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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

Iraq: Execution of 31 piles injustice on top of bloodshed

The mass execution of 31 men in Iraq, which was announced yesterday, for their alleged role in mass killings in 2014 is further proof of the Iraqi authority's blatant disregard for human rights and misguided use of the death penalty in the name of security, said Amnesty International.

Local authorities confirmed to Amnesty International that they yesterday received the 31 bodies in Samarrah, Salah al-Din governorate, which were then transferred to the city's hospital for purposes of being collected by their families, who have commenced to do so. 

The executions took place on Friday, January 20, 2017.

The men, whose "confessions" were extracted under serious allegations of torture, were convicted following deeply flawed and speedy trials, over the killing of 1,700 military cadets at Speicher military camp near Tikrit in June 2014. 

The armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for those killings.

"This is the 2nd time in less than 6 months that the Iraqi authorities have carried out mass executions after unfair trials" said James Lynch, Head of the Death Penalty team at Amnesty International.

"The death penalty - the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment - is being used to create an illusion of security but it will only perpetuate the cycle of violence that is ravaging Iraq."

"Amnesty International has consistently condemned IS atrocities in the strongest of terms, including the heinous Speicher massacre. Victims of IS crimes have the right to justice and truth. However, unfair trials, torture and mass executions can never be considered justice."

"The Iraqi authorities must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty."

Source: Amnesty International, January 25, 2017

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