2018 Death Penalty report: Saudi Arabia’s False Promise

With crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at the helm, 2018 was a deeply violent and barbaric year for Saudi Arabia, under his de facto leadership.
PhotoDeera Square is a public space located in front of the Religious Police building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which public executions (usually by beheading) take place. It is sometimes known as Justice Square and colloquially called Chop Chop Square. After Friday prayers, police and other officials clear the area to make way for the execution to take place. After the beheading of the condemned, the head is stitched to the body which is wrapped up and taken away for the final rites.
This year execution rates of 149 executions, shows an increase from the previous year of three executions, indicating that death penalty trends are soaring and there is no reversal of this trend in sight.
The execution rates between 2015-2018 are amongst the highest recorded in the Kingdom since the 1990s and coincide with the ascension of king Salman to the t…

EU agrees to work with Sri Lanka closely on human rights, reconciliation, reiterates opposition to death penalty

The European Union (EU) and Sri Lanka at their Joint Commission on Thursday in Brussels have agreed on the importance to continue working closely together on human rights and reconciliation while committed to work jointly during next 2 years to foster rural development, democratic governance, investments and economic growth.
The European Union and Sri Lanka held their 22nd meeting of the Joint Commission on Thursday, 14 February 2019, in Brussels. The meeting was held in an open and constructive spirit and developments in both the EU and in Sri Lanka were discussed, the EU said in a statement.
The meeting was co-chaired by Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service, and Ravinatha Aryasinha, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka.
The EU also reiterated its opposition to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and encouraged Sri Lanka to maintain its moratorium on executions with a view to aboli…

Executed for being gay: 13 nations threaten it, 4 do it.

How many countries execute people for being gay? This blog’s best estimate: The laws of 13 nations call for the death penalty for gay sex, but only four countries go through with it.
This blog’s updated list of 13 nations with such harsh anti-gay laws is a decrease from the previous tally, which had included Daesh/the Islamic State/ISIS/ISIL. 
At its height, ISIS repeatedly executed men accused of homosexuality. (For example, from 2015: ‘Islamic State’ has reported 15 LGBTI executions.)
Now that violent extremist Islamist enterprise, thank God, has been eradicated as a government controlling territory and administering laws. So now it’s off the list.
Here’s a summary of the complete list, which is more fully discussed in the article “13 nations have death penalty for gay sex; 4 carry it out.
Nations with such laws on the books; executions have been carried out in the recent past:
1. Iran
Iran is No. 2 in the world for frequency of executions of any kind, behind China. Those include e…

Iran: Three Inmates Executed In Raja’i Shahr And Ardebil Prisons

At least three prisoners were executed on Wednesday, February 13, in Raja’i Shahr and Ardebil Prisons. 
Ali Shakouri, 34, father of three, was hanged in Ardebil prison, northwest Iran. 
Two other prisoners identified as Behrouz Bayat and Mohammad Hedayati were also executed on the same day in Raja’i Shahr Prison. All the three inmates had been found guilty of murder.
Absence of classification of undeliberate murders in Iran lead to capital punishment for everyone committed murder, intentional or un intentional.
On January 29, a prisoner identified as Omran was executed in Maragheh Prison, also in northwest Iran. 
He had been on death row since 2015 and had denied intentional murder charges saying it was a case of self defense. Omran argued that he reacted to the irate man who began beating him with an iron rod.
Iran is one of the 23 countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty.
Executions in Iran are mostly the result of grossly unfair trials which are usually held behind …

Trump praises use of death penalty for drug traffickers

President Trump revived his praise of foreign nations that use the death penalty to crack down on drug trafficking Friday, suggesting in a speech on border security it’s a better way to deal with addiction than study groups who “eat lunch” and “waste a lot of time.”
Mr. Trump, who recently signed a criminal justice reform bill to help nonviolent offenders, struck a get-tough pose in the White House Rose Garden, saying Chinese President Xi Jinping told him they don’t have a drug problem because they threaten dealers with the ultimate penalty.
“What do we do? We set up blue-ribbon committees,” said Mr. Trump, whose own administration established a commission on opioid addiction during the first year of his presidency.
Mr. Trump is treating opioid addiction, which killed 47,600 people in 2017, as a public health emergency. Most of his efforts have focused on expanding treatment and overdose-reversing drugs, though he’s flirted with the idea of imposing the death penalty on certain deale…

Resuming executions in Sri Lanka a violation of international law - ICJ

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has called on Sri Lanka’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, to retract his recent pronouncement that executions would resume in the country notwithstanding a moratorium on capital punishment that has lasted 43 years.
The last execution was carried out in Sri Lanka in 1976.
“Resuming executions would be an egregious violation of Sri Lanka’s obligations under international human rights law, a serious threat to human rights in the country, and it would be inconsistent with the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Asia-Pacific Director.
Speaking in Parliament last week, President Sirisena vowed to resume executions of those convicted of “drug offences” as early as within the next two months.
The ICJ says it considers any resumption of executions in Sri Lanka as constituting a violation of international law and an appalling disregard for the international human rights system as a whole.
“At leas…

