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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

UK will not oppose US death penalty for Isis pair

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Home secretary says UK seeks no assurances suspects would be spared execution
2 captured former Britons accused of being members of the Islamic State cell known as the "Beatles" could be sent to the US for trial, after the UK dropped its usual demand that the death penalty would not be imposed.
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, told the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, that the UK would not demand a "death penalty assurance" in the case, and indicated he believed there was more chance of a successful trial in the US than in UK courts.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh are alleged to have been members of a 4-man cell of Isis executioners in Syria and Iraq responsible for killing a series of high-profile western captives.
The pair, who are understood to have been stripped of their British citizenship, were captured in January and have been at the centre of a dispute over whether they should be returned to the UK for trial or face justice in another jurisdiction…

Sri Lanka: Enforcing the Death Penalty

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(July 22, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The reports in recent newspapers that President Sirisena “will commence signing death warrants”, and that the prison authorities had been requested to send him nineteen names of prisoners in death row who are dealing in the drug trade while in prison, raise serious legal issues of a national and international nature. These issues have apparently been ignored by members of the Cabinet who enthusiastically endorsed the President’s desire to have nineteen persons hanged. This is yet another example of populist, emotion-driven, decision making at the highest levels of government that pays scant regard to empirical evidence and to obligations imposed by law, both national and international.
The constitutional obligation
The last judicial execution took place in 1976 when I was Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Justice. Then, as now, the Constitution prescribed the procedure to be followed when an accused person was sentenced to death by a …

Sri Lanka: Govt. will not change decision on death penalty for drug smugglers

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President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday assured that he would not change the decision taken by the Government to implement the death penalty for drug smugglers under any circumstance, despite the objections raised by some factions against the move.
He expressed these views while addressing a ceremony held in Polonnaruwa, commencing the construction of the National Nephrology Hospital. 
Referring to a newspaper report that the Government had changed the decision, the President stated that the Government has not reversed the decision and will take necessary steps to carry out capital punishment for drug smugglers.
The President said he would summon the heads of the fields of judiciary, prisons, and law and order tomorrow to appoint a committee in this regard.
“This committee, which will consist of representatives of all the relevant fields, would make decisions about the convicted personnel who should be executed,” he said.
Source:ft.lk, July 23, 2018

Sri Lanka leader vows to end mor…

Oklahoma: Puzzle of Nitrogen Execution Could Present Issues for State

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The condemned man enters the room where he will draw his last breath.
He will be restrained in some way, perhaps strapped to the T-shaped platform where other offenders have been executed by injection.
He may have taken a sedative or will be given one in the room. But he likely won't be too groggy.
The prisoner may then have a mask or a plastic hood or bag strapped to his face. Colorless, odorless nitrogen gas will stream into the mask from a tank similar to those used to inflate helium balloons. The gas could come from any one of thousands of distributors or manufacturers nationwide.
If all goes according to plan, the man will be dead within minutes, oblivious to the fact that his blood-oxygen level is plummeting and he will soon pass out.
The above steps are an approximation, based on research, of how the state of Oklahoma could use nitrogen inhalation to carry out future executions, becoming the 1st state to do so.
Yet uncertainty surrounds how the state will obtain the gas, h…

Iran: Two Men Publicly Hanged In Mashhad; Prisoner hanged in Birjand

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Two prisoners convicted of murder were publicly hanged today in Mashhad, capital of the northeastern Iranian province of Razavi Khorasan, the state-run ISNA news agency reported. 
Mashhad public execution Judge Hassan Heidari, Deputy Prosecutor General of the province, announced the news as cited by the state media. 
He said the State Security forces quickly arrested the killers and the Judiciary was quick in carrying out the proceedings.
The victims, who were not identified by name, were a 41-year-old fruit seller and a 27-year-old man.
Source:Iran HRM, author, July, 2018


