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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

UK drug strategy raises human rights fears – Reprieve

Downing Street London
The Government’s 2017 drug strategy could risk contributing to the death penalty for drug offences overseas, human rights organization Reprieve has said.

The UK’s new drug strategy, released today, commits the Government to “taking new action” on counter-narcotics in countries including Pakistan. The document says that new “capability building projects” will see the UK provide training in “enhanced investigation and prosecution practices”, in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Pakistan retains the death penalty for drug offences, in breach of international law. Reprieve has raised concerns that many on the country’s death row received unfair trials, with some being tortured into false ‘confessions.’ Pakistan reintroduced executions in 2014.

The UK Home Office has provided millions of pounds in support to the country’s Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), including during Theresa May's tenure as Home Secretary.

The ANF is responsible for arresting and prosecuting alleged drug offenders, hundreds of whom face death sentences. The ANF’s website boasts of securing death sentences, listing these among its ‘prosecution achievements’. In November 2016, the body’s Director-General announced that more prisoners had been sentenced to death on drugs charges, saying this indicated a ’90 per cent success rate.’

Commenting, Maya Foa – Director at Reprieve – said:

“The Government has today re-committed the UK to a failed international drug strategy that has seen taxpayer pounds used to support death sentences overseas. The Pakistani counter-narcotics police continue to sentence vulnerable drug mules and innocent scapegoats to death for alleged drug offences.

"Theresa May’s policy has enabled gross human rights abuses whilst doing nothing to reduce the flow of drugs to the UK. Ministers must urgently explain what steps they are taking to ensure that that public funds don’t lead to further death sentences and executions.”

Further recent background on the UK's assistance to Pakistan is available on the Reprieve site, here.

The Government's strategy document can be seen here.

Source: Reprieve, July 14, 2017

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