.

Andrea in Rome agreed, and saw the arrest salvaged Italy's national dignity. But he accepted that a new "boss of bosses" would soon be in place - or indeed already was in place, which would explain why Mr Provenzano had been captured.

Leonardo said the arrest did make a difference to national dignity but wanted to point out that the stereotype of Sicily is out of date and that people weren't walking around in bullet-proof vests nor were there shootings in the streets.

Yesterday was a great day! I'm an Italian man abroad and my vote was precious for Prodi's victory. We got rid of two awful men: Berlusconi and Provenzano!
Franco Marini Bucharest
The mafia need Italy to the government. Two captains cannot control one ship.
Sheik A Kamara, Monrovia

Bombing in Karachi

We returned to Karachi to hear about the public's response to the bombing on Tuesday. Rukhsana said people were sad and many stayed at home.

Naushad said that although people were sad, there was a thoughtful side to the reaction and people could see that non-Sunni sects weren't to blame. On that point he disagreed with Rukhsana and Ali, who is in Lahore. Ali thought the response would be violent.

Rukhsana said people felt that this could happen to anyone and that was why they had come out in such numbers to protest.

The struggle between the two sects is as old as the hills. But the Shiites are seizing the chance for revenge.
Kamal, Yemen

Is saying sorry enough?

In Britain, it's being suggested that those who commit domestic violence should not be sent to jail if they show genuine remorse.

The Sentencing Guidelines Council, which advises judges in England and Wales, says offenders who say "sorry" - and mean it - should get a community service order or a suspended sentence.

We were joined by Kathy Coe, the director of the Pathway Project which supports women who've suffered domestic violence and a victim of domestic violence herself.

Also with us was David Eggins of the charity TEMPER, which helps men - and some women - who have hit their partners.

Kathy said it shouldn't make a difference, because you can't tell if someone is genuinely remorseful. She also pointed out that assault is assault whether it is on your partner or not.

David said that you could see genuine remorse in people's actions, and that the people working with him showed their remorse by coming to the sessions he runs.

Mark in Durham said that support groups are fine, but that they should be set up in prison. "Stop wishy-washy do-gooders," Mark said.

I am of the view that domestic offenders sbe forgiven
Johnson in Nigeria
If you commit a crime and then show remorse without a resolution not to do it again is meaningless, remorse is simply feeling sorry about what one has done.
Dele, Nigeria
Perhaps my views are conservative, but to allow a plea of sorry into consideration of punishment for crimes is to allow an unjustifiable excuse of which there are so many at present. Serious crime should not consider the remorse shown by criminals. It is easy to be sorry after an event especially if it is to your advantage. There generally isn't this feeling as a crime is being committed. Remorse and sorrow are fine, but not as a substitute to appropriate punishment.
Andrew, Australia
When a man beats up a man, we call it assault. Why do we want to call a man beating his partner something else? Both are crimes and the punishment should fit the crime.
Annette, Kitwe, Zambia
Being sorry is not enough for a spouse batterer! If there is punishment to be meted, let it be. Far too many women have died at the hands of men who said sorry at some point it the relationship.
Sonnile, Lusaka, Zambia

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