Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Attempt to remove UN’s LGBT rights expert defeated in narrow vote; still 10 nations where the penalty for gay sex is death

UN building NYC
Ten nations with large Muslim populations have laws providing for the death penalty for same-sex activity. Only a few actually impose the death sentence. Exactly how many is a difficult question.

Another attempt to remove the United Nations expert on LGBT rights has been defeated.

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council voted in June to appoint an independent LGBT expert for the first time to monitor “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity” around the world.

Thai professor Vitit Muntarbhorn took up the role, beginning to investigate abuse that the global LGBT community suffer.

However a number of challenges have been brought by homophobic countries attempting to revoke his position – with a plot to axe the role thwarted by a narrow margin last month.

This week, the block of countries bitterly opposed to the role – including Russia, China and a number of African states – pushed a surprise amendment to the Human Rights Council’s annual report that would have indefinitely halted the work of the LGBT rights expert.

The amendment was voted down by a narrow margin, with 77 countries voting in favour and 84 against, with 16 abstentions.

870 human rights organisations from 157 countries around the world had signed an open letter urging the governments represented in the General Assembly to continue the expert’s work.

The result has been welcomed by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

Vitit Muntarbhorn
Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn
ILGA’s co-Secretaries General Helen Kennedy and Ruth Baldacchino said: “ILGA is delighted that the mandate has once again been safeguarded.

“Once more, States have reaffirmed the importance of monitoring human rights violations against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, a crucial leap towards a world where all are treated free and equal.”

André du Plessis, UN Programme and Advocacy Manager at ILGA explained: “We commend what human rights defenders from all over the world were able to do by highlighting the need for states to respect the authority of the Human Rights Council.

“This outcome is important not only because it shows that States believe that violence and discrimination faced by LGBT persons around the world deserve attention, but also because it confirms the authority of the UN Human Rights Council, the leading human rights body in the world.

“Never before had a country or group of countries attempted to challenge a special procedures mandate by the Human Rights Council with a fully functioning mandate holder.

“If the General Assembly would have reopened the Council’s annual report to block or defer resolutions with a selective approach, it would have fundamentally undermined the authority granted to the Council by the General Assembly, setting a dangerous precedent for the whole human rights framework.”

Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director at ILGA said: “We are confident that the SOGI Independent Expert will work to build bridges, rather than to widen the gaps between our communities and those who think that we are seeking ‘special rights’.

“Now more than ever, our communities need allies to ensure that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,’ as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states, is a reality and not only a dream.”

Source: Pink News, Nick Duffy, December 19, 2016

10 nations where the penalty for gay sex is death

Ten nations with large Muslim populations have laws providing for the death penalty for same-sex activity.

Only a few actually impose the death sentence. Exactly how many is a difficult question.

The 2016 State-Sponsored Homophobia report from ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, lists 13-14 places that threaten the death penalty for homosexuality, including the basic 10 plus several specific variations:

  • One where executions occur — and go unpunished — despite the fact that there is no death-penalty law (Iraq);
  • One that has approved a death-penalty provision but has not yet incorporated it into the nation’s laws (Brunei);
  • One that conducts executions but is not recognized as a nation (the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL);
  • One where, in theory, a particular interpretation of its laws would provide for the death penalty but, in practice, no executions have been reported (United Arab Emirates)

The ILGA list is quite similar to this blog’s list of those 14 countries, printed below:

A best-information-available list of countries/regions where executions for homosexual activity are carried out or are provided by current or future law:

Nations with such laws on the books; executions have been carried out

Nations with such laws on the books; no recent executions reported

Nations with such laws on the books in part of the country; no verified executions for homosexual activity

Nations with such laws on the books; no executions reported

Those are the “ten nations with large Muslim populations” mentioned in this article’s first paragraph.” In addition, executions and possible executions are an issue in four other places:

Nation with no such a law on the books; executions are carried out by militias and others

Not recognized as a nation; carries out executions

12. Daesh/the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)

Nation where such a law was scheduled to take effect in 2016 (but might not)

Nation where some interpretations of existing law would provide for the death penalty, but no executions have been reported

News coverage in all of those nations is unreliable at best, so specific evidence of executions for same-sex intimacy is rare. What’s known about some specific countries is cited below.

In Somalia, a gay teenager was reportedly stoned to death in 2013, but those reports have not been verified.

In Nigeria, the BBC reported in 2007, “More than a dozen Nigerian Muslims have been sentenced to death by stoning and for sexual offences ranging from adultery and homosexuality. But none of these death sentences has actually been carried out as they were either thrown out on appeal or commuted to prison terms as a result of pressure from human rights groups.”

In Sudan, the death penalty is in frequent use, but there are no recent reports of executions for same-sex intimacy. In 2014, Sudan ranked at No. 6 worldwide in number of executions (23+) for various offenses, just below the United States, with 35, according to Amnesty International.

Similarly, Yemen is No. 7 in frequency of executions overall, but the death penalty apparently has not been imposed recently for homosexual activity. Researchers for Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board reported more than 10 years ago, “Information on whether such sentences have been carried out was not found.” More recently an article on Yemen’s gay community in The Tower magazine stated, “Traditionally, that death penalty is not enforced, but citizens have been imprisoned for their sexual orientation.”

Saudi Arabia is No. 3 among the world’s most avid executioners, with 90+ in 2014. At least in the past, beheadings were imposed for homosexual behavior, including three men in 2002. Imprisonment and lashings are a more common punishment for same-sex activity.

Iran is No. 2 in the world for frequency of executions, behind China. Those include executions for homosexual activity, although the facts are often unclear or misrepresented in such cases. (See, for example, “Bogus hanging in Iran, bogus tweets in Egypt” and “Series of public hangings in Iran, including 2 for sodomy.”)

Evidence is a bit clearer about two war-torn areas — Iraq and the territory controlled by Daesh/the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). The ILGA report of 2015 noted that “Iraq, although [the death penalty is] not in the civil code, clearly has judges and militias throughout the country that issue the death sentence for same-sex sexual behaviours. … We are also aware that in the Daesh(ISIS/ISIL)-held areas the death penalty is implemented (although a non-State actor, it is listed in the report). ” For examples, see:
In some nations, the death penalty is on the books but is not imposed. ILGA in 2015 stated:

Brunei Darussalam is due to activate the death penalty for same-sex sexual acts in 2016, but it seems likely that like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Qatar although it is on the statute, it will not be implemented.

ILGA reported in 2016 about Brunei: “there is no sign that the threatened death penalty is to be implemented.”

According to the U.S. Department of State, Mauritania belongs in this category too. A U.S. Department of State cable from 2009, released by WikiLeaks in 2011,indicated that Mauritania has never imposed the death penalty for homosexual activity or any other crime.

ILGA reported in 2016 that “although is understood that the United Arab Emirates has not implemented [the death penalty] under the Sharia code, it remains a possibility under interpretations current in the Emirates.”

For more information:

Source: 76Crimes.com, Colin Stewart, December 2016 (?)

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