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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…

Maldives president says death penalty only way for stability

Male Airport Maldives
Male Airport, Maldives
Implementing death penalty will only bring stability and harmony to the Maldives, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom said Saturday.

At the closing ceremony of the third symposium on training campaign leaders for his re-election, President Yameen said his government's aim is to bring peace and harmony to the society. That cannot be achieved only through legislation, he added.

"Why are some people so fond of taking the life of another person? Why should there be space for that? We don't want that to happen," the president said, at the ceremony held at the Dharubaaruge convention centre in capital Male.

The president's comments follow a series of new rules and regulations adopted by the authorities to implement capital punishment and is currently drafting a law on death penalty.

High Court had in November annulled the clause giving the president power to grant clemency to convicts on death row.

The Supreme Court had issued new guidelines recently allowing death sentences and public lashing rulings issued by lower courts to be appealed automatically at the High Court.

In a circular, the Supreme Court said if the defendant fails to appeal death sentences and public lashing verdicts within 10 days, the court that had initially issued the verdict should forward the relevant documents to the High Court. The appellate court would have seven days to notify both the defendant and the prosecution of the appeal and during that period should take the necessary steps to begin appeal proceedings, it added.

The new rules follow similar guidelines issued by the apex court in November.

The Supreme Court issued new guidelines on November 8 giving a month-long window for the last chance to appeal death sentences and public lashings backed by High Court.

According to the guidelines, if a defendant fails to appeal a High Court verdict in favour of death sentences and public lashing rulings within a 30-day period, the appeal can then only be filed at the Supreme Court by the prosecution.

The guidelines, included in a circular signed by Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, did not specifically mention sentences of death and public lashing. However, it says that High Court rulings that need to be reconfirmed by the Supreme Court had to be appealed within 30 days, including public holidays.

Under local laws, the only sentences that need to be reconfirmed by the Supreme Court are death sentences and public lashing verdicts.

Judicature Act earlier granted a 90-day period, excluding public holidays, to appeal rulings by any court.

However, the Supreme Court had in January 2015 annulled that clause and issued new guidelines under which rulings issued by lower courts had to be appealed at the High Court within 10 days and appeal over High Court verdicts needed to be filed at the Supreme Court within 60 days

Meanwhile, the government has included funds in the state budget for this year to establish an execution chamber at the country's main prison to carry out the death penalty.

Government had, meanwhile, adopted a new regulation in 2014 under which lethal injection would be used to implement the death penalty.

However, over mounting pressure from human rights bodies, companies have been refusing to supply the fatal dose to countries still carrying out capital punishment.

Home minister Umar Naseer had earlier said the correctional service would be ready to implement the death penalty by the time a death sentence is upheld by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the government announced on November 16 that it was in the process of drafting legislation on implementing death penalty.

Attorney General Mohamed Anil told reporters that the bill being drafted by his office would expand on the already existing regulations on death penalty. The bill would include procedures on conducting murder investigations, filing charges in such cases and conducting proceedings in murder cases, he added.

There are around 10 people on death row at present, but none of whom has exhausted the appeal process thus far.

Source: haveeru.com, March 20, 2016

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