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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Malaysia: Brothers hurriedly, secretively executed in violation of international law

B. Rames Batumalai and Suthar Batumalai
B. Rames Batumalai (left) and Suthar Batumalai
Despite a pending clemency application before the state’s Pardon Board, brothers Suthar Batumalai and B. Rames Batumalai were executed at dawn on 15 March 2017. Contrary to international standards, their family were not provided adequate notice of the scheduled executions.

The family of Suthar Batumalai and B. Rames Batumalai were informed, by a letter dated 13 March 2017, to visit the prison on 14 March 2017 to pay their final respects. 

Upon arrival, prison authorities informed them that the execution was to be carried out the following day on 15 March 2017.

The brothers were originally scheduled to be executed on 24 February 2017, however they were granted a temporary stay of execution, pending the hearing of a petition containing new evidence on their case. 

To date, the clemency application, filed on 23 February 2017, has not been heard by the Pardons Board of the Negeri Sembilan state.

The executions were carried out in a hurried and secretive manner. This practice has been observed by Amnesty International in other cases of imminent executions the organization has been alerted to since 2014. 

International law in para 8 of the ‘Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty’ which was approved by the Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984 clearly states that executions may not be carried out pending any appeal or other proceeding relating to pardon or commutation of the sentence. 

This hurried execution is in violation of international law and standards, as the families should be given adequate notice of the scheduled executions.

On the night before the execution, a candlelight vigil was held for the two men, attended by their family members of the two men, as well as members of civil society, in protest of their rushed and unjust execution and the continued use of the death penalty.

Suthar Batumalai and B. Rames Batumalai were transported back to their home state, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, after their execution. 

Their funerals were held on 16 March 2017.

Source: Amnesty International, March 17, 2017

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