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Showing posts from December, 2019

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Abolition of the Death Penalty: A Tough Road ahead for India

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The movement against the death penalty in present-day India faces a tremendous challenge in terms of extensive public clamour for swift executions, removal of appeals, and even support for summary executions. 
With the imminent execution of the four convicts in the Delhi gang rape and murder case against the background of reactions to incidents in Hyderabad, Kathua and Unnao, harsher punishments are receiving tremendous public support, and politicians are only happy to oblige. The Supreme Court has issued administrative orders (1) to hear death sentence cases faster amidst misplaced concerns in the public that death row prisoners have too many loopholes in the law to exploit.
Framing the death penalty as a political–legal issue in India is not easy. Located within the wider spectrum of social and state violence in India, the exceptional nature of the cruelty of the death penalty is difficult to establish. 
The suffering inflicted by the death penalty is the constant and daily uncerta…

In The Shadow Of The Federal Death Chamber, Executions Are On Hold — For Now

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ON THE DAY the Trump administration was supposed to kill Daniel Lewis Lee, Zann Carter sat in a cafe in downtown Terre Haute, Indiana. It was a dreary Monday morning but the space was warm; wreaths hung in the windows and Christmas music filled the room. The execution was the first in a series of five set between December and January, and it had originally been scheduled to take place between 7 and 8 a.m. A vigil had been planned outside the federal prison, just a few miles down the road, but the courts had put the killings on hold. That morning, December 9, activists from around the country gathered for breakfast at a nearby diner before driving home.
For Carter, 67, Terre Haute is home, though she grew up in Florida, where her views about the death penalty were first formed. In 1979, when the state carried out its first execution in the “modern” death penalty era, Carter discussed capital punishment with her father, “the chief federal probation officer for the Southern District of …

Vietnam: Six sentenced to death for murder of young woman

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Six of nine people involved in kidnapping, raping and murdering 22 year-old Cao Thi My Duyen in northern Dien Bien Province were sentenced to death Sunday.
The Dien Bien People’s Court awarded Vi Van Toan, mastermind of the crime, the death sentence for murder and 13 years for kidnapping. Bui Van Cong got death, 14 years for rape and 13 years for kidnapping.
The other four that received the death penalty were Vuong Van Hung, Luong Van Hung, Luong Van La and Pham Van Nhiem.
Pham Van Dung and Cam Van Chuong were sentenced to 10 and nine years in jail, respectively, for rape. Cong’s wife Bui Thi Kim Thu got three years for not reporting crime to the police.
The indictment said that Toan had told the other seven men that Duyen’s mother, Tran Thi Hien, owed him a lot of money, so he wanted them to help him kidnap her daughter and blackmail her. In return, Toan would give them money and drugs.
Hung then came to check out chickens sold by Hien and her daughter Duyen, a college student, at t…

Will Ohio’s death penalty survive, and should it?

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Among the new year’s possibilities, 2020 may see Ohio end its death penalty.
Reason One is that the state has run out of places to buy the substances specified for administering lethal injections. Reason Two is the colossal cost to taxpayers of defending in the appeals courts virtually every death sentence that Ohio metes out (with some of those costs for compensating public defenders representing, as is only right, Death Row inmates).
As to practicality and cost, two of Ohio’s most powerful leaders, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, and Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican from Perry County’s Glenford, have expressed serious concerns. The unavailability of execution drugs means, in practice, that Ohio is facing a de facto moratorium on executions.
Meanwhile, Householder said this in mid-December, the Columbus Dispatch reported: “We may have a law in place that allows for a death penalty that we can’t carry out. And the question is: Are the costs that are associated with tha…

2019 Stories of the Year: New Hampshire abolishes the death penalty

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They first tried it in 2000, their efforts crashing against a promised veto by Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.
They went for it again in 2009, when the Senate tabled it 13-11; in 2016 when the Senate deadlocked 12-12; and in 2018 when it fell short of a veto override in the upper chamber by two votes.
But this was the year that advocates finally did it. Over the objections of Gov. Chris Sununu, New Hampshire became the 21st state to abolish the death penalty on May 30, after a charged debate on the Senate floor and a multi-decade campaign.
“Today, I will vote to override the veto of our governor,” said Sen. Harold French, a Franklin Republican. “Because this vote is about our state and about what kind of state we are all going to be a part of.”
It was by some measures an inevitable outcome: The 2018 elections swept in 16 senators of both parties who put their opposition to the penalty on the record as early as December.
But for one advocate for repeal, the vote stuck a particular note of closur…

