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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…

Myanmar: Wa Authorities Say 2 Men Executed in Self-Ruling Region

A court in Panghsang handed down death sentences to 2 people found guilty of murder in the autonomous Wa Special Region, where on Sunday the duo were executed, according to local sources.

Zhao Guoan, who is a spokesperson from the United Wa State Army (UWSA), confirmed the court ruling and the men's execution.

"They killed other people. The court gave the death sentence to them yesterday," he told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

He said the crime and severe sentence were rare in the Wa Special Region, an autonomous zone in Shan State that is ruled by the UWSA and administers a judicial system independent of the Burmese government.

"Our court only gives the death penalty when someone killed another. It happens only sometimes here," Zhao said.

The UWSA, Burma's largest ethnic armed group, administers the Wa Special Region essentially beyond the reach of the central government in Naypyidaw.

At the national level, Burma is considered a de facto abolitionist state and has not openly carried out an execution in decades.

The UWSA-run Wa State TV aired a broadcast on Sunday that showed photos of the 2 men made to kneel before police officers, presumably before being shot dead in accordance with the Panghsang court's ruling.

A separate report, also from UWSA-affiliated media, identified the men, one being Yan Lu, a 50-year-old ethnic Wa man who was found to have killed his 2 wives while under the influence of illicit narcotics.

Li Jian Guo, a 33-year-old Chinese citizen, was found guilty in the slaying of his 18-month-old son, also reportedly under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

The weekend executions recall a similar case that played out in January in the Mong La Special Region, where a Chinese national was reportedly executed by officials apparently acting under instruction from the semiautonomous authority there. That man, too, was found guilty of murder, as well as arson. The Mong La Special region is administered by the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), a non-state armed group like the UWSA.

Source: The Irrawaddy, March 14, 2016

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