Iran: The death penalty is an inhumane punishment for death row prisoners, their families and society as a whole

"Whether guilty or not, the outcome of the death penalty is the same. In Iran, the death penalty is by hanging, and it takes from several agonising seconds to several harrowing minutes for death to occur and for everything to be over."

Every year several hundred people are executed by the Iranian authorities.
According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and other human rights groups, death row prisoners have often no access to a defence lawyer after their arrest and are sentenced to death following unfair trials and based on confessions extracted from them under torture. 
These are issues which have been addressed in IHR’s previous reports. The current report is based on first-hand accounts of several inmates held in Iran's prisons and their families. The report seeks to illustrate other aspects of how the death penalty affects the inmate, their families and, as a consequence, society.
How does a death row inmate experience his final hours?
Speaking about the final ho…

Malaysia says no 'U-turn' in death penalty abolition

Some 32 offences currently carry the death penalty, but government says punishment is no deterrent to crime.
As a lawyer, Liew Vui Keong helped one of his clients appeal successfully against a death sentence.
Now, as Malaysia's minister in charge of law, he is working to get the death penalty abolished in its entirety.
The legislation could be introduced in parliament before the house finishes its current sitting in the middle of next month.
"We have made a decision and I don't think we are going to make a U-turn," Liew, the de facto law minister, told Al Jazeera. He said studies showed that capital punishment was not an effective deterrent.
"The [only] question is whether we can do it in this session [of parliament] or the next."
Abolition of the death penalty was part of the election manifesto of the coalition that took power in May, the country's 1st change in government in 6 decades.
With the repeal, it joins only a handful of countries in the Asia-…

Nigeria's 100-year-old death-row inmate seeking pardon

Death-row inmate Celestine Egbunuche has been dubbed Nigeria's "oldest prisoner" amid a campaign calling for his release.
He is 100 years old and has spent 18 years in jail after being found guilty of organising a murder.
Small and slightly hunched over, he looks wistfully into space as he sits on a tightly packed bench inside a stuffy prison visitor's room.
Dressed in a white T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, he lifts his head slowly - his way of acknowledging our presence.
But otherwise he remains quiet during our visit - in stark contrast to the rest of the room that is filled with loud chatter at Enugu Maximum Security Prison in south-east Nigeria.
His son Paul Egbunuche, 41, sits protectively close to him - and does the talking. He is in jail on the same murder charge.
They were both accused of hiring people to kidnap and kill a man over an alleged land dispute in Imo state.
Paul maintains their innocence. They were detained in June 2000 and eventually convicted a…

Colorado: Chris Watts Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murdering His Pregnant Wife, 2 Daughters

A Frederick, Colorado, man who pleaded guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters in August has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Christopher Watts’ sentence was handed down Monday after his parents and the family of his slain wife Shanann Watts made emotional statements before the court. 
“I could objectively say this is perhaps the most inhumane and vicious crime that I have handled out of the thousands of cases I have seen,” Judge Marcelo Kopcow told the court. “Nothing less than a maximum sentence would be appropriate.”
As part of a plea deal, Chris Watts pleaded guilty on Nov. 6 to three counts of murder for the deaths of his 34-year-old wife, who was 15 weeks’ pregnant, and their daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of murdering a child, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body. The plea deal saved him from facing the death penalty.

As Knesset advances death penalty bill, Israel at UN joins calls to end practice

Jerusalem one of 123 nations voting for resolution hailing the ‘possibility of moving away from capital punishment through domestic decision-making’
As the Knesset advances controversial legislation calling for the death penalty for convicted terrorists, Israel this week voted in favor of a United Nations resolution calling for a global moratorium on capital punishment in an effort to abolish the practice altogether.
Jerusalem on Tuesday was 1 of 123 countries that supported Resolution A/C.3/73/L.44, which “expresses its deep concern about the continued application of the death penalty” and “welcomes the steps taken by some states to reduce the number of offences for which the death penalty may be imposed.”
36 countries, including the US, opposed the motion. 30 abstained.
The resolution, discussed biannually by the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, welcomes “initiatives and political leadership encouraging national discussions and debates on the possibility of moving away from ca…

