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USA | States Continue to Oppose DNA Testing in Death Penalty Appeals, Attorneys Ask Why Don’t They Want to Learn the Truth?

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The last 3 men scheduled for execution in Georgia said they did not commit the killing and that DNA testing that was not available at the time of trial could prove it. In 2 of the cases, victim family members supported the request for testing. Prosecutors opposed the requests, and the courts refused to allow the testing. 2 of the 3 men were executed, with doubts still swirling as to their guilt.
Shawn Nolan, a federal defender who represented Georgia prisoner Ray “Jeff” Cromartie, summed up the sentiments of the prisoners, families, and defense attorneys in these cases. “I’d like to know what the state is so scared of,” he said. “Why are they afraid of the truth? This is sad and so disturbing.”
“We have the capability of testing a wide range of forensic evidence that we couldn’t test in the past,” said Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham. “It is a powerful tool to get to the truth and to get important answers as to whether the criminal legal system has b…

Singapore: Six abolitionist groups respond to Minister K. Shanmugam's comments on death penalty

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SINGAPORE - Six abolitionist groups, who have spoken up against the death penalty in Singapore, have jointly responded to comments made by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam at last week's Asia Pacific Forum Against Drugs.

The statement, which was posted on Facebook on Monday (Oct 30), said that Mr Shanmugam had made "misleading claims" about abolitionists at the forum on Oct 26.

This includes the suggestion that the groups are calling for the legalisation of drugs.

"There is a range of opinions and perspectives on the issue of drug policy among members of the abolitionist campaign," said the statement.

However, the groups agree that the problem of drugs, which is on the rise, "is of concern and should be addressed in holistic ways".

Thus, they have called on the Government to make all data related to the use of the death penalty - as well as studies and evidence behind the minister's claims - accessible to the public.

Among the claims highlighted include the minister's comment that the death penalty "substatiantially reduces the number of people who seek to traffic drugs into Singapore," the statement said.

It was signed and endorsed by Community Action Network, Function 8, Maruah, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign, Think Centre and We Believe in Second Chances.

The groups also took issue with what it called a "mischaracterisation" of drug trafficking offenders who are facing the death row.

They said that Mr Shamugam had made references to "romanticising individuals who have been involved in the drug trade" and telling "romantic stories" about those convicted of drug trafficking.

"The stories of death row inmates and their families are important because these experiences are also part of the death penalty and its application in Singapore, and should not be erased from ongoing conversations about capital punishment in our country", the statement said.

In his speech, Mr Shanmugam had said that the death penalty is not the solution that solves all problems, but part of a larger framework that includes reducing the drug supply and rehabilitating offenders.

"The stakes are made very clear upfront and that, I think, has a very powerful influence on those who seek to traffic drugs into Singapore," he had said.

Singapore does not take any joy and comfort in having the death penalty, he said, adding that it "saves more lives", including those of families ruined by drug addiction.

He also said there is an "undoubted number of deaths that will occur if you take a more liberal approach towards drugs", with a rise in homicides and other crimes leading to death not being theoretical arguments.

Source: Straits Times, Ng Huiwen, October 30, 2017


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