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Editorial: In a civilized society, not even the most vicious crimes justify a death sentence

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It is soul-bruising to contemplate the torture that 10-year-old Anthony Avalos endured in his Lancaster home for more than a week before dying last year. Whippings with a looped cord and belt. Repeatedly held upside down then dropped on his head. Getting slammed into pieces of furniture and against the floor. Hot sauce poured on his face and mouth.
The road map of the abuse stretched from head to toe on his small malnourished body — bruises, abrasions, scabs and cuts visible on the outside. Traumatic brain injury and soft tissue damage on the inside. All allegedly perpetrated by his mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva.
RELATED | California: Prosecutors seeking death penalty in Anthony Avalos torture case
If ever a set of circumstances called for the death penalty, this would be it. Few were surprised when Los Angeles County prosecutors said Wednesday that if the couple is convicted of the torture-murder, the jury will be asked to recommend a death sentence.
Such ca…

Brunei's Shariah-based Penal Code set to take effect, gays risk stoning, execution

In what the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) are calling 'a step backward' for human rights, the Sultan of Brunei has announced that a series of laws that were formulated in 2013 are set to be enacted in April, 2014.

The laws, which criminalize everything from adultery to same-sex relations, include punishments ranging from public stonings to execution.

"In an open letter to Prime Minister, H.M. Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the ICJ also stressed that the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 is clearly incompatible with international human rights law and standards that prohibit discrimination against women and protect the rights to religious freedom and freedom of opinion and expression.

The law also criminalizes adultery, extramarital sexual relations and consensual same-sex conduct, in contravention of international standards," reports the ICJ.

Brunei, which is located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, is a sovereign nation. And while Islamic, Brunei is considered far more religious than Malaysia and Indonesia, 2 neighboring countries that share many of the same religious and moral codes.

"The 2013 Penal Code will re-introduce the death penalty after years of an effective moratorium in the country, and provide for stoning and other forms of torture and ill treatment for a range of 'misconduct.' The 2013 Penal Code provides for the death penalty as a possible penalty - for both Muslims and non-Muslims - for the crimes of robbery (Article 63), rape (Article 76), adultery and sodomy (Article 82). It also is prescribed as a penalty - for Muslims only - upon conviction for acts constituting extramarital sexual relations (Article 69)," reports the ICJ.

The NGO hopes to influence the enactment of the laws by stressing its violation of human rights norms that have not only been established but with which Brunei has agreed to abide by as a member of ASEAN, the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations.

"The death penalty, in any circumstance, is a form of torture and inhumane treatment, and its reintroduction in the 2013 Penal Code is out of step with the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty and the establishment of a moratorium on execution."

Source: LGBT Weekly, Feb. 4, 2014

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