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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Stop the execution of Amanj Veisee, a juvenile offender in Iran

At his retrial in December Juvenile offender Amanj Veisee was resentenced to death for the murder of his cousin - despite an official forensic report concluding that he had not attained 'mental growth and maturity' at the time of the crime.

Amanj had originally been sentenced in 2008, following the fatal stabbing of us cousin during a fight. He was just 15 at the time of the stabbing and has always said he did not intend to kill his cousin.

He says they had grown up together and he loved him deeply. He claims to have stabbed him only in a frightened reaction to his 23-year-old cousin strangling him.


Questionable 'mental growth and maturity'

Amanj was originally sentenced to death in 2008 but was granted a retrial due to concerns that he did not understand the nature of the crime or its consequences.

The retrial was granted in 2015 on the basis of a then new Islamic Penal Code which allowed courts to replace the death penalty with an alternative sentence for juvenile offenders under these circumstances, or if there were doubts about his or her 'mental growth and maturity' at the time of the crime.

Despite a state forensic institution, the Legal Medicine Organisation, concluding that Amanj had not attained "mental growth and maturity" at the time of the crime, the court has resentenced him to death.

The verdict is less than one page long. It dismisses the forensic report as 'non-binding' and concludes: 'there is no doubt about his mental maturity at the time of the crime.'

Juvenile offender in Iran

Iran's use of the death penalty on juvenile offenders has been criticised by bodies including the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, who in only January of this year noted their serious concern that the exemption of juvenile offenders from the death penalty is 'under full discretion of judges who are allowed, but not mandated to seek forensic expert opinion and that several persons have been resentenced to death following such retrials'

Act now!

We're urging you to write to the Iranian authorities demanding that they immediately commute Amanj's death sentence and commit to not carrying out executions upon any person who was below aged 18 at the time of the crime.

Please write immediately in Persian, Arabic, English or your own language:

-- Urging the Iranian authorities to immediately commute Amanj Veisee's death sentence and not carry out the execution of any person who was below the age of 18 at the time of the crime; and

-- Urging them to take legislative measures to completely abolish, without any discretion for the courts or other exceptions, the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by people below the age of 18, in line with Iran's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Please send appeals to:

Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
Islamic Republic Sreeet - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran
Twitter: @khamenei_ir (English)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to:

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office Number 4,
Deadend of 1 Azizi
Above Pasteur Intersection
Vali Asr Street
Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

And to:

Prosecutor General of Tehran
Abbas Ja'fari Dolat Abadi
Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecution Office
Corner (Nabsh-e) of 15 Khordad Square
Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran

Source: Amnesty International UK, April 8, 2016

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