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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Four Death Sentences in One Month; Two Death Sentences Issued Against Two Civilians in the Gaza Strip

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On 26 July 2018, Gaza Court of First Instance issued 2 death sentences by hanging against (G. H.) and (Z. Q.) from Gaza City, after being convicted of participation in murder. This sentence comes after Palestine’s signing the instrument of its accession to the Additional Protocol of the 1989 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in last June.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns issuing death sentences, especially in light of absence of fair trial guarantees in the Gaza Strip. PCHR reiterates is calls upon the Palestinian President to issue a Presidential decree to halt the death penalty until pending the necessary amendments in the local laws.

It should be noted that this sentence is the second to be issued against a woman in the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a previous one was issued against a woman in 2016, but it was not executed yet.

In 2018, the number of death sentences issued has so far risen to 5 sentences, 4 of them were issued by courts of first instance, and one was issued by the Court of Appeal, upholding a previous sentence. Thus, the total number of death sentences issued in the PA controlled areas has risen to 207 since 1994, 30 of which have been issued in the West Bank and 177 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 119 sentences have been issued since 2007.

Since the establishment of the PA, 41 death sentences were applied, 39 of which were in the Gaza Strip and two in the West Bank. Among the sentences applied in the Gaza Strip, 28 were applied since 2007 without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the law.

PCHR express its continued condemnation of such inhuman punishment in light of absence of fair trial guarantees and calls upon the judiciary in Gaza not to use such  sentence until it is abolished in the necessary legal form.

PCHR calls upon the Palestinian President to make immediate amendments in the Penal Codes applicable in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, especially the Penal Law No. 74 (1936) which remains in effect in the Gaza Strip, and the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 (1960) that is in effect in the West Bank. PCHR retreats is calls to halt the application of 1979 Revolutionary Penal Code as it is unconstitutional.

Source: PCHR, July 26, 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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