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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…

UK Government to scrap Death Penalty Strategy

The British Government will not renew its Strategy for working to end the death penalty around the world, international human rights organisation Reprieve has been told by the Foreign Office (FCO).

Reprieve also understands that the Government plans to abandon the term ‘countries of concern’ when assessing the human rights records of states such as China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Although a formal written statement has not yet been made, Reprieve has received verbal confirmation from the FCO of the proposed changes, and has written to the Foreign Secretary, urging him to reconsider.

The UK’s Strategy for the Abolition of the Death Penalty has been in place since 2010, and was last year cited by Foreign Minister David Lidington as the mechanism by which the Government was pursuing its “firm goal” of “global abolition of the death penalty.”

In its letter to Philip Hammond, Reprieve points out that any “retreat from the fight for global abolition” could be “disastrous” at a time when countries such as Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are seeing a surge in executions.

Reprieve also notes concerns that UK support for counter-narcotics operations abroad is leading to increased numbers of death sentences for people accused of non-violent drugs offences.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve said: “At a time when executions in countries around the world are spiking, it is alarming that the Government is ditching its Strategy on the death penalty. With Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran all executing at a rate we haven’t seen for years, the UK’s move will send the wrong signal. The worry is that by doing this, and softening its language on countries which abuse human rights, the Government is seeking to unburden itself of important obligations. It is vital that the Foreign Secretary thinks again.”

Source: Reprieve, August 3, 2015

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