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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…

Sri Lanka to stop sending maids to Middle East

Colombo says decision mainly due to rights abuses.

Sri Lanka’s expatriate workers, mainly housemaids and unskilled labourers, send back remittances - the island nation’s main foreign exchange earner - that help earn around $7 billion (Dh25.71 billion) a year for the $82.2 billion economy.

Senaratne said President Maithripala Sirisena had appointed a committee to study strategies to reduce the numbers gradually and finally stop sending maids abroad.

“We want to discourage the housemaids category in foreign employment because the social cost is very high,” he told Reuters.

Human rights abuses and social costs due to rapes, drug addiction and child abuse in many families of housemaids, and labour shortage locally, have prompted the government to take such a decision, he said.

The total number of departures for foreign employment declined by 12.4 per cent last year to 263,307, partly due to the slowdown of economic activities in the Middle East.

Sri Lanka is already encouraging sending skilled male workers abroad instead of low-skilled women and housemaids.

In 2013, around 1,650 Sri Lankan housemaids complained of being physically and sexually abused by their employers, mainly in the Middle East, the latest data from the Foreign Employment Bureau showed.

In 2013, the Saudis executed a young Sri Lankan housemaid for killing an infant left in her care, rejecting repeated appeals by the Indian Ocean island against her death sentence.

Colombo recalled its ambassador from Riyadh in protest.

After their Sri Lankan maid complained of too much work in 2010, a Saudi couple tortured her by hammering 24 nails into her hands, legs and forehead. The maid returned home.

Last year, however, Saudi authorities reduced a Sri Lankan maid’s sentence for adultery from death by stoning to a three-year jail term after an appeal.

Source: Gulfnews, June 2, 2016

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