California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

Saudi Arabia: most executions ever in 2019

Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia executed 184 people in 2019, the most in a calendar year since Reprieve began tracking executions six years ago.

Of these executions, which are officially announced by the Saudi Press Agency, 88 were Saudi nationals, 90 were foreign nationals, and 6 were of unknown nationality.

On April 23, 2019, the Kingdom executed 37 people in a single day, including at least three who were children at the time of their alleged offences:

Abdulkarim al-Hawaj was beaten, tortured with electricity and chained with his hands above his head until he ‘confessed’ to terrorism offences, after taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations. 

Mujtaba al-Sweikat was arrested at the airport on his way to study at Western Michigan University, severely beaten and convicted on the basis of a confession extracted through torture. 

Salman Qureish was denied basic legal rights and sentenced to death in a mass trial, despite interventions on his behalf by the United Nations.

There have already been four executions in 2020.

At least, 3 other juvenile defendants remain on death row, at risk of imminent execution: Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher.

Public execution of a Burmese woman in Saudi ArabiaIn April 2018, the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, said the regime planned to restrict the scope of the death penalty by limiting the number of capital offences and introducing alternative punishments including life imprisonment. 

In a televised interview, he stated: “We’ve tried to minimise [the death penalty]... And we believe it will take one year, maybe a little bit more, to have it finished... We will not get it 100 per cent, but to reduce it big time.” 

In fact, the number of executions continues to rise under his rule. 

There have already been 4 executions in 2020.

Reprieve Director Maya Foa said: "This is another grim milestone for Mohammed Bin Salman's Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom's rulers clearly believe they have total impunity to flout international law when it suits them. A country that tortures and executes children should be a pariah state, not preparing to host the next meeting of the G20."

Source: Reprieve, Staff, January 13, 2020

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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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