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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…

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

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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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