In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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…

Iran: Blinding Punishment Carried Out on Eve of Human Rights Talks with EU

Sharia Law: Medieval and barbaric punishments
Sharia Law: Medieval and barbaric punishments
Iran Human Rights (NOV 9 2016): Official Iranian media, including ISNA, have reported on a blinding punishment sentence carried out on Monday November 8 in one of the prisons near Tehran.

Iranian authorities blinded both of the eyes of a man from Qorveh (Kurdistan province), identified as "Mohammad Reza", for allegedly throwing lime into the face of his four-year-old niece in the Sanandaj region and blinding her.

Implementation of this Qisas (eye for an eye punishment) sentence occurred on the eve of a new round of talks between the Iranian authorities and the European Union. The talks will take place in Brussels where the officials reportedly plan to discuss as part of their dialogue the situation of human rights in Iran.

Mohammad Shahriari, the head of the prosecutor's office at Tehran's criminal court, says this is the second blinding punishment sentence carried out in Iran since the passing of an article in Iran's acid attack punishment law which was adopted* in 1958. The other blinding punishment sentence was carried out last year in March 2015.

Additionally, Iran Human Rights (IHR) has reported on at least 19 execution sentences which were carried out in various Iranian prisons since the beginning of November 2016. IHR condemns the blinding punishment and the wave of executions in Iran, and calls for international reactions.

"Iran is probably the only country where the authorities implement medieval punishments such as gouging of the eyes. The execution of such a sentence on the eve of a human rights dialogue between Iran and the European Union tests the EU's commitment and determination to push for human rights improvements in Iran. We call on the international community, especially the EU, to put on top of their agenda in talks with Iran, a moratorium on the death penalty and removal of all medieval punishments - including blinding, amputation and public executions - from the law," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson for Iran Human Rights.

* In 1958, the acid attack law did not include the eye for an eye punishment, which was introduced after the inception of the Islamic Republic.

Source: Iran Human Rights, November 9, 2016

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