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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Bahrain: Victims of horrific human rights abuses, not criminals - The stories of the 3 men executed by firing squad on Sunday

(Left to right) Sami Mushaima, Ali al-Singace and Abbas al-Samea
(Left to right) Sami Mushaima, Ali al-Singace and Abbas al-Samea
On Sunday 15th January, three men were executed by firing squad in Bahrain. Their names were Ali Al-Singace, Abbas Al-Samea and Sami Mushaima.

The UN Special Rapporteur, Dr Agnes Callamard, called their executions "extrajudicial killings". Ali, Abbas and Sami were the first prisoners to be put to death by the Bahraini authorities since 2010.

Ali al-Singace


Ali was just 21 when executed. He had been harassed and tortured by Bahrain's police since he was 15, because of his family's links to political opposition.

The police wanted Ali to work as an informant. He refused.

When Ali was 18, a bomb exploded killing several policemen. Ali was sentenced to death without even appearing before a court and then arrested a year later.

He was tortured and electrocuted into making a false confession. His torture was never investigated.

The day before his execution, Ali's family came to visit him in prison. The guards refused to say if he was about to be executed, and Ali asked his family to arrange for him to resit school exams he had missed.

Abbas Al-Samea


Abbas was a school teacher, and was just 27 when executed. He was targeted because of his family's links to political opposition. He was sentenced to death despite presenting the court with an alibi letter from the school where he taught.

Abbas required hospital treatment after police tortured him during his interrogation, including electric shocks to his genitals and suspending him from the ceiling. He was later tortured again by guards in prison.

Although UK prison inspectors helped plan inspections of both the police station and prison just months after Abbas was abused there, his torture allegations were ignored.

Another UK-trained torture watchdog in Bahrain dismissed his complaint about ill-treatment without even arranging for a doctor to examine him for signs of torture.

The day before his execution, Abbas' family came to visit him in prison. The guards refused to say if he was about to be executed.


Sami Mushaima


Sami was targeted because of his family's links to political opposition. During his police interrogation, he was beaten, tortured with electric shocks and sexually assaulted. He was illiterate, but was forced to sign a confession that he could not read. He was 42 years old when he was executed.

Although UK prison inspectors helped plan inspections of the police station just months after Sami was abused there, his torture allegations were ignored.

The day before his execution, Sami's family came to visit him in prison. The guards refused to say if he was about to be executed.

Source: Reprieve, January 18, 2017

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