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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

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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