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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…

IRAN: Annual report on the death penalty 2016

Iran: Medieval and barbaric punishments
Iran: Medieval and barbaric punishments
IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS (MAR 7, 2017): The 9th annual report of Iran Human Rights (IHR) on the death penalty gives an assessment and analysis of death penalty trends in 2016 in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The 9th annual report of the organization Iran Human Rights (IHR) on the death penalty in Iran shows that in 2016 at least 530 people were executed in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Although this number is significantly lower than the annual execution numbers in the past five years, Iran, with an average of more than one execution per day, remains in 2016 the country with the highest number of executions per capita.

Commenting on the relative decrease in the 2016 execution figures, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the director and spokesperson of IHR said: “We welcome any reduction in the use of the death penalty. But unfortunately there are no indications that the relative decrease in the number of the executions in 2016 was due to a change in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s policy. Our reports show that in just the first two months of 2017 Iranian authorities have executed at least 140 people.”

On the occasion of the launch of the 2016 annual report on the death penalty in Iran, the organizations Iran Human Rights (IHR) and ECPM (Ensemble contre la peine de mort) call on Iran’s European dialogue partners to push for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Iran and for major reforms in the country’s judicial system which does not at this time meet minimum international standards.

The report puts special focus on the role of the Revolution Courts as a major source of arbitrariness and of violations of due process in the Iranian judicial system. The Revolution Courts are responsible for the vast majority of the death sentences issued and carried out over the last 37 years in Iran. According to IHR’s 2016 report, at least 64% of all executions in 2016 and more than 3200 executions since 2010, have been based on death sentences issued by the Revolution Courts. The Revolution Courts are less transparent than the Public Courts, and Revolutionary Court judges are known for the abuse of their legal powers. Trials lasting less than 15 minutes, lack of access to a chosen lawyer, and sentences based on confessions extracted under torture are the hallmarks of the Revolution Courts.

On the issue of lack of due process Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: “A sustainable reduction in the use of the death penalty is impossible as long as there is no due process. Revolution Courts which sentence hundreds of people to death every year are among the key institutions responsible for Iran’s violations of due process and must be shut down.”

Annual 2016 Report at a Glance

  • 530 people were executed in 2016 (45% decrease from 2015)
  • 232 executions (44%) were announced by official sources
  • 64% of the death sentences carried out in 2016 were issued by the Revolution Courts
  • 296 (56%) were executed for drug-related charges
  • 33 executions were conducted in public spaces
  • At least 5 juvenile offenders were among those executed
  • At least 9 women were executed
  • 142 were executed for murder
  • 251 of those sentenced to death were forgiven by the families of the murder victims


➤ Click here to read the full report

Source: Iran Human Rights, March 8, 2017

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