FEATURED POST

Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

Image
Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

UK police ‘training Saudi forces’, despite rise in executions

London, UK
British police have trained hundreds of Saudi officers in the last four years, a BBC investigation has found.

A Freedom of Information response from the UK College of Policing has revealed that, since the body’s founding in 2012, some 270 officers have been brought from Saudi Arabia to the UK for “specialist training”, under a £2.7 million deal that also saw 26 British police officers deployed to Saudi Arabia to train police.

The news comes amid serious concerns over a rise in executions and other human rights abuses by Saudi forces, including the use of torture to extract 'confessions.' Human rights organization Reprieve has established that in the past year, while the training was being provided, the number of people executed by the Saudi authorities rose sharply – from some 88 in 2014 to at least 158 last year. Last weekend, the Saudi authorities staged a mass execution of 47 prisoners, at least four of whom were convicted for their involvement in political protests.

Reprieve's research has also shown that the vast majority (72%) of those currently on death row in Saudi Arabia were convicted of non-lethal crimes, such as political protests. Among those awaiting execution are three juveniles – Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher – who were arrested at 2012 protests, and tortured into ‘confessions’ that were used to convict them in secretive trials.

Reprieve has previously raised concerns over the government’s Overseas Security and Justice Assistance policy, which does not require ministers to reveal the details of assistance to foreign security forces. Ministers are currently refusing to publish existing agreements between the Saudi government and the Home Office, and the Ministry of Justice.

The College of Policing admitted that its training was part of a deal to provide services “in the MENA region", and noted that it carries out a formal human rights risk assessment "for countries where Human Rights compliance is of concern." However, it did not confirm whether such an assessment had been undertaken in this case, or whether it had been signed off by a minister.

This morning, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond faced criticism over the UK's close relationship with Saudi Arabia. Asked by the BBC's Today programme for his view on Saturday's executions, he claimed that the 47 executed were ‘convicted terrorists’. In fact, they included at least four people who were arrested in the wake of political protests, and tried in highly secretive conditions.

Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: “The Home Office has serious questions to answer over the relationship between British police and Saudi forces, who are responsible for serious human rights abuses such as torture. Given that the Saudis are executing record numbers of people – including political protestors who were tortured and convicted in secret courts, some when they were just teenagers – the government’s refusal to reveal details of its cooperation with the Saudis is totally unacceptable. The Home Secretary must explain urgently why they are risking UK complicity with these terrible abuses.”
  • The police training was reported today by BBC Radio 4's World at One programme, which can be accessed here.
  • Details of Reprieve's research on the death penalty in Saudi Arabia is available at the Reprieve website.
  • The Foreign Secretary's comments can be accessed here.
Source: Reprieve, January 8, 2016

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

North Carolina death row becoming frail, aging

Trump calls for death penalty for anyone who kills a police officer

California: Riverside County leads U.S. in death penalty sentences, but hasn’t executed anyone in 39 years

Bali jailbreak: US inmate escapes notorious Kerobokan prison

Georgia executes Emmanuel Hammond

Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

Law of Parties: Prosecutor who put Jeff Wood on Texas’ death row asks for clemency

Iran: Two Prisoners Hanged In Public

Execution date set for convicted killer in Alabama who is terminally ill

Iraq hangs 38 members of Daesh, al-Qaeda