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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…

Iran using UN drugs agency to ‘demonstrate support’ for mass hangings, warns UN investigator

A UN investigator has warned that executions in Iran could hit 1000 this year, driven in large part by an increase in people being hanged for alleged drug offences – with officials justifying hangings by pointing to the support of a UN anti-drugs agency.

The report by Ahmed Shaheed, the Special Rapportuer on the human rights situation in Iran, finds that “at least 69% of executions during the first six months of 2015 were reportedly for drug-related offences.” A total of at least 694 people had reportedly been hanged by 15 September this year, Mr Shaheed writes, including “at least…one juvenile.”

However, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) continues to fund counter-narcotics programmes which lead to the arrests and executions of alleged drug offenders in Iran – despite concerns raised by human rights organisations including Reprieve. 

The UNODC is understood to be currently finalising a deal to provide funding from Western states for a new round of counter-narcotics operations in the country, though the details have not yet been made public. 

Mr Shaheed’s report suggests that Iranian officials may be using statements provided by the UNODC to provide cover for the country’s use of capital punishment for non-violent drug offences: “[Iranian] Officials assert that capital punishment functions as a sound deterrent to would-be criminals,” he writes, adding that “Officials also pointed to statements about its efforts issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to demonstrate international support for its approach.”

In a blog post earlier this month, Mr Shaheed called on “International agencies and states providing assistance to combatting drug trafficking” to “ensure that their activities do not contribute to the execution of individuals for drug crimes.”

Commenting, Dan Dolan, from the death penalty team at international human rights organisation Reprieve said: “Iran is hanging drug offenders at more than twice the rate of last year, representing an unprecedented execution spree. Despite this, the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime is lining up a generous new funding deal for Iran's notorious drug police, while Iranian officials publicly boast of UN support to justify their brutal and oppressive practices. If the international community is to have any hope of ending Iran's hanging campaign, future funding for Iranian drug raids should be strictly conditional on abolition of the death penalty for drug offences.”

Mr Shaheed’s comments regarding Iran and the UNODC can be found at para 14 of his report.

Source: Reprieve, October 28, 2015

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