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Showing posts from July, 2019

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Arizona: Execution witnesses have First Amendment right to hear entire process, 9th Circuit rules

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A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that witnesses to Arizona executions have a First Amendment right to hear the entire execution process to help determine if executions are done “in a humane and lawful manner.”
The ruling comes 5 years after the last execution in Arizona ended up with the condemned inmate, Joseph Wood, gasping for almost two hours and in apparent agony behind soundproof glass.
A 3-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the claim, by seven death-row inmates and the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, that the ability to hear what’s happening in the execution room will foster a heightened level of transparency around the death penalty.

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“People might say, ‘That sounds so gory, why do you want to hear what’s happening in there?'” said Morgan Loew, an investigative reporter with CBS 5 in Arizona and the president of the First Amendment Coalition. “What we’re doing is fighting for more access to probably the most …

Possible Juvenile Offender Hanged in Iran

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); July 29, 2019: A young man who probably was a juvenile at the time of committing a murder, was executed in the Iranian northern city of Nur on Sunday morning.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, on the morning of Sunday, July 28, a man was hanged at Nur prison for murder. 
Nur city’s attorney general said the man was 23 at the time of the execution. 
“The youngster stabbed and killed a 19-year-old man five years ago.”
However, according to a Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRANA) report, the prisoner was 16 at the time of the crime. HRANA identified the man as Touraj Ghassemi. 
According to the IHR statistic department, at least 110 people were executed in Iran in the first half of 2019. 
There were two juvenile-offenders among the prisoners who have been executed in the first half of 2019 in Iran.
Source:Iran Human Rights, Staff, July 29, 2019


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Iran: Man Hanged at Shiraz Prison

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); July 28, 2019: A prisoner was hanged at Shiraz Central Prison (known as Adel Abad) for murder charges a week ago.
According to HRANA, around a week ago, a man was executed at Shiraz Central Prison (known as Adel Abad). 
He was identified as Arash Shah-hosseini and was sentenced to death for murder. 
He was arrested three years ago for killing a man during a fight. 
His execution has not been announced by the Iranian authorities or media so far. 
At least 110 people were executed in Iran in the first half of 2019.
Only 37 of the executions have been announced by authorities or Iranian media. 
Iran Human Rights (IHR) could confirm 73 more through its sources. 
IHR only reports the unannounced executions if it could confirm those with two separate credible sources. Therefore, the actual number of executions may be even higher than reported.
Source:Iran Human Rights, Staff, July 28, 2019


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Former Pennsylvania Prison Superintendent Describes Toll of Working on Death Row

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A former Pennsylvania death-row prison superintendent says working on death row makes corrections personnel feel “less human” and “can be profoundly damaging” psychologically. 
Cynthia Link served as the Superintendent of Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution at Graterford from 2015 to 2018, during a period in which the prison housed more than 20 of the Commonwealth’s death row prisoners. 
In a July 16, 2019 op-ed for Penn Live, Link describes the psychological toll that corrections officers face when working on death row. She explains the challenging nature of working with condemned prisoners even in a state such as Pennsylvania, which has not carried out an execution in 20 years.
“Few outside of my profession realize how difficult capital punishment is for the staff; even when executions are not being carried out, housing death row prisoners can be profoundly damaging,” she writes. Enforcing the “inhumane” conditions on death row causes extreme stress and prevents correctio…

Former public defender: DOJ plan to resume federal executions a 'recipe for problems'

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Former public defender Robert Dunham on Monday said that the Trump administration’s plan to resume federal executions after nearly two decades is a “recipe for problems,” saying that such a move could catch some authorities unprepared if anything goes wrong.
“What we’ve seen is that there’s been 15 years of no executions,” Dunham, now the executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, said in an appearance on Hill.TV.
“Now you’re going to carry out 5 executions in the span of 5 weeks, 3 executions in the span of 5 days with personnel that have not carried out any executions at all,” he continued. “That particular compressed schedule if it goes forward is a recipe for problems.”
Dunham explained that federal authorities carrying out the executions need to be properly trained.
“These are going to be the first executions, so you know they’re going to be legal challenges — they frequently go on until the last minute and so you’ve got potentially unprepared personne…

Australian woman sentenced to death for leading cross-border drug ring

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A HCMC court Monday sentenced a Vietnamese Australian woman to death for running a drug trafficking operation between Cambodia and neighboring Vietnam.
Lam Kim Phung, 55, was arrested in late 2016 and identified as the leader of a gang that trafficked heroin and methamphetamine from Cambodia into Ho Chi Minh City.
She was charged with "illegal trading of narcotic substances." 3 of her henchmen, including Le Quang Cuong, Nguyen Duy Thach Thao and Tran Quynh Linh, got death sentences for the same charge at the trial court.
3 others were given life sentences while four, including Phung’s brother, also a Vietnamese Australian citizen, were jailed between 3 years and 6 months to 20 years in connection with the drug ring.
According to the indictment, Phung returned to Vietnam from Australia in 2005 and run restaurant and casino businesses in Cambodia. Due to business losses, she came up with idea of trafficking drugs.
From July 2016, Phung bought drugs from Cambodia and hired her…

