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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr: Saudi Arabia on verge of beheading protester 'tortured as a child into confessing'

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
A young protester who was reportedly forced to admit to crimes after being tortured when he was a teenager could be beheaded in the coming days.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012, along with 2 others who were also minors at the time, following anti-government protests in 2011.

In 2013, aged just 17, he was sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion.

He is the nephew of the outspoken Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed on 2 January without warning, along with 46 other prisoners.

His mother, Umm Bakr, told The Times she fears her son was used "as a card against his uncle", and says after he was arrested he was tortured into signing confessions for a number of false charges including carrying a weapon.

Mohammed al-Nimr, his father and the brother of Sheikh Nimr, believes his son was "just like any other youth," he said: "When the movement started, he joined, believing he would take on the burden for the people."

However, he claims police knocked Mr al-Nimr off his motorcycle and arrested him, informing his family he would only be released if "his uncle stops talking".

The mass execution sparked widespread protests around the world and lead to a sharp decline in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Following the mass killing of 46 prisoners earlier this year, the largest mass execution in Saudi Arabia since 1980, the British government maintains it doesn't expect the Mr al-Nimr's sentence to go ahead.

But his father doubts he will be released: "Perhaps before 2 January, I might have believed that. Now unless I see him back home again, none of these assurances can give me any comfort."

Source: The Independent, Feb. 9, 2016

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