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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

After executions, Indonesia says it will review death penalty

Batu prison's isolation cells on Nusakambangan island, Indonesia
Batu prison's isolation cells on Nusakambangan island, Indonesia
The government's statement comes just hours after it executed 4 drug convicts including 3 foreigners

It looks as if international and local pressure on the Indonesian government to abolish the death penalty is making some progress.

On Friday, July 29, the same day Indonesia executed 4 drug convicts 45 minutes after midnight, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Agung said the government would rethink its stance.

"The government is taking everything into consideration, because this is not an enjoyable thing to do," he said, echoing the words of Deputy Attorney General Noor Rachmad, who during his 2am announcement that 4 had been executed, said the job was not enjoyable but something they must do.

Agung did defend the capital punishment however, saying "drugs can damage the nation's next generation."

"Executing drug convicts is for the protection of the Indonesian nation from the dangers of drugs," he said.

He also said that those who have already been convicted and have exhausted legal means, and those that have not repented, will still be executed as the decisions are legally binding.

Despite this, he said the House would review the death penalty and which crimes are punishable under the law.

The government's statement comes after outcry both internationally and locally. The United Nations, The European Union, Amnesty International and various countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have condemned the death penalty for drug-related offenses, as it is prohibited under international law.

Within Indonesia, aside from human rights groups, former president BJ Habibie also asked that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo review the case of Pakistani Zulfiqar Ali, who was allegedly tortured to confess to a crime he did not commit under police custody.

In a letter to Jokowi, Habibie also suggested that the government reconsider the death penalty, adding, more than 140 countries in the world have implemented a moratorium.

The government ended up executing 4 of the 14 scheduled to be executed at 12:45am Friday, sparing 10.

Indonesia has some of the harshest drug laws in the world. The executions early this morning were the 3rd under Jokowi's presidency, after he killed 14 individuals including foreigners in 2015, in two batches in January and April.

Rights groups hopeful

Meanwhile, human rights groups are hopeful this is the 1st step for the possible abolishment of the death penalty.

"We think that this is a moratorium of death penalty. We hope that the moratorium will lead or become the first step to abolish the death penalty," Arinta Dea Dini Singgi of the Legal Aid Institute told Rappler.

Singgi, who also serves as Merri Utami's lawyer, the Indonesian woman spared from execution, said the Attorney General's office had said they will review the 10 other cases.

Her client, Utami, had been moved to Cilacap prison at 10:30am from Nusakambangan execution island, while they await her fate.

"We won't stop campaigning about her case and ask Jokowi to forgive her. We want to make sure that Jokowi reads the clemency and reviews the case deeply."

Utami maintains her innocence and says she was duped into being a drug mule by a Canadian man who wooed her. She was caught with heroin in her bag gifted to her by the Canadian as she landed in the Jakarta airport.

Utami, who also says she was threatened rape under police custody, has been in prison for the past 15 years.

Source: rappler.com, July 29, 2016

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