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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…

Burkina president presses France on extradition of ex-leader's brother

PAF, France
Paris - Burkina Faso's president said on Sunday that the existence of the death penalty in his country should not stop France from extraditing the brother of its ousted leader over the 1998 killing of a journalist.

French police detained François Compaore, 63, at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport late last month under an arrest warrant filed by Burkina Faso.

He was one of the most disliked figures in the regime of his brother Blaise Compaore, who was ousted in a popular revolt in October 2014 after he tried to change the constitution to extend his 27-year grip on power.

But French courts might refuse his extradition because Burkina Faso still has the death penalty on its books.

"I already consider it a major victory that the arrest warrant has been executed on French territory," President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said in an interview with French media outlets in Ouagadougou.

"Even if it's legal, the death penalty is not applied in Burkina Faso," Kabore said just a few weeks ahead of a state visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Ougadougou this month, the first by a French head of state in over 20 years.

"It's been more than 20 years since anyone has been executed," Kabore added.

Francois Compaore is wanted over the killing of journalist Norbert Zongo and three companions, whose charred bodies were found in a burnt-out car in the south of the country in December 1998.

Zongo's family have long accused Francois Compaore of having had a hand in the killings, which triggered mass protests in Burkina Faso and drew international condemnation.

Kabore also said he hoped that France would soon declassify its archives concerning the killing of the revolutionary Burkina leader Thomas Sankara, who was assassinated 30 years ago last month.

"I think this would be a good thing, it would be a sign of good faith toward uncovering the truth," Kabore said.

Sankara was killed in October 1987, along with 12 comrades, in a putsch that brought his close friend Blaise Compaore to power.

Several people have been charged in connection with Sankara's assassination as part of an inquiry opened in March 2015, including soldiers from the presidential security unit.

"The case is evolving, there have been 17 indictments," Kabore said. "I think the case will be settled very rapidly."

Source: Agence France-Presse, November 6, 2017


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