In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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…

Pakistan top in death penalty executions in Asia, Bangladesh 2nd

At least 130 executions were carried out in 11 Asian countries in 2016. The vast majority of them were executed in Pakistan. However there is no data available about executions in China, still believed to be by far the world's top executioner.

Overall the number of executions has decreased in the Asia pacific region due to a significant reduction in Pakistan. 

The total number of executions in the region fell from 367 in 2015 to 239 in 2016.

Although the number of executions in Pakistan has decreased from 326 in 2015 to 87 in 2016, it still tops the list of the countries with highest number of executions in the Asian region. 

The range of those executed varied from prisoners tried by military courts to those suspected of undertaking terrorist activities.

Bangladesh executed 10 people in 2016. 8 out of the 10 were convicted of murder while 2 were tried by International Crimes Tribunal (Bangladesh) for the war crimes committed in 1971.

With secrecy around death penalties slightly lifted, Malaysia has seen an increase in the executions with 9 in 2016, compared to 6 in 2014 and 1 in 2015.

In Afghanistan where almost 600 people were under sentence of death by the end of the year, in 2016, 8 people were executed related to terrorist activities.

Indonesia executed 4 people in the year 2016, 3 of them foreigners and 1 Indonesian. All 4 men were convicted of drug related offenses.

2 men who were executed had their clemency applications pending for a review when the executions were undertaken.

Singapore carried 4 executions in 2016 for murder and drug trafficking. 2 of the 4 executed were Malaysian nationals and 1 was Nigerian. The country has also issued new restrictive guidelines for reviewing the death sentences of those convicted.

Japan executed 3 people in 2016, 2 men and 1 woman. The country's Federation of Bar Association has called on the authorities to abolish the death penalty by the year 2020.

Taiwan executed 1 person within 3 weeks after his sentence was finalised.

Source: The Daily Star, April 30, 2017

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