Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Indonesia's execution of Bali Nine pair demands strong reaction, Labor says

Politicians of all sides unite to condemn killing of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, as Australian government ponders diplomatic response

Australia must respond strongly to Indonesia's execution of 2 citizens, the Labor opposition said, as MPs from all sides of politics expressed their anger at the "cruel and devastating loss".

Australia's foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, was due to address the media on Wednesday morning but said on the eve of the execution of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan that "of course there will be have to be consequences".

One option is for Australia to recall its ambassador to Indonesia. There is also uncertainty over a long-planned trip to Indonesia by the agriculture minister, Barnaby Joyce, which is likely to be delayed.

Steven Ciobo, the parliamentary secretary to Bishop, expressed his outrage after confirmation that Indonesia had killed by firing squad eight people for drug offences, including Chan and Sukumuran, who were the subject of a long campaign for clemency.

"There are few greater displays of abuse of state power and regressive thinking than the death penalty," Ciobo said after the Indonesian government carried out the executions early on Wednesday.

The Labor leader, Bill Shorten, and the deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, condemned the executions "in the strongest possible terms".

"Our best hopes have been dashed and our worst fears realised," they said in a joint statement. "Indonesia has not just robbed 2 young men of their lives but robbed itself of two examples of the strengths of its justice system."

This was a reference to the widely accepted accounts of Chan and Sukumaran's rehabilitation in prison after they were convicted over the 2005 Bali 9 heroin smuggling plot.

"A decade ago, these 2 young men made a dreadful mistake," Shorten and Plibersek said.

"By all accounts they spent every minute since seeking to mend their ways and to steer others on the road to redemption - proof the justice system could reform wrongdoers, not just punish wrongdoing. Yet today, they were made to pay for one stupid decision of 10 years ago with their lives."

Shorten and Plibersek said the executions significantly weakened Indonesia's ability to plead mercy for its own citizens facing execution around the world.

They said Australia was "deeply hurt" its pleas for mercy were ignored and described it as "completely unacceptable for Indonesia to proceed as it did when critical legal processes were yet to run their course, raising serious questions about Indonesia's commitment to the rule of law".

"Indonesia's actions demand a strong response from the Australian government," Shorten and Plibersek said. Milne said Chan and Sukumaran would be remembered "for overcoming their past to live meaningful lives, even from prison, not just for the way they died".

"Their actions over the past 10 years were testament to their remorse, and have given many of their fellow prisoners an opportunity to live better lives. It is a tragedy Andrew and Myuran were denied their own second chance," she said.

"Capital punishment must be abolished wherever in the world it is still carried out. We in Australia must continue to advocate for an end to capital punishment and promote human rights around the world, especially in our region."

Many Australian politicians took to Twitter to voice their outrage and sadness.

The New South Wales premier, Mike Baird, said it was a "cruel and devastating loss".

Western Sydney-based Liberal MP Fiona Scott described the executions as murder. "The death penalty is barbaric and inhumane torture. Murder is murder," she said.

Labor MP Andrew Giles said the "unbearably sad" news should serve as further motivation to end the death penalty.

The Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said it was "a tragic loss of life on a very sad day", while his colleague, Tony Burke, said: "Lives lost. Nothing gained."

Labor MP Melissa Parke voiced "terrible sadness for these 2 brave dignified young men, their families, friends and lawyers who fought so hard".

Source: The Guardian, April 29, 2015

Bali 9: Australia's clemency pleas weakened by fickleness on death penalty

Lawyer for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran says Australia applauded the death penalty for Bali bombers so credibility 'a little tarnished'

Australia's credibility in arguing for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran was tarnished by the federal government's inconsistency about the death penalty, says a lawyer for the 2 men.

Peter Morrissey SC, who worked pro bono on Chan and Sukumaran's case for several years, told ABC radio on Wednesday that Australia took the "very moral high ground", but our foreign policy on capital punishment was resented in Indonesia.

"Our credibility was a little tarnished there ... We were rather applauding the death penalty when it came to the Bali bombers," he said.

"That fact caused a lot of resentment. We need to be very consistent about it [and] that may have affected our credibility within Indonesia on this occasion."

When 2 of the Bali bombers were condemned to death in 2003, both the government and the opposition supported it or did not speak out strongly against it.

