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Showing posts from November, 2016

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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…

UN: Morocco Abstains from Voting on Resolution for International Abolition of Death Penalty

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Morocco abstained from voting for the international abolition of the death penalty earlier this month, when a resolution on the matter was presented to the United Nations' Third Committee, which specializes in human rights issues.
Morocco's representative clarified that the country has maintained a de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 1993, when the last government sanctioned execution occurred.
The final vote count on the amended draft resolution against the lethal punishment stood at 115 votes in favor to 38 against, with 30 countries other than Morocco abstaining, according to the committee's press release, [which]criticized the country's position in a statement, expressing regret regarding the kingdom's persistent abstentions from votes in the international arena relating to the human rights implications of the practice since 2007.
The organization argues that the North African country's position is incompatible with Articles 20 and 21 of the cons…

13 Oklahoma death row inmates now eligible for execution

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WASHINGTON — James Chandler Ryder, convicted of killing a woman and her son over some personal belongings in 1999, is now the 13th Oklahoma death row inmate who has exhausted appeals and is eligible for an execution date.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined, without comment, to review Ryder's appeal. It was the fifth time since the high court's new term began in October that justices have rejected the final appeal in an Oklahoma capital case.
In such instances, the Oklahoma attorney general typically moves quickly to request an execution date from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
But problems with lethal injections in Oklahoma have led to a pause in executions while the state Department of Corrections reviews the process.
The last execution in Oklahoma was in January 2015. And executions won't resume immediately after the Corrections Department decides it is ready. 
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has said he would wait at least 150 days after the revi…

Saudi Arabia: Man Faces Execution After Grossly Unfair Trial

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A Shi’a man is at risk of execution in Saudi Arabia after he exhausted all his appeals. He was sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial. He claims he was tortured into “confessing”, but his allegation has not been properly investigated.
Yussuf Ali al-Mushaikass, 42, was sentenced to death on 6 January by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh, the capital, for offences that included “armed rebellion against the ruler”, “destabilizing security and stirring sedition by joining a terrorist group” and “participating in riots”. 
Following his appeal on 1 February his legal representative learned that the sentence had been upheld by both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
The case was later sent to the Ministry of Interior on 20 April raising fears that the sentence will be ratified by the King and Yussuf al-Mushaikhass might be executed at any time.
According to the verdict the SCC seems to have based its decision on signed “confessions” which Yussuf alMushaikhass c…

Belarus: Three executions feared in as many weeks amid ‘sudden and shameful purge’ of death row

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As many as three of the four men on death row in the Belarusian capital Minsk have been executed in a shameful purge since 5 November, Amnesty International revealed today after confirming with local activists.
Hard on the heels of this news the organization is launching a new online petition and video aimed at stamping out the use of the death penalty in Belarus – the last country in Europe and the former Soviet Union to still carry out executions.
“Purging death row of its prisoners is an appalling measure for any country to take. But it is additionally shameful in Belarus, where executions are typically shrouded in secrecy and carried out at a moment’s notice,” said Aisha Jung, Campaigner on Belarus at Amnesty International, who recently returned from Minsk.
“This sudden spike in executions is especially surprising in Belarus, the death penalty’s final frontier in Europe, since many believed the country was on track to eliminate capital punishment for good.”
According to the Belar…

Iran: man hanged on drug charges, two executed for murder

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A 36-year-old husband and father of two small children was executed by Iranian authorities on drug related charges.
Iran Human Rights (NOV 30 2016): A prisoner with drug related charges was reportedly hanged in Adelabad, Shiraz's central prison (Fars province, southern Iran), on Tuesday November 22. 
Close sources have identified the prisoner as 36-year-old Mehdi Shamsinejad, a husband and father to two small children.
In 2014, Iranian authorities arrested Mr. Shamsinejad for allegedly trafficking 600 grams of the narcotics crystal meth and crack. 
He was sentenced to death in 2015 by branch 3 of the revolutionary court in Shiraz, presided by Judge Hashemi.
Iranian authorities, including the Judiciary and the media, have been silent about Mr. Shamsinejad's execution.
A prisoner was reportedly hanged in Khomeyn Prison (Markazi province, central Iran) on Wednesday November 23, and another prisoner was reportedly hanged in Lakan, Rasht's central prison (Gilan province, northe…

