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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…

Iranian Court Sentences Another Juvenile Offender to Death

Ayoub Shahbazi
Ayoub Shahbazi
Iran Human Rights has obtained information about an 18-year-old juvenile offender detained in Sanandaj Prison who was recently sentenced to death by an Iranian court. His case file was reportedly sent to Iran's Supreme Court for review.

Iran Human Rights (NOV 27 2016): According to close sources, Ayoub Shahbazi, who was born on August 30, 1998, was arrested by Iranian authorities in 2014 and charged with murder at the age of 16.

"When Ayoub was a young child, he lost his father. Due to financial poverty, Ayoub was unable to attend school and therefore is illiterate. From a young age, he was working with his mother cleaning people's homes. Four years ago, because he had no one to guide him, Ayoub became a drug addict. He ended up killing one of his own family members for money," a confirmed source tells Iran Human Rights.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Iran is a signatory to, the Iranian authorities have an obligation to not issue the death penalty sentence for offenses committed under the age of 18. 

According to Article 91 of Iran's revised Islamic Penal Code, it is up to the presiding judge's discretion to deem the juvenile mature enough to understand the nature of the offense: "In the cases of offenses punishable by hadd or qisas, if mature people under eighteen years do not realize the nature of the crime committed or its prohibition, or of there is uncertainty about their full mental development, according to their age, they shall be sentenced to the punishments prescribed in this chapter." 

The Islamic Penal Code puts the age of criminal responsibility for males at 15 and 9 for females.

Ayoub Shahbazi is the latest juvenile offender to receive a death sentence by an Iranian court. 

In August 2016, Iran Human Rights published a report identifying seven juvenile offenders on death row.

Source: Iran Human Rights, November 27, 2016

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