"Some people say that I should be thumping the table and saying, 'Don't execute,'" John Howard, the then prime minister, said at the time. "I'm not going to do that because I do respect the judicial processes of Indonesia."

Chan and Sukumaran were executed along with 6 other men - including 4 Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian - on Tuesday night. Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina, was given a last-minute stay of execution shortly before the men were shot.

Gillian Triggs, president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, said she executions were "tragic" and that she hoped they could be used to press the case for an abolition of the death penalty across Asia.

"Our concerns as a human rights commission is that the executions breach international law," Triggs told Guardian Australia.

In a joint statement, the Chan and Sukumaran families said the duo "asked for mercy, but there was none. They were immensely grateful for all the support they received. We too, will be forever grateful."

Dharminie Mani, Sukumaran's cousin, posted on Facebook that he told her during the final family visit that he was going to miss seeing the new Avengers film as well as the boxing fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

"My mum and aunt had silent tears streaming down their faces as Myu smiled and joked trying to cheer them up. But that's who Myu is. He is that friend that places himself last in order to support those around him.

"I saw smiles so wide and humbling on the faces of other prisoners when Myu tasked me with the job of handing out his chocolates and nut bars that he "no longer needed". Myu spent both today and yesterday trying to take care of other people. Trying to organise everything so that others would be taken care of. That's Myu through and through."

The Mercy Campaign, which has called for Chan and Sukumaran to be spared after they were among 9 Australians arrested in Bali in 2005 for smuggling drugs, also expressed its "devastation" at the execution of the men. The campaign gathered more than 250,000 signatures urging clemency.

"We are still trying to process it," said Brigid Delaney, co-founder of the Mercy Campaign and features editor at Guardian Australia. "We are devastated we lost, but we are thankful that it may make it easier for the next lot because there was such a fight from so many people. Maybe it will make it harder to execute the next batch of people.

"The Mercy Campaign is essentially 2 people but we felt that we were an army of many hundreds of thousands. We've been overwhelmed by the support of people we'll never meet but have been very present in the campaign."

Anger at the executions has surfaced outside Australia, with Amnesty International condemning what it called a "wasteful act of state-sanctioned murder".

The British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson said he was "shattered and disappointed" by the deaths of the 8 men.

"It's a devastating blow to all of us who hoped that mercy and common sense would prevail," the Virgin boss said. "Instead, tonight's killings will have a significant negative impact on Indonesia's standing in the world.

"To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: 'The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past while every sinner (should have) a future.' Everyone deserves a 2nd chance. Let's do away with the death penalty once and for all."

The Brazilian government condemned the execution of Rodrigo Gularte, who has twice been diagnosed with schizophrenia and died alongside Chan and Sukumaran.

In a letter sent on Monday to the government in Jakarta, the Brazilian foreign ministry declared the death sentence "unacceptable" and "contrary to the common sense and basic standards of human rights protection".

But there was joy in the Philippines at Veloso's reprieve, which may be temporary. Her mother, Celia, told local radio station DZMM: "We are so happy, I can't believe it. I can't believe my child will live."

Australia has recalled its ambassador from Jakarta in protest against the executions. Professor Damien Kingsbury, of Deakin University, predicted the removal of the ambassador may last for "a month or 2".

"But really Australia can't afford in the longer term to break off relations or to have a blockage in relations with Indonesia," he told the ABC.

"Indonesia is a big, important country. It is there, it's not going away, and we are going to have to make some compromises on how we deal with it."

Source: The Guardian, April 29, 2015

New Zealand condemns use of the death penalty

Foreign Minister Murray McCully says New Zealand is dismayed by Indonesia's decision to carry out the execution of members of the 'Bali 9' and other prisoners.

"New Zealand is strongly opposed to the death penalty in all cases, and under all circumstances," Mr McCully says.

"We have expressed our opposition to the death penalty to Indonesia and I made this clear when I met with the Indonesian Foreign Minister recently.

"While we respect Indonesia's right to set and apply its own laws, and understand the immense harm the country suffers from drug trafficking, we are dismayed that these executions have proceeded in the face of continued appeals from some of Indonesia's closest friends.

"In recent years Indonesia has won considerable respect for consolidating democratic institutions and improving human rights. The executions are a serious setback to that progress," Mr McCully says.

Source: scoop.co.nz, April 29, 2015

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