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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…

Urgent Action for Syarhey Vostrykau, last known prisoner on Belarus death row

Urgent Action

Syarhey Vostrykau is the last known prisoner on death row in Belarus after the authorities executed the other remaining three prisoners on death row on 5 November. 

Syarhey Vostrykau is at imminent risk of execution.

Background:


The European Union says it has confirmed that Belarus carried out a total of 3 executions during the month of November -- raising the total number of executions in the former Soviet republic during 2016 to 4.

European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on December 1 that the EU had confirmed reports by the rights group Amnesty International that death-row inmate Hyanadz Yakavitski had been executed by authorities in Belarus.

Mogherini did not specify when Yakavitski's execution took place. But Amnesty International said on November 30 that Yakavitski was put to death sometime after November 5.

The EU on November 30 said it had confirmed the execution in November of 2 other death row inmates who had been convicted on murder charges -- 28-year-old Ivan Kulesh and 31-year-old Syarhey Khymyaleuski.

A 4th prisoner, Syarhey Ivanou, was executed in Belarus on April 18.

The EU condemned all of the executions, saying the death penalty runs counter to Belarus's stated willingness to engage with the international community.

Amnesty International's campaigner on Belarus, Aisha Jung, says the "sudden and shameful purge" of death-row prisoners in Belarus is "additionally shameful" because executions there "are typically shrouded in secrecy and carried out at a moment's notice."

Amnesty International says the 3 executions in November were carried out with gunshots to the back of the head.

The nongovernmental human rights organization says it also is concerned about the fate of another man on death row in Belarus -- Syarhey Vostrykau. (Read more)

Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:


* Urging President Lukashenka to halt the execution of Syarhey Vostrykau and immediately commute his death sentence;

* Calling on President Lukashenka to establish an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty;

* Stress that whilst we are not seeking to downplay the seriousness of the crime, research shows that the death penalty does not deter crime more than other forms of imprisonment and is the ultimate denial of human rights.


Contact these 2 officials by 16 January, 2017:


President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka
Vul. Karla Marksa 38
220016 Minsk, Belarus
Fax: +375 17 226 06 10
+375 17 222 38 72
Salutation: Dear President Lukashenka

Charge d'Affaires Mr. Pavel Shidlovsky
Embassy of Belarus
1619 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington DC 20009
Fax: 1 202 986 1805 // Phone: 1 202 986 9420
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Source: Amnesty International USA, December 5, 2012

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