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One Year Later, Execution Spree Lays Bare Federal Death Penalty’s Systemic Failures

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At 3:00 a.m. Central time on July 14, 2020, after his notice of execution had expired, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) strapped Daniel Lewis Lee to an execution gurney in the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. With the execution chamber curtains closed, correctional officials left him there for four hours while federal prosecutors filed pleadings in a federal appeals court to lift a stay of execution they had forgotten was still in effect. When the stay was lifted at 6:36 a.m., without notifying Lee’s counsel, the BOP commenced the execution, injecting him with a fatal dose of the drug pentobarbital. He was pronounced dead at 7:07 a.m. Central time. When Lee’s lawyer, Ruth Friedman , learned he had been executed, she released a statement to the media. “It is shameful that the government saw fit to carry out this execution during a pandemic,” she wrote. “It is shameful that the government saw fit to carry out this execution when counsel for Danny Lee could not be pr

North Korean officials involved in murder, torture, and possible Christian genocide: Report

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Officials in North Korea carried out murder, torture, and acts that could constitute genocide against certain groups of people, including Christians, a report released last week revealed. Evidence has been found that suggests government brass killed residents of the country, tortured political prisoners, engaged in sex trafficking, and conducted forced abortions as well as infanticide from 2014 to 2021, the United Kingdom's All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea wrote in a 91-page document.  It was further found that rape, in addition to modern-day slavery, was commonplace, and much of the human rights abuses were focused on Christians and those whose descent was half Chinese. North Korea assigns the death penalty to crimes of premeditated murder, drug trafficking, and terrorism, though respondents interviewed by U.K. authorities alleged that government authorities would carry out public executions for offenses most would consider far less severe. In 2014, a defector said he

Iran claims arrest of spy group linked to Israel's Mossad

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s state TV reported on Tuesday that authorities arrested members of a group linked to Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency amid ongoing protests over water shortages in the country’s southwest. The report said “a network of spy agents, with a large amount of weapons and ammunition” was arrested after sneaking into Iran from across its western border. It claimed the alleged Mossad agents intended to use the weapons during riots in Iran and also for assassinations. The state TV did not elaborate or say how many alleged agents were arrested or when they purportedly infiltrated into Iran. Iran borders Turkey and Iraq to the west. At least five people have been killed amid days of protests over water shortages affecting Iran’s Khuzestan province. That’s according to statements carried by state-run and semiofficial media in Iran. Iran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are spying for foreign countries, including the United States and Israel. Wester

Sweden prosecutes Iranian man for 1980s war crimes

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HELSINKI (AP) — Swedish public prosecutors said Tuesday they have charged an Iranian citizen with committing grave war crimes during the final phase of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The Swedish Prosecution Authority said the suspect worked in July-August 1988 as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor in the Gohardasht prison outside the Iranian city of Karaj and allegedly took part in severe atrocities there. During the eight-year Iran-Iraq conflict, Iran was subjected to attacks by the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, a political-militant organization, which advocated overthrowing the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran and installing its own government. The Swedish prosecutors said Iran’s then supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued an order for the execution of all prisoners in Iranian prisons who sympathized and remained loyal with the Mujahedin organization. Due to that order, a large number of prisoners were executed in the Gohardasht prison between July 30 and August 16, 1

European Parliament to withdraw Pakistan's GSP+ status over abuse of blasphemy laws

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Amid abuse of the blasphemy laws and cases widely reported across Pakistan, the European Parliament has moved to withdraw Islamabad's GSP+ status. Philippe Jeune, writing in EU Political Report said that the European Parliament has criticised Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws and called for a review of the status quo. Pakistan is a major beneficiary of the trading opportunities offered by the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). From January 1, 2014, Pakistan has benefited from generous tariff preferences (mostly zero duties on 2/3 of all product categories) under the so-called GSP+ arrangement aiming to support sustainable development and good governance. In order to maintain GSP+ status, Pakistan is obliged to ratify and effectively implement 27 core international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance. On April 24th of this year, in a Joint Motion for a Resolution, supported by all major political groups, MEPs called

