America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

70 Iranian lawmakers hope to amend pardon law, reduce death penalty

Welcome to Iran
70 Iranian lawmakers have signed a bill to apply for collective pardons for political crimes and political prisoners who were served with harsh sentences. 

"Collective pardons are within the authority of lawmakers. As lawmakers can define a crime, they also can provide pardons for some crimes," Mohammad Javad Fathi, member of the legal and judiciary committee of the Iranian parliament, told ISNA news agency. 

Iran frequently comes under fire for its human rights record. 

The bill covers all politically-related sentences and aims to reduce use of the death penalty. 

The bill comes amid expectations that Ramin Hossein Panahi may be executed shortly. He was arrested in June 2017 on charges of being a member of the Kurdish opposition party Komala. Prosecutors said he had received military training and was carrying a gun and a grenade at the time of his arrest. 

The punishment for those who fight against the Islamic Republic is the death penalty. 

Panahi's lawyer denied the prosecutor's version of events, insisting his client had been unarmed when he was arrested. 

The bill also addresses dual nationals. 

"Iranians living abroad can return to Iran without any prosecution if they have not been sued by any person," Fathi explained. 

In Iran has arrested several Iranians with dual nationalities. Around 6 million Iranians live outside the country, mostly in Europe and the US. 

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman, is serving a 5-year prison sentence for allegedly planning the "soft toppling" of Iran's government. 

In May, Tehran's Revolutionary Court announced that she was facing new security-related charges. 

"I think as lawmakers we have to show this green light to about 6 to 7 million Iranians abroad because there are many experts among them," Fathi stated, noting the country is in need of this human capital. 

The bill is likely to be discussed in parliament next week. If it is passed by the legislature, it will still have to be approved by the Guardian Council of the Constitution, a conservative council of the Islamic Republic, in order to become law. 

Source: rudaw.net, June 15, 2018

MPs Propose An Amnesty For Diaspora Iranians

Public hanging Iran
The Islamic Republic's parliament (Majles) has drafted a double emergency motion to declare general amnesty and judicial immunity for diaspora Iranians. 

Meanwhile, the motion has also called for restricting death penalty across the country. 

The motion, signed by more than 70 MPs, has been delivered to the parliament's board of directors, a member of Majles Judicial and Legal Commission, Mohammad Javad Fat'hee told E'timad Online pro-reform website on Wednesday, June 13. 

"Since the legislators are authorized to define a crime, they have also the authority to demand amnesty for people convicted of particular crimes," Fat'hee argued, adding, "Therefore, the new motion has proposed a general amnesty for all the people charged or convicted of political and security related crimes." 

However, according to Fat'hee, the new motion has excluded people charged and convicted of physical sabotage actions "deplored by all the nations across the world", including espionage, setting fire to banks and damaging public properties. 

"Crimes, such as espionage and setting fire to banks are so deplorable that people charged with such offenses are usually forced to commit suicide under mental and psychological pressures," Fat'hee maintained. 

However, avoiding any reference to Iranian dual nationals currently behind bars in the Islamic Republic, Fat'hee did not elaborate on the reasons and the timing for the new motion 39 years after the Islamic Revolution in the country. 

Many western countries have warned their Iranian dual citizens to stay away from their homeland, lest they be arrested. 

Currently, an unknown number of Iranians with dual citizenship are sentenced to long prison terms, charged with espionage for the so-called "enemies" of the state. 

If the new motion does not extend the amnesty to alleged cases of espionage, dual citizens would be reluctant to return to Iran. 

Following the United States withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran is under diplomatic and financial pressures, which could be the driving force behind the proposed amnesty. Such a move can both put Iran under a better light internationally and also might entice diaspora compatriots to make investments in the country. 

As a matter of fact, Fat'hee has insisted that the new motion "Will hopefully reduce the international pressure on Tehran concerning the fate of Iranians with dual citizenship who are currently kept mainly in Tehran's notorious prison, Evin." 

As a legislator, Fat'hee insists, "We should give the green light to the 6-7 million Iranians living overseas. Iranian diaspora enjoys having significant assets and expertise that people inside Iran have been so far deprived of." 

But Iran is among the countries with highest number of executions, which have included political opponents. 

Internal and international civil rights activists say that human rights in Iran have been systematically violated during almost 4 decades of theocracy to the extent that the UN has assigned a special rapporteur to monitor the human rights situation in the country. 

Most of the political, ethnic rights activists detained in Iran are generally convicted of vaguely defined charges, including "action against national security" and "anti-system propaganda". 

In the new double emergency motion, according Fat'hee, political and ethnic rights activists will be pardoned. 

The double emergency motion, if passed by the parliament, requires the Guardian Council's (GC) ratification to become a law. 

GC is totally dominated by ultra-conservative elements with its most influential members directly appointed by the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

According to Fat'hee, the new double emergency motion is expected to be tabled next week. 

Source:  radiofarda.com, June 15, 2018

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