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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Belarus: Unprecedented Supreme Court decision to suspend death sentences

Belarus prison
Responding to the news that the Supreme Court of Belarus has in an unprecedented move decided to suspend and review the death sentences of Ihar Hershankou and Siamion Berazhnoy while their appeals are under consideration, Marie Struthers, Director of Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office, said:

“This is a hugely significant and unprecedented decision for the only country in the region that has continued to execute people all these years. We are not aware of other cases where the Supreme Court of Belarus has suspended an execution.”

“We continue to monitor the case closely, but it gives us hope that after years of discussion on the death penalty Belarus is ready to walk the talk. We urge Belarus’ highest authorities to build on this development by immediately establishing a moratorium on executions and commuting all death sentences as first steps towards making Belarus death penalty-free.”

Background


Since 1994 the Supreme Court of Belarus has upheld all convictions and death sentences that came before it and President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has only once granted clemency.

Ihar Hershankou and Siamion Berazhnoy were convicted and sentenced to death by the Mahiliou Regional Court in eastern Belarus on 21 July 2017. They were found guilty of murdering six people between 2009 and 2015 with the aim of appropriating their property. Their convictions and death sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court on 20 December 2017 and the two men have since been at risk of imminent execution. Amnesty International has campaigned for their sentences to be commuted and for the President to introduce an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

Despite continuing assurances from the Belarusian authorities that it is progressing toward a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty, Belarus has shown a flagrant disdain for global and regional trends towards abolition. Amnesty International believes that the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As of today, 106 countries have fully abolished the death penalty in law and 142 are abolitionist in law or practice.

Source: Amnesty International, June 15, 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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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?