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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…

Lukashenko: Belarusian state cannot go against people's will on death penalty

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko
MINSK, 5 July (BelTA) – The Belarusian state cannot go against people's will in the matter of death penalty, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at the plenary session dedicated to the formal opening of the 26th OSCE PA annual session in Minsk on 5 July, BelTA has learned. 

“We are urged to abolish the death penalty. We hear these recommendations, and not only hear them. However, not a single state can go against the will of its people when the overwhelming majority voted to preserve it in a referendum. No single civilized European country can do so,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed. 

The head of state emphasized that Belarus has been a target of such complaints since early years of its independence. The country was urged to hold a referendum on this issue. 

“As a young sovereign state, we followed your recommendations, held such a referendum and got results. Now we need time to abolish it. Therefore, please do not hurry us. We know what it is and what your requirements are. I am sure that we will gradually find a solution to the issue,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Lukashenko talks about human rights, democracy in Belarus


Belarus is doing its best to make sure it is on par with other European countries in terms of human rights, rule of law and democracy, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at the plenary session. 

“After gaining sovereignty, we set the goal to build a state for the people with opportunities for full and free development of every individual and high level of human rights protection,” Alexander Lukashenko said. 

The president touched upon the issues raised by parliamentarians, including human rights, the rule of law, and democracy. “We are doing our best to make sure we have no less of them than in other European countries,” he said. 

According to the president, the National Human Rights Plan, the first one in the history of independent Belarus, is a crucial element of the system ensuring the rights and freedoms. 

Government organizations and civil society are involved to the maximum extent possible in its implementation. The head of state noted that a lot has been done in the country for the people. Belarus has solved the problem of poverty. The country ensures a high level of social security of citizens and a minimum income gap. Everyone is guaranteed the right to receive education. In terms of the availability of education Belarus is not inferior to the most highly developed countries, he said. “Our state is among the world leaders in terms of healthcare, medicine. Every citizen, irrespective of income, has the opportunity to receive any kind of healthcare, including the high-tech one,” the Belarusian leader stated. 

On 3 July Belarus celebrated the Independence Day which is marked on the day Minsk was liberated from the Nazi invaders. 

“It symbolizes the historical continuity of the independent development of the country based on the principles of justice, socio-political stability, good neighborliness and multi-vector foreign policy,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Source: Belarus News, July 5, 2017

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