FEATURED POST

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

Image
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…

PM must call for Saudi juveniles’ release during visit

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to use a trip to Saudi Arabia to press for the release of three juveniles who face beheading for allegedly attending protests.

Mrs May is due to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for talks. Her visit takes place amid fears for three prisoners who were arrested as children in 2012 and sentenced to death on charges relating to protests. 

Abdullah al-Zaher, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Ali al-Nimr were sentenced to beheading and, in Ali’s case, ‘crucifixion’ despite their being 15, 17 and 17 respectively at the time of their arrest.

All three juveniles were tortured into forced ‘confessions’, and convicted in secretive trials. They remain imprisoned, and could be executed at any time without notice being given to their families.

International human rights organisation Reprieve has previously written to the Prime Minister about the cases, and asked her to call on the Saudi authorities to release the three and commute their sentences. 

In a Parliamentary answer last week, Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood said that the UK “remains concerned about [the] cases” and that UK officials last raised concerns with the Gulf Kingdom in January of this year. However, the UK appears not to have requested the release of the three young men.

The Prime Minister is understood not to have directly raised the cases with the Saudi authorities on her last visit to the Gulf. On that visit, she promised greater security assistance to governments in the region, saying the UK aimed to be the Gulf’s “partner of choice.”

Reprieve has previously raised concerns that UK funding and training for Saudi security bodies could be contributing to human rights abuses in the Kingdom, including the death penalty. Reprieve has discovered that British police have trained their Saudi counterparts in investigation techniques that could lead to the arrest, torture and sentencing to death of protesters; and that these projects have been undertaken without proper safeguards.

Last year, several juveniles were among 47 people executed en masse in the Kingdom. At least one – Ali al Ribh – was convicted on charges relating to protests, as were Abdullah, Dawood and Ali.

Commenting, Harriet McCulloch – a deputy director at Reprieve – said: “As the Prime Minister makes ever greater overtures towards the Saudi Government, the Kingdom continues to carry out appalling abuses – including torture, forced ‘confessions’ and death sentences for juveniles. Theresa May’s desire for closer relations with the Gulf must not cloud Britain's commitment to human rights. The Prime Minister must make it absolutely clear to the Saudis that the UK condemns torture and the death penalty – and she must call for the immediate release of Ali, Dawood and Abdullah.”

Source: Reprieve, April 2, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

New Hampshire: More than 50,000 anti-death penalty signatures delivered to Sununu

Texas: The accused Santa Fe shooter will never get the death penalty. Here’s why.

Texas executes Juan Castillo

Mary Jane Veloso: The woman the firing squad left behind

Five executed in Iran, two hanged in public

Post Mortem – the execution of Edward Earl Johnson

What Indiana officials want to keep secret about executions

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

Collection of items from the career of Britain's most famous executioner discovered

China: Appeal of nanny's death penalty sentence wraps up