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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…

Saudi Arabia upholds death sentence for deaf, tortured protester

Saudi Arabia has upheld a protest-related death sentence for a protester who was tortured so badly that he was rendered completely deaf in one ear. The judgment marks the first such move for several months, and comes days after President Trump visited the Kingdom.

Munir Adam (23), who has impaired sight and hearing, was arrested in the wake of political protests in 2012. Despite medical records proving his disability, Saudi police tortured him until he lost all hearing in one ear, and forced him to sign a false confession. The forced statement was used as the sole piece of evidence against him in a secretive trial at the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC).

Today, the appellate division of the SCC is understood to have upheld Munir’s death sentence. He now has only one appeal left before the King signs his execution warrant – after which he could be executed at any time, without notification to this family.

The SCC’s latest death sentence appears to break a period of several months during which the court has not upheld any protest-related death sentences. It comes days after President Trump made his first visit to the Kingdom.

Reprieve had urged the President to use his visit to raise the cases of protesters – including juveniles – who face execution. However, the White House is understood not to have raised human rights issues during the trip. One Administration official – Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross – faced criticism after telling journalists there was “not a single hint of a protester” during the visit.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve said:

“Munir’s case is utterly shocking – the White House should be appalled that our Saudi allies tortured a disabled protester until he lost his hearing then sentenced him to death on the basis of a forced ‘confession.’ Today’s judgment shows that, by failing to raise human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, President Trump has emboldened the Kingdom to continue the torture and execution of protesters. The Trump Administration must now urgently stand up for American values – they must call for the release of Munir, and all others who face execution for simply exercising freedom of expression.”

➤ To read more about the death penalty in Saudi Arabia click here

Source: Reprieve, May 25, 2017

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