Showing posts from March, 2020


USA | Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a terrible opportunity for Trump

"Sometimes it felt like she was America’s last hope. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court judge since 1993, achieved celebrity status during Trump’s four years. Affectionately given the nickname “Notorious R.B.G” by a slew of online followers, she was the subject of superhero memes and the inspiration for much light-hearted merchandise (Urban Outfitters stocks T-shirts emblazoned with her face and her famously blunt quotes, and I gifted a friend in Brooklyn a cuddly Ginsburg doll for her newborn last year.)
Beneath the jokes, the quotes and the well-designed tote bags, however, ran an undercurrent of anxiety and fear. The fact that Supreme Court judges have lifetime appointments meant that many were morbidly obsessed with Ginsburg — who battled cancer on numerous occasions, and died of its complications today — staying alive long enough to get to the election. She herself clearly felt the same way, if NPR’s reports about her dying wishes are to be believed: “My most fervent wish is …

Iran | IHR Concerned Amid Reports of Coronavirus Deaths in Iranian Prisons

Iran Human Rights (IHR); March 30, 2020: At least 9 people have died so far in Iranian prisons after infecting with the Novel Coronavirus. 
Given the overcrowding of Iranian prisons, lack of proper medical and foodservice, more prisoners’ lives are in danger. 
Iranian authorities have announced that they have granted furlough to close to 100.000 prisoners in an emergency move to stop the spread of the coronavirus, reported Iranian Judiciary’s official website. 
However, still, thousands of prisoners are still in danger. This includes several human rights defenders who are sentenced to long term prisons, including Atena Daemi, Narges Mohammadi, Amirsalar Davoudi, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Arash Sadeghi and many more.
IHR is strongly concerned about the health of Iranian prisoners and calls for the unconditional release of prisoners of conscience and special measures to counter the spread of the disease in the prisons. 
According to IHR sources, there are several cases of Coronavirus infected p…

U.S. | Capital Punishment: Life and Death Row

Is it ever right to kill someone? Are lethal injections really humane? Is capital punishment going to be around forever?
In some parts of the world the US is infamous for its continued use of the death penalty.
Using the BBC’s Life and Death Row – The Mass Execution as a backdrop, Dr Vivien Miller discusses the history of capital punishment in America. In doing so, she reveals how the death penalty divides the US along several different fault lines: race, gender, religion and region.
The first episode in a four-part series, Life and Death Row – The Mass Execution is a riveting and heartbreaking account of recent events that unfolded in Arkansas as drugs used in legal injections were soon to become unavailable. 
The state planned to execute eight men in ten days, leading to a heated debate about the complicated legal, moral, and social factors that are involved in these kinds of decisions.
With lives on the line, and issues of racism arising, this is what some would call a ‘21st-centu…

'Disneyland With The Death Penalty': Singapore's High Court Upholds Colonial-Era Ban On Homosexuality

The news has come as a huge blow to LGBTQ activists in the southeast Asian city-state.
Singapore's High Court has upheld a colonial-era ban on homosexuality, in a huge blow for the southeast Asian city-state's LGBTQ community.
Judges in Singapore's highest court has dismissed a constitutional challenge against Section 377A of the country's penal code banning male same-sex intimacy, the Human Dignity Trust announced on Tuesday (30 March).
Same-sex sexual activity between men has been illegal in Singapore since the British imposed Section 377A in the 1930s during the colonial era.
While rarely enforced, men who commit 'gross indecency' with another man or attempts to procure sex can be jailed for up to two years.
While same-sex sexual activity between women is technically legal, campaigners argue the law represses the wider LGBTQ community as a whole.
The now-dismissed case had been brought by three men: Johnson Ong Ming, a 43-year-old disc jockey and producer; 4…

Japan | Care home mass murderer drops appeal, death sentence to be carried out

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) -- A Japanese man sentenced to death for the 2016 murder of 19 mentally impaired people at a care home near Tokyo withdrew his appeal on Monday, a district court said.
Satoshi Uematsu, 30, a former caretaker at the Tsukui Yamayuri En facility in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, also injured 26 people in the rampage, in what the Yokohama District Court called incomparable to other incidents.
His defense counsel had filed an appeal on Friday, but Uematsu had told Kyodo News two days after the March 16 verdict that he would drop the appeal since it would be "wrong" to continue the trial at higher courts.
Uematsu also said he expected to receive the death penalty but was "not convinced" that he deserved it.
RELATED | Man sentenced to death over 2016 Japan care home mass murder
He said during his trial that disabled people who are unable to communicate "create unhappiness in society."
At the heart of the trial was whether Uematsu was mentally …

