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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…

The 13 countries where being an atheist is punishable by death

Atheism
Around the world, a number of countries continue to criminalize atheists and humanists, with 13 having laws which enable them to impose the death penalty.

It's often said that the world is becoming an increasingly secular place. 

Just last week David Cameron sparked backlash when he used his Easter message to describe the UK as "a Christian country". 

Critics pointed out that just 30 per cent of people in the UK describe themselves as religious, making Britain one of the least religious countries in the world. 

53 per cent of people say they have no faith, while 13 per cent claim they are committed atheists.

However, despite the prevalance of atheism and humanism in the UK, many may be surprised to know that having no faith can be a life or death matter around the world. 

In thirteen countries, you can be sentenced to death for not having a faith:

1. Afghanistan.

2. Iran.

3. Malaysia.

4. Maldives.

5. Mauritania.

6. Nigeria.

7. Pakistan.

8. Qatar.

9. Saudi Arabia.

10. Somalia.

11. Sudan

12. United Arab Emirates

13. Yemen

In a number of other countries, the death penalty is not a formal punishment on statute books but atheists and humanists have been murdered by religious extremists on account of their beliefs.

In countries including India and Bangladesh, police have been accused of condoning these murders by failing to investigate them properly. 

At least 3 atheist bloggers have been hacked to death in Bangladesh after penning posts advocating that scientific proof should inform opinion above religious beliefs.

Source: The Times of India, March 31, 2016

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