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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…

Indonesia vows more executions this year

Indonesia's attorney-general M Prasetyo
Indonesia's attorney-general M Prasetyo
It would be wise if the government listens to those criticizing the death penalty, says a moral theologian.

A new round of executions will take place this year when a legal row over appeals is resolved, according to Indonesia's attorney-general.

Muhammad Prasetyo said Indonesia is still fully committed to carrying out executions in line with President Joko Widodo's hardline anti-drug policy.

The president says executions of drug traffickers, a policy that has drawn international condemnation, are necessary to combat rampant drug abuse in Indonesia.

Franciscan Father Peter C. Aman, a moral theology lecturer at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta said it would be wise if the government listens to those criticizing the death penalty.

"It presumes the death penalty can reduce the number of crimes particularly related to drugs. That is nonsense," he said.

The last round of executions took place in July last year when 4 people were shot by firing squad in a clearing on the island of Nusa Kambangan.

10 others facing execution were given a last minute reprieve.

Since then, the country's Constitutional Court ruled to lift time restrictions on convicts filing clemency appeals to the president, a move analysts believe has delayed a further round of executions taking place.

Rules had stipulated that convicts had to file a last-ditched appeal to the president within a year of a final court ruling being handed down.

However, in Indonesia, the Constitutional Court holds sway on clemency rules.

Prasetyo said at the weekend that his office has appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, which would remove any legal obstacles preventing more executions taking place.

Rights activists immediately condemned the attorney- general's comments.

Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono, executive director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, accused Prasetyo of trying to run roughshod over the Constitutional Court.

"The Constitutional Court's ruling is clear enough. Why ask the Supreme Court for a decision?

"It seems he is desperately trying to seek a solution to execute death row inmates," Eddyono said.

Yati Andriyani, coordinator of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, urged the government not to pursue another round of executions.

"The government must first evaluate the whole process of previous executions. Were death row inmates' rights fulfilled?" Andriyani alleged there were flaws in the legal system and malpractices by investigators.

"In some cases, the convicts' right to have adequate legal assistance was ignored. Also, torture was still used by law enforcement officers in their efforts to get confessions from alleged criminals."

Source: La Croix International, Katharina R. Lestari, March 1, 2017


Amnesty International warns new AFP protocols could see more death sentences handed down



A decision by the Federal Government on information-sharing protocols between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and foreign authorities could allow a repeat of the Bali 9 drug smuggling case, according to Amnesty International.

Last year, a parliamentary committee recommended the AFP "obtain guarantees" from foreign prosecutors that they would not pursue the death penalty before providing information relating to information on crimes such as drug trafficking.

The Government has now released its response, and argued there are difficulties in ensuring such promises are binding.

"An undertaking from a prosecutor not to seek to apply the death penalty may not be reliable where a court can still impose the death penalty," the Government's response stated.

"Generally speaking, the Government does not consider it appropriate to seek, or rely on, an undertaking from a prosecutor.

"In the instances where assurances have been provided to Australia, they have usually occurred at ministerial level."

The Government said fighting serious drug crimes remained a high priority.

"The Government's ability to detect, deter and prevent drug crimes would be impeded if Australia could not cooperate with states in the region that retain the death penalty."

In 2015, the AFP defended its decision to inform Indonesian authorities about the Bali 9 drug syndicate, with Commissioner Andrew Colvin saying officers did not have enough evidence to arrest the Australians before they left for Indonesia.

2 of the smugglers, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were executed in 2015.

Amnesty International raised concern with the Government's decision not to follow the recommendations, in an effort to avoid a repeat of that case.

"This is unfortunate, particularly as Australia has made a number of positive commitments in response to the inquiry," organisation spokesman Guy Ragen said.

"The Government's announcement that Australia is going to have a strategy to guide its advocacy against capital punishment in our region and around the world is strongly welcomed."

The Government did accept a number of recommendations in the report, including that "high risk" cases be directed to the Minister for a decision and that Australia continue its advocacy and opposition to the death penalty around the world.

Source: abc.net.au, March 1, 2017

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