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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

Trump urges death penalty for drug dealers

Donald Trump, Rodrigo Duterte
US President Donald Trump has called for drug traffickers to face the death penalty as part of his plan to combat the US painkiller-addiction epidemic.

He outlined the proposal during a speech in New Hampshire, a state badly affected by the opioid crisis.

Mr Trump said his administration was attempting to change the law to execute drug dealers, but it will face stiff political and judicial headwinds.

Opioids are a class of drugs including prescription painkillers and heroin.

What are opioids and what are the risks?


Some 2.4 million Americans are estimated to be addicted to the drugs. The crisis claimed an estimated 63,600 lives nationwide in 2016, say health officials.

Mr Trump was cheered on Monday as he told a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire: "If we don't get tough on the drug dealers we're wasting our time.

"And that toughness includes the death penalty."

Mr Trump previously suggested the "ultimate" punishment for traffickers at a rally in Pennsylvania this month.


Congress likely to just say no


Donald Trump is calling for an expansion of the federal death penalty at a time when its use is being increasingly curtailed across the US.

Congress appears unlikely to pass any new extensions of the death penalty and, if it did, the resulting cases would almost certainly be bogged down in legal battles for years, if not decades.

On the ground in states like New Hampshire, West Virginia and Kentucky - the front lines of the struggle to control opioid addiction - concern is largely directed at shutting down the supply of illegal narcotics, particularly potent fentanyl and carfentanil, shipped from overseas - and treating the lifelong struggles of millions of addicts.

Mr Trump's get-tough rhetoric may garner applause, but in the view of local officials it's federal dollars for prevention and treatment that save lives.


What's the legality of Trump's plan?


Outlining its plan, the White House said the Department of Justice would seek the death penalty against drug traffickers "when it's appropriate under current law".

Drug-related murder is already a capital offence in the US, but no one has ever been executed using those rules.

Mr Trump said on Monday: "We have to change the laws and we're working on that now. The Department of Justice is working very hard on that."

However, such a move would require an act of Congress.

And it would probably fall afoul of previous Supreme Court rulings on proportional punishment.

The US president seemed to accept on Monday that his policy faced an uphill battle.

"The ultimate penalty has to be the death penalty," he said. "Now maybe our country's not ready for that. It's possible, it's possible."

What does the rest of the world do?


Trump, Duterte: Fire and Forget
"Take a look at some of these countries where they don't play games, they don't have a drug problem," said Mr Trump on Monday.

He has previously praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, whose war against drug dealers has led to extra-judicial killings.

Philippines police say they have killed 4,100 drug suspects as part of the campaign.

But human rights groups say the real death toll is triple that number, and the International Criminal Court is investigating.

Advocates of capital punishment for drug dealers credit it to Singapore's low drug use.

But Iran also imposes the death penalty for drug use, yet it is plagued by opiate addiction.


What else does Trump's opioid plan involve?


The Republican president said his administration would amend government healthcare programmes in order to cut opioid prescriptions by a third over the next three years.

He opened the way for a crackdown on negligent physicians and pharmacies, adding that implicated pharmaceutical companies could face litigation.

The president said his plan would also require electronic data for most international mail shipments to deter the posting of illicit opioids.

Mr Trump said he wanted Congress to approve $6bn ($4.2bn) in new funding in 2018-19 to help fight the opioid crisis.

Source: BBC News, March 19, 2018


The death penalty is never an appropriate response to a public health crisis


Responding to an initiative announced by President Donald Trump on the use of the death penalty as a means to address the opioid crisis, Amnesty International’s Senior Program Officer for Criminal Justice, Kristina Roth stated:

“We are deeply concerned about the administration’s plans to address the United States opioid crisis, by ramping up the use of the death penalty. The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. All people have the right to life, and we all have the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment. These are human rights that people have, regardless of whether they have been convicted of crimes. The death penalty is never an appropriate option in any circumstance, let alone when responding to a public health crisis.

“There is no evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect, improves public safety, or reduces drug-related harm. The death penalty will not lower the alarming number of deaths related to the use of opioids. What we need are more humane, effective and evidence-based policies, to better protect public health and human rights.

“Nationwide, the death penalty has been in decline. We must not backslide now by creating more avenues for the state to execute people.

“We must not follow the examples of countries including Singapore, whose draconian anti-drug measures have not only failed to address drug harm but also violate international human rights law and standards.

Source: Amnesty International, March 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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