The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

Iran | Prisoner Executed at Yazd Prison

Iran Human Rights (IHR); August 13, 2020: A prisoner sentenced to qisas (retribution in-kind) for murder was executed at Yazd Central Prison. 
According to Iran Human Rights, a man was executed in Yazd Central Prison on Wednesday, August 12. His identity has been established as Mojtaba Tutunchi.
An informed source told IHR: "Mojtaba was arrested over a fight where his brother in law’s friend was killed. But according to him, someone else had stabbed the victim and escaped. The victim’s family suspected him and insisted on retribution.”
At the time of publication, his execution has not been announced by the domestic media or officials in Iran.
According to Iran Human Rights’ annual report, at least 225 of the 280 of those executed in 2019 were charged with "premeditated murder."
As there are no legal distinctions made between murder and manslaughter, whether voluntary or involuntary in Iran, those charged under the umbrella term of “premeditated murder” will receive the…

Thousands flood Belarus capital as election protests grow

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Tens of thousands of people flooded the heart of the Belarus capital of Minsk on Friday in a show of anger over a brutal police crackdown this week on peaceful protesters that followed a disputed election, and authorities sought to ease rising public fury by freeing at least 2,000 who were jailed after earlier demonstrations.
Factory workers marched across the city shouting “Go away!” in a call for authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to resign after 26 years of iron-fisted rule that was extended in an election Sunday that protesters denounced as rigged.
Friday's crowds grew to more than 20,000, filling central Independence Square.
About a dozen soldiers guarding the nearby government headquarters lowered their riot shields in what the demonstrators saw as a sign of solidarity, and women rushed to embrace and kiss the guards.
As the protesters rallied on the square, Lukashenko dismissed them as puppets manipulated from abroad. During a meeting with t…

USA | Bishops Press for Death Penalty Protests Amid New Federal Executions

WINDSOR TERRACE — In 2003, Lezmond Charles Mitchell received a death sentence after being convicted in a double-murder case.
The victims of that deadly carjacking on the Navajo reservation in Arizona two years earlier were a 9-year-old girl and her 63-year-old grandmother.
Now 38, Mitchell is the only Native American among 58 other death row inmates at the U.S Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Aug. 26.
Barring any last-minute stays or reprieves, Mitchell will be the fourth federal inmate executed this summer — three occurred in July — with another scheduled for Aug. 28, followed by two more in late September.
While many Catholic bishops insist that the Church must vigorously oppose the death penalty, not all Catholics agree, with almost half not sharing the sentiment.
“You see it in different polls,” said Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice, Florida, who previously chaired the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Dom…

Singapore’s court dismisses appeals by two Malaysians on death row over “brutal and unlawful methods” used in judicial executions

SINGAPORE, Aug 14 — Two Malaysian inmates on death row failed in their appeals for a stay of execution pending a probe on allegations that “brutal and unlawful methods” used in judicial executions in the republic.
“We dismiss the appeals,” according to judges of Singapore’s Apex Court, Andrew Phang, Judith Prakash, and Woo Bih Li in their written judgment released in the Supreme Court’s website.
A. Gobi and K. Datchinamurthy were convicted for drug-related offences and sentenced to the death penalty.
In their affidavit, amongst, the press statement by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) dated Jan 16, which claimed it had discovered that sort of methods were used in judicial executions in Singapore, was exhibited.
RELATEDSingapore | Malaysian human rights group alleges “brutal, unlawful” state execution process in Changi Prison (This article contains a graphic depiction of the alleged process of state execution by hanging in Singapore, which may be distressing to certain readers. Readers’ dis…

Nigeria | Kano court sentences man to death by stoning for raping minor

An upper Shariah Court sitting at Kofar Kudu in Kano metropolis on Wednesday sentenced one Mati Abdu to death by stoning for raping a 12-years-old girl.
Abdul, 60 years old, who was arrested in 2019 for raping the girl at his Farsa Village in Tsanyawa Local Government area of the state, was found guilty and convicted by Alkali Ibrahim Sarki Yola.
Yola had held the final ruling after hearing from witnesses who testified the crime against the accused person.
Before the alkali passed the hard verdict Abdul was afforded the opportunity to reverse his confession as provided in Shari’a laws.
He, however, maintained his earlier proclamation accepting guilt of the offence as charged.
The death by stoning sentence came few days after a similar Shari’a court Alkali passed a death sentence on one Sharif Aminu of Sharife quarters to death by hanging for Blasphemy of the prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad.
Section 282 of the penal code provides a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment for a co…

