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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…

Beijing Says AI Death Penalty Report Is Biased against China

A Chinese police officer lights an inmate's cigarette shortly before his execution.
A Chinese police officer lights an inmate's
cigarette shortly before his execution.
The Chinese government said Amnesty International has "biased opinions" on China and refused to comment on its death penalty report released on Wednesday, which estimates that "thousands" were executed in China last year.

Asked at a press conference about the AI report, spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry Lu Kang refused to comment and said AI tends to have biased opinions on China.

According to the human rights organization, the number of death penalty executions in 2015 at 1,634 were the highest in 25 years.

The global rise in the figure was attributed to 3 countries - Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan - who were responsible for 89 % of all the executions carried out in 2015, excluding China.

Data from the world's 2nd largest economy were not included as China considers this information to be a "State secret," although the AI report notes that "thousands of executions" were carried out in the Chinese territory.

AI Hong Kong's William Nee told EFE, AI asks governments across the world for information on capital punishment to prepare the report, and a "majority" responds to the request in "a professional manner."

"It is not a complicated task. It is completely hypocritical that China calls our report biased when it refuses to give us information and continues treating capital punishment figures as a State secret," he denounced.

Despite the lack of transparency, he said AI has "no doubt" that China is in top spot as the country with the highest number of executions in the world.

Source: Latin American Herald Tribune, April 7, 2016

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