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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Pakistan’s parliament votes to reinstate secret military courts

Karachi: Pakistan’s parliament on Tuesday amended the constitution to reinstate secret military courts that try civilians charged with terrorism offences, something activists have warned will lead to human rights abuses.

The government and Pakistan’s powerful military say the country’s civilian judicial infrastructure is ill-equipped to deal with such cases, partly as judges fear becoming victims of revenge attacks by militants.

Military courts were first set up by the parliament in early 2015 in response to an attack by Pakistani Taliban fighters on a military-run school that killed 134 children.

Under the system, defendants are not allowed to hire their own lawyers, instead being assigned one by the military. There is no access for the media and the venue and timing of the trials is withheld until a verdict is announced by the military.

The courts have delivered 275 convictions, including 161 death sentences, and carried out 17 executions. These courts do not allow the right to appeal and judges are not required to have law degrees or provide reasons for their verdicts.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office said in January that it would seek to keep them in place after the two-year legal mandate expired.

However, Sharif’s ruling PML-N was not able to extend the courts’ tenure on its own as it does not have the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution, leading to two months of consensus building between the major parties.

“The bill has been adopted today, our suggestions including the parliamentary oversight of the military courts have been included in the bill,” Senator Saeed Gani, from the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, told journalists.

Judicial experts have argued that the courts do not address the problem, with a criminal justice system badly in need of reform, and instead act as a stop-gap measure.

“The worrying thing is the conviction rate and the lack of representation for people being tried. It fails every single test of natural justice,” Furkan Ali, a lawyer, said.

Source: Gulf News, Agencies, March 22, 2017

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