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U.S. plans to carry out eighth federal execution this year in November

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Under Trump, a Republican running for re-election in November, the Justice Department has already executed twice as many men this year as all of Trump’s predecessors combined going back to 1963. (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice plans to execute Orlando Hall, a convicted murderer, on Nov. 19, according to a notice filed with a federal judge overseeing challenges to the department’s lethal injection protocol.
The United States has already carried out seven executions this year after President Donald Trump’s administration revived the punishment in the summer, ending a 17-year hiatus.
Hall, 49, was a marijuana trafficker in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who in 1994, alongside accomplices, kidnapped, raped and murdered the 16-year-old sister of two Texas drug dealers he suspected had stolen money from him, according to court records.
He and three other men kidnapped Lisa Rene from the apartment she shared with her brothers in Arlington, Texas, in an act of revenge after they paid her brothe…

After Kasab's execution, Afzal and Bhullar anxious about their future

Following Ajmal Amir Kasab's execution, the lone survivor of 26/11 attack, 2 terrorists facing death row and currently lodged in Tihar jail are believed to be very apprehensive of their future. According to Sunil Gupta, spokesperson of Tihar Jail, there was sense of uneasiness on Afzal's face after hearing the news about the execution of Kasab.

Afzal Guru, who attacked Parliament, in 2001 was given death penalty by the Supreme Court in 2005. Later he filed a mercy petition, which has now been returned to home ministry for consideration.

Mercy petition of Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), Bhullar, who was sentenced to death by a trial court on August 25, 2001 for plotting terror attacks on Punjab SSP Sumedh Singh Saini in 1991 and the then Youth Congress head in 1993, has been rejected by the President.

It is believed that Bhullar is under immense pressure and his mental condition is not stable. He is currently getting medical treatment at a Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences Institute Hospital in Delhi.

Many heard Bhullar shouting in the hospital, 'Executioner is coming and he will hang me till death.'

The doctors looking after Bhullar have already apprised the Court and Tihar jail official that there were no signs of improvement in his condition.

Source: Jagran Post, November 22, 2012


Reinstate Moratorium on Death Penalty; Hanging of Mumbai Attacker a Step Backwards for Justice System

The hanging of Ajmal Kasab marks a distressing end to India's moratorium on executions and is a step backwards for India's justice system. The government should take prompt and decisive action toward a total abolition of capital punishment.

The Indian government should immediately reinstate its moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, Human Rights Watch said today. India ended its eight-year unofficial moratorium on executions when on November 21, 2012, it hanged Ajmal Kasab, convicted for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people and wounded more than 300 others.

"The hanging of Ajmal Kasab marks a distressing end to India's moratorium on executions and is a step backwards for India's justice system," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The government should take prompt and decisive action toward a total abolition of capital punishment."

Kasab, a Pakistani national, was one of 10 gunmen who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008, laying siege to the city for nearly 3 days. He was sentenced to death in 2010 after being found guilty on numerous charges including murder, conspiracy to murder, and waging war against the country. He was hanged in secret in a prison in the city of Pune, just southeast of Mumbai, after he lost his appeals and India's president this month rejected his plea for clemency.

India executed Kasab just two days after it opposed a draft resolution by the United Nations General Assembly's human rights committee calling for a global moratorium on capital punishment. India was among the 39 countries that voted against the draft resolution, which was adopted with 110 votes in favor. 36 countries abstained.

Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as an inherently irreversible, inhumane punishment. India has maintained that it imposes capital punishment in only the "rarest of rare" cases. However the lack of legal safeguards to prevent the execution of individuals whose crimes do not meet the Indian government's ambiguous "rarest of the rare" criteria is a serious concern, Human Rights Watch said.

In July 2012, 14 retired Supreme Court and High Court judges asked President Pranab Mukherjee to commute the death sentences of 13 inmates erroneously upheld by the Supreme Court over the past 9 years. This followed the court's admission that some of these death sentences were rendered per incuriam (out of error or ignorance). This November the Supreme Court ruled that the "rarest of rare" standard for capital punishment had not been applied uniformly over the years and the norms on death penalty needed "a fresh look."

"Capital punishment is an act of cruel, pre-meditated killing sanctioned by the law," Ganguly said. "India can demonstrate to the world that it's as committed to justice as it is to economic development by joining with those nations that have decided to abolish the death penalty."

Source: Human Rights Watch, November 22, 2012


Kasab Hanging Sparks Debate on Death Penalty

Supporters of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena party hung an effigy of executed gunman Ajmal Kasab in Mumbai, Wednesday.While India backs the death penalty, it's a sentence that is rarely implemented.

Over the past 20 years, only 3 people have been executed in India, although the list of those of death row is at least 435, according to Amnesty International.

This is in line with India's stated position, as spelled out in a 1982 Supreme Court ruling, that the death penalty is a punishment that should only be handed down in the "rarest of rare" cases.

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab's case qualified. As the only surviving militant of the terrorist attack that killed more than 160 people in Mumbai 4 years ago, many in India welcomed his hanging on Wednesday morning.

This was the 1st time the death penalty had been implemented in India since 2004, when a man was executed for raping and murdering a teenage girl. The last person to be sent to the gallows before then, in 1995, was Auto Shankar, a Chennai serial killer.

Mr. Kasab's hanging rekindled a debate on whether India should keep the death penalty or do away with it.

Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday night spoke of his country's conflicted stance on the issue.

"Instinctively, we are against the death penalty," said Mr. Khurshid, addressing a group of foreign journalists in New Delhi. "It's a difficult decision to execute anyone," he added.

But he defended the hanging of Mr. Kasab, describing it as a "somber duty" the government had to perform for its citizens.

