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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

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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