FEATURED POST

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

Image
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…

Guinea: New criminal code drops death penalty but fails to tackle impunity and keeps repressive provisions

Conakry, Guinea
Conakry, Guinea
Guinea’s National Assembly vote in favor of a new criminal code abolishing the death penalty is a significant step for human rights in the country, but the code contains provisions which will strengthen the impunity enjoyed by security personnel and repress the expression of dissent, Amnesty International said.

The new criminal code removes the death sentence from the list of applicable penalties and criminalizes torture for the first time. But some of the most frequently used forms of torture are defined as cruel and inhuman treatment, for which the law carries no explicit penalties.

“Fifteen years since it last carried out executions, the promulgation of the law will make Guinea the 19th country in Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, putting itself on the right side of history,” said François Patuel Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

“But other provisions in the new code will strengthen the culture of impunity for security forces, restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and cast a dark cloud over this otherwise historic win for human rights. When promulgating the code, the president should ensure that it will be revised to bring these provisions in line with international and regional human rights law.”

The penalty for torture ranges from a fine of 500,000 Guinean Francs ($56) to prison terms of up to twenty years in detention. However, some acts which would fall within the definition of torture under international law are classified in the criminal code as “inhuman and cruel” treatment, for which no penalties are specified. These acts include rape, electric shocks, burns, stress positions, sensory deprivation, mock executions and simulated drowning.

Amnesty International and Guinean NGOs have documented at least four cases of torture since the beginning of the year, including one which was filmed and broadcast on social media. No suspected perpetrators have been prosecuted.

The code also contains vague language around actions justifiable as “self-defense,” and a new provision called “state of necessity,” which could essentially be used to shield members of the security forces who cause death or injury by the use of excessive force. International law and standards on law enforcement clearly stipulate that security forces may use force only when strictly necessary and proportionate for the performance of their duty.

“The Guinean authorities should not on the one hand abolish the death penalty and on the other exempt the security forces from criminal liability for killings claimed to be in the name of crime prevention,” said Patuel.

The code’s provisions on assemblies remain vague and unclear, giving the authorities a wide margin of discretion to ban peaceful demonstrations on grounds that are not in line with international standards. Moreover, organizers of demonstrations could be held liable for unlawful acts committed by demonstrators.

The code also retains oppressive laws that criminalize defamation and “insults” directed at public figures, whether in the form of gestures, text or illustrations, carrying a maximum penalty of five years’ jail.

Background

Last year, security forces killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds at a peaceful demonstration. None of the perpetrators have been brought to justice.

Since the beginning of the year, five trade unionists and one journalist have been sentenced to prison terms for insulting the head of state. Another journalist was sentenced to paying a fine of 1,000,000 Guinean francs ($111) for complicity in insulting the head of state. The UN Human Rights Committee has underlined that heads of state and government are legitimately subject to criticism and political opposition, and has expressed concern about laws prohibiting defamation of the head of state and the protection of the honor of public officials.

After the adoption of the law at the national assembly, the president will have to promulgate it before it becomes enforceable. If he has not done so within 10 days, the law becomes enforceable.

Source: Amnesty International, July 5, 2016

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Iran: Execution Of A Sports Coach In Hamadan

Warden Describes Life on Texas Death Row in Delacruz Testimony

20 Minutes to Death: Record of the Last Execution in France

Alabama executes Walter Moody

California has over 700 people on death row and executions could begin soon

California death row inmate to be freed; no retrial planned

Aging death row: Is executing old or infirm inmates cruel?

Oklahoma Officials Endorse Nitrogen Executions As 'Humane,' But Some Medical Experts Aren't Sure

Number of Beheadings in Saudi Arabia Rises by 70%

Two Germans to be caned, jailed for Singapore train graffiti