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2018 Death Penalty report: Saudi Arabia’s False Promise

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With crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at the helm, 2018 was a deeply violent and barbaric year for Saudi Arabia, under his de facto leadership.
PhotoDeera Square is a public space located in front of the Religious Police building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which public executions (usually by beheading) take place. It is sometimes known as Justice Square and colloquially called Chop Chop Square. After Friday prayers, police and other officials clear the area to make way for the execution to take place. After the beheading of the condemned, the head is stitched to the body which is wrapped up and taken away for the final rites.
This year execution rates of 149 executions, shows an increase from the previous year of three executions, indicating that death penalty trends are soaring and there is no reversal of this trend in sight.
The execution rates between 2015-2018 are amongst the highest recorded in the Kingdom since the 1990s and coincide with the ascension of king Salman to the t…

America's Execution Belt

USA death penalty
The United States can't guarantee the condemned inmates it kills aren't innocent. Landmark court cases of the last decade have offered proof. Mistakes happen. Courts can err. Witnesses can lie. Representation can be flawed. But we still kill.

That lowers America into a frightful club of nations that continues to execute prisoners. Most of its members are among the globe's most repressive, dictatorial nations: North Korea, Libya, Somalia, Cuba, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. That is the company the United States keeps when it kills the condemned. The other 2/3 of the world - Britain, Germany, Canada, France, Scandinavia, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Australia, for instance - long ago stopped this form of state-sponsored killings.

19 American states have abolished the death penalty. They understand that executions do not deter murders, do not reverse the crimes and lessen the moral standing on which our society rests.

America's Execution Belt tends to follow the Bible Belt that dominates the South and Southwest. On Thursday, 3 of those states - Alabama, Texas and Florida - planned to kill condemned inmates. Only 1 did, Florida, which executed Eric Scott Branch for raping and killing a college student in 1993.

Alabama called off its execution of Doyle Lee Hamm, officials said, because they weren't able to complete it before the midnight deadline. Hamm, convicted of a 1987 murder, has cancer and his representatives say his veins aren't suitable for the IV required for a lethal injection.

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott granted clemency to Thomas Whitaker, who played a role in the 2003 murders of his mother and brother. His father, who survived, had asked the governor to spare his son's life and sentence him to life in prison. Abbott, a Republican in America's most execution-friendly state, surprisingly agreed.

America's most reprehensible crimes deserve lifelong imprisonment and the public's trust in knowing the convicted will never again be free. But those few hours Thursday night opened a window into the flawed and complicated realities of America's execution system.

Source: The Anniston Star, Editorial board, February 23, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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