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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…

Antigua & Barbuda: UN wants death penalty off the books

Antigua & Barbuda
Antigua & Barbuda
Several countries at the United Nations (UN) have recommended that the government of Antigua & Barbuda establish a formal moratorium on capital punishment.

The recommendations, which came from among approximately 44 country representatives at the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR), continued despite the representatives being advised that a de facto moratorium has existed since the 1990s.

The 1st representative to raise the matter was from Australia. "Establish a formal moratorium on the death penalty with a view to ratifying the second optional protocol to the international covenant on civil and political rights," she advised.

Many other countries followed suit. Panama's representative said, "Consider establishing an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty ..." while another Latin American country, Honduras, advised the same.

The United Kingdom's (UK) representative said, " ... respect national legal procedures and the standards required by the Privy Council and the UN for the protection of the rights of prisoners sentenced to death."

In response, Antigua & Barbuda's representative at the review, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Senator, Maureen Payne-Hyman, assured the group that in practice a moratorium exists.

"With the issue of the death penalty, that's a very touchy and vexing issue in the Caribbean. In Antigua, it does not matter what type of crime you've committed, you're not executed," she said.

Portugal responded by advising that the government abolish capital punishment "both in practice and in law." Many similar recommendations followed.

The UPR is conducted on the human right records of all UN member states. The latest review was Antigua & Barbuda's 2nd. The 1st review was conducted in 2011.

Superintendent of Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) Albert Wade confirmed that there are no inmates awaiting the execution of a sentence of death or "on death row" as any such inmates were ordered to be re-sentenced by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Source: Antigua Observer, May 10, 2016

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