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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…

Botswana court hears bid to scrap anti-gay laws; death penalty on the books, under sharia, in Mauritania, Sudan and northern Nigeria

Gay flag
The High Court in Botswana on Thursday started hearing an application seeking to decriminalize homosexuality, in a landmark case for Africa’s legal response to same-sex relationships.

Botswana is touted as one of Africa’s most democratic nations, yet homosexuality is outlawed under the country’s penal code of 1965.

An unnamed applicant is challenging two sections of that code under which offenders face a jail sentence of up to seven years.

“These sections… limit me to interact with others who identify in the same way for fear of imprisonment,” said the applicant in documents read by lawyer Gosego Lekgowe in the High Court in Gaborone.

“We are not looking for people to agree with homosexuality but to be tolerant,” said the applicant identified by their initials LM.

Scrapping the relevant laws would help gays and lesbians to more easily access health care and treatment, and “will also affirm basic human rights and the diversity of the Botswana nation”, said the argument.

Botswana has slowly become more tolerant of homosexuality in recent years.

In 2016 the country’s appeal court ruled that the government was wrong to refuse to register an organisation that represents homosexuals and other minority sexual groups.

Activists had launched the legal battle after the Home Affairs ministry rejected an application to register the Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) organisation.

Lawyer Lekgowe said public opinion on same-sex relationships had evolved and employment laws now even outlaw discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi previously addressed a meeting on gender-based violence saying there are “many people of same sex relationships in this country who have been violated and have also suffered in silence.”

“Just like other citizens, they deserve to have their rights protected,” said the president at the December gathering.

Twenty-eight out of 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have laws penalizing same-sex relationships, according to Neela Ghoshal, a specialist in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights at the Human Rights Watch group.

The death penalty is on the books, under sharia, in Mauritania, Sudan and northern Nigeria, although there have been no known executions in recent times.

In southern Somalia, gay men are believed to have been put to death in territory ruled by the Al Shabaab jihadist group.

However, Angola, Mozambique and Seychelles have scrapped anti-gay laws in recent years, and the High Court in Nairobi is mulling whether Kenya follows suit.

Source: Agence France-Presse, Staff, March 14, 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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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?