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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…

Iran defends its capital punishment in Europe

Public hanging in Iran, a medieval and barbaric punishment
Iran, faith-based medieval and barbaric punishments
Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, his country's Iran's capital punishment law at the European parliament on Tuesday, saying Iran mostly executes drug smugglers.

The remarks came in Brussels when lawmakers criticized the increasing number of death sentences in Iran.

Zarif also blamed Europe for their "lack of support" to help Iran control the flow of drugs to European countries.

"The European Union has accused Iran of human rights violations and banned the export of technical tools that would be used to combat the drug trade," Zarif told European lawmakers, according to BBC Persian.

The number of executions in Iran has sharply increased in recent years. At least 687 people were put to death in 2013, compared to 99 people in 2004.

Human rights activists worry that the nuclear deal with Iran and the country's increasing economic and trade relations with Europe may take the spotlight off its human rights record.

In a report in late 2015 the UN General Assembly condemned the human rights situation in Iran.

The report indicated that execution rates in Iran have rapidly increased and that 694 people were executed in Iran in 2015.

This is the highest number of executions in the country since the Iran-Iraq War, Ahmed Shaheed, the special UN rapporteur for human rights in Iran, told Rudaw at that time.

Source: rudaw.net, Feb. 18, 2016

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