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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

94% of hangings in Pakistan not ‘terrorism’ cases – new figures

New figures have shown that 94% of prisoners recently hanged in Pakistan had nothing to do with terrorism – throwing doubt on claims that an executions drive which began in the country nearly two years ago is designed to combat ‘terrorism.’

The figures, collated by human rights organizations Reprieve and the Justice Project Pakistan, show that since lifting its moratorium on executions in December 2014, Pakistan has hanged some 418 prisoners, overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world’s third largest executing nation after China and Iran.

Pakistani officials have repeatedly said that the executions drive is necessary to prevent terrorism; in July 2015, an aide to the Prime Minister told Reuters: “You've seen the number of terrorist attacks going down drastically… One of the reasons is fear. Fear of being executed.”

However, today's figures show that the proportion of executed prisoners whose cases could reasonably be linked to terrorism is lower than ever. Since March 2015 – when the authorities announced that they would expand executions for crimes beyond terrorism – just 6%, or one in 15, of the prisoners executed could reasonably be linked to terrorism. Some 94% of those who were hanged since March 2015 were convicted in non-terror related cases. 

The 418 people executed so far have included vulnerable people such as juveniles, people who were tortured into signing fake 'confessions’, and the mentally ill. The figures are published a day after the authorities handed down a warrant for the hanging of Imdad Ali, a prisoner who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. The warrant says Mr Ali will be hanged on Wednesday (2nd), despite an international prohibition on the execution of mentally ill people. Medical assessments have described Mr Ali as “insane”, and he does not fully understand that he faces execution.

Nearly 30,000 people have signed a petition calling on Pakistan’s President, Mamnoon Hussain, to grant mercy to Mr Ali, while the UN, UK, and a group of Pakistani psychiatrists have also raised concerns.

Commenting, Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve, said: “These latest numbers show that the Pakistani government is using 'terrorism' as a smokescreen to execute vast numbers of prisoners – including innocent scapegoats, juveniles and mentally ill prisoners like Imdad Ali. Imdad faces the noose despite clear evidence that he is severely mentally ill. President Hussain has the power to prevent this serious breach of Pakistani and international law – he must grant mercy to Imdad, and undertake an urgent review of Pakistan's broken death penalty system.”

  • Reprieve's collated figures are available on request.
  • In July 2015, the Prime Minister's special assistant for law, Ashtar Ausaf Ali, told Reuters: "You've seen the number of terrorist attacks going down drastically... One of the reasons is fear. Fear of being executed." That report can be seen here
  • More information about Imdad Ali is available on the Reprieve website.

Source: Reprieve, October 27, 2016. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. 

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