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California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

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California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

Iran: execution of juvenile offender

Juvenile offender Amir Amrollahi’s death sentence received final approval from the Head of the Judiciary earlier this month, and judicial officials in Shiraz province have been asked to prepare to carry out his execution. He was sentenced to death for a murder committed when he was 16 years old.

The murder took place in November 2006 during a fight with another boy, who was fatally stabbed. According to his lawyer, who took up his case this year, Amir Amrollahi ran off in a panic after stabbing the boy, who he thought was about to attack him. Medical help did not arrive for half an hour, by which time it was too late. Amir Amrollahi told his father what had happened, the same day, and later presented himself to the police.

His family could not afford adequate legal representation at his trial. According to his new lawyer, the court did not hear that the killing had been unintentional, or that he was prescribed heavy doses of sedatives while in prison awaiting trial. His mental state at the time of the trial was not properly considered.

On 6 August 2007, Branch 5 of Fars province criminal court sentenced him to death, although one of the court advisors had expressed concern about his age and his ability to understand and recognize what was going on. The sentence was upheld by Branch 27 of Supreme Court on 11 October.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The execution of juvenile offenders is prohibited by international law. Since 1990 Iran has executed at least 35 juvenile offenders, eight of them in 2007 and four in 2008.

The family of a murder victim has the right either to insist on execution, or to pardon the killer and receive financial compensation. A convicted murderer has no right to seek pardon or commutation from the state, in violation of Article 6(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

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Source: Amnesty International

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