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USA | The Dreadful Failure of Lethal Injection

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Editor’s Note: This column is the product of a research collaboration with five Amherst College students, Mattea Denny, Nicolas Graber-Mitchell, Greene Ko, Rose Mroczka, and Lauren Pelosi. America’s death penalty continues to fall out of favor, a well-known fact. When the year started, eight executions were scheduled for February and March in five different states. But all of them are now on hold, and two of the three executions that were set for April already have been halted. While advocacy for the end of the death penalty has played some role, it is the decomposition of the lethal injection paradigm that has truly driven down execution numbers. We have now seen a decade of chaos and experimentation as death penalty jurisdictions tried to find reliable sources of drugs to carry out executions. States rolled out new drugs, but things did not go smoothly. The number of mishaps associated with lethal injection increased substantially. From 2010-2020, an already problematic method of ex

China hands two Uighur ex-government officials death penalty for 'separatism'

Two Uighur ex-government officials in China's Xinjiang have been handed death sentences for carrying out "separatist activities", a court said, as Beijing comes under increasing fire for its actions towards minority groups in the region.

Shirzat Bawudun, a former head of the Xinjiang department of justice has been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve on the charge of "splitting the country", according to a statement released Tuesday on the Xinjiang government website.

Bawudun had conspired with a terrorist organisation, taken bribes, and carried out separatist activities, Wang Langtao, vice president of the Xinjiang Higher People's Court, said at a press conference.

Bawudun was found guilty of colluding with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) -- listed as a "terrorist" group by the United Nations -- after meeting a key member of the group in 2003, according to state news agency Xinhua.

The US removed the group from its list of terror groups last November, saying there was "no credible evidence that ETIM continues to exist."

Bawudun also illegally proved "information to foreign forces" as well as carrying out "illegal religious activities at his daughter's wedding", Xinhua said. 

The court statement said Sattar Sawut -- former director of the Xinjiang education department -- was also sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve after being found guilty of crimes of separatism and taking bribes.

Sawut was found guilty of incorporating ethnic separatism, violence, terrorism, and religious extremism content into textbooks in the Uighur language, officials said.

The court said the textbooks had influenced several people to participate in attacks in the capital Urumqi including riots that resulted in at least 200 deaths in 2009. 

Others became "key members of a separatist group" headed by former college teacher Ilham Tohti -- a Uyghur economist jailed for life on separatism charges in 2014.

Rights groups believe at least one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps across Xinjiang.

The United States says "genocide" has been inflicted on the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the region, while Beijing has denied all allegations of abuses and has insisted its policies in Xinjiang are necessary to counter violent extremism.

China keeps data on its use of the death penalty secret, although rights group Amnesty International estimates the country is the top executioner globally -- with thousands executed and sentenced to death each year.

A death sentence with a reprieve is usually commuted to a life sentence.

Source: Agence France-Presse, Staff, April 7, 2021


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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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