“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

Iraq offers to commute death sentences of French IS members for 'millions of euros'

French IS members sentenced to death by Iraqi courts
Iraq is reportedly demanding money from France in return for commuting death sentences passed on 11 French jihadists to life imprisonment, according to the conservative newspaper Le Figaro.

France is unwilling to repatriate jihadists from Syria or Iraq, but it opposes the death penalty. It has said its adult citizens should be tried locally.

About another 120 other French citizens are awaiting trial in Iraq. 

Le Figaro says the Iraqi government is demanding $1 million for each foreign jihadist transferred from Syria and sentenced to death, and $2 million each for those whose sentences are commuted to life imprisonment.

The paper quotes an Iraqi source as saying Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the Iraqi prime minister, made the request when he met President Emmanuel Macron last month.

The Elysée Palace and the Iraqi embassy in Paris deny the claim. “Neither Adil Abdul-Mahdi nor Barham Salih [Iraq’s president] made such a request to France,” a spokesman for Mr Macron’s office said. 

However, Le Figaro quotes its source as saying Iraq plans to ask for up €270 million (£240 million) for trying and imprisoning French jihadists, “not a large sum if you consider the political and social cost of the return of all the jihadists to France”.

More than 80 per cent of the French public do not want them back, according to opinion polls.

Politicians are divided, with the Right taking a firm line and arguing that they should be tried in the Middle East where their crimes were committed. 

Left-wingers and human rights campaigners maintain that the French legal system should be involved, but there are fears that proof of guilt may be difficult to establish in France.

Some 4,000 foreign nationals were captured in Syria and Iraq after the rout of Isil, and most of their home countries do not want them back.

Iraq has offered to try all foreign fighters captured by a US-backed alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 

Several hundred have been transferred for trial by Iraqi courts but none have so far been executed.

The question of how to deal with IS fighters is one of the most difficult issues in the aftermath of the group’s defeat. 

The trials in Iraq are seen as a test of whether Iraqi courts can meet international standards for fairness.

Source: The Telegraph, David Chazan, June 8, 2019

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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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