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2018 Death Penalty report: Saudi Arabia’s False Promise

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With crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at the helm, 2018 was a deeply violent and barbaric year for Saudi Arabia, under his de facto leadership.
PhotoDeera Square is a public space located in front of the Religious Police building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which public executions (usually by beheading) take place. It is sometimes known as Justice Square and colloquially called Chop Chop Square. After Friday prayers, police and other officials clear the area to make way for the execution to take place. After the beheading of the condemned, the head is stitched to the body which is wrapped up and taken away for the final rites.
This year execution rates of 149 executions, shows an increase from the previous year of three executions, indicating that death penalty trends are soaring and there is no reversal of this trend in sight.
The execution rates between 2015-2018 are amongst the highest recorded in the Kingdom since the 1990s and coincide with the ascension of king Salman to the t…

Philippine lawmakers lose key posts after opposing death penalty

Eleven Philippine legislators who voted against a bill to re-introduce capital punishment lost key posts in the country's Congress on Wednesday, in an apparent follow through of a threat by the house speaker to purge obstacles to the draft.

Those removed as lower house committee heads included allies of President Rodrigo Duterte and all were among the 54 lawmakers who last week voted against bringing back the death penalty on drug-related offences.

With 217 votes in favor, the bill passed in the third and final reading. It requires Senate approval before being passed into law.

The legislators' removal came just hours before Congress adjourned its session for a long summer break. A motion was presented to declare all key positions vacant, paving the way for opponents to the bill to be nudged out.

The most high profile casualty was Duterte loyalist and former president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who lost her position as a deputy speaker.

Arroyo had overseen the abolition of the death penalty as president in 2006, under pressure from the church. She stood by her decision to vote against bringing it back.

"The issue of the death penalty is unlike any other, in that it touches the core of each person's fundamental view of human life," she said in a statement.

"I believe that the issue required a vote based solely on conscience and the deepest of personal convictions."

Bringing back the death penalty has been a top priority for Duterte, who was swept to power on promises of a merciless war on drugs and crime. He has said he wants to execute 20 criminals a day, preferably by hanging.

The shake-up came two weeks after a similar event in the 24-seat Senate, when four legislators who supported a staunch critic of Duterte lost influential positions as committee heads, tightening the president's grip on power.

The changes in the lower house were expected as speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had warned those planning to vote against the death penalty bill would face repercussions.

Political analysts say the removal of the 11 lawmakers from those posts was also a move by Alvarez to cement his control over the 292-seat chamber amid speculation that Arroyo was eyeing his position.

Source: Reuters, March 15, 2017

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