Showing posts from June, 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 journalist who 'inspired' 2017 protests sentenced to death

Ruhollah Zam, who was accused of fueling anti-government protests, was arrested after his return from exile in 2019.
Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam, accused of inspiring mass anti-government protests in 2017, has been sentenced to death.
"The court has considered 13 counts of charges together as instances of 'corruption on earth' and therefore passed the death sentence," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Tuesday.
"Corruption on Earth" is a charge often used in cases allegedly involving espionage or attempts to overthrow Iran's government. It was not immediately clear when the sentence was handed down.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced the arrest of Zam in October last year. 
The elite IRGC described Zam, a former opposition figure who had lived in exile in France, as a "counter-revolutionary" who was "directed by France's intelligence service".
The details of his arrest, however, remain uncl…

Iran | Mohammad Aziz Mahmoudi Executed at Sanandaj Central Prison

Iran Human Rights (IHR); June 30, 2020: A young man sentenced to "retribution" (qisas) for "premeditated murder" was executed in Sanandaj Central Prison.
According to Iran Human Rights, on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, Mohammad Aziz Mahmoudi’s death sentence was carried out in Sanandaj Central Prison. 
IHR had previously warned of the imminent execution of this prisoner.
Mohammad Aziz Mahmoudi was accused of “murdering" Diako Karimi around two years ago, when he was only 23 years old, during an “honour” dispute. 
His execution has yet to be confirmed by official media.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of deaths in some of Iran’s western region prisons following the prisoner unrests after the outbreak of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) in prisons.
According to Iran Human Rights’ annual report, at least 225 of the 280 executed in 2019 were charged with "premeditated murder" in Iran.
As there are no legal distinctions between murder and manslaughter in I…

Afghanistan | Taliban hang 2 men for shaving beards in Faryab

Taliban fighters have executed 2 young men for shaving their beards in the insecure province of Faryab in the northwest, officials in the province said.
“The terrorist Taliban hanged 2 young men just because they had shaved their beards, while the penalty for shaving of beard is not hanging in Islam,” the Shahin military corps said Saturday in a statement.
“The terrorist Taliban kill our country-fellows in different ways. This is another crime of the enemies of Afghanistan and they sentenced two young men to death at a field court yesterday and hanged them in public.”
Taliban have not yet commented on the allegation. But the militants continued to kill security forces and civilians even after they signed a peace deal with the United States that demands them to reduce violence in Afghanistan.
The government condemns continuing of violence as an element to remove a trust sphere for the peace talks.
Sediq Sediqqi, President Ghani’s Spokesman, said Saturday that the government was commit…

USA | Say NO to Federal Executions!

After a failed attempt in 2019, the Trump Administration has once again announced they will resume federal executions after a 16 year hiatus, having scheduled 4 execution dates this summer: July 13, July 15, July 17 and August 28.

Here is what you can do!
1. Sign the Petitions - Over the last 56 years, there have only been three federal executions carried out, and the last one was in 2003. To resume federal executions once again is an affront to the progress this country has made in eliminating the death penalty state-by-state and bringing us in-line with international human rights standards. In light of this, we are currently directing our opposition to the federal death penalty to the U.S. Congress (sign the congress petition here) and to President Trump (sign the Trump petition here). Also, if you are a faith leader or member of the clergy, please sign the EJUSA Joint Letter to Trump and Barr.
2. Come to Terre Haute, Indiana - Along with the local group Terre Haute Death Penalty R…

Tunisia | Despite moratorium, 47 death sentences in 2019, 100 inmates on death row

In its 2019 annual report, the Organization Against Torture in Tunisia (Organisation contre la torture en Tunisie, OCTT) denounced the death penalty and identified it as the most cruel form of torture.
The OCTT notes with high regret the weakness of the de facto moratorium that has been observed in the country for almost 30 years, while a conservative line in favour of capital punishment gains popularity among the public. 
The death penalty – the most serious infringement on the right to life, the first of every human right – is now under a moratorium that has been observed in practice since 1991. However, the Tunisian government has not enshrined this into law yet.
The Constitution of Tunisia entitles exemptions to the right to life (albeit sanctified by its own provisions) in “extreme cases”, which could leave the door open to the retention of the death penalty. 
As such, the moratorium observed in Tunisia does not stop courts from imposing capital sentences, the number of which con…

