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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…

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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