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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

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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