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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Indonesian Christians whipped over sharia-banned child’s play in Aceh

Public caning in Indonesia's Aceh province (file photo)
Two Indonesian Christians were publicly flogged in conservative Aceh province Tuesday for playing a children’s entertainment game seen as violating Islamic law, as hundreds of onlookers ridiculed them and took pictures.

The pair were among five people — including a couple whipped two dozen times each for showing affection in public — who were lashed with a rattan stick.

Aceh is the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law and people can be flogged for a range of offences — from gambling, to drinking alcohol to having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.

On Tuesday, Dahlan Silitonga, 61, and Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45, were flogged six and seven times respectively after being arrested for playing a long-standing game at a children’s entertainment complex that lets users exchange coins for prizes or vouchers, including cash.

The pair were accused of gambling while another man Ridwan MR got 19 lashes for being involved in the game.

“This is to create a deterrent effect, in order for people not to repeat violations of Islamic sharia law,” Banda Aceh’s mayor Aminullah Usman said.

“We purposely do it in front of the public… so it won’t happen again.”

About 300 spectators, including some two dozen tourists from neighbouring Malaysia, jeered the gambling-accused trio as they were whipped on a makeshift stage outside a mosque.

“You are old, show remorse,” the crowd screamed.

Non-Muslim Tjia Nyuk Hwa tried to hide her face in a specially provided white cloak with head-covering hijab.

The two Christians are among just a handful of non-Muslims to be punished under Aceh’s strict religious law since it was adopted in 2001 as part of a deal with the central government to end a long-running insurgency.

In January, an Indonesian Christian was flogged for selling alcohol in the province at the tip of Sumatra island, which made headlines recently after local police publicly humiliated a group of transgender women.

About 98 percent of Aceh’s five million residents are Muslims subject to religious law.

Non-Muslims who have committed an offence that violates both national and religious laws can choose to be prosecuted under either system.

Christians and other non-Muslims sometimes choose a flogging to avoid a lengthy court process and jail term.

Source: Coconuts Bali, Agence France-Presse, February 27, 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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