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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…

Human rights lawyer to file complaint in UN for denial of Kho Jabing's right to counsel

Singapore's Changi Prison
Singapore's Changi Prison
Human rights lawyer M Ravi has said in a Facebook post that Kho Jabing suffered an egregious breach of his constitutional right to counsel just hours before he was executed.

Mr Ravi said that he was with lawyer Alfred Dodwell and other activists outside the Chambers of the judge on Thursday (19 May) evening, and so know that Jabing's family had instructed both lawyers Alfred Dodwell and Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss to represent him at the hearing which was fixed before Judicial Commissioner (JC) Kannan.

In pointing out that there were 3 state counsels present at the hearing, Mr Ravi said that he was astounded when Mr Dodwell was denied entry into the Judge's Chambers by the court officer. Only Mrs Chong-Aruldoss was allowed into the Chambers. Mr Ravi said that this was very unusual and that after three hours of hearing, Ms Chong-Aruldoss came out of the chambers to inform the activists and him that that Mr Dodwell was not allowed.

"When the state had 3 counsels, why can't Kho Jabing have 2 counsels to represent him," asked Mr Ravi.

"This is his constitutional right," said Mr Ravi in pointing out Article 9(3) of the Constitution which said: "Where a person is arrested, he ... shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice."

Mr Ravi said that the JC "had clearly breached Article 9(3) of the Constitution of Kho Jabing's right to counsel and to be defended by a lawyer or any number of lawyers of his choice."

"I will be shortly filing a complaint against the Singapore State in this matter with Mr. Christof Heyes, who is the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions or Killing," he added.

Meanwhile Mr Dodwell in thanking blogger Andrew Loh for writing a Facebook note thanking the anti-death penalty activists and lawyers who defend death-row inmates said that he "could choose to sue Bilahari for his defamatory statement that it was "politically motivated"."

He added: "I reflected on it and I will take the high road and don't waste my life on insignificant people whose views really does not matter. It's venomous and erroneous."

Mr Bilahari Kausikan, Singapore's Ambassador-at-large, had in sharing the news report of the lawyers' attempts to save the murderer's life suggested that it was politically motivated.

Mr Kausikan said: "This politically motivated 11th hour attempt to stay execution is despicable. If there were no new facts or arguments, they must - unless they were totally incompetent lawyers - have known that the appeal would fail. So they raised false hope in Mr Kho's family and perhaps in Mr Kho himself for their own political agenda. That is completely cynical and ought to be condemned."

Source: The Independent, May 23, 2016

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