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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…

Ghani should not sign execution orders of terror convicts: Amnesty International

kabul
Amnesty International has urged President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani not to sign the execution orders of prisoners convicted of terror offences.

The appeal by Amnesty International comes as the Taliban group made a plea to international organizations to intervene and stop the Afghan government to implement death sentences.

In its latest release titled "Afghanistan: The death penalty is no solution to terrorism" Amnesty International said 'Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani should not sign execution orders."

"By hastily seeking retribution for the horrific bombings that killed over 64 people in Kabul last month, the government of Afghanistan's plans to execute those convicted of terror offences will neither bring the victims the justice they deserve, nor Afghanistan the security it needs," said Jameen Kaur, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for South Asia.

"There is no evidence that the death penalty serves as a deterrent, and there are fears that it will only serve to perpetuate a cycle of violence without tackling any of the root causes."

"The death penalty is a cruel and irreversible punishment. In a context where there are very serious questions about the fairness and transparency of the legal process, the use of torture by security forces to extract confessions, and the narrow window for appeal, there is a particular risk of mistakes being made that cannot be corrected."

"Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution."

This comes as a spokesman for the Presidential Palace said last week that a list of militants convicted of terror offences has been forwarded to President Ghani.

Source: Khaama Press, May 5, 2016

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