U.S. justices sympathetic to death row inmate on intellectual disability

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A majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday appeared ready to side with a man sentenced to death for a 1980 Houston murder who is challenging how Texas gauges whether a defendant has intellectual disabilities that would preclude execution.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the execution of people who are intellectually disabled violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. At issue in the arguments the eight justices heard on Tuesday was whether Texas is using an obsolete standard to assess whether a defendant is intellectually disabled.
Bobby Moore, convicted at age 20 of fatally shooting a 70-year-old grocery clerk during a 1980 Houston robbery, is challenging his sentence in Texas, which carries out more executions than any other U.S. state.
Moore's lawyers contend their client is intellectually disabled and should be spared execution. They argued that a lower court that upheld his sentence wrongly used an "outdated" 24-year-ol…

Nebraska AG: 3 inmates likely first in line for death penalty

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Gov. Pete Ricketts on Tuesday dismissed concerns about a lack of transparency in proposed changes to Nebraska's lethal injection protocol.
The proposal announced Monday by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services would allow the state prisons director to choose the drug or drugs to be used in an execution and would keep the identity of the supplier of drugs confidential.
It also would keep the drugs and method of administration secret until 60 days before a death warrant is requested. At that point, the information would be shared with the condemned inmate.
"Claims of secrecy really just aren't founded," Ricketts said during a news conference Tuesday at the Capitol.
He said the proposed rules are intended to protect the drug provider and that the 60-day window of notification provides flexibility for the state to change the drug it uses while still giving inmates "plenty of time" to appeal.
"We're really not changing anything about confid…

Turkey's death penalty plans are blueprint for future

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Turkey's government is pressing on with its plans to bring back the death penalty despite the risk of dashing EU accession hopes. Tom Stevenson reports from Istanbul.
When Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) abolished capital punishment in 2004, the move was widely praised as evidence of the pragmatism and political maturity of the country's religious conservatives.
Turkey had not carried out a death penalty since 1984 but its legal abolition was hailed as a symbol of a break from the days of military rule under which figures such as former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was hanged in 1960, and prominent left-wing activist Deniz Gezmis in 1971.
Just 12 years later, the same ruling party is in the final stages of preparing to reinstate capital punishment as part of a radical set of changes to Turkey's constitution that supporters and critics alike say will be a blueprint for the country's future.
The government's volte face on reinstating capital …

Jakarta’s Christian Governor Will Face Charges of Blaspheming Islam in Court

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Islamic hard-liners are planning further massive protests against the embattled official
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the governor of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, is set to face blasphemy charges in court, the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office (AGO) told journalists Wednesday.
The police submitted a dossier to the AGO last Friday, nine days after they named the Christian governor, popularly known by his Chinese nickname Ahok, as a suspect in the case.
Ahok, who is running in the gubernatorial election next year, said the legal process would take some time. “The proceedings until the ruling could take one to two years,” he said. “There’s nothing that shows I insulted a religion. Nothing at all.”
The governor, who has a reputation for speaking bluntly, is accused of insulting Islam in a campaign speech he made on Sept. 27, in which he pushed back against hard-line and ultraconservative Muslims who have argued that a non-Muslim should not hold a leadership position in Indonesia — the world…

Accused South Carolina church shooter, acting as own lawyer, helps pick jurors

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The man accused of killing nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last year helped choose jurors on Tuesday for his federal death penalty trial after being allowed to serve as his own lawyer.
Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against 22-year-old avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof, who is charged with acts of hate crimes, obstruction of religion and firearm use that resulted in death.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said he was not inclined to let Roof's former lawyers email prosecutors in the case on Roof's behalf despite the prisoner not having email access.
"Mr. Roof chose to represent himself and that choice has consequences," Gergel said, adding he would give the request more thought.
The judge also said the lawyers, appointed by him to serve as standby counsel, could no longer speak for Roof in court.
"You are not Mr. Roof's co-counsel," Gergel said. "That is off the table. I told you, Mr. R…

Capital Punishment in India: Life, Death, and Rebirth?

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On November 21, 2012, Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani national and the only surviving gunman involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was executed after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee denied his mercy plea. The decision marked the end of an informal 8-year moratorium on capital punishment in the country. In the 3 years since Kasab's execution, 2 more convicts, Mohammad Afzal Guru and Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, were also hanged for their involvement in terrorist attacks in the 1990s and 2000s. Moreover, even though these are the only executions the Indian state has carried out since 2004, roughly 5,000 convicts have been sentenced to death over the same period and are currently on death row. One might ask, why this disparity between the number of convicts and actual executions? The answer is likely to be that international and domestic pressures have made the government more hesitant to implement capital punishment. Nevertheless, a new trend worth noting within this pattern of disp…