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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

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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