Nevada press group sues for transparency in Zane Floyd execution

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has filed a federal complaint on behalf of the state’s news organizations, asking a judge to ensure transparency in the now-stayed execution of Zane Floyd. “Unfortunately, the state’s plan for Zane Floyd’s execution is designed to limit what reporters can see and to prevent them from reporting if something goes wrong,” Richard Karpel, executive director of the Nevada Press Association, said in a news release announcing the lawsuit. “The people of Nevada have a right to know if the state performs its executions humanely, and the press has a First Amendment right and responsibility to report it.” The complaint names Gov. Steve Sisolak and Nevada Department of Corrections officials as defendants. Separately, ACLU lawyers asked for a restraining order that would temporarily prevent the prison system from executing Floyd, who was sentenced to die for a 1999 massacre inside a Las Vegas grocery store, under the state’s proposed lethal injection pro

Austria | American crime-related television content influences viewers' perceptions on death penalty

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People with a great amount of US-based crime-related television viewing are more likely to be susceptible to misconceptions regarding the death penalty - irrespective of their age, education, or gender. This is the basic finding of a new edition of a media study conducted at MedUni Vienna's Center for Public Health under the supervision of Benedikt Till. In the initial study carried out in 2016, approximately 11% of respondents gave answers to questions about the death penalty, which were consistent with the erroneous perception that the death penalty is still used and executed in Austria; this time, with a larger and representative population-based sample, the percentage was even higher at 18%. Together with their colleague Florian Arendt from the University of Vienna, Benedikt Till and Thomas Niederkrotenthaler from MedUni Vienna's Center for Public Health have replicated a study from 2016 with a large sample representative of the Austrian population (n=1,002) and have found

Iran | Executions carried out in Shiraz, Shirvan prisons

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); July 26, 2021: Hossein Abdollahzadeh who was sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for murder, has been executed in Shiraz Central Prison. According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, a man was executed in Shiraz Central Prison on the morning of July 20. His identity has been established as Hossein Abdollahzadeh who was sentenced to qisas for murder. Speaking to IHR, informed sources said: “Hossein had been behind bars for five years on murder charges. The victim’s family refused to forgo retribution until the last minute.” At the time of writing, his execution has not be reported by domestic media or officials in Iran. According to Iran Human Rights’ Annual Report on the Death Penalty, at least 211 of the 267 people executed in 2020 were sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for "premeditated murder." As there are no legal distinctions made between murder and manslaughter, whether voluntary or involuntary in Iran, those charged under

Iran | Unidentified Man Executed on Murder Charges

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); July 24, 2021: A prisoner sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for murder, was executed at an unknown location (most probably a Tehran prison). According to Rokna, a young man was executed in an unknown prison on the morning of July 17.  The prisoner who has not been named was sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind). He was reportedly convicted of stabbing another man in a fight to death two years ago.  He was most probably executed in one of the Tehran prisons. According to Iran Human Rights’ Annual Report on the Death Penalty, at least 211 of the 267 people executed in 2020 were sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for "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 death penalty regardless of intent and the circumstances. Source: Iran Human Rights , Staff, July 24, 2021

5 Prisoners Executed on Drug-related Charges in Isfahan

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); July 25, 2021: At least five men have been executed on drug-related charges in Isfahan Central Prison. At least 50 prisoners, including one woman, have been executed on drug-related charges in Iranian prisons in 2021. Four prisoners were executed on drug-related charges on the morning of July 18 in Isfahan Central Prison. Their identities have been established as 60-year-old Ali Bandehparvizi, 37-year-old Javad Karimian, Nasir Ahmad Baluch and Mehrdad Golshani. According to Hengaw which first reported the news, prison officials did not allow Ali Bandehparvizi’s family to visit him for the last time and had told them that his execution would not be carried out. Another man was also executed in the same prison on drug-related charges on July 25. His identity has been established as Ebrahim Shehbakhsh. According to the Baluch Activists Campaign which first reported the news, Ebrahim’s family were contacted on July 24 to go to the prison and pay him their last visi

Iran | Cousins Executed on Drug Charges

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); July 26, 2021: Cousins Amir and Sohrab Heydari have been executed on drug-related charges in Yazd Central Prison. At least 52 prisoners, including one woman, have been executed on drug-related charges in Iranian prisons in 2021. According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, two men were executed on drug-related charges on the morning of July 25 in Yazd Central Prison.  Their identities have been established as Amir Heydari and Sohrab Heydari. Informed sources told IHR that Amir and Sohrab were cousins and had been behind bars for the last four years on charges of “carrying 200 kilograms of methamphetamines.” At the time of writing, their executions have not been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran. According to Iran Human Rights’ Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran, at least 25 people were executed on drug-related charges in 2020.  However, at least 45 people have so far been executed on the same charge in 2021. On May 3, IHR publis