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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…

Iraq justice ministry announces execution of 22 convicts

Baghdad Iraq
Amnesty International has said that recent trials resulting in death sentences have been 'grossly unfair'

Iraq has executed 22 people over the past month who were convicted of terrorism and other crimes, the justice minister announced on Monday.

The ministry "carried out death sentences against 22 convicts condemned for crimes and terrorist acts," Justice Minister Haidar al-Zamili said in a statement.

It also quoted Zamili as saying that with the start of the Iraqi operation to retake the city of Fallujah from the Islamic State (IS) group, "we confirm ... that the ministry is continuing to carry out just punishment against terrorists."

Rights group Amnesty International said that Baghdad executed at least 26 people in 2015.

Iraq sentenced nearly 100 people to death within the first 2 months of 2016, the group said in a February report.

"The vast majority of the trials have been grossly unfair, with many of the defendants claiming to have been tortured into 'confessing' the crimes," James Lynch, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy director said.

Amnesty called on the Iraqi leadership to stop ratifying executions and begin a process to abolish the death penalty.

Iraq has faced widespread criticism from diplomats, analysts and human rights groups who say that due to a flawed justice system, those being executed are not necessarily guilty of the crimes for which they were sentenced to die.

But the country has repeatedly defied such criticism and continues carrying out executions.

Source: Middle East Eye, May 25, 2016

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