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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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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…

Pakistan court refuses to re-open juvenile death penalty case

Yesterday, the Islamabad High Court dismissed a petition lodged by the Justice Project Pakistan challenging the validity of a government inquiry into the case of Shafqat Hussain.

The inquiry – carried out by the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) – was launched after new evidence emerged suggesting that Shafqat, who was convicted on the basis of a 'confession' extracted through torture, was still a juvenile at the time of his conviction and sentence. The execution of juveniles is illegal under Pakistan’s domestic law and international law, as is the use of torture evidence.

The Court, which had previously suggested that the FIA inquiry was “prima facie illegal”, dismissed the petition, citing the fact that the case had already been the subject of appeals before the Supreme Court as a reason to avoid re-opening the issue. Unlike many common law countries, Pakistan does not have a clear mechanism for re-opening legal proceedings in the face of new evidence suggesting a potential miscarriage of justice.

Maya Foa, Director of the Death Penalty Team at legal charity Reprieve said: “It is disappointing that the Court did not order a full judicial inquiry into Shafqat’s case. Since December, Pakistan has become one of the world’s most prolific executing states – if it is to continue conducting executions at such a rate, the government must ensure that there is a system that allows issues casting doubt on the safety of convictions to be raised at any stage of proceedings.

“There is significant evidence in Shafqat’s case that has yet to be considered. It is hard to see how anyone can consider an investigation by the FIA – currently mired in corruption scandals – to be credible. Unless we see a full investigation of Shafqat’s case, Pakistan risks executing someone who was sentenced to death as a child, as a result of a phoney ‘confession’ extracted through torture.”

Source: Reprieve, May 12, 2015

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