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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…

Iran regime steps up executions; 21 hanged in 48 hours

Children watching a public hanging in Iran (file photo)
Children watching a public hanging in Iran (file photo)
NCRI - Iran’s fundamentalist regime has sharply increased its rate of executions, carrying out at least 21 hangings in a 48-hour period this week.

Two men were hanged earlier on Wednesday in the Central Prison of Urmia (Orumieh), north-west Iran. They were identified as Dariyoush Farajzadeh and Ghafour Qaderzadeh.

Another two men were hanged on Wednesday in a prison in Yasuj, central Iran, according to Mehrdad Karami, the regime's prosecutor in the city. The men, whose names were not given, were 26 and 34 years old, he said.

A man, only identified by his initials S. R., 31, was hanged on Wednesday in a prison in Sari, northern Iran, according to the regime’s judiciary in Mazandaran Province.

The state broadcaster IRIB, quoting the regime's judiciary in Yazd Province, central Iran, announced on its website that eight prisoners were hanged in the province on Tuesday. The regime’s Prosecutor in Yazd Province had earlier told the state-run Rokna news agency that six people had been hanged in the province on Tuesday.

A separate report from Isfahan, central Iran, said that a prisoner was hanged in the city's notorious Dastgerd Prison on Monday, May 16. He has been identified as Malek Salehi, 35.

Six men were hanged collectively in the Central Prison of Urmia on Tuesday, May 17. They had been serving a prison sentence in Ward 15 of the jail on drugs-related charges.

They were identified as Naji Keywan, Nader Mohammadi, Ali Shamugardian, Aziz Nouri-Azar, Fereydoon Rashidi and Heidar Amini.

Also on Tuesday, a man was hanged in public in the north-eastern city of Mashhad.

The victim, who was not named, was hanged at 7 am in the city's Mofatteh Square. His sentence had been upheld by the regime's Supreme Court.

Ms. Farideh Karimi, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and a human rights activist, on Tuesday criticized the lack of response by the international community and human rights groups to the appalling state of human rights in Iran.

The latest hangings bring to at least 97 the number of people executed in Iran since April 10. Three of those executed were women and one is believed to have been a juvenile offender.

Iran's fundamentalist regime last week amputated the fingers of a man in his thirties in Mashhad, the latest in a line of draconian punishments handed down and carried out in recent weeks.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said in a statement on April 13 that the increasing trend of executions “aimed at intensifying the climate of terror to rein in expanding protests by various strata of the society, especially at a time of visits by high-ranking European officials, demonstrates that the claim of moderation is nothing but an illusion for this medieval regime.”

Amnesty International in its April 6 annual Death Penalty report covering the 2015 period wrote: "Iran put at least 977 people to death in 2015, compared to at least 743 the year before."

"Iran alone accounted for 82% of all executions recorded" in the Middle East and North Africa, the human rights group said.

There have been more than 2,300 executions during Hassan Rouhani’s tenure as President. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran in March announced that the number of executions in Iran in 2015 was greater than any year in the last 25 years. Rouhani has explicitly endorsed the executions as examples of “God’s commandments” and “laws of the parliament that belong to the people.”

Source: NCRI, May 18, 2016

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