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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…

Pakistan: Presidential pardon for Asia Bibi not in the cards says her defence counsel

Asia Bibi's defence counsel Advocate Saif-ul-Malook, has expressed hopelessness for clemency. 

He said that Asia Bibi might not get Presidential Pardon, during a DW interview; he also portrayed the sensitivity of the matter. 

Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian woman who has been on death row since 2010.

Her appeal against capital punishment is pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Blasphemy case against Asia Bibi


In 2016, Asia Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih had written a letter to the President of Pakistan urging for a Presidential Pardon for his imprisoned wife. He requested the President to grant him permission to move his wife to France. Asia Bibi is currently behind the bars, as she has been since 2009.

Advocate Saif-ul-Malook said that she is fine, "I can assure you that she is being treated well. I visit her quite often. She has no complaints against the prison officials, who are all women." He said that he is hopeful for date for a final hearing on her appeal case.

Asia Bibi appeared before the Supreme Court in October 2016, but the hearing was postponed because one of the judges Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman withdrew on the pretext he had also been part of the bench hearing the case of Salman Taseer's murder. He said that Asia Bibi's case was not of much priority for the apex court.

Talking about the likelihood of a Presidential Pardon for his client he said: "I don't think so. The opposition from a large section of the Pakistani society is so immense that I don't think that Bibi would get a presidential pardon. According to the country's constitution, the president acts on the prime minister's advice, and I don't think any civilian premier in Pakistan can afford to make such a request to the president."

He said that the international pressure has not effectually had any impact on the case, but support from the international community encourages Asia Bibi. "You feel strong when your work is appreciated and supported. When I tell Bibi that so many countries want to grant her citizenship, it gives her courage and makes her forget that she has been imprisoned for 9 long years," he told DW.

Asia Bibi was accused of committing blasphemy by her co-workers back in 2009. Later on, in 2010, a court in district Nankana awarded her capital punishment, which was later challenged by Asia's defense counsel and was upheld by a 2-member bench of Lahore High Court in 2014. Her appeal case is currently pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Source: christianpakistan.com, March 7, 2018


Senate body for simplifying procedure for filing death penalty mercy petition


A Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday recommended to simplify the procedure for filing mercy petitions against death penalties with the President, aimed at providing relief on humanitarian grounds.

The panel also asked for forming an executive committee with the representation of all stakeholders, including National Commission for Human Rights, Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Human Rights to see the complaints before sending those to the President.

The committee also forwarded 3 recommendations to Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for their comments on misuse of blasphemy law.

The committee also recommended that the cases of around 40 accused in the 2015 Youhanabad Church bombing case in Lahore, should be transferred from Anti-Terrorist Court to other routine courts.

The committee was attended by Senators Farhat Ullah Baber, Mufti Abdul Sattar, Mohammad Mohsin Khan Leghari and Mir Kabir Ahmad Mohammad Shahi, officials of Punjab police, representative of National Commission for Human Rights and official of Ministries of Human Rights and Law and Justice.

The committee which met here under the chairmanship of Senator Nasreen Jalil recommended that "the provincial government who forwarded the application on behalf of the sentenced person should clearly define the reasons on which the plea has been filed".

An official of National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), briefed the committee that the applications were prepared by the police officials but the relevant documents, including medical and judicial records, to support the request were not being annexed, which result in refusal of the plea.

The committee was further informed that in case of rejection, law gives the provision that another plea could be filed within seven days on fresh grounds, adding that since the causes of refusal were not usually mentioned in the order, hence creating problems for the applicant.

Mohammad Shafiq, member NCHR, stated that 27 cases of death penalty were still pending.

Discussing the juvenile cases, the committee was informed that under the latest legislation, age of the child should be determined at the time of filing of case to avoid any complication later. The committee was informed that a new law has been passed by the national assembly which will soon be tabled in the Senate.

Source: Gulf News, March 7, 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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