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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…

U.N. warns Japan against hanging Aum cult figures currently seeking retrial

Gallows at Tokyo Detention Center
The U.N. Human Rights Office has called into question Japan's possible execution of Aum Shinrikyo cult figures on death row who are seeking a retrial.

"We do note that some of the defendants in this case are reportedly requesting a retrial," Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the office, said in a written interview with Kyodo News.

"Execution of individuals with appeals or other proceedings still pending is against the U.N. Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty," she said.

Death sentences have been finalized for 13 members of the cult, including Aum founder Shoko Asahara, 63, who masterminded the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 13 people and left over 6,000 people ill.

Earlier this month, the Justice Ministry transferred 7 of the 13 on death row from the Tokyo detention center to other facilities across the country, likely bringing them a step closer to execution.

Japan has long tended to avoid executing death-row inmates while their retrial pleas were pending, but last year then-Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda said such a plea does not impede an execution.

All 13 inmates sentenced to death for crimes committed while members of the doomsday cult, including Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, had been housed in the Tokyo detention facility. Asahara remains in the facility, government sources said earlier.

The U.N. safeguards, adopted in 1984, partly stipulate that capital punishment "shall not be carried out pending any appeal or other recourse procedure or other proceeding relating to pardon or commutation of the sentence."

"The U.N. Human Rights Office advocates for full abolition of the death penalty, and we have in our discussions with the Japanese government urged them to consider abolition," the spokeswoman said.

Source: Japan Times, March 28, 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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