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

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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…

UN Experts Urge Iran To Halt 'Arbitrary' Execution Of Juvenile Offender

Iran hangs juvenile offenders
2 UN rights experts have called on Iranian authorities to halt the planned execution of a man convicted of killing his teacher at the age of 15.

In a June 19 statement, the experts cited reports suggesting that Mohammad Kalhori will be executed shortly after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week.

"Iran has committed itself to prohibiting the use of the death penalty for all those under 18 by its ratification of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child," said Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, and Renate Winter, who heads the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

"As such, this execution is unlawful and arbitrary," they added.

Callamard and Winter also noted that in 2013, Iran amended its Penal Code to allow judges to pronounce alternative sentences for juvenile offenders if there was any uncertainty about their "mental development" at the time of the crime, or if they did not fully realize the nature of the crime committed.

They pointed out that Iran's state forensic experts concluded that Kalhori, who was convicted of killing his teacher at the age of 15, was not mentally mature at the time of the crime.

A court initially sentenced Kalhori to prison and a fine, but the Supreme Court overturned the verdict and he was sentenced to death during a retrial, the experts said

"Notwithstanding the clear prohibition of the application of the death penalty for those under the age of 18, this case demonstrates flagrant disregard for the amendment to the Penal Code itself," Callamard and Winter said.

The UN experts issued their "urgent appeal" a day after the United States and human rights watchdogs condemned Iran's execution of a man who was convicted of killing 3 police officers.

Iran is one of the world's leading executioners. Amnesty International said in April that 507 people were executed in the country last year, including at least 5 juvenile offenders.

Source: Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, June 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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