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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…

Most Executions Unannounced by Iranian Authorities

Public hanging in Iran
Public hanging in Iran
About 60% of all executions included in IHR's 8th annual report on the death penalty were unannounced by Iranian authorities.

Iran Human Rights (MAR 15 2016): IHR's annual report distinguishes between official and unofficial or unannounced executions. 

The group's unofficial execution reports are verified and confirmed by two independent sources. 

About 60% of all executions included in this report were not announced by Iranian authorities. Some of these executions were carried out in secret, without the family or the lawyer being informed, and some were simply not announced by the official media. 

Only 373 of the total 969 executions cases in 2015 were announced by official sources.

Official executions are those announced by official websites of the Iranian judiciary, Iranian police, the National Iranian Broadcasting Network, official or state-run news agencies and national or local newspapers. 

Unofficial or unannounced executions are not announced by official sources, but are confirmed by IHR through unofficial channels. These include other human rights NGOs or IHR’s sources within Iran. 

The sources of unofficial reports are often eyewitnesses, family members, lawyers, sources within the prisons and the Iranian judiciary. IHR has only included unofficial reports that were confirmed by two independent sources.

In 2015, IHR received reports of secret or unannounced executions from 16 different prisons across the country. In the ethnic regions of Baluchistan, Azerbaijans (East and West), and Kurdistan more than 97% of the executions were either carried out secretly or were not announced by official Iranian media.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT SECRET OR UNANNOUNCED EXECUTIONS IN 2015:
  • At least 596 (61%) of the executions were not announced by official Iranian sources
  • Drug related offences accounted for the charges in 77% of the unannounced executions
  • Executions of women and foreign citizens (mainly Afghan and Pakistani) were mainly not announced
  • Executions for none of the political or security related charges were announced by the official sources

Source: Iran Human Rights, March 14, 2016

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