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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Planned executions "a shameful stain" for President Widodo

Indonesian president Joko Widodo
Indonesian president Joko Widodo
The planned execution of 10 inmates convicted of drug-related offenses is a shameful stain on President Joko Widodo's policymaking, FIDH and its member organization KontraS said today. The 2 organizations reiterate their appeal to President Widodo for a halt to all executions and the commutation of all death sentences.

"President Widodo's green light for more executions despite massive international calls for clemency is a shameful stain on his policymaking," said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. "He must immediately end this barbaric practice and ensure that Indonesia complies with its international human rights obligations."

10 individuals are scheduled to be executed by firing squad within days in Nusakambangan prison in Central Java. They are: Rodrigo Gularte (Brazil), Serge Atlaoui (France), Okwudili Oyatanze (Nigeria), Raheem Agbaje Salami (Nigeria), Sylvester Obiekwe (Nigeria), Martin Anderson (Ghana), Mary Jane Veloso (Philippines), Andrew Chan (Australia), Myuran Sukumaran (Australia), and Zainal Abidin (Indonesia). On 23 April, the Attorney General Office instructed authorities to prepare for the executions, after many of the 10 drug convicts repeatedly failed to secure a judicial review of their cases.

"President Widodo's tough stance on capital punishment for drug convicts is a disgraceful ploy to shore up his sinking approval ratings," said KontraS Executive Director Haris Azhar. "It's time for President Widodo to heed the international communities' repeated calls for an end to executions."

Instead of implementing a moratorium on executions, President Widodo has repeatedly ruled out an amnesty for drug traffickers facing execution. In early December 2014, President Widodo refused to grant clemency to 6 inmates, including 2 women, who had been found guilty of drug trafficking. On 18 January 2015, the 6 were executed by firing squad in Nusakambangan prison.

Ironically, and in a move that exposes the Indonesian government to hypocritical double standards on capital punishment, President Widodo's administration protested the execution of 2 Indonesian women in Saudi Arabia on 14 and 16 April 2015.

On 2 April 2015, it was reported that the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) had downgraded Indonesia to 'E', on a scale of 'A' to 'E', for its failure to respond to the HRC's call in August 2013 to stop executing prisoners for drug-related crimes. The HRC monitors implementation by states parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The 'E' rating indicates that Indonesia took measures that went against the HRC's recommendations related to the death penalty. The HRC has repeatedly stressed that capital punishment for drug-related offenses is a clear violation of Article 6 of the ICCPR on the right to life.

FIDH and KontraS, both members of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP), reiterate their strong opposition to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances. Our organizations insist that there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty on drug-related offenses.

Source: FIDH, April 25, 2015

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