On the broader question of whether India should keep the death penalty, Mr. Khurshid said this is a decision New Delhi will take "in due course." India backed the death penalty at the United Nations on Monday, along with other countries that still carry out capital punishment.

In editorials Thursday, newspapers in India took varying positions on the issue. The Hindu made it clear it is opposes state executions, whatever the crime. "We oppose it for ordinary killers and mass murderers, communal pogromists as well as terrorists like Muhammad Ajmal Amir Kasab," the paper said in an editorial.

"No loss of human life, however despicable the individual might have been, ought to be a reason for celebration. Instead, this should be a time of national reflection: reflection about crime, about punishment and about that cherished bedrock of our republic, justice. For several reasons, the hanging of Kasab is at most a crude approximation of this quality, more closely resembling an act of vengeance," the Hindu added.

The Times of India said that while it "doesn't enthusiastically endorse capital punishment" it supports it in cases like Mr. Kasab's. "He has been accorded due process of law and his culpability for heinous crimes - which certainly fall into the 'rarest of rare' category for which capital punishment can be awarded - has been proved beyond a shadow of doubt," the editorial said.

Human rights groups Thursday renewed calls for India to end capital punishment. "The Indian government should immediately reinstate its moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty," Human Rights Watch said in a statement. Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia head of the New York-based group, described Mr. Kasab's hanging as a "step backwards for India's justice system."

The question many are now asking, is whether India will go through with the executions of several other high-profile death row prisoners.

On top of the list is Mohammad Afzal Guru, who was sentenced to death for his role in the 2001 attack on India's Parliament. For the Hindustan Times, "It now seems unlikely that leniency can be shown to him if the Kasab precedent is anything to go by."

Mr. Guru's request for pardon, sent years ago, is among those pending at the president's office. But Mr. Kasab's case was less controversial, domestically, than that of Mr. Guru. Mr. Kasab was a confessed and convicted terrorist, and he was Pakistani.

Mr. Guru is an Indian citizen and, in his home state of Jammu and Kashmir, even politicians are divided over whether to support his clemency plea.

In the Afzal Guru case, "the argument is that Kashmiris won't like it," says B.G. Verghese, a political analyst as the Delhi-based Center for Policy Research. "This has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with politics," says Mr. Verghese.

Mr. Guru, a former member of a separatist movement in the Indian region of Kashmir, denies wrongdoing and has claimed earlier confessions to police were made under duress.

Other death row prisoners include Balwant Singh Rajoana, a Sikh separatist convicted for his involvement in the murder of Punjab's chief minister in 1995. His execution, which was delayed in March after a mercy plea was submitted on his behalf, was opposed by Sikh groups. Earlier this year, India's Supreme Court criticized Punjabi political parties for politicizing the issue.

In Tamil Nadu, many are against the death penalty for three men convicted for their role in the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minsiter Rajiv Gandhi. The state's chief minister, J. Jayalalithaa, in the past has declined to take a position on the issue. "Again, it's Tamil Nadu politics," says Mr. Verghese on why the 3 men - 1 Indian and 2 Sri Lankans - haven't yet been executed. Their case is still going through India's court system.

Source: Wall Street Journal, November 22, 2012


The hangman's justice

For many years now, The Hindu has opposed the death penalty on principle - often in the face of intense public disapproval. We oppose it for ordinary killers and mass murderers, communal pogromists as well as terrorists like Muhammad Ajmal Amir Kasab. Ever since that traumatic night we now denote by the veiled abbreviation 26/11, Kasab has justifiably been the face of evil for millions of Indians. He took part in a monstrous plot against the people of India and Mumbai, killed innocent people with abandon, and showed no remorse for his actions. It is no surprise, therefore, that his execution Wednesday morning has been greeted with approval across the country. No loss of human life, however despicable the individual might have been, ought to be a reason for celebration. Instead, this should be a time of national reflection: reflection about crime, about punishment and about that cherished bedrock of our republic, justice. For several reasons, the hanging of Kasab is at most a crude approximation of this quality, more closely resembling an act of vengeance. Kasab was neither the architect of 26/11 nor its strategic mastermind; the men who indoctrinated and controlled him remain safe in Pakistan, where most will likely never see the inside of a courtroom. The haste to hang Kasab makes even less sense when others guilty of hideous terrorist crimes have secured deferment of their sentences because political lobbies acted on their behalf - among them, the assassins of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Chief Minister Beant Singh of Punjab. It is also a sobering fact that criminals responsible for claiming more Indian lives than Kasab did - among them, the perpetrators of countless communal riots - live as free men. Not one of these things excuse or mitigate Kasab's crime. But they do make it imperative to ask: is the hangman's justice the only kind we can conceive of?

The arguments against the death penalty are well known. There are pragmatic ones - in this case, that Kasab could have provided valuable testimony in future trials of yet-to-be-arrested 26/11 perpetrators. There are moral and technical ones; even in the United States, with its highly-functional criminal justice system, new forensic techniques have shown dozens of innocent men were executed, though this argument does not apply to Kasab whose guilt is proven well beyond even unreasonable doubt. The most compelling argument, however, is this: the application of the death penalty is, as the Supreme Court itself acknowledged earlier this week, increasingly arbitrary. Capital punishment has become, as the medieval philosopher Maimonides many centuries ago warned it would, a matter of "the judge's caprice". It is also simply not true that capital punishment is integral to fighting terrorists. The absence of the death penalty in, say, France and the United Kingdom has not made these 2 nations softer in their ability to combat terror than the U.S. The grief of 26/11 was personal for many in this newspaper; like others, members of staff grieve for lost friends. Yet, the horror of 26/11 ought not stop us from dispassionately debating the need for the death penalty.

Source: Editorial, The Hindu, November 22, 2012

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