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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…

UN: Maldives should stick to death penalty moratorium

Hussein Humam Ahmed, 22, convicted of killing MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in 2012
Hussein Humam Ahmed, 22, convicted of killing MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in 2012
UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says the country's movement toward resuming executions is "deeply regrettable."

The United Nations' human rights chief is urging the Maldives to stick to a decades-long moratorium on imposing the death penalty, citing fears that three men are at "imminent risk" of execution.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement issued in Geneva on Tuesday that the Maldives long provided "important leadership" in efforts to end the use of the death penalty and it is "deeply regrettable that a series of steps have been taken to resume executions in the country."

In June, the Supreme Court confirmed the death penalty for a 22-year-old man convicted of killing a politician in 2012.

Shortly before that, the government had amended rules to allow execution by lethal injection or hanging, indicating that the country's unofficial six-decade moratorium on executions would soon end.

Amnesty International said it is concerned about the country's "judicial overreach" and its effect on human rights issues as well as its intention to execute those on death row.

In a 2015 fact-finding mission to the Indian Ocean island, the UK-based rights group found political tension in the country had been exacerbated by what it called harassment, detention and the imprisonment of government opponents.

"Safeguards against human rights violations are progressively eroding and the government is failing in its duty to stop this," the group said at the time.

Source: Aljazeera, Agencies, August 9, 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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