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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…

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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