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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

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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