UN experts urge Pakistan to clear scholar of blasphemy, lift death sentence

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United Nations human rights experts called on Pakistan's high court on Friday to clear liberal academic Junaid Hafeez of blasphemy charges and overturn his death sentence.
In a joint statement, they described Hafeez's condemnation by a lower court last week as a "travesty of justice" and said senior judges should acquit the former university lecturer on appeal.
"We urge Pakistan’s superior courts to promptly hear his appeal, overturn the death sentence and acquit him,” said the independent experts who include UN investigators on freedom of religion, unlawful killings and arbitrary detention.
In 2013 students at the university where Hafeez taught accused him of making blasphemous Facebook posts. Insulting Islam’s Prophet Mohammad carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan, which is about 95% Muslim.
His lawyers say he was framed by students from a militant Islamist party because of his liberal and secular views. This month a US religious freedom commission pl…

White House Praises Saudi Arabia For Sentencing Five People To Death, Pretending Justice For Jamal Khashoggi Has Been Served

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Jamal Khashoggi? The one Donald Trump basically let the kingdom get away with because he was able to sell them some weapons and he thinks the U.S. is one of his shitty Atlantic City casinos? 
For those who need a refresher: On October 2, 2018, the Washington Post columnist walked into the Saudi consulate and in Turkey and was never seen again. After first claiming it had no knowledge of the matter whatsoever, the kingdom admitted that Khashoggi had died in the consulate, initially claiming it happened in a fistfight and then copping to the fact that, oh, yeah, the killing was premeditated. 
This, plus the CIA’s conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of a U.S. resident, probably should’ve resulted in Trump punishing or at least criticizing the de facto leader, but instead, he basically covered for the guy.
Anyway, on Monday, Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor announced that five people had been sentenced to death in connection with the killing—non…

Reports suggest Iran executed LGBT singer Mohsen Lorestani 6 December

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“Mohsen Lorestani, a Kurdish singer from Kermanshah, was charged with ‘corruption on earth’ in a public complaint. His lawyer told Kurdistan Human Rights Network, ‘The alleged incidents happened in a private chat.’ If convicted, this charge could result in death sentence.”
The Tehran court alleged that the singer posted ‘immoral’ content which seems to indicate flirting. 
Iranian law appears to allow the execution of allegedly gay men despite no evidence of actual sexual activity.
Indeed, the Iranian Foreign Minister defended the executions of gays and lesbians earlier this year.
“Our society has moral principles and we live according to these principles.”
Posts from Kurdish social media accounts suggest that Iran executed singer Mohsen Lorestani on 6 December. Although authorities detained the singer in March, news of his arrest only surfaced in October.
He appeared in court before the notorious hanging judge Mohammad Moqisseh, infamous for his role in torturing and executing politi…

USA: Decade Passes Since Indiana Executes An Inmate

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According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Indiana is one of several of states that hasn’t executed someone in ten years.
The DPIC released its annual report earlier this month.
“The last death sentence imposed in Indiana was in 2014, and the peak death sentencing for the state and the entire Midwest for that matter was in 1985,” says Executive Director Robert Dunham.
There are eight inmates on Indiana’s death row, one of whose executions has been stayed according to the Department of Corrections.
The last execution carried out in Indiana was on December 11th, 2009.
The report says 32 states have either abolished capital punishment or haven’t executed someone in a decade. Texas executed the most inmates in 2019, with nine.
Death sentences have declined by 85 percent since the mid 90’s. 
Dunham attributes that to a decline in the murder rate and the strain on resources a death penalty trial has on the system, as well as the increasing amount of death row inmates whose sentence…

Coimbatore child rape case: POCSO court sentences accused Santhosh Kumar to death

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Following the release of the forensic report which showed evidence of a second rapist, the POCSO court also ordered further investigation.
A special court in Coimbatore, set up to hear POCSO cases, awarded the death penalty to 34-year-old Santosh Kumar, accused of raping and murdering a seven-year-old girl in Coimbatore in March this year. 
Following the release of the forensic report a day prior to the verdict which showed evidence of a second rapist, the POCSO court also ordered further investigation under Section 173 of CrPC.
The verdict in the case, delivered around 3:15 pm on Friday by Mahila Court judge Radhika, read that Santosh Kumar be hanged to death for murdering the victim. 
The court sentenced him to life imprisonment for charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Additionally, he was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for charges under Indian Penal Code Section 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false info…

Activists to hold a vigil Jan. 7 marking a decade since Louisiana last executed a death row inmate

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Louisiana is one of 29 states where the death penalty is legal, but Tuesday, Jan. 7 will mark exactly a decade since the state has executed anybody waiting on death row. 
Michael Cahoon, an organizer at the Promise of Justice Initiative, and other advocates against the death penalty are hoping that execution will be the state’s last. 
On the 10-year anniversary, they’ll be organizing an event — dubbed the Vigil for Life — that will take place outside of nonprofit Resurrection After Exoneration’s office at 1212 St. Bernard Ave. at 6 p.m. 
The organization was founded by John Thompson who spent 14 years on death row and four in prison for a murder he did not commit before being released in 2013. He founded it to help wrongfully convicted individuals, like himself, transition back into society upon release from prison and death row. Thompson died in 2017. 
“The 10-year gap in executions is indicative that the system is broken beyond repair,” Cahoon said, citing wrongful convictions, rac…