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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…

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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