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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…

Saudi regime carries out 86th beheading in 2016

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia has decapitated a Pakistani national after sentencing him to death for smuggling drugs, bringing to 86 the number of such executions in the kingdom since the start of this year.

The convicted Pakistani man, identified as Shah Zaman Khan Sayyed, was beheaded in the Riyadh region, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The man was found guilty of attempting to smuggle heroin and amphetamines into the kingdom, the interior ministry added.

Beheading with a sword is the most common form of execution in Saudi Arabia. 

Saudi authorities carry out beheading of a convicted man in public.

The latest beheading occurred as US President Barack Obama is on a 2-day visit to the oppressive kingdom.

Before Obama left for Riyadh to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Britain-based international right group Amnesty International wrote a letter, urging him to consider the country's human rights issues.

In the most stunning case this year, Saudi Arabia executed on January 2 prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along 46 other people in defiance of international calls for the release of the prominent Shia cleric and other jailed political dissidents in the kingdom.

Saudi authorities have beheaded several opposition figures and dissidents in recent years.

Saudi Arabia carried out 153 executions, including 71 foreign nationals, in 2015. This number of executions in terms of annual basis in Saudi Arabia has been unseen since 1995.

Riyadh has been under fire for having one of the world's highest execution rates.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has called on the Saudi regime to abolish its "ghastly" beheadings.

Under the Saudi law, apostasy, armed robbery, drug trafficking, rape, homosexuality and murder carry the death penalty. Most Saudi executions are carried out by beheading with a sword.

In summer 2015, Saudi Arabia, with an appalling human rights record, was appointed to head an important panel at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Source: Agence France-Presse, April 22, 2016

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