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“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

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The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

China turns down final plea for stay of execution of Filipino drug mules

China has turned down the Philippine government's final plea for another—perhaps permanent—stay of execution for convicted Filipino drug mules Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, Elizabeth Batain and Ramon Credo.

Ethan Y. Sun, spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in Makati City, on Monday told the Inquirer that Beijing's position on the issue had been "made clear" as early as last February when the Supreme People's Court in the Chinese capital sentenced the three convicts to death.

"The position of the Chinese side has been made clear on its judicial decision," Sun said.

Last Saturday, Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao asked for understanding from the Philippine government and from Filipinos about the executions that he said would now have to take place under their laws.

On March 24, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced the executions will be carried out on Wednesday.

Villanueva, 32, and Credo, 42, will be executed in Xiamen, and Batain, 38, in Shenzhen, said the DFA.

The 3 were arrested separately in 2008 for smuggling 4 to 6 kilograms of heroin to China.

China had postponed the executions, originally scheduled for February 20, following an official visit to Beijing by Vice President Jejomar Binay on President Aquino’s behalf.

The President on Saturday told reporters they had been "communicating (with Chinese authorities) continuously ... We're still trying to get them to reduce the penalty. But there's a limit to what we can do."

Aquino also said, "At the end of the day, these were crimes committed in a different country. It doesn't help that they admitted they were doing something illegal."

"But it doesn't make us stop trying," he added.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 28, 2011
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