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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Execution of man arrested at 16 exposes Iran’s disregard for child rights

Iran has demonstrated its utter disregard for children’s rights by executing a man arrested for a crime committed while he was 16 years old in a brazen violation of international human rights law, said Amnesty International.

The man, who has been identified in state media only by the name “Asqar”, was sentenced to death by public hanging nearly 30 years ago. He was executed at Karaj’s Central Prison near Tehran on 23 May 2017.

“With this execution, the Iranian authorities’ repeated claims to the UN and EU that they are moving away from the use of death penalty against juvenile offenders ring horrifically hollow. 

It is absolutely appalling that two decades after it ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran continues to display such a chilling disregard for children’s rights,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“This is the third execution this year of someone arrested as a child in Iran, demonstrating the authorities’ clear determination to continue flouting international human rights law. The authorities should halt any further plans for executions and amend Iran’s Islamic Penal Code to abolish the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders once and for all.”

“Asqar” was originally sentenced to death in 1988 after being convicted of the fatal stabbing of his 12-year-old neighbour, according to state media. The sentence was later upheld by the Supreme Court. He was due to be executed at the age of 18 but escaped from prison shortly before the scheduled execution date; he was on the run until his re-arrest in April 2015.

Iran is one of the last few countries in the world that still executes juvenile offenders. International human rights law strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty against a person who was under 18 at the time of the crime.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty at all times – regardless of who is accused, the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution. The organization has consistently called on all countries that still use the death penalty to establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the punishment.

Source: Amnesty International, May 25, 2016


Iran: Juvenile offender hanged


IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS (24. MAY 2017): A juvenile offender was hanged in the Central Prison of Karaj yesterday morning. 

The prisoner who is identified by a state run website as Asghar, was charged with a murder 30 years ago. At that time Asghar was 16 years old.

According to the Iranian news website Namnak, Asghar had managed to escape 18 months after his arrest in late 1980's, but was again arrested one year ago.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) calls for international condemnation of Iranian authorities' execution of juvenile offenders. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR said: "Asghar is the third juvenile offender being executed in 2017. This is a clear violation of Iran's international obligations and must be condemned by the international community. We especially call on the European Union to resume their pressure on the Iranian authorities in order to stop juvenile executions".

Source: Iran Human Rights, May 25, 2017

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