U.S. | First Known Federal Inmate Dies of Coronavirus

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) confirmed late Saturday night that a federal inmate has died from COVID-19—the first known death of an inmate in the federal prison system.
Reuters reports that Patrick Jones, 49, an inmate at a low-security federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, died from complications after contracting COVID-19. According to the latest numbers from the BOP, 14 inmates and 13 staff members are infected with the virus.
Civil liberties groups, criminal justice advocates, and families of inmates have been begging the Justice Department to get elderly and at-risk inmates out of federal prisons, saying the effects of outbreaks inside prison walls could be catastrophic. There are roughly 20,000 inmates over the age of 55 in the federal prison system.
On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr announced that he was directing the Bureau of Prisons to expand home confinement for at-risk inmates, but civil liberties groups say the Justice Department guidelines will exclude wide swat…

California | ‘Grim Sleeper’ serial killer Lonnie Franklin dies on death row at San Quentin

Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the so-called Grim Sleeper serial killer who preyed on Los Angeles women for more than two decades, died Saturday while on death row at San Quentin prison, officials said.
“Franklin was found unresponsive in his single cell on March 28 at about 7:20 p.m. Medical assistance was rendered and an ambulance was summoned. Franklin was pronounced deceased at 7:43 p.m. His cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy; however, there were no signs of trauma,” prison officials said in a statement.
Franklin, 67, was convicted in 2016 of killing nine women and a teenage girl from 1985 to 2007. During the penalty phase of his trial, prosecutors connected him to several additional slayings. Detectives believe he may have killed at least 25 women.
The killer, one of California’s most prolific, targeted victims who were generally young, vulnerable and, at times, ignored. The attacks failed to raise alarms the way other famous serial slayings by killers such as the H…

USA | Prisoners At Rikers Say It’s Like A ‘Death Sentence’ As Coronavirus Spreads

The COVID-19 infection rate in NYC jails is 87 times higher than the overall U.S. rate, and prisoners have no way to protect themselves.
Junior Wilson is worried the coronavirus could kill him. The 57-year-old relies on a pacemaker to keep his heartbeat regular and could have trouble breathing if he catches the virus. But unlike many Americans, he can’t isolate himself or disinfect his hands with sanitizer. For the past seven months, he’s been held on Rikers Island for a parole violation, in an infirmary unit filled with people who have health issues. 
Wilson says he sleeps in a bed a few feet away from men who are constantly sneezing and coughing and that new people are arriving on his floor every day. Nobody is removed unless they test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, giving the virus plenty of time to spread before the results come in, according to Wilson. 
On Wednesday, Wilson developed a cough, sore muscles and diarrhea ― symptoms that have not gone a…

Zimbabwe | Reprieve for death row prisoners

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has commuted death sentences to life imprisonment for all prisoners on death row for at least 10 years.
This is contained in Clemency Order Number 1 of 2020 released on March 24.
The clemency order also gives full remission of sentence for all convicted female prisoners, juveniles, and those over 70 for the remaining period of imprisonment that have served at least half of their sentences, save for those convicted of specified offences.
“A commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment is hereby granted to all prisoners who have been on the death row for at least 10 years and above,” Mnangagwa said.

RELATED | Zimbabwe: Government Removes 34 From Death Row
“Prisoners serving an effective period of imprisonment of more than 36 months, who have served a third of their remaining sentence are hereby granted an additional one-quarter remission of the remaining effective period of imprisonment.”
The order excluded from the proposed amnesty prisoners previously…

USA | Coronavirus Pandemic Halts Executions, Perhaps for the Foreseeable Future

The public health crisis from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has halted executions in the United States and, legal experts say, is likely to continue to do for the foreseeable future.
With 9 of the 11 serious death warrants between March 15 and June 30, 2020 scheduled in Texas, the decisions by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) to issue 60-day stays for the two prisoners with March execution dates suggests that other stays are likely to follow. Citing “the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to address that emergency,” the TCCA stayed John Hummel’s March 18, 2020 execution on March 16, and three days later halted the March 25 execution of Tracy Beatty.
Viewed in concert with the TCCA’s March 13 First Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster—which directs all Texas courts to modify or suspend court deadlines and procedures during the current State of Disaster when necessary “to avoid risk to court staff, parties, attorneys, jurors, and t…

Nigeria | Safiya, pregnant woman sentenced to death for adultery 18 years ago, says: I’ve forgiven my tormentors

This month marks exactly 18 years since a Sharia Court of Appeal in Sokoto State freed Safiya Husseini Tungar of the death penalty handed to her by a lower Sharia Court in the state. Before the respite from the Sharia Appeal Court, she had been convicted of adultery by the lower Sharia Court and was to be stoned to death after giving birth to and weaning her baby. 
OKORIE UGURU went on her trail to Tungar Tudu, her remote village in Gwadabawa Local Government Area, a few kilometres away from Nigeria’s border with the Niger Republic. The now 53-year-old grandma says her life has been a mixture of sadness and joy, but she has every cause to be thankful that she is alive.
Safiya Husseini. Remember her? She was the hapless divorcee a Sharia Court in Sokoto State sentenced to death by stoning on October 12, 2001, because she was found guilty of adultery. It was judgment that rattled the entire world leaders, groups and other individuals around the globe took turns to plead that the life of …