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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…

Iran Responsible For Over Half of Executions World Over, Says Amnesty International

Medieval and barbaric: Public execution in Iran
In a report released on April 12, London-based international human rights watchdog Amnesty International said “more than half (51%) of all recorded executions in 2017 were carried out in Iran.”

Iran ranks second in the world after China in terms of executions and has “carried out 84% of the global total number of executions with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.”

However, Amnesty International has observed that there has been “a slight decrease (5%) in execution figures” in Iran compared to 2016.

The report said Iran is one of the 23 countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty.

According to Amnesty International, “Iran executed at least 507 people, accounting for 60% of all confirmed executions in the region.”

Out of the 507 individuals executed in Iran last year, “501 were men and 6 were women. At least 5 juvenile offenders were executed and 31 executions were carried out publicly. The executions were carried out for murder (240); drug trafficking (205); murder and rape 4; robbery 11; “spreading corruption on earth” 2; rape (male on female rape) 16; kidnapping and murder 3; moharebeh (politically motivated) (2); and 19 were for offences that could not be confirmed,” the AI reported.

Amnesty International received reports indicating that at least 5 people in Iran were executed for crimes committed when they were under 18 years of age. Iran also sentenced to death other people who were younger than 18 at the time of the crime. The imposition and execution of the death penalty against people who were aged under 18 when the crime was committed is a violation of international law.

Amnesty International added, “For the first time in many years Amnesty International recorded more executions for murder than for drug-related offences. The organization believed that hundreds of death sentences were imposed during the year; however, it was unable to confirm any credible figure.”

Amnesty International recorded a noticeable decrease in the overall number of executions carried out for drug-related offences. This was due to the fact that “in November, Iran amended the Anti-Narcotics Law, raising the level of drug possession needed to trigger the imposition of a mandatory death sentence, with potential retroactive effect,” the Amnesty International observed.

Meanwhile, “The widespread use of the death penalty remains a grave concern; Iran continued to use the death penalty for conduct that did not amount to a recognizably criminal offense", such as "enmity against god", "spreading corruption on earth" and “insulting the Prophet”.

Amnesty International’s research showed that basic fair trial guarantees were absent in death penalty cases and that courts often relied on “confessions” extracted under torture to impose death sentences. The use of torture is absolutely prohibited under the UN Convention against Torture,” the AI report stressed.

“In Iran and Iraq some of these ‘confessions’ were broadcast on television before the trial took place, further violating the defendant’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Amnesty International believed that hundreds of other death sentences were imposed in Iran but was unable to confirm any credible figures.

The AI noted that execution figures in China are probably the highest in the world, but there are no figures publicly announced as China regards such figures “state secrets.” Iran ranks the 2nd with 507 registered executions and Saudi Arabia is the 3rd with 146 executions in 2017 according to Amnesty International.

Raha Bahraini, an Iran researcher with the IA, told Radio Farda that “Iran lags behind the global progress in the move to abolish death penalty.”

Bahraini reiterated that Iran even lags behind its neighbors, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iraq, as Tehran has executed far more people than those 3 countries during the past year,” adding that these 4 countries and China comprise an isolated minority in the community of nations that still violate people’s right to live.”

Meanwhile, Mahmoud Amiri Moghaddam, head of the Iran Human Rights Organization in Norway, said in an interview with Radio Farda that some 70 to 80% of executions in Iran are not reported.”

Source: radiofarda.com, April 14, 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