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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

International rights groups express concerns following Ahok verdict

A number of international organizations have expressed concern about the state of human rights in Indonesia following the guilty verdict and two-year jail term handed down to Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy on Tuesday.

The European Union Delegation to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam, for instance, has issued a statement calling on the Indonesian government and people to continue their country's long-standing tradition of tolerance and pluralism.

“Indonesia and the EU have agreed to promote and protect the rights […] such as the freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of expression,” it stated.

“The EU has consistently stated that laws that criminalize blasphemy when applied in a discriminatory manner can have a serious inhibiting effect on freedom of expression and on freedom of religion or belief.”

Similarly, the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) also expressed concern, stating that the verdict could put Indonesia’s position as a regional leader “in jeopardy and raises concerns about Indonesia’s future as an open, tolerant, diverse society,” said Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian parliament and APHR chair.

The APHR said the ruling could embolden religious hard-liners and called into further question Indonesia’s harsh blasphemy law.

Amnesty International has also said the verdict could tarnish Indonesia’s reputation as a tolerant nation.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Bagus Saragih, May 9, 2017

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