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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…

Portugal calls for “total abolition” of death penalty around the globe

Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal
Portugal on Monday at the United Nations called on countries that still have the death penalty to call a “de facto” moratorium as a first step towards “total abolition” of the death penalty.

According to the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Augusto Santos Silva, speaking at the opening session of the 34th meeting of the Human Rights Council, in Geneva, Portugal rejects all the reasons and arguments that attempt to justify the application of the death penalty and that the country calls on all countries that still have the penalty to establish a ‘de facto’ moratorium as a first step towards the total abolition of the death penalty.

He noted the importance that Portugal gives to the “evolution of the death penalty” noting that Portugal was a pioneer in abolishing it “precisely 150 years ago.”

Portugal has called for the death penalty to be abolished in Equatorial Guinea, a country which joined the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), in 2014, based on a commitment to abolish it.

Background


Portugal was a pioneer in the process of abolishment of the capital punishment. No executions have been carried out since 1846, with the formal abolishment of capital punishment for civil crimes occurring in 1867.

The method of capital punishment used in Portugal was by hanging.

Portugal was the first country in the world to begin the process to abolish the death penalty,abolishing it in stages - for political crimes in 1852, for all crimes except the military in 1867, and for all crimes in 1911.

In 1916 Portugal entered in World War I and it was re-established only for military crimes in war time with a foreign country and only in the theater of war.

With the new Constitution in 1976, it was again abolished for all crimes.

The last execution in Portugal took place in Lagos in 1846. A possible execution of a soldier of the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps carried out in France during World War One remains poorly documented.

In the 2008 European Values Study (EVS), 51.6% of respondents in Portugal said the death penalty can never be justified, while only 1.5% said it can be always justified.

Sources: theportugalnews.com, Wikipedia, February 28, 2017

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