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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. …

Thailand: Death penalty abolished for young offenders

The Thai government has abolished the death penalty for offenders younger than 18 years of age and further reduced life imprisonment terms for minors to 50 years in prison.

The change came after the cabinet approved on May 20 the withdrawal of Thailand 's interpretative declarations to Article 6(5) and Article 9(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

"[As per Article 6(5) of the ICCPR] Thailand has amended its domestic laws to comply with these provisions. Thailand has abolished the death sentence for persons below 18 years of age," the Justice Ministry said.

"Moreover, in the case where life imprisonment is imposed on persons below 18 years old, the sentence is to be reduced to 50 years' imprisonment."

As for Article 9(3) of the ICCPR, the Criminal Procedure Code has been amended to oblige officials to bring arrested persons before the court within 48 hours after he or she is brought to the inquiry office, with exceptions for when force is used or in the case of other unavoidable necessities.

The withdrawal of the interpretative declarations is part of the implementation of the pledges Thailand made during its successful candidature for membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2010-2013 term.

It is also part of the implementation of voluntary pledges made by Thailand during its Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council in October 2011.

Source: Bangkok Post, August 30, 2012

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