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

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…

Jakarta scrabbles to save 3 female migrant workers due to die in Saudi

Indonesian flag
But with only days left, few expect them to be spared for killing bosses

3 Indonesian migrant workers sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for killing their employers are due to be executed this month unless last-ditch efforts from Jakarta can force a reprieve.

Former housemaid Tuti Tursilawati and Ety Thoyyib, both from Majalengka in West Java, and Muhammad Zaini Misrin from Madura in East Java are scheduled for execution "sometime" within the next 6 days, a local government official said.

A fixed date has not been set, he added.

A Saudi Arabian court sentenced them to death in 2011.

However the foreign ministry is racing against time and lobbying Riyadh for clemency, according to Lalu Mohamad Iqbal, director of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry's Citizen Protection Bureau.

"We are struggling to get them released," Iqbal told ucanews.com on Feb. 19.

The government has managed to get 79 of 100 Indonesians off death row from 2011 until January 2018, he said, adding none of the previous cases involved a murder charge.

"The government offers legal assistance for any case involving Indonesians in Saudi Arabia. We are [still] struggling to free those who are accused of murder," he said.

At least 4 maids have been executed for killing their employers in Saudi in recent years, according to Migrant Care, a group that focuses its attention on Indonesian foreign laborers.

Migrant Care gave their names as Yanti Iriyanti, who was executed in 2008, Ruyati (2011), Siti Zaenab (2015) and Karni (also 2015).

Risca Dwi, chairwoman of the Migrant Woman Protection Bureau at Women Solidarity, said the government must use its bargaining power and diplomacy as leverage in this case to help the workers.

"But I doubt they will be freed," she said.

"Saudi Arabia's legal system has become a stumbling block because the king lacks the authority to pardon or release convicts who face a death sentence." [Am I right in thinking that this reporter is mistaken and the Saudi king does have the authority to issue pardons and commute sentences? Please comment below. - DPN editor.]

She said Jakarta could approach another council in Saudi Arabia that is empowered to issue pardons but the chances of success were slim.

"The government must be able to convince the council because it has the authority to release them," she told ucanews.com Feb. 19.

"But it's difficult to get them to listen for murder cases," she added.

Iti Sarniti, the mother of Tuti Tursilawati, can only sit and count the agonizing days until her daughter is executed.

"I'm terrified she really is going to die," Sarniti told ucanews.com, explaining that Tursilawati had gone to Saudi Arabia in 2009 to work for a family in Thaif city, where she was taking care of an elderly person.

Review of moratorium

Wahyu Susilo, the executive director of Migrant Care, called on the government to review its 2015 moratorium on sending workers to the wealthy Arab state.

It was not enforced until the end of 2017, a year in which over 36,000 Indonesians headed to the region to work.

"It should be re-evaluated because many Indonesians have been sent to work there illegally despite the moratorium being implemented," Susilo said.

He said they could face considerable hardship there as their status would render them vulnerable to exploitation with no guarantee of human rights protection.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, coordinator of the human rights desk for the Indonesian Bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People, urged the government to monitor migrant workers who head to Saudi Arabia.

"The government should sanction rogue agents in Indonesia so they don't send our people there," he told ucanews.com on Feb. 20.

"This would prevent more from becoming victims," he added.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said 576 migrant workers from the country have appeared on death lists overseas since 2011, including in Malaysia and the Middle East.

Of those, 393 have been released, it added.

Source: ucanews.com, February 20, 2018

Urgent Action Update: 12 Men at Imminent Risk of Execution (Saudi Arabia: UA 182.17)

The families of 15 Saudi Arabian men sentenced to death learned on 23 July that the Court of Appeal had upheld their sentences. 

The 15 men are accused of spying for Iran and were sentenced after a grossly unfair mass trial. 

They will be at risk of imminent execution as soon as the Supreme Court upholds their sentences.

12 Saudi Arabian men are at imminent risk of execution after the Supreme Court ratified their death sentences. They are accused of spying for Iran and sentenced to death after a grossly unfair mass trial.


Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

  • Urging the Saudi Arabian authorities to halt the execution of the 12 men and quash their convictions, given the grave concerns about the fairness of the trial, and to retry them in line with international fair trial standards without recourse to the death penalty;
  • Calling on them to order a prompt, impartial, independent, and effective investigation into the allegations of ill-treatment;
  • Urging them to immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Contact these 2 officials by 29 March, 2018:

King and Prime Minister
His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: (via Ministry of Interior)
+966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)
Twitter: @KingSalman
Salutation: Your Majesty

Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz,
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Washington DC 20037
Phone: (202) 342-3800 -- Fax: 202 295 3625
Twitter: @SaudiEmbassyUSA
Salutation: Your Royal Highness

Source: Amnesty International USA, February 20, 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