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

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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…

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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