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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

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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