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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

South Africa could deport criminals to Botswana despite death penalty

Gaborone, Botswana
Gaborone, Botswana
Currently, South African law prohibits the extradition of criminal suspects to all countries that still use capital punishment.

The South African government have proposed amendments to the Treaty on Extradition allowing for the deportation of criminal suspects to Botswana where they face a possible death sentence.

According to Cabinet minutes published on the SA government website on June 8, Pretoria said it would soon amend the Treaty on Extradition to facilitate extradition requests from Botswana in order to improve law enforcement cooperation and ensure that South Africa did not become a haven for fugitives.

"South Africa will enter into an Amended Treaty on Extradition with the Republic of Botswana, in terms of article 231(1) of the Constitution."

The aim is for more effective cooperation between South Africa and Botswana to facilitate extradition requests received from Botswana, where the death penalty is a possible sentence.

"This underscores that South Africa will not be a safe haven for criminals by providing for the extradition of fugitives and to facilitate the effectiveness of law-enforcement authorities in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes," reads part of the proposal.

Currently, South African law prohibits the extradition of criminal suspects to all countries that still use capital punishment, a position which has previously strained relations with Botswana after several failed extradition attempts of suspects implicated in high-profile crimes which included car-jacking, murder and armed robbery.

Several South Africans are among the 47 people who have been executed in terms of the death penalty since Botswana gained independence in 1966. The executions have strained relations between the 2 countries after Botswana ignored pleas for clemency from South Africa, which abolished the death penalty in 1995.

According to the Botswana penal code, the death penalty can be applied to persons found guilty of high-profile crimes which include murder, aggravated and gruesome armed robbery, and treason, among others.

Source: The Citizen, June 20, 2016

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