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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…

Unfair trials lead to death-row convictions in Indonesia

Corrupt legal system, poor investigations 'work against the innocent'

Many prisoners in Indonesia on death row are there as a result of unfair trials, according to an Indonesian church official.

"Lots of people are still waiting for their execution. Many of them are the fruit of unfair trials," said Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, secretary of the bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People, during a Dec. 13 discussion program at the bishops' conference's office in Jakarta.

"If those sentenced to death are finally executed and then research is done after their execution that shows they are victims of unfair trials, the state cannot do anything to pay for its sins," he said.

"This is something that we must reveal, we must tell the public. We must see that trials are not always fair," he said.

Father Siswantoko referred to the case of a 54-year-old Catholic layman named Christian, who was arrested in November 2007 on drug trafficking charges, convicted and later sentenced to death.

The bishops' Advocacy and Human Rights Forum are trying to help secure the man's release. Father Siswantoko said he was convicted on false evidence and received an unfair trial.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, forum coordinator, said Christian, who is being held in Tangerang prison in Banten province, had a name that was similar to a known drug dealer wanted by police, who did follow proper investigatory procedures.

"Christian was not arrested at the crime scene and was never asked for a urine test, which is essential in drug-related cases," he told ucanews.com.

He said the forum was preparing to submit a judicial review for Christian's case and request clemency.

Nainggolan said that Indonesia's legal system remained corrupt. "This can be seen from unfair trials. And it would be very heavy if unfair trials have to be faced by those sentenced to death," he said.

He said the forum has uncovered at least 300 death penalty convictions that were the result of unfair trials.

Meanwhile, Talitha Kara, Christian's daughter, said her family hopes justice will prevail.

"We just want the state to enforce the law. I want my father to be sent home. That's all," she told ucanews.com.

Source: ucanews.com, December 14, 2015

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