FEATURED POST

Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

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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