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…

UK: Fresh questions for Government over secret Saudi deals

The Government is facing renewed questions over its agreements with Saudi Arabia, after the cancellation of a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) bid for a prisons contract in in the country.

Yesterday, Justice Secretary Michael Gove announced that the deal was cancelled, following urgent questions over the deal, which would have seen the UK providing services to the Saudi prisons system. The decision followed criticism of the UK’s approach in light of Saudi human rights abuses, including the imminent execution of Ali al-Nimr and Dawoud al-Marhoon. Both prisoners were juveniles when they were arrested and tortured following protests in 2012.

However, the Government is now refusing to provide details of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the MoJ and the Saudi authorities, which the Government has described as “a mechanism for dialogue and exchange of expertise on justice, legal and human rights matters.” It has also emerged that a second MOU exists between the Home Office and the Saudi Government.

The Government has said that the Home Office MOU “draws on UK expertise in the wider security and policing arena” and is designed to “complement work” between public body the College of Policing and “a range of Saudi security bodies.” However, the College of Policing has refused to provide details of its work with the Saudi Government, saying that to do so “would cause severe and lasting damage to UK relations with other states.” 

Several MPs demanded yesterday that the Government reveal details of the Saudi agreements. Mr Gove said, however, that the Government would not share them with Parliament, saying that “such conversations must sometimes remain confidential.”

Questions have also been raised about the UK’s apparent offer of help to the 2013 Saudi effort to be elected to the UN Human Rights Council. This morning, leaked diplomatic Saudi cables emerged that reveal the Saudi Government discussing how to ensure that international criticism of a recent execution did not damage its bid to be elected onto the HRC – a bid that Britain appears to have supported. 

Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at human rights organization Reprieve, said: “The Government has made a welcome decision to abandon its misguided Saudi prisons bid – a deal that would have supported a prison system that is responsible for carrying out the executions of Ali al-Nimr and Dawoud al-Marhoon, as well as countless other abuses. But there remain serious questions about the extent to which the UK is involved with the Saudi government’s repressive criminal justice system. The government must come clean to MPs about what agreements it has signed with the Saudis – while ministers must also do everything they can to stop the executions of these two juveniles.”
  • A transcript of yesterday's Parliamentary debate is available here, while further detail on the two MOUs is available at the Financial Times' website, here
  • Further detail about the bid can be viewed here.
Source: Reprieve, October 14, 2015

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