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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Jokowi urged to publicly announce clemency decisions

Jokowi stop executions!
A justice reform watchdog has urged the government to publicly reveal information about stays of execution for death row convicts.

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) regretted the government's decision to execute four drug convicts on Nusakambangan prison island in the early hours of Friday. A firing squad killed Indonesian Freddy Budiman, Seck Osmane from Senegal and Nigerians Michael Titus and Humphrey Ejike, despite international and local pleas to halt the executions.

3 of the convicts - Freddy, Ejike and Osmane - had requested pardons from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, ICJR executive director Supriyadi W. Eddyono said on Friday, lambasting the executions. The 2010 Clemency Law stipulates that the death penalty cannot be carried out before a convict receives a presidential decree declining clemency.

The government used reasons of confidentiality to protect information on whether the President granted or declined the convicts' requests.

"We already filed a lawsuit against the State Secretariat with the Central Information Commission [KIP] on the openness of information. We won, but the State Secretariat appealed to the State Administrative Court," he told thejakartapost.com.

The Attorney General's Office announced on Friday that the executed convicts had judicial reviews of their cases rejected twice by the Supreme Court, which made their sentences final and binding.

It was a different situation for 10 other drug convicts who were initially listed for execution but still had ongoing legal processes. The 4 executed convicts were major drug traffickers, which lead to the decision to execute them by firing squad on the notorious high-security prison island.

Source: The Jakarta Post, July 30, 2016


ICJ condemns the executions in Indonesia

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has condemned the executions of 4 persons in Indonesia.

According to a press release on July 29, the ICJ vigorously calls on the Government of Indonesia to impose an immediate moratorium and take steps towards the abolition of the death penalty in the country.

The execution of these 4 persons is reprehensible. Indonesia should stop further executions, said Sam Zarifi, ICJ's Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

These executions damage Indonesia's standing in the international community since they go against the growing international consensus around the world to abolish the death penalty, he added.

Michael Titus Igweh
Michael Titus Igweh
The individuals executed shortly after midnight on July 29 were Freddy Budiman (Indonesia), Seck Osmane (Nigeria), Michael Titus Igweh (Nigeria), Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke (Nigeria).

Indonesia is a current member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, having been first elected in 2006.

The General Assembly resolution that created the Council specifically provides that members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights? (res 60/251, 2006, para 9).

According to the ICJ, one of the persons executed, Michael Igweh was allegedly tortured by law enforcement authorities to extract his confession.

The Geneva-based organization, on several occasions, has called the Government of Indonesia's attention to its violations of Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal established by law. Any reliance on confessions extracted by torture would be a gross violation of the fairness of the trials.

Because of the irreversible nature of the death penalty, trials in capital cases must scrupulously respect all international and regional standards protecting the right to a fair trial, Zarifi further said.

The ICJ opposes capital punishment without exception and emphasizes the impact of the executions on the families of those who were executed.

The 4 persons executed were on a list of 14 people set to be executed soon. The other individuals are: Merri Utami (Indonesia), Zulfiqar Ali (Pakistan), Gurdip Singh (India), Frederick Luttar (Zimbabwe), AgusHadi (Indonesia), Pujo Lestari (Indonesia), Eugene Ape (Nigeria), Okonkwo Nonso Kingsley (Nigeria), Ozias Sibanda (Nigeria) and Obinna Nwajagu (Nigeria).

The ICJ strongly urges the Government of Indonesia to stop any further executions, immediately impose a moratorium, and take steps towards the abolition of the death penalty.

In December 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 69/189, affirming for the 5th time that the use of the death penalty undermines human dignity and calling for countries that still maintain capital punishment to establish a moratorium on its use with a view to its abolition.

Source: mizzima.com, July 30, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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