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USA | States Continue to Oppose DNA Testing in Death Penalty Appeals, Attorneys Ask Why Don’t They Want to Learn the Truth?

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The last 3 men scheduled for execution in Georgia said they did not commit the killing and that DNA testing that was not available at the time of trial could prove it. In 2 of the cases, victim family members supported the request for testing. Prosecutors opposed the requests, and the courts refused to allow the testing. 2 of the 3 men were executed, with doubts still swirling as to their guilt.
Shawn Nolan, a federal defender who represented Georgia prisoner Ray “Jeff” Cromartie, summed up the sentiments of the prisoners, families, and defense attorneys in these cases. “I’d like to know what the state is so scared of,” he said. “Why are they afraid of the truth? This is sad and so disturbing.”
“We have the capability of testing a wide range of forensic evidence that we couldn’t test in the past,” said Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham. “It is a powerful tool to get to the truth and to get important answers as to whether the criminal legal system has b…

Brunei to Punish Adultery and Gay Sex With Death by Stoning

Public caning of gay men in Indonesia's Shariah-ruled Aceh province
HONG KONG — When Brunei announced in 2013 that it was bringing in harsh Islamic laws that included punishments of death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, the move was met with international protest.

Some investments by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, including the Beverly Hills Hotel, were targets of boycotts and calls for divestment.

Following the outcry, Brunei, a sultanate of about 430,000 on the island of Borneo, delayed carrying out the harshest provisions of its Shariah law.

Now, it is quietly going ahead with them.

Beginning on April 3, statutes allowing stoning and amputation will go into effect, according to an announcement posted by the country’s attorney general last year that has only recently received notice.

That has set off a renewed outcry from human rights groups.


“Brunei’s Penal Code is a deeply flawed piece of legislation containing a range of provisions that violate human rights,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a researcher for Amnesty International, said in a statement. “As well as imposing cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, it blatantly restricts the rights to freedom of expression, religion and belief, and codifies discrimination against women and girls.”

Brunei has had the death penalty on the books since it was a British protectorate, but in practice executions are not typically carried out.

A gay man is being stoned to death after being thrown off a building top by ISIS militants in Kirkurk, Iraq, in July 2016.Homosexuality is already illegal in Brunei, with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, but the new laws allow for penalties including whipping and stoning.

The new laws also introduce amputation of hands or feet as a punishment for robbery.

“To legalize such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself,” Ms. Chhoa-Howard said. “Some of the potential ‘offenses’ should not even be deemed crimes at all, including consensual sex between adults of the same gender.”

RELATED | Brunei Darussalam: Heinous punishments to become law next week

Brunei is ruled by a sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, who lives in a 1,788-room palace and whose wealth amounts to tens of billions of dollars thanks to Brunei’s oil riches. 

In recent decades he has advocated a conservative vision of Islam that has clashed with the more moderate strains generally practiced in the region, and with the royal family’s own luxurious lifestyle.

A long-running feud between the sultan and his brother, Prince Jefri Bolkiah, unfolded in courtrooms around the world after the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s and brought attention to the prince’s reputation for extravagance, including cars, mansions, mistresses and erotic statues.

Under the laws about to come into effect, a person can be convicted of adultery or having gay sex only if there are multiple Muslim witnesses.

The law will apply to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, although some offenses, such as apostasy, apply specifically to Muslims, who make up about two-thirds of Brunei’s population.

In an update to its travel advice for Brunei, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said the new Shariah code “applies to Muslims, non-Muslim and foreigners even when on Brunei registered aircraft and vessels.” It recommended that travelers “exercise normal safety precautions” when visiting the sultanate.

Source: The New York Times, Austin Ramzy, March 28, 2019


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
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