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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…

Bali Nine execution saga could recur: Amnesty

Bali's Kerobokan Prison
Bali's Kerobokan Prison
A Bali Nine death penalty saga could be repeated, Amnesty International warns after the government rejected recommendations to change federal police rules.

Amnesty International fears there could be another Bali Nine-type death penalty saga after the federal government rejected recommendations to tighten federal police information sharing protocols for drug crimes.

The federal government's response to a parliamentary committee's death penalty report was tabled in the lower house on Wednesday.

The committee recommended federal police obtain guarantees from foreign prosecutors that death penalties won't be sought for drug crimes. If guarantees can't be obtained, information should be withheld.

The federal government did not accept the committee's recommendation.

"The government notes that foreign law enforcement partners cannot themselves provide binding assurances that the death penalty will not be applied if information is provided," the response said.

The government argued that combating serious drug crimes was a high priority and preventing crime in Australia would be impeded if authorities here could not co-operate with death penalty countries.

At the moment federal police guidelines require ministerial approval for co-operation with foreign police agencies in possible death penalty cases once arrests have been made.

In the Bali Nine case, no one had been arrested when the federal police tipped off Indonesian police about a group of Australian drug traffickers.

Ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in 2015.

Amnesty International Australia is unimpressed.

"It is extremely disappointing that the government did not take this opportunity to ensure a Bali Nine-type situation never happens again," spokesman Guy Ragen said.

Source: AAP, March 1, 2017

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