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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…

Malaysia: Amnesty criticises two ‘secretive executions’, calls for moratorium on death penalty

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Amnesty International Malaysia criticised prison authorities for executing two men earlier today at the Sungai Buloh prison in a secretive manner.

The NGO also demanded the government to establish a moratorium on carrying out death penalties.

In a statement, Amnesty said that 48-year-old Yong Kar Mun, who was convicted of discharging a firearm during robbery, and another individual convicted of murder, were both executed at 5.30am today.

Yong’s execution was allegedly carried out with limited notice, with the family only being informed of the execution less than 24 hours before it was carried out, while no information has been made available on the second convict who was also executed.

“The secretive way through which the Malaysian authorities have been carrying out executions is plain cruel. In these and previous executions, the authorities have added considerable distress to the prisoners and their families and shown blatant disregard for international law and standards ­­— it is high time this practice stopped,” Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said.

She said that by providing limited notice, the authorities are also denying the convicts a chance to seek further review of their cases.

“The government has repeatedly promised legislative reforms on the death penalty, yet no drafts have been shared and more lives have been taken by the gallows.

“If Malaysia aspires to join the Human Rights Council, it should demonstrate its commitment to human rights by ending executions and abolishing the death penalty. The time for action is now,” she added.

Amnesty previously condemned a similar “hasty execution” conducted by authorities in March, when brothers on death row, Rames and Suthar Batumalai, were executed with a notice of less than 48 hours.

Source: Malay Mail Online, May 24, 2017

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