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Anthony Ray Hinton Spent Almost 30 Years on Death Row. Now He Has a Message for White America.

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Anthony Ray Hinton was mowing the lawn at his mother's house in 1985 when Alabama police came to arrest him for 2 murders he did not commit. One took place when he was working the night shift at a Birmingham warehouse. Yet the state won a death sentence, based on 2 bullets it falsely claimed matched a gun found at his mother's home. In his powerful new memoir, "The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row," Hinton describes how racism and a system stacked against the poor were the driving forces behind his conviction. He also writes about the unique and unexpected bonds that can form on death row, and in particular about his relationship with Henry Hays, a former Klansman sentenced to death for a notorious lynching in 1981. Hays died in the electric chair in 1997 - 1 of 54 people executed in Alabama while Hinton was on death row.
After almost 30 years, Hinton was finally exonerated in 2015, thanks to the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI. On April 27…

Annual Report Reveals 2015 as Darkest Year for Iran Executions

Iran: Darkness at Noon
Iran: Medieval and barbaric punishments
Iran Human Rights (MAR 14 2016): IHR's 8th annual report on the death penalty reveals 2015 to be one of the darkest years in the Islamic Republic of Iran's history. However, the horrifying death penalty record has not had an impact on relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the West. The numbers presented in IHR's report are in line with the numbers presented by Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran.

On average between two and three people were hanged every single day in Iran; juvenile offenders, women, political prisoners, and alleged drug offenders were among them. That's at least 969 executions in 2015, the highest annual number in more than 25 years. 66% of the executions were for drug offenses, even though Iranian authorities have admitted multiple times in the past that the death penalty has not decreased the volume of drug crimes in Iran. 2015 was also the year when the Islamic Republic of Iran emerged out of several years of isolation. Following the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group, sanctions were lifted and the diplomatic climate between the Islamic Republic and the West improved significantly. Currently there are hundreds of European companies preparing to resume business in Iran.

Although the reaction of the international community to the wave of executions has not been adequate, there have been some encouraging signs inside Iran with activists and civil society leaders coming together to stand against the death penalty. In particular the forgiveness movement is rising in Iran. According to the annual report, the number of victims who chose forgiveness was higher than those who asked for a retribution death sentence for the murder convict.

EXECUTION TRENDS UNDER PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI

Since the election of Hassan Rouhani in June 2013, at least 2162 people have been executed in Iran. A comparison between the two and a half years after Hassan Rouhani’s election and the two and a half years before his election show an increase of 43% in the number of executions carried out in Iran.

Hassan Rouhani
The dramatic increase in the number of executions after the election of President Rouhani has been, according to some, a reflection of the power struggle between the conservative Judiciary and the “moderate” government of President Rouhani. Although it is the judiciary which issues and implements death sentences, neither President Rouhani nor members of his cabinet have expressed any dissatisfaction about the large number of executions. On the contrary, when President Rouhani or Foreign minister Javad Zarif were given chances to make a statement about the death penalty they defended Iran’s high number of executions.

Iran Human Rights calls on the United Nations to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, the international community to require procedural transparency and guarantee fair trials from Iranian authorities, and also European partners to help reduce the usage of the death penalty in Iran by putting the death penalty on top of the agenda in any talks with Iranian authorities. “Europe and European companies cannot be silent witnesses to Iran’s horrendous death penalty record. Upgrading business relationship with the Iranian authorities must be conditioned on restriction of the use of the death penalty. The growing abolitionist civil society inside Iran and Iran’s need for foreign investments provide a rare opportunity for Europe to contribute to limiting the use of the death penalty and improving human rights in Iran,” says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the executive director of Iran Human Rights.

The full English report (Pdf) was published on Monday March 14 and can be downloaded here.

Source: Iran Human Rights, March 14, 2015

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