Prisoner Hanged in Birjand
Iran Human Rights (Jul 19, 2018): A prisoner was executed at Birjand Central Prison on murder charges.
According to a close source, on the morning of Tuesday, July 17, a prisoner was executed at Birjand Central Prison.
Birjand is the capital of the Iranian province of South Khorasan. 
The prisoner, sentenced to death on murder charges, was from ward 103 of Birjand Central Prison. 
He was i…

Iran hangs 5 prisoners collectively in Kermanshah Prison

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At least 5 prisoners were hanged on July [16 or 17] at Dizelabad Prison in Kermanshah, west of Iran. One of the victims is identified as Alireza Ashuri, 57. 
All the 5 were found guilty of murder.
In yet another case on the morning of July 17, a prisoner was hanged in the Birjand Prison in South Khorasan Province.
He was sentenced to death on murder charges, identified as Baratali Shirdelan.
In another development on the morning of July 16, a prisoner was hanged at Mashhad Prison, northeast of Iran. 
He was identified as Gholamali, 41, convicted of being involved in a fight during a wedding he attended in 2009 that resulted in the death of a man. 
Gholamali arrested in 2014 and sentenced to death on murder charges, the state-run Khorasan Daily reported on July 18, 2018.
The head of the Kerman Revolutionary Court was quoted on July 13, 2018, in the state-run Fars news agency report as announcing the execution of Yahya Ahmad Yousefi in Kerman Prison. 
His sentence carried out after the…

In Post-ISIS Mosul Will Communities Ever be Reconciled?

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It has been a year since the Iraqi city of Mosul was officially liberated from ISIS. But it will be many more before the agonies that the group wreaked upon the city are able to heal. Unsurprisingly, the legacy of ISIS’s occupation of the city has left its social fabric shattered. 
Mosulites had no choice but to live under ISIS’s rule. However, not all chose to respond in the same way. Some residents were more than willing to support the terrorists – ISIS were able to take Mosul as fast as they did because they had allies inside the city. Meanwhile, many more were forced to work alongside them against their will. Others tried to keep a low profile and survive, and some resisted where they could. But now, Iraq’s judicial system seems hell bent on punishing anyone who might have collaborated with ISIS, with little regard for the circumstances of each case.
Tragic story 
It is easy to see why Baghdad wants to send the strongest possible signals to deter Iraqis from joining jihadists. How…

Who Gets Mercy on Death Row? Chris Young's Execution Raises Questions of Racial Bias

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The clemency process is a black box - one where hearings are rarely held and decisions are never really explained, making it nearly impossible to prove bias.
Secrecy is a hallmark of the death penalty in Texas, where the state masks the identities of executioners and shields critical details about its controversial lethal drugs from public scrutiny.
Texas' process for deciding whether condemned prisoners deserve mercy is similarly opaque. It's unclear, for example, why members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously rejected Chris Young's request for clemency ahead of his execution this week. Without explanation, the governor-appointed board ignored the chorus of advocates who urged officials to commute Young's death sentence to life in prison. Those calling for a last-minute halt to his execution included the son of the San Antonio convenience store owner Young murdered during the 2004 robbery that landed him on death row.
Lawyers for Young, who was blac…

Has the death penalty come to an end in North Carolina?

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This case is about the constitutional protection every person in America deserves. It is not about whether Marcus Reymond Robinson, Quintel Augustine, Christina Walters and Tilmon Golphin deserve our sympathy. They don't.
Golphin and his brother killed a Cumberland County deputy and a state trooper in a 1997 traffic stop. Walters led some gang members on an initiation ritual that saw 2 women randomly kidnapped and killed in 1998. Augustine killed a Fayetteville police officer in 2001 - although he claims he was wrongfully convicted and is factually innocent. And Robinson killed a teenager in a 1991 robbery.
The crimes was horrific enough that they challenged our opposition to the death penalty.
But that's the other factor here: The public and even many politicians are losing their taste for executions. The last one in North Carolina was 12 years ago and there are none scheduled, despite having 143 inmates on death row. If this state is caught up in the national trend, it'…