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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

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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