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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Malawi warned over ‘gays should be killed’ comments

Following comments from a political party spokesperson that gay people are “worse than dogs” and should be killed, the UN has warned that Malawi needs to protect LGBT people.

A spokesman for the People’s Party, one of the main politicial parties in Malawi, made the comments on social media, and then later in a number of interviews.

Kenneth Msonda, wrote that gay people are “worse than dogs”, and suggested that they should be killed.

The UN human rights office has now issued a warning that Malawi should protect its LGBT citizens.

It said that the country has a duty to protect its citizens from hatred and threats of violence brought on following comments like these.

“We are concerned that the failure to prosecute this case sends a dangerous message that inciting others to kill gay people is legitimate and will be tolerated by the authorities – in effect encouraging violent threats and attacks on the gay and lesbian community in Malawi,” the office said in a statement.

Following the comments, Msonda was charged with inciting others to break the law. This was after two civil rights organisations pressed charges against him over the remarks.

However, despite Msonda being due in court on Friday, the Director of Public Prosecutions instructed the Chief Magistrate’s Court to discontinue the case on Thursday.

“It’s pretty alarming because essentially people will see that you can incite people to kill someone simply because they belong to a particular group,” the UN rights office spokesman Rupert Colville told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It’s broader really than simply awful discrimination and incitement to hatred of gay and lesbians, it undermines the role of law in general,” he said.

Gay sex is illegal in Malawi and is punishable with up to 14 years in prison, however, the country’s government has suspended the law.

A review is still yet to take place on whether or not homosexuality should be decriminalised.

Last May, the country accepted a recommendation from the UN that it “take effective measures” to protect LGBT people.

Earlier this month gay man took a huge risk by publicly coming out in Malawi, saying the Government needs to take a stance either way on homosexuality.

Source: Pink News, Joseph Patrick McCormick, January 26, 2016

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