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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

UN Special Rapporteur "appalled by reports of the recent execution by the Belarusian authorities"

Miklos Haraszti is appalled by reports of the recent execution by the Belarusian authorities. He condemned Belarus' continued use of death penalty after reports that a man whose complaint was before the UN HRC had been executed, despite a specific request from the HRC for a stay of execution.

"I am appalled by reports of the recent execution of Siarhei Ivanou by the Belarusian authorities," said Miklos Haraszti, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus.

Reports indicate that Siarhei Ivanou, who was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in 2015, was executed on around 18 April this year.

Ivanou's brother had petitioned the Committee, arguing that Ivanou's trial had been unfair. During the trial, he remained handcuffed and was obliged to wear special clothes with the label "capital punishment" on them. It was also alleged that he was not brought promptly before a judge upon arrest and had limited access to a lawyer.

Ivanou's execution means Belarus, since 2010, has executed eight people whose cases were registered for examination by the Committee under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Belarus is a State party.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe and Central Asia that applies the death penalty, despite repeated calls for its abolition from many in the international community, including the members of the European Union and the Council of Europe.

Haraszti once again urged the Belarusian authorities to adopt a moratorium on the death penalty, as an interim legal step towards it full abolition, UN press service informs.

The human rights expert also voiced grave concern at news that another defendant, Siarhei Hmialeuski, was sentenced to death by a court on 6 May. "The news testifies to the lack of progress on the human rights situation in Belarus," he said.

The Human Rights Committee had requested the Belarusian authorities not to carry out the sentence, pending the examination of Ivanou's case.

Non-compliance with the Committee's request for interim measures constitutes a violation, by Belarus, of its obligations under the Optional Protocol to ICCPR.

"The decision to proceed with the execution of the death penalty amounts to both a callous disdain for and a grave breach of Belarus' international human rights obligations," said Nigel Rodley, Special Rapporteur on new communications and interim measures.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Source: eurobelarus.info, May 17, 2016

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