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Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

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Rodney Reed’s death sentence was suspended. But researchers say other current cases raise similar doubt about the guilt of the accused.
The number of executions in the United States remains close to nearly a three-decade low. And yet the decline has not prevented what those who closely track the death penalty see as a disturbing trend: a significant number of cases in which prisoners are being put to death, or whose execution dates are near, despite questions about their guilt.
Rodney Reed, who came within days of execution in Texas before an appeals court suspended his death sentence on Friday, has been the most high-profile recent example, receiving support from Texas lawmakers of both parties and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, who urged a new examination of the evidence.
Mr. Reed has long maintained that he did not commit the 1996 murder for which he was convicted. And in recent months, new witnesses came forward pointing toward another possible suspect: the dead…

Infographic: Capital Punishment in Iran - 2015

IHRDC's final update of its chart of executions carried out by the Iranian government in 2015 counts 966 executions, an increase of nearly 34% from the previous year. 

The infographic highlights some of the details behind these numbers, including the charges leading to the death sentences of the individuals in question, the 8 top cities for executions in the last year, and trends in overall executions and the executions of juvenile offenders over the last year. 

Iran has led the world in executions per capita for years.

Among these 966 executions, 625 - nearly 2/3 - arose from drug trafficking charges. This represents a rise of over 75% in executions for this charge over the previous year. 

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) establishes that the death penalty may only be used for "the most serious crimes", and international legal experts have long averred that drug-related offenses do not fit in this category. 

Iranian law envisions the use of capital punishment for a wide variety of crimes, including armed robbery, drug trafficking, fraud, and sodomy.

These executions took place in a highly problematic judicial context. 

There have been hundreds of reports of violations of due process in Iran in recent years, including the denial of access to counsel, the denial of the right to be heard by a fair, independent, and impartial judicial body, and a routine reliance on confessions extracted under physical and psychological duress as primary forms of evidence in capital cases.


Source: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Feb. 13, 2016

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