USA | The Dreadful Failure of Lethal Injection

Editor’s Note: This column is the product of a research collaboration with five Amherst College students, Mattea Denny, Nicolas Graber-Mitchell, Greene Ko, Rose Mroczka, and Lauren Pelosi. America’s death penalty continues to fall out of favor, a well-known fact. When the year started, eight executions were scheduled for February and March in five different states. But all of them are now on hold, and two of the three executions that were set for April already have been halted. While advocacy for the end of the death penalty has played some role, it is the decomposition of the lethal injection paradigm that has truly driven down execution numbers. We have now seen a decade of chaos and experimentation as death penalty jurisdictions tried to find reliable sources of drugs to carry out executions. States rolled out new drugs, but things did not go smoothly. The number of mishaps associated with lethal injection increased substantially. From 2010-2020, an already problematic method of ex

Egypt executes nine men over prosecutor's death after ‘unfair trial’

The nine men executed on Wednesday (Twitter)
Egyptian authorities executed nine young men on Wednesday morning despite calls by rights groups to halt the executions over due process violations, a source close to their families told Middle East Eye.

The nine men were convicted of killing Egypt’s former prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat and their appeal was turned down by Egypt’s highest appeals court on 25 February 2018.

The daughter of the slain prosecutor, Marwa Hisham Barakat, added to doubts over the executions in a Facebook post on Tuesday, saying that she believed the nine men are not the real killers of her father.

“A testimony before God: I knew that young men convicted in the case of assassinating my father would be executed soon. I will say what’s in my heart, because these are people’s lives, just like my father’s.

"These young men are not the ones who killed my dad. They will die unjustly. Please save them and arrest the real killers.”

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, the anti-death penalty rights group, said the executions showed that the use of the death penalty by Egypt's president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi "is now a full-blown human rights crisis". 

"Executions have spiked - bringing the total number to 15 in just two weeks - amid widespread abuses including gross due process violations, torture, false confessions and the repeated use of mass trials", Foa said. 

"It is shocking that these abuses continue unabated while the international community remains silent." 

Thirteen other defendants were sentenced to death in absentia. One of them, Mohamed Abdelhafiz, was forcibly deported from Turkey last month.

Abdelhafiz is currently facing a retrial on the same charges. According to Egyptian law, those tried in absentia stand for a retrial once detained. Abdelhafiz, therefore, is currently held in pre-trial detention.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International urged Egyptian authorities to halt the executions that were handed down based on forced confessions under torture.

“There is no doubt that those involved in deadly attacks must be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions but executing prisoners or convicting people based on confessions extracted through torture is not justice,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa campaigns director.

Egypt executed six other men in February in two separate cases that were denounced by rights groups as unjust.

Egyptian civil and military courts have sentenced more than 1,400 people to death since General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who led the 2013 military coup, became president in 2014.

The sentences, according to Amnesty International, followed “grossly unfair trials” that relied on confessions extracted under torture. Many of those sentenced to death have been either members of the Muslim Brotherhood or critics of the Sisi government.

Source: middleeasteye.net, Staff, February 20, 2019

Egypt hangs 9 for 2015 murder of top prosecutor

Egypt hanged 9 men on Wednesday for the 2015 assassination of the prosecutor general, judicial sources said, bringing to 15 the number of executions it has carried out this month.

Hisham Barakat was killed in June 2015 when a car bomb struck his convoy in Cairo following jihadist calls for attacks on the judiciary to avenge a crackdown on Islamists.

The 9 men hanged on Wednesday were among 28 people sentenced to death in 2017 for involvement in his murder.

Their death sentences were upheld in November by the Court of Cassation, which commuted the sentences of 6 others to life imprisonment.

The sentences of the other defendants were not considered because they had been sentenced in absentia.

The hangings came despite an 11th-hour plea by human rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday for a stay of execution.

"There is no doubt that those involved in deadly attacks must be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions but executing prisoners or convicting people based on confessions extracted through torture is not justice," said Amnesty's North Africa campaigns director, Najia Bounaim.

"At least 6 men have already been executed earlier this month after unfair trials. Instead of stepping up executions the Egyptian authorities should take steps to abolish the death penalty once and for all."

Last week, Egypt hanged 3 people convicted of the 2013 murder of senior police officer Nabil Farag.

The previous week, it hanged three young "political detainees" convicted of the September 2013 murder of the son of a judge, Human Rights Watch reported.

No one claimed the 2015 attack against Barakat but the authorities pointed the finger at members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Since Morsi's overthrow by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013, Egypt has struggled to quell a jihadist insurgency and cracked down on Islamists who backed him.

Hundreds of Morsi supporters have been sentenced to death, while the former president and top Brotherhood figures have also faced trial.

The Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed and branded a terrorist organisation in December 2013, just months after Morsi's ouster.

Many of the death sentences have been handed down at mass trials involving hundreds of defendants and lasting just days.

Source: france24.com, February 20, 2019

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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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