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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Juvenile reportedly executed in Pakistan

Pakistan this morning [Dec. 16, 2015]  reportedly executed Saqi Shah, who was arrested and convicted when he was 16 years old.

Shah, who was sentenced to death in June 1992, had already spent 23 years in prison – 20 of which have been on death row. According to the Asian Commission for Human Rights, Shah’s birth certificate shows he was born in April 1975, making him 16 at the time of his conviction. The execution of juveniles is illegal under Pakistani and international law.

Executions in Pakistan resumed a year ago on Saturday (December 19th), after a moratorium had long been in place. Since then more than 300 people have been executed, including 5 juveniles, according to international human rights NGO Reprieve which has been tracking the executions.

Among those juveniles is Aftab Bahadur, who was 15 at the time of his arrest for a crime of which all eyewitnesses in the case said he was innocent. Faisal Mahmood, another juvenile, was also executed earlier this year, despite the fact that not even the Government's own lawyers disputed his age.

Saqi Shah's execution is at least the fifth documented execution of a juvenile prisoner executed in Pakistan this year, although given problems with birth registration in the country it is likely that the real number is far higher.

Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty team, said: “It is shocking that the Pakistani government is continuing wilfully on their course of executing person after person, day after day. It is all the more horrific that untold numbers of those being executed were convicted when they were just children – just like Saqi Shah reportedly was. The Pakistani government must put a halt to all executions so that they can fully investigate who exactly they are trying to kill.”

Source: Reprieve, December 16, 2015

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