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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…

Cyprus: House to delete the death penalty from the constitution

Nicosia, Cyprus
The scrapping of a constitutional provision allowing for legislation to impose the death penalty for certain crimes will be put to a plenary vote on Friday, House legal affairs committee chairman Yiorgos Georgiou announced on Wednesday.

Article 7.2 of the constitution of Cyprus states that "no person shall be deprived of his life except in the execution of a sentence of a competent court following his conviction of an offence for which this penalty is provided by law".

Under the article, the death penalty covered premeditated murder, high treason, piracy pure gentium and capital offences under military law.

Although Cyprus officially abolished the death penalty for murder in 1983 and for all other offences in 2002, and despite Cyprus being a signatory to the second optional protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for the full abolition of capital punishment, House Speaker Demetris Syllouris tabled a proposal to abolish the clause, arguing that its existence leaves the window open for future legislation re-introducing it.

The proposal, which will be put to a plenary vote on Friday, requires a 2/3 majority.

Speaking after a committee session, Georgiou said the clause would be abolished so that Cyprus could be fully harmonised with European legislation and international treaties.

Akel deputy Aristos Damianou said the death penalty was forbidden by article 2 of the European Union's Fundamental Rights Charter and by the Convention on Human Rights.

Damianou said Syllouris' proposal was right, adding that this inactive clause - Cyprus saw its last executions in 1962 - had not been invoked in several decades.

"About 10 other constitutional articles cite the death sentence, and therefore this amendment will strictly refer to capital punishment but touch on about 10 other constitutional provisions," he said.

Source: cyprus-mail.com, September 7, 2016

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