San Quentin coronavirus outbreak: Death Row prisoner who was found dead tested positive

A 71-year-old man who died last week while serving time on San Quentin’s Death Row tested positive for the coronavirus, marking the first known death of a coronavirus patient inside California’s oldest state prison.
Richard Stitely’s test results, announced by Marin County officials late Monday morning, come as a monstrous outbreak continues to overwhelm San Quentin State Prison, now infecting more than 1,000 incarcerated people and 89 employees at the facility.
As of Monday evening, more than one out of every four people incarcerated at San Quentin were infected.
Stitely, who had refused to be tested, was found dead Wednesday night. His official cause, mode and manner of death are still pending additional investigation, and as of Monday afternoon no San Quentin deaths were counted on the prison health care system’s official COVID-19 tracking website.
Roger Fielding, Marin County’s chief deputy coroner, said Stitely’s forensic postmortem examination and toxicology testing are schedul…

Minnesota | Ex-cops charged in George Floyd's death appear in court as judge warns he may move trial

A Minnesota judge on Monday warned that he's likely to move the trials of four former police officers charged in George Floyd's death out of Minneapolis if public officials and attorneys don't stop talking about the case. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill spoke as the ex-officers, who were fired after Floyd's May 25 death, appeared in court for a second pre-trial hearing.
Cahill stopped short of issuing a gag order on attorneys, but he said one is likely if public statements continue. Cahill added that such a situation would also make him likely to grant a change-of-venue motion if one is filed.
"The court is not going to be happy about hearing about the case in three areas: media, evidence and guilt or innocence," Cahill said.
Derek Chauvin, 44, is charged with second-degree murder and other counts, while Thomas Lane, 37, J. Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, are charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin. Lane and Kueng, who have posted bail, were seen walking in…

U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to new federal death penalty procedure

The Supreme Court will not consider a challenge to new federal death penalty protocols proposed by the Justice Department, which could clear the way for the government to resume executions as early as July for the first time since 2003.
The court, without comment, declined Monday to take up the lawsuit filed by four death row inmates. As is customary, it gave no reason. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor indicated that they would have accepted the case.
Although this decision removes a significant barrier to resuming federal executions, it does not mean they will automatically proceed as scheduled. The individual inmates facing execution could file additional challenges, which could affect whether and when these sentences are carried out.
RELATED | Justice Department plans to restart capital punishment after long hiatus
The Justice Department said Monday that the court’s decision would allow the executions to proceed unless a lower court blocks them on other grounds. But…

Iran asks Interpol to help arrest Trump for killing general Soleimani

Tehran (AFP) - Iran said Monday it has called for Interpol to help arrest President Donald Trump and 35 other US officials for the January killing of its top general in an American drone strike.
Tehran prosecutor Ali Qasi Mehr, quoted by state news agency IRNA, said 36 US political and military officials "involved in the assassination" of General Qasem Soleimani "have been investigated and were ordered to be arrested through Interpol".
"These people have been charged with murder and terrorist acts," he said.
"At the top of the list is US President Donald Trump, and his prosecution will continue even after the end of his term," said the prosecutor, referring to his bid for re-election in November.
Qasi Mehr, quoted on the judiciary's Mizan Online official website, said "the Iranian judiciary has issued arrest warrants against the 36".
He called for the international police agency Interpol to issue red notices, which are not arrest …

Indisputable argument against death penalty, Shadrake's "Once a Jolly Hangman" now available in Polish, launched in Belarus

Amnesty International network members may well remember Alan Shadrake's 2010 revealing book on executions in Singapore, Once A Jolly Hangman
It made an immediate impact with its analysis of the heartlessness and futility  of the judicial system, its accounts of individual cases, and the emotional suffering of those on death row and their families. 
Based partly on astonishing  interviews with Singapore's former hangman and courageous defense lawyers, the book made an indisputable argument against the death penalty. 
Shadrake's immediate post-launch arrest and imprisonment for "scandalising the judiciary" only served to heighten interest in the book and the issues it raises. 
The book is still banned in Singapore, and unconscionably Singapore retains the death penalty to this day.
RELATEDAlan Shadrake, jailed in Singapore for writing a book they didn't like
However, Once A Jolly Hangman continues to play a crucial role in anti-death-penalty campaigning on…