Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

India: Man Sentenced to Death for Rape of Minor Girl After 6-day Trial

A court in this district of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday sentenced a man to death for raping a minor girl.
Additional District Judge Sudhanshu Saxena awarded the capital punishment to Naresh Parihar (40), said assistant prosecutor P L Rawat.
The prosecution examined 24 witnesses, he said.
The judge, while pronouncing the verdict, said the Indian society considers girls as "goddesses", and if they are not provided security and rapists remain at large, their future would be imperilled.
While the crime took place on July 18, the trial started on August 7, and within 6 working days it ended with the court announcing the death penalty to the accused.
According to the prosecution, Parihar had, on July 18, sent a minor boy to the girl's house, which was nearby, with a message that his wife was asking for her.
When the girl went to his house, Parihar took her to a room and penetrated her private parts with fingers, which amounts to rape under IPC section 376(AB), an amended provisi…

Sudan: Supreme Court Annuls Student's Death Penalty

The Supreme Court has annulled the death penalty on student Asim Omar, a member of a student opposition party at the University of Khartoum. 
He has to remain in prison for the death of a policeman.
Omar is a member of the Independent Student Congress Party, student party of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP). 
He has been accused of killing an anti-riot policeman during student protests in April 2016.
The Supreme Court ordered the papers to be returned to the trial court to hear more witnesses.
Omar was convicted of murder on August 29 last year, which prompted hundreds of students and SCP members to demonstrate near the court against the death sentence. 
On December 5, the Court of Appeal in Khartoum upheld the death sentence.
"His hands and feet were shackled, and he faced the possibility of being hung," a press statement by the SCP read. In January, the student started a hunger strike in the Kober prison in Khartoum to protest the prison administration's decision to …

Sri Lanka: Noose Looms Large For Drug Dealers

Harshi Sudarshani, a Sunday school teacher in Negombo, and her younger brother have faced strained relationships with their friends since their father was arrested on a drug charge.
The fisherman was arrested after packets of heroin were found on the boat in which he spends long periods at sea in search of tuna.
Sudarshani, who joined religious leaders on an anti-drug protest with thousands of others in Negombo in February, denies her father's involvement in drug trafficking and blames the businessman owner of the boat.
Her family's worries about the case increased with Sri Lanka's announcement in July that it was introducing capital punishment for persistent drug dealers.
"My father is an innocent fisherman who used to go to church," says Sudarshani, who is about to move house due to the social stigma of the drug case.
Sri Lanka has been on the map for years as a transit point for drugs, while concerns are growing about the use of illegal drugs, especially amon…

Sudan’s prosecutor appeals to reinstate death sentence against Noura Hussein

August 16, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese prosecutor submitted an appeal against a five-year sentence and a fine and requested the constitutional court to reinstate a death penalty for Noura Hussein a 19-year old girl murdered her husband after a forced marriage.
Last May, a court had sentenced Hussein to death by hanging, as she had been convicted for the premeditated murder of her husband, Abdel Rahman Mohamed Hammad. However in June after a campaign inside and outside Sudan, an appeal court sentenced her to five years in jail and a fine of 337500 Sudanese SDG.
"The state prosecutor on Noura Hussein’s case has appealed to have her current sentence (....) overturned, and has filed a petition for the death penalty to be reinstated," said a statement extended to Sudan Tribune by an international women’s rights organization Equality Now.
The move comes after the rejection of fine by Hammad’s family, attack on the house of Hussein’s family and public threats that they would ki…

Israeli may face death sentence in Belarus

Alan Levit, who immigrated to Israel in 1991, is suspected of robbing and murdering a man in Minsk in 1993; German authorities arrest him in Frankfurt due to Interpol arrest warrant; lawyer tries to bring him back to Israel to face trial, where he won't face capital punishment.
An Israeli man was arrested in Germany a week ago at the request of Belarus authorities on suspicion of involvement in a murder that took place 25 years ago. 
The suspect, Alan Levit, 46, from Bat Yam, landed in Frankfurt with his son, where he was told there was an international arrest warrant against him issued by Interpol. 
Levit immigrated to Israel from Belarus in 1991. Despite that, a decade ago, investigators from Belarus arrived at his home in Israel to question him about a murder that took place in 1993 in Minsk.
His lawyer, Gregory Kurziner, said the Belarusian investigators suspect Levit traveled to Belarus with a partner with whom he robbed and murdered a victim at his home. 
Levit denied the su…

Saudi Arabia remains "wedded" to death penalty "cult:" Report

Saudi Arabia remains committed to the death penalty despite the kingdom moving towards social reforms, according to a new report published by a human rights group.
The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) said 146 people were executed in Saudi Arabia in 2017, making it the third worst offender in the world—behind China and Iran.
“Amidst Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights landscape, the use of capital punishment remains a highly contentious issue, particularly where it violates the non-derivable right to life,” the report argued. “Employed as a tool of terror by the authorities, the irreversible nature of capital punishment means that this particular violation must be reported on,” it added, “particularly when a lack of due process or the use of execution as a political tool is a key concern.”
Under the watch of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia is trying to promote a more progressive social image. The prince’s Vision 2030 program aims to moder…

With inmate's fate unclear, Florida bishops pray to end death penalty

Tallahassee, Fla., Aug 13, 2018 / 04:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic bishops of Florida have asked for continued prayers for an end to the death penalty following the stay of an inmate’s execution. They had previously asked Gov. Rick Scott to commute the inmate’s death sentence and cited Pope Francis’ new catechism revisions on the death penalty.
“Please continue to pray for victims of crime, those on death row, and for an end to the use of the death penalty,” the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said Friday afternoon.
Jose Antonio Jimenez, now 54 years old, was convicted of the 1992 murder of Phyllis Minas, a 63-year-old woman. He had been scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Aug. 14.
On Aug. 10 the Florida Supreme Court unanimously granted a request to grant the stay, without stating a reason, the Florida News Service reports.
Jimenez’s lawyer Marty McClain had requested the stay, citing several issues. These included a pending Supreme Court decision that could affect Flor…

Saudi Arabia’s death penalty

Six men were pushed before the watching eyes of countless men, women, and children — they were thieves and murders, and they were set to be executed in public. The style of execution? Beheading.
One might expect such a scene from medieval England or ancient China, but this particular anecdote? Early June 2017 in Saudi Arabia.
Six men publicly executed in a single day — it brought the country’s death toll via capital punishment up to 44.
Saudi Arabia remains one of the most prolific users of capital punishment, and it is based on a literal interpretation of Sharia law integrated into the government. Sometimes this is followed up with a crucifixion of the headless body after the execution, as was seen recently during the controversy between the Middle Eastern country and Canada when a man accused of murder was beheaded and then hung on a cross.
Just behind China and Iran, Saudi Arabia takes third place in the number of death penalties carried out in the world, according to Amnesty Inte…

75 Catholic priests and scholars ask Francis to backtrack on death penalty

The pope’s revision to the Catechism calls capital punishment “inadmissible.”
A group of 75 Catholic clergy members and scholars have urged Pope Francis to backtrack on his decision to declare the death penalty “inadmissible” in Catholic teaching.
Earlier this month, Pope Francis authorized a change in the Catholic Catechism, the official teaching document of the church, to intensify the language pertaining to the defensibility of the death penalty.
Since the catechism was first published in 1992, the church has said the death penalty should be used only in very rare situations. Francis’s change, though, denied that the death penalty could ever be compatible with Catholic teaching, on the grounds that “the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes.”
While the move drew praise from anti-capital-punishment advocates, such as Sister Helen Prejean, who called it a “great day for human rights,” some of Pope Francis’s more conservative critics remain…