Singapore authorities in contact with family of S'porean sentenced to death in Vietnam, rendering consular assistance

They are providing Cher Wei Hon with consular assistance. In response to queries from Mothership, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) stated that they are aware of the case of Cher Wei Hon, who has been sentenced to death for trafficking drugs in Vietnam.
A spokesperson said: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of the case and in contact with Mr Cher’s family. Our Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City is rendering consular assistance to Mr Cher."
Singaporeans in trouble overseas
This is not the first time a Singaporean has run afoul of drug laws overseas.
In December last year, a Singaporean woman was among the six foreign nationals arrested in Bali, Indonesia for alleged drug related crimes.
The woman was found with 0.35g of cocaine in a small plastic bag inside of her passport.
Indonesian law also allows for the death penalty — which is by firing squad — for drug related offences.
In that case, the MFA also said that they were aware, and were rendering…

USA | Spring 2020 Death Row Report Documents Continuing Erosion of Death Row

The slow but steady erosion of U.S. death row continued in the first quarter of 2020, data from the latest quarterly death-row census by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) has revealed. 
The Spring 2020 edition of Death Row USA (DRUSA), released August 10, reports that 2,603 people were on death row or facing resentencing as of April 1, 2020. That marked a decline of 17 since the January 1, 2020 report and a 2.6% drop from the 2,673 LDF reported for April 1, 2019.
The death-row population has declined every year since 2001 and has fallen by 1,049 prisoners (28.7%) since the turn of the century, when LDF reported 3,652 people on death row or facing capital resentencing on January 1, 2000.
The number of U.S. prisoners facing active death sentences also dipped slightly in the first quarter of 2020. 
A Death Penalty Information Center analysis of LDF’s death-row count found that 230 individuals whose convictions or death sentences had been reversed were awaiting retrial, …

USA | Government Withheld Medical Records In Rush To Execute Kansas Murderer Wesley Purkey, Lawyers Say

When the Bureau of Prisons finally turned over the records — after Purkey's second execution date was set — they went to the government's lawyers, who Purkey’s lawyers say failed to turn the records over to them.
The government deliberately withheld medical records showing that Wesley Ira Purkey was incompetent to be executed before rushing ahead with his execution last month, Purkey’s lawyers contend in a legal filing in federal court in Washington, D.C.
The document, titled “Plaintiff Wesley Purkey’s Motion To Dismiss on the Ground of Mootness,” says that while Purkey’s claims “have become legally moot, the facts surrounding the circumstances of Mr. Purkey’s execution cannot and must not be similarly extinguished.”
Purkey admitted to abducting Jennifer Long as she was walking home from high school, raping and murdering her in his Lansing, Kansas, home and then dismembering her body. A federal jury convicted him in 2003 of kidnapping resulting in a child’s death and he was s…

Iran | Two Brothers Executed at Tabriz Prison

Iran Human Rights (IHR); August 12, 2020: Two brothers who had been sentenced to qisas (retribution in-kind) for murder were executed in Tabriz Central Prison. 
According to HRANA news agency, on the morning of Thursday, August 6, two brothers on death row were executed in Tabriz Central Prison. 
Their identities have now been established as Gholamreza and Ali Tahouneh.
Gholamreza Tahouneh and his younger brother, Ali who were native to the village of Chichakli, Bostan Abad county, and residents of Lahijan town in Tabriz, had been arrested and sentenced to death more than five years ago.
An informed source said: "On Tuesday, August 4, these two prisoners were transferred from Ward 11 of Tabriz Prison to solitary confinement in preparation for the execution of their sentences. Finally, the defendants were returned to their cells after insisting and begging the victim’s family for a two-month extension. However, their death sentences were carried out at Tabriz Prison at 9 am on Th…

Belarus election: Second protester dies as UN sounds alarm

Officials say the cause of death of the 25-year-old man in Gomel is unclear. His mother says he had heart problems and was kept for hours in a police van.
In Brest, police said they used live bullets when they came under attack.
The UN has condemned the use of violence by authorities, as protests continued for a fourth night.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said police officers were reported to have used excessive force, firing rubber bullets and water cannons, and also throwing stun grenades.
"Reports suggest that more [than] approximately 6,000 people have been detained in the last three days, including bystanders, as well as minors, suggesting a trend of massive arrests in clear violation of international human rights standards," Ms Bachelet said in a statement.
"Even more disturbing are the reports of ill-treatment during and after detention", she added, calling for the release of all those unlawfully detained. State TV has shown …