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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…

Indonesian President Defends Death Penalty for Drug Crimes

Joko Widodo and Angela Merkel
Joko Widodo and Angela Merkel
Indonesia's president is defending his country's use of the death penalty for drug offenses, arguing that drug abuse constitutes an emergency.

Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws and more than 130 people on death row, mostly for drug crimes. Authorities recently said Indonesia is preparing to execute more foreigners convicted of drug offenses. Executions last year caused an international outcry.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said Monday that "Indonesia currently has an emergency, above all in drug abuse." He said 30-50 people a day die in Indonesia because of drugs.

Jokowi said through an interpreter: "Implementation of the death penalty is carried out very cautiously."

He spoke after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who underlined Germany's opposition to capital punishment and its wish for Indonesia "not to implement it if possible."

Source: Associated Press, April 18, 2016


German president urges abolition of Indonesia's death penalty

German President Joachim Gauck urged his Indonesian counterpart to abolish the country's death penalty during a meeting in Berlin on Monday, telling Joko Widodo that, especially when it comes to human rights, government heads must sometimes take the 1st step, according to attendees.

Reassuring Joko that Germany supports Indonesia's path towards more democracy, Gauck said that it's especially in times of transformation that wise social policy is needed to bring a society forward.

Gauck and Joko got into an intense discussion on the topic, with the Indonesian president arguing that the death penalty was still necessary to fight against drug-related crimes.

He added that with 85 % of the population supporting capital punishment, it was not up to him to go against the will of the majority.

Gauck said that Germany's relationship with Indonesia was especially important in the fight against radical Islamism, and that the archipelago showed that Islam and democracy are far from incompatible.

Source: DPA, April 18, 2016

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