Death penalty for Kenyan policeman who tortured inmate to death

According to the evidence before the court, the inmate was assaulted with a metal pipe before his head was immersed in a drum of water.
A Nairobi court has sentenced a former senior police officer to death for the murder of a suspect in his custody, according to a report on Friday.
On Thursday, the High Court found former Ruaraka Police Station boss Nahashon Mutua guilty of murdering Martin Koome in 2013. 
The death sentence verdict is the severest penalty handed down over widespread police brutality, the East African reported.
Following a domestic brawl in his home in a suburb in the capital, Nairobi, in 2013, Koome was arrested and taken into custody.
According to the evidence before the court, Koome was assaulted with a metal pipe before his head was immersed in a drum of water. He was rushed to Kenyatta National Hospital but died hours later.
Police brutality has long been a complaint of Kenyan activists but police were mostly able to get away with their violence until a police ov…

New York: Judge denies ‘bike-path terrorist’ request to drop death penalty over Trump’s tweets

A judge has denied the request by “bike path terrorist,” Sayfullo Saipov — who is accused of running a truck into a crowd killing eight — to block prosecutors from seeking the death penalty in his case.
Lawyers for Saipov, 31, in September said that President Donald Trump’s tweets about his case and Trump’s criticisms of since-ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions unfairly persuaded Sessions’ to pursue capital punishment.
But Manhattan Federal Judge Vernon Broderick said in a written opinion on Thursday he didn’t buy the defense’s argument.
“This assertion is pure speculation made without a scintilla of direct factual support,” Broderick wrote.
“Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY,” Trump tweeted in 2017.
Broderick said Saipov’s lawyers didn’t adequately prove that Sessions, “abused his discretion in directing the Government to seek the death penalty.”
“The Attorney General’s decision to seek the death penalty here does not appear inconsistent with other cases in which the death penalty …

Wyoming Senate rejects death penalty repeal, one senator citing Jesus' crucifixion as her rationale

Christian denominations ascribe slightly different meanings to Rome's crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his professed resurrection, but holding up Christ's death as an example of justice and an endorsement of capital punishment is a novel interpretation.
On Thursday, the Wyoming Senate summarily defeated a bill, 18-12, that would have repealed the state's dealt penalty. 
The legislation had passed the state House by a comfortable margin and been unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, the Casper Star Tribune reports. 
"The vote was different than I expected to see from talking with people beforehand," said state Sen. Brian Boner (R), the bill's main Senate sponsor. "There's a lot of different factors and, at the end of the day, everyone has to make their best determination based on the information they have."
Proponents of the measure had cited the cost of maintaining the death penalty — about $1 million a year — said…

South Korean bishops call for an end to the death penalty

SEOUL, South Korea - The South Korean bishops’ conference has called for an end to the death penalty, and asked the nation’s Constitutional Court to consider whether capital punishment violates South Korea’s constitution.
“The capital punishment system treats criminals not as human beings capable of moral reflection and improvement, but simply as a means of defending society. If the aim were to permanently segregate criminals to protect society, that could certainly be achieved through life imprisonment or penal servitude without the possibility of parole, which represent less of a restriction on basic rights,” the bishops said in their constitutional appeal, filed Feb. 12.
“All individuals’ lives possess the same value, and that life is of absolute significance to each individual,” a spokesman for the bishops’ campaign told the Hankyoreh newspaper.
“It is no different even for criminals who have committed atrocious acts that violate and harm the life and human rights of others.”

Indonesia’s Next Election Is in April. The Islamists Have Already Won.

JAKARTA, Indonesia — When Joko Widodo, the incumbent president of Indonesia, last year chose Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate for the general election this April, it became clear that Indonesian politics is now backed into a corner. Mr. Ma’ruf is an Islamic cleric and scholar, and Mr. Joko was perhaps hoping to dampen attacks from conservative and radical Islamic groups that have called him anti-Islam (even though he is Muslim himself). Instead, he has built a Trojan horse for his opponents outside the walls of his own city.
The presidential race, in which Mr. Joko is again facing Prabowo Subianto, a ex-army general and former son-in-law of the dictator Suharto, looks like a replay of the 2014 contest. Back then, Mr. Joko won by a small margin, on a platform promising a grand maritime strategy for Indonesia and to revitalize the economy partly through major infrastructure projects. This year, it seems, the decisive issue will be the candidates’ professed commitment to Islam.
Mr. Joko …