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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…

Saudi executions exceed 100 this year

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi authorities on Friday executed a man for murder, the interior ministry said, bringing to 101 the number of people put to death this year in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Fahad Abdulhadi al-Dusari was found guilty of shooting dead fellow Saudi Mubarak bin Mohammed al-Dusari following a dispute, the ministry said in statement carried by the SPA state news agency.

He was executed in Riyadh province, it said. Saudi Arabia's growing use of the death penalty has prompted Amnesty International to call for an "immediate" moratorium on the practice.

The kingdom imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy.

Most people executed are beheaded with a sword.

There were no beheadings during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began in the kingdom on June 6. However, capital punishment resumed on Sunday when authorities put a Saudi murderer to death.

On Thursday, authorities carried out the 100th execution of the year, executing another murderer.

"Saudi Arabia is speeding along in its dogged use of a cruel and inhuman punishment, mindless of justice and human rights," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa head Philip Luther.

"At this rate, the Kingdom's executioners will soon match or exceed the number of people they put to death last year," he said.

Many of those executed are convicted after "deeply unfair trials," he said.

Amnesty says the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences last year, making it the 3rd most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan.

Amnesty's figures do not include secretive China.

"The Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions and abolish the death penalty once and for all," Luther said.

Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for "terrorism" offences on a single day in January.

They included prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution prompted Iranian protesters to torch Saudi diplomatic missions, triggering a diplomatic crisis between the two arch-rivals.

Source: Agence France-Presse, July 23, 2016


Saudi Arabia passes 'grim watershed' as it executes 100th person this year

According to the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior announced that an execution was carried out in Riyadh today bringing the total number of executions carried out so far in 2016 to 100. In response to this news, Philip Luther Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme said:

"This is a grim watershed. With its 100th execution this year, Saudi Arabia is speeding along in its dogged use of a cruel and inhuman punishment, mindless of justice and human rights.

"At this rate, the Kingdom's executioners will soon match or exceed the number of people they put to death last year - which, at 158, was the highest recorded figure since 1995.

"Many of those executed have been convicted after deeply unfair trials, as a result of flaws in the justice system. The Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions and abolish the death penalty once and for all."

Source: Amnesty International, July 23, 2016


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