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Oklahoma | I went inside death row, what I saw made me sick - Henry McLeish

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The evolution of civilised behaviour, indicating a retreat from barbarism, has become a distinctive feature of most modern western democracies, but America often disappoints, retaining practices that shock, sadden, and in my case, nearly made me physically sick.
My visit to death row at McAlester State Penitentiary, Oklahoma, brought home to me, how the final setting for government sponsored killings, combined with execution by lethal injection, brought a brutal end to lives. And made a mockery of the idea of justice, offering instead a violent, humiliating, and inhuman act of revenge, with no serious pretence that any of these end of life dramas, provide any deterrence in criminal justice terms. Formerly known as “Indian Territory”, and home of the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, with a population of over 4 million, became a state in 1907. Located in America’s “Bible” belt, where there is a strong fundamentalist Christian tradition and powerful Republican politics, Oklahoma remains a pro…

Taiwan: Another Six Executions

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) joins the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) in condemning the executions today of another six people in Taiwan.

Zeng Si-ru, Hung Ming-tsung, Huang Hsien –cheng, Chen Chin-huo, Kuang Te-chiang and Tai Te-ying were executed at different locations across Taiwan. Family members are not informed about executions in advance and find out only when they are invited to collect the body after the execution.

ADPAN regrets that since taking office in 2010, fifteen execution warrants have been signed by Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu. Four executions took place in 2010 and five last year.

The executions by shooting are the first in the country this year. 55 people are facing execution and have exhausted all appeals.

“The death penalty is the cheapest method but also the least effective in stopping crime, says Lin Hsinyi, Executive Director of the TAEDP. “If the government really wanted to put a stop to crime, it should not look to the death penalty as the cure. Instead, it should strive to solve crimes and mete out appropriate punishments”, Lin Hsinyi said.

Source: adpan, December 21, 2012


Taiwan: Broken promises as six executed

Taiwan’s execution of six people on Friday makes a mockery of the authorities’ stated commitment to abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International said.

Zeng Si-ru, Hung Ming-tsung, Huang Hsien –cheng, Chen Chin-huo, Kuang Te-chiang and Tai Te-ying were executed earlier today at different locations across Taiwan.

The executions by shooting are the first in the country this year. Five people were executed in 2011 and 55 people are awaiting execution and have exhausted all appeals.

"This is cold-blooded killing by the Taiwanese authorities. How can the government credibly claim it wants to see an end to the death penalty when it continues to conduct such actions?” said Roseann Rife, Head of East Asia at Amnesty International.

The authorities have repeatedly declared their intention to move away from using the death penalty and lead a public debate on the issue.

Deputy Justice Minister Chen Shou-huang said on 19 December that the authorities would carry out death sentences on its own schedule and will not be influenced by foreign experts.

Last month, Manfred Nowak, a former UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and Eibe Riedel, a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, called on President Ma Ying-jeou urging that Taiwan implement a moratorium on executions.

This came ahead of their scheduled visit to Taiwan next year to review the government’s report on implementation of the two UN Human Rights Treaties – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

"It is abhorrent to justify taking someone’s life because prisons are overcrowded or the public’s alleged support for the death penalty. The death penalty is never the right answer and must never be used, including as a tool for crime prevention, repression or any other policies,” said Rife.

“Instead of offering feeble excuses the authorities should deliver on their commitments to respect everyone's human rights, and move to end the use of the death penalty."

Taiwan provides no procedure that would allow people on death row to seek a pardon or for the sentence to be commuted – a right recognized by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Taiwanese parliament has voted to implement.

Family members are not informed about scheduled executions in advance. They only find out when they are invited to collect the body from the mortuary.

In addition, serious fair trial concerns have marked the imposition of the death penalty in Taiwan.
In April, Taiwan's High Court quashed the convictions of three men sentenced to death over the murder of a couple 21 years ago, as it found that the convictions were based on unreliable confessions:

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.

Source: Amnesty International, December 21, 2012


Taiwan harvests organs from executed inmate: Media

TAIPEI (AFP) - A hospital in Taiwan harvested organs and other body parts from one of six executed death row inmates, in a controversial procedure that could help five patients, local media reported on Sunday.

Taiwanese authorities executed six death row prisoners on Friday, the largest number to be put to death in one day in recent years, amid an ongoing debate about the maintenance of capital punishment.

Three inmates had agreed to donate their organs but doctors only harvested material from one of them, the United Daily News said.

Chen Chin-huo, convicted of murdering a woman and cooking her flesh, had his liver, two kidneys, corneas and bone removed, the newspaper reported.

Source: The StraitsTimes, December 23, 2012

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