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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…

Death penalty, religious intolerance focus at Indonesia's UN rights review

Executions for drug crimes, rising religious intolerance, and the repression of activists and journalists in Papua were some major criticisms lodged against Indonesia's human rights record at the nation's Universal Periodic Review in Geneva on Wednesday.

The delegations from around 100 countries lined up to comment on the condition of human rights in Indonesia, with a slew of states from Europe, Africa and the Americas recommending that Indonesia re-impose a moratorium on the death penalty and steps towards the elimination of capital punishment.

The United Nations Human Rights Council conducts the UPR for each member state every 5 years, providing an opportunity for other nations to analyse progress and highlight concerns.

While states parties applauded Indonesia's progress in pursuing the protection of rights for some vulnerable groups such as women, children and people with disabilities, Indonesia's high-level delegation was faced with widespread calls to better protect religious and LGBT minority groups.


Indonesia staunchly defends executions


Long a diplomatic sticking point with nations around the globe, Indonesia came under heavy criticism from dozens of countries for its continued use of capital punishment for people convicted of drug offences.

Indonesian Justice and Human Rights Minister Yassona Laoly pushed back against the criticism, stating that continuing to implement the death penalty was important for addressing the nation's drug problems.

"Each day 33 persons ... die because of drug abuse," he said. "If you are a family member of the drugs victims, surely you will understand."

Yassona continued that "the rights of the offender must always be weighed against the rights of the victims," but that without strict punishments to contain drug use, "the future of the nation will become bleak."

"As a democratic country, public discourse on the implementation of the death penalty is ongoing in Indonesia," he said.

Source: asiancorrespondent.com, May 4, 2017

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