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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…

Human Rights Watch blasts Hamas executions

Execution of Hani Abu Aliyan in Gaza City on October 2, 2013
Execution of Hani Abu Aliyan in Gaza City on October 2, 2013
Human Rights Watch on Thursday condemned Hamas, after the terrorist group executed three men in Gaza who were accused of "collaborating" with Israel.

In a statement quoted by AFP, the organization urged Hamas to stop the "barbaric" practice.

The executions were carried out after Hamas vowed revenge for the killing last month of one of its top terrorists, Mazen Faqha, which it blamed on the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and its Palestinian "collaborators".

The men who were hanged on Thursday were not implicated in the killing of Faqha but were accused of past acts of "treason and collaborating," a Hamas interior ministry statement said.

In response , Human Rights Watch said, "The abhorrent executions by Hamas authorities of three men in Gaza deemed to be collaborators project weakness, not strength."

"Hamas authorities will never achieve true security or stability through firing squads or by the gallows, but rather through respect for international norms and the rule of law," it added.

Human Rights Watch cited data from the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights as saying that Hamas had now executed a total of 25 Palestinian Arabs since violently seizing power in Gaza in 2007.

Hamas regularly claims to have captured "Israeli spies", and many times it tries them and sentences them to death.

Amnesty International has in the past called on Hamas to stop the executions of suspected collaborators, saying that the group "must immediately and totally cease its use of the death penalty."

In theory all execution orders in the Palestinian Authority's (PA) territories must be approved by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in Ramallah and who imposed a moratorium on executions several years ago.

Hamas no longer recognizes Abbas's legitimacy, and has in the past emphatically declared that the death penalty in Gaza can be carried out without his consent.

Source: Israel National News, April 7, 2017

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