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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…

India receives 250 recommendations after review of human rights record at UNHRC

India has received 250 recommendations from different countries after the universal periodic review of India's human rights record. 

The May 4 meeting in Geneva at the UNHRC saw the attorney general, Mukul Rohatgi defend India's policies and programs. 

India has promised to "review and report back to the HRC in September", said the UN in a statement this evening.

Some of the recommendations for India include the following:


India has been asked to ratify the UN convention against torture and eliminate the death penalty; de-criminalize same-sex consensual relationships; develop national strategy to tackle exploitative labour practices and ratify the 2014 ILO protocol to the Forced Labour Convention.

Many countries asked India to criminalize marital rape by removing the exception of marital rape from the definition of rape in article 375 of the Penal Code and strengthen protection for children. Others asked India to develop a national plan for human rights, and include human rights education in the draft new education policy.

India has also been asked to ensure effective implementation of Scheduled castes and tribes act, specially in training state officials. Several others asked for a national action plan to combat hate crimes, racism and negative stereotypes against people of African descent inside its territory, including appropriate programmes of public awareness that will address racism and Afro-phobia.

India has once again been asked to revise the AFSPA and bring it into compliance with the obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with a view to fight impunity; abolish death penalty.

Pakistan has asked India to "take visible policy and other measures to ensure the freedom of religion and belief and address the alarming trend of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance including mob violence committed, incited and advocated by right-wing parties and affiliated extremist organizations against minorities, particularly Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Dalits."

Others have asked India to revise the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act to "ensure benign working conditions for civil society in India." Many had more realistic suggestions, like this: "ensure the implementation of a set of socio-economic policies, such as the Stand-Up India Scheme, is targeted, accountable, and transparent."

Source: Times of India, Indrani Bagchi, May 9, 2017


Kill the death penalty: UNHRC to India


In a periodical review, UN has given 250 recommendations

4 days after the Supreme Court ordered capital punishment for the 4 accused in the Nirbhaya rape case, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has recommended that India do away with death penalty.

Following the Universal Periodic Review of India's human rights track record, conducted by the UNHRC every four years, the country has received 250 recommendations, some of the crucial ones being abolishment of the death penalty, ratifying the convention against torture and other cruel punishments, and criminalising marital rape. India has decided to review the recommendations and report to UNHRC by September.

The issue of making marital rape punishable has met with lacklustre political will. In the recent past, Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Chaudhary went on record in Rajya Sabha to say a move to amend the Indian Penal Code to undo the exclusion of marital rape from the definition of rape would be "impossible".

Merely a year later, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi went on to say the 'concept' of marital rape "as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors such as level of education/illiteracy, poverty." The preference given to social customs over the protection of women from crimes is not just limited to laws on rape. India's ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, comes burdened with conditions.

While ratifying the Convention, in 1993, India declared, "With regard to Articles 5 (a) and 16 (1) of the Convention ... the Government of India declares that it shall abide by and ensure these provisions in conformity with its policy of non-interference in the personal affairs of any Community without its initiative and consent."

Article 5 (a) pertains to eliminating prejudices and customary practices that hinge on the idea of inferiority of women; while 16 (1) asks States to eliminate discrimination against women in matters related to marriage as well as family relations - giving equal rights to choose spouse, choose the number of children, to own property, and have a job, besides others.

Some of the other recommendations include, preventing inter-communal violence; eradicating all forms of caste-based discriminations and violence; and strengthening the national mechanisms to combat human trafficking.

Source: thehindubusinessline.com, May 10, 2017

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