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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…

USCIRF: Pakistan & Iran have the worst blasphemy laws in the world

Blasphemy laws in the world
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has released a ground-breaking report that takes a look at blasphemy laws around the world and compares them to international human rights standards.

The report covers instances of the blasphemy laws in 71 countries which include countries like Pakistan and Indonesia, known for harsh punishments like the death penalty to countries like Canada and Switzerland which have minor penalties like fines. 

Among the six countries which were ranked the worst in terms of blasphemy laws, Iran topped the list while Pakistan ranked second, followed by Yemen, Qatar, Somalia, and Egypt.

USCIRF scored the countries based on Severity of the Penalty, Freedom of Religion, whether the State protected or preferred certain Religion Protections, Freedom of Expression and Discrimination Against Groups.

Of the 71 states studied, 59 or 83 percent sanction blasphemy with imprisonment. Iran and Pakistan, the two countries with the highest-scoring laws for Severity of the Penalty, include the death penalty as punishment for “insulting the Prophet.”.

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF uses international standards to monitor religious freedom violations globally, and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and Congressional leaders of both political parties. Their work is supported by a professional, nonpartisan staff. USCIRF is separate from the State Department, although the Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom is a non-voting ex officio Commissioner.

➢ The full report can be found here.

Source: Rabwah Times, August 10, 2017

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