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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

EU Delegation condemns Botswana on capital punishment

Joseph Tselayarona
The European Union (EU) has added its voice to growing chorus by human rights activists condemning capital punishment following the execution of double murder convict, Joseph Tselayarona, last weekend.

Following the brutal murder of his girlfriend, Ngwanyanaotsile Keikanne and her 3-year-old son Miguel in 2010, Tselayarona was convicted by a Gaborone High Court in March last year for the offences.

He was sentenced to a 20-year jail term for the murder of his girlfriend and handed a death penalty for the murder of the son.

He later appealed the judgement but it was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on November 23rd last year.

Tselayarona’s execution at Gaborone Central Prison on Saturday morning reignited the debate on capital punishment as activists took to social media criticizing government for its stance on capital punishment.

Botswana government has always maintained its position on the death penalty and no death row inmate has ever received any presidential clemency in the country’s history.

Former President, Festus Mogae was a firm proponent of capital punishment and he declared following the infamous execution of South African woman, Marietta Bosch in 2001: ‘I’m a retributionist by conviction’.

His successor, Ian Khama has also since ignored any calls by activists to abolish the death penalty.

He recently told Palapye residents during his farewell tour that government will keep turning a deaf ear to human rights groups ‘that value the lives of murderers over their victims’.

Yesterday the EU Delegation added reacted to Tselayarona’s execution as they criticised Botswana for its position on the death penalty.

“The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment. There is no evidence that it has a better deterrent effect than imprisonment, and judicial and other errors in its application are irrevocable and irreversible, which is why most of the countries in the world have stopped applying it,” they said in a statement.

The EU Delegation further called on government to initiate a public debate on its use of the death penalty as agreed in the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council.

Source: The Voice, February 20, 2018


Execution of prisoner is an appalling step backwards


In response to the hanging of 28-year-old Joseph Tselayarona for the 2010 murder of his girlfriend and 3-year-old son, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Southern Africa, said:

"Joseph's execution is a step back for Botswana and it shows the government's contempt for life. The death penalty is an abhorrent punishment and should never be used in any circumstances.

"While many countries in the region are moving away from this cruel form of punishment, Botswana is regressing.

"The death penalty has no place in the modern era. Instead of executing people, the government of Botswana should immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing this cruel and inhuman punishment."

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner. The death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Amnesty International calls on Botswana to abolish the death penalty for all crimes as have 105 countries in the world.

Source: Amnesty International, February 21, 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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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning