FEATURED POST

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Image
The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Saudi executions pass 150 this year, nearing 2015 total

Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Public execution in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has executed at least 153 people this year, nearing last year's record high of 158, according to figures collated by human rights organization Reprieve.

Among those executed this year were at least 4 juveniles who were killed as part of a mass execution of 47 people in January this year. One of them, Ali al-Ribh, was arrested in school, tortured into a false ‘confession’ to protest-related charges, and executed.

The high number of executions raises fresh concerns for the fate of three other juveniles who have been sentenced to death – Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdullah al Zaher. The trio were arrested as children in the wake of protests, and tortured into ‘confessions’. They could be executed at any time, without notification to their families.

It has also emerged the juveniles continue to be mistreated on death row. According to reports, prison guards recently beat Dawood and threatened him with solitary confinement after he submitted a complaint about a previous instance of abuse. The health of the three juveniles is said to be suffering amid poor prison conditions.

Some 47 of those who were executed this year were tried in the country’s secretive ‘Specialized Criminal Court’. Reprieve has raised concerns that the court is routinely used to try people who were arrested in relation to political protests, including the three juveniles, and a disabled young man named Munir Adam. Hearings often take place without a lawyer, and forced ‘confessions’ extracted under torture are frequently admitted as evidence.

According to the figures, 23 of those executed this year were arrested for drug offences – of these, 14 were foreign nationals. Previous research by Reprieve has found that many of those held on Saudi Arabia’s death row for drug-related offences are trafficking victims, who were forced to carry drugs into the Gulf from overseas.   

The figures are released as Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood meets with King Salman in Riyadh. Reprieve has written to Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, asking them to seek a commutation of the death sentences handed to juveniles and political protestors.

Mrs May said in a speech to the Gulf Cooperation Council earlier this month that the UK would help Gulf countries to “reform” and to “embed international norms.” However, she reportedly failed to raise individual cases during a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

Commenting, Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve, said: “Saudi Arabia’s 2016 execution toll is fast approaching last year’s shocking high, with some 153 prisoners killed. Among those executed were political protestors, people arrested for alleged drug offences, prisoners who were tortured into ‘confessions’, and juveniles. Meanwhile, Dawood al-Marhoon, who was arrested as a child and who languishes on death row, is being subjected to threats and beatings. These appalling abuses give the lie to the Prime Minister’s claim that the UK’s engagement with Saudi Arabia promotes ‘reform’. The Government must urgently use its ever-closer relationship with Saudi Arabia to secure genuine change – this includes the release of juveniles facing the death penalty, like Dawood.”

The total number of executions in 2016 so far is estimated at 153. In 2015, the figure was 158; while in 2014 the total number of executions was estimated at 87. A breakdown of Reprieve's figures is available on request.


Source: Reprieve, December 19, 2016. Reprieve is an international human rights organization.

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Iran: Three Hand Amputations, Four Hangings Carried Out in Qom

Iran: Woman Asylum Seeker Lashed 80 Times After Being Deported From Norway

Iran: Three executions carried out, two in front of large crowds

Gambia: President Barrow Signs Abolition Of Death Penalty Treaty

Texas Child Killer John Battaglia Found Competent for Execution

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Two Myanmar migrants make final appeal in Koh Tao murder case

Kenya: Man to hang for stealing toothpaste and toothbrush

Seventeen Hanged in Various Iranian Prisons, One in Public

Judge warns death row inmate to keep Nevada's execution manual secret