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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…

Ghana Has 137 Death Row Inmates - Amnesty International

Ghana
Mr Lawrence Amesu, the Director of Amnesty International Ghana, said a lot had been achieved towards ensuring that Ghana gained the status as abolitionist in practice.

He said Ghana had not executed anyone over the past 23 years even though the courts continued to sentence people to death, and "we have about 137 death row inmates, including 3 women, in our prisons currently".

Speaking at the launch of Advocacy Toolkit for Abolition of Death Penalty in West Africa, Mr Amesu said he believed that Amnesty International's submission with support from other civil society organisations and the opinion of the public had contributed to the recommendation that death penalty should be abolished in Ghana.

He said though West Africa was leading that progressive forward march, however, the Anglophone countries within the continent are dragging their feet while the Francophone countries including Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, and Burkina Faso had either abolished the death penalty or were doubling their steps towards achieving that.

Mr Amesu said the toolkit was very useful for the media, civil society organisations and para institutions which were advocating for the abolition of the death penalty in Ghana as well as all government institutions which had a stake in the process.

"The document will also be very useful for the youth not only as an advocacy tool but also as a knowledge acquisition document because it highlights and explains such terminologies as abolitionist, retentionist, clemency, exoneration, and pardon, among others," he added.

The document, he said, traced the history and achievements of Amnesty International's journey towards total abolition of the death penalty in the world while focusing a little more on the situation in Africa and West Africa.

The toolkit also highlights the international instruments and bodies that support the need for the abolition of the death penalty.

Dr Isaac Annan, a Director at CHRAJ, who chaired the function, said Ghana was Human Rights compliant as it ratified most of the United Nations Conventions and Resolutions, and reiterated the need for the country to abolish the death penalty as a sign of commitment.

Ms Sabrina Tucci, of Amnesty International Secretariat, London, noted that West Africa is a beacon of hope for the whole of Africa and urged civil society organisations to continue the campaign.

She called on governments to engage the public in debates on the issue.

Source: peacefmonline.com, September 4, 2016

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