G20 nations urged to boycott Saudi summit over wave of executions

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Human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy says Riyadh has executed 134 people already this year, with cleric Salman al-Odah among those facing the same threat
Members of the G20 should boycott next year's summit meeting in Riyadh unless Saudi Arabia immediately halts its use of the death penalty, a leading human rights lawyer and member of the British parliament said on Monday.
The report by Helena Kennedy QC, a Baroness in the House of Lords, comes with at least 24 people currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia on protest or non-violent offences at imminent risk of execution, including renowned scholar Salman al-Odah.
"Execution of any of these 24 people would amount to a flagrant violation of international human rights norms and must be prevented at all costs," Kennedy said at the report's launch on Monday.
Kennedy was commissioned by the London-based Arab Organisation of Human Rights in the UK to investigate the kingdom's use of the death penalty and offer her legal opi…

Singapore: Brothel owner successfully appeals against death sentence for murdering pimp

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SINGAPORE: A brothel owner who was sentenced to death two years ago for murdering a pimp over money was spared the noose and given life imprisonment instead on Tuesday (Jul 30).
The Court of Appeal granted Chan Lie Sian, 54, his appeal against the death sentence for bludgeoning 35-year-old William Tiah Hung Wai with a dumbbell rod on Jan 14, 2014, over S$6,500 that he believed the victim had stolen from his pocket.
The pimp suffered multiple skull fractures and had bone fragments embedded in his brain from the onslaught, and died later in hospital.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon on Tuesday said he and Appeal Judges Judith Prakash and Andrew Phang found that Chan did not have the specific intention to kill the victim.
He had been convicted of murder with the intention of causing death, which draws the death penalty.
The court amended his conviction to murder with the intention to cause bodily injury likely to cause death, which can be punished either with death or life imprisonment and…

Ex-Tehran mayor sentenced to death over wife's murder

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Former Tehran mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering his wife, the judiciary said Tuesday, after a high-profile case that received extensive media coverage.
A prominent reformist, Najafi was found guilty of shooting dead his second wife Mitra Ostad at their home in the capital on May 28, said Iran's judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili.
According to Iranian media reports, her body was found in a bathtub after Najafi, 67, turned himself in and confessed to killing her.
"The charge sheet included premeditated murder, battery and possession of an illegal firearm," Esmaili said, quoted by the judiciary's official news agency Mizan Online.
"The court has established premeditated murder and passed the execution sentence," he added. 
Najafi was acquitted of the battery charge but received a two-year jail sentence for possessing the illegal firearm, the spokesman said without elaborating.

RELATED | Iran: Ex-Tehran m…

Singapore’s execution of drug offenders tripled in five years

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Think Centre expresses grave concerns over the disturbing trend of executions in Singapore in recent years. 
Key observations 
- Total number of executions from 2014 to 2019 is 32 - Executions for drug offence stand at 84 percent of the total executions till date since 2014 - A noticeable spike in execution numbers for drug offence occurred in 2017 and 2018 
The number of executions (drug) in the past five years (2014-2018) represented a 3 times jump from the previous five year period (2007-2011) before the laws on mandatory death penalty for both drug and murder offences were reviewed in 2012-2013. In terms of total executions, the 2014-2019 period exhibits 1.8 times more executions compared to the 2007-2011 period. 
It is tragic that Singapore’s amended legislative framework for drug trafficking offences has elicited an increase in the number of death sentences carried out. The majority, if not all, of those executed on drug offences since 2014 were due to the failure of the Attorne…

For Trump and Barr, Executions Are a Statement

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A 16-year pause in federal executions taught the president and the attorney general nothing.
Late last week, Attorney General William Barr announced that the federal government, after a hiatus of more than a decade and a half, will start executing prisoners again in December. In the 16 years since the last federal execution, those sitting on the federal death row, even those who had exhausted their appeals, remained imprisoned in the unit for the condemned. Still, under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the federal government sought, and sometimes got, new death sentences—even in states where lawmakers have rejected capital punishment.
Barr’s abrupt decision to resume federal executions looks like one more stunt to distract Americans from the misdeeds of his boss, President Donald Trump. But it’s also a statement about the persistence of the death penalty itself, despite everything wrong with it—its cost, its failure to deter crime, the long list of death-row inmates who turned ou…