The Lessons of the Asia Bibi Case

Pakistan has released the purported blasphemer against Islam. Now what nation will have the courage to grant her asylum?
Asia Bibi, the Catholic mother imprisoned in Pakistan for nine years and condemned to hang for violating that country’s strict blasphemy law, has drawn broad sympathy throughout the West. Lacking credible evidence, and despite her denials, lower courts plainly yielded to Islamist pressure in making the illiterate field hand the first Pakistani woman to be given a death sentence for insulting Islam’s prophet, Mohammed. Then on October 31, Bibi finally received justice in an acquittal by Pakistan’s supreme court. But when she was released a week later, she found that mobs were baying for her blood throughout Pakistan — and, most surprisingly, that the West held out no firm offer of a safe haven.
Islamabad has given assurances that Bibi has been taken to a secret, secure location inside Pakistan, pending a permanent place of refuge. But her escape seems stalled. The We…

Justice Thomas vs. Justice Breyer on the Death Penalty

Justice Breyer’s statement on Tuesday regarding the denial of certiorari in a death-penalty case (Reynolds v. Florida) elicited a noteworthy response from Justice Thomas.
In his statement, Justice Breyer repeated several concerns that he has expressed before. I’ll highlight 3 of them here: (1) that “lengthy delays—made inevitable by the Constitution’s procedural protections for defendants facing execution—deepen the cruelty of the death penalty and undermine its penological rationale”; (2) that the jurors (in this or other cases in which the Court has recently denied review) might not have had sufficient information to “have made a ‘community-based judgment’ that a death sentence was ‘proper retribution’”; and (3) that the constitutionality of the death penalty should be reconsidered.
Here is what Justice Thomas had to say in response (some citations and quotations marks omitted):
    [1] Justice Breyer’s 1st concern is “that the death penalty might not be administered for another 40…

Tennessee Supreme Court sets 6 execution dates in next two years

The state's highest court set new execution dates in 2019 and 2020 for 6 men sentenced to death in Tennessee.
All of the men had prior execution dates set by the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Those plans were temporarily halted as a result of pending legal challenges to Tennessee's lethal injection protocol. Those challenges, which reached the U.S. Supreme Court, ultimately failed.
The new execution dates were announced Friday, a day after a federal judge in Nashville denied a request to delay the execution of death row inmate David Earl Miller.
Miller wanted the delay so his lawsuit, which argued he had the right to select a firing squad as his method of execution, could be heard.
Miller, convicted in the 1981 murder of 23-year-old Lee Standifer in Knoxville, is scheduled to be executed as originally planned on Dec. 6, according to a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Correction.
Miller's execution will mark the 3rd in Tennessee this year — and only the 8th time Tenne…

Florida's Latest Death-Row Exoneration Shows Why Death Penalty Wrong

The tally continues to tick upwards for those tracking the number of wrongful convictions found on death row. An anomaly these occurrences are not, as the figures already even out to at least 1 person exonerated for every 10 executions in this country.
On November 5, a man named Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin was at long last freed after spending more than 14 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit in Seminole County, Florida — becoming the 164th person exonerated from death row.
Whenever the subject of wrongful convictions comes up, the immediate demand from most audiences is “how did this happen?” followed by “what happened to those in the system who were responsible?” The answers are usually infuriating, and Aguirre-Jarquin’s case is no exception.
The victims in this case, Cheryl Williams and Carol Bareis, were neighbors of Aguirre-Jarquin’s at the time of their death.
On the morning following their murder, Aguirre-Jarquin found their bodies in their trailer home where they had…

Colorado: "Weld County DA made right choice in Watts case"

Colorado jurors' distaste for capital punishment, cost, are considerations
As the sentencing hearing for a Frederick man who pleaded guilty last week in the murders of his pregnant wife and children approaches, experts agree that Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke made the right decision in not pursuing the death penalty in the case.
Christopher Watts, 33, was accused of killing his pregnant wife, 34-year-old Shanann Watts, and 2 daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste. On Nov. 6, he pleaded guilty to 5 counts of 1st-degree murder, 3 counts of tampering with a deceased human body and unlawful termination of a pregnancy, as Shanann Watts was 15 weeks pregnant with a son. Her family said he would have been named Nico.
Christopher Watts is scheduled to be sentenced Monday in Weld County District Court.

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