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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

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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