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Showing posts from August, 2021

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USA | Biden needs to act on growing anti-death penalty sentiments

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The flattening of public discourse — political, social, moral and ethical — into a simplistic left-right binary is a disturbing trend that too few of us push back against. People are encouraged to live in their echo chambers through news outlets tailored to confirm their worldviews and social media feeds custom-designed to reinforce their biases. This polarized discourse has created a false narrative around the death penalty that relies on simplistic and overgeneralized notions of our country’s partisan divide. It is a narrative that, while easy to communicate, ignores the diversity of voices expressing serious concerns about how the death penalty operates in America. For instance, the authors of this op-ed belie that simplicity. One of us is a former Democratic U.S. senator from Wisconsin, a state that has not had the death penalty since 1853, and who has worked tirelessly throughout his public life to end the death penalty. The other is the former Republican-appointed United States a

Iraq | 6 Iraqis on death row executed, 3 for 'terrorism'

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6 Iraqis sentenced to death, 3 for "terrorism", were hanged Monday in a prison in southern Iraq, a medical source told AFP. The source said the hangings took place in Nasiriyah prison, where death row prisoners are held. Those not executed for "terrorism" were sentenced over "criminal cases". Rights group Amnesty International says it recorded more than 45 executions in Iraq last year, including many of people accused of belonging to the Islamic State group. A 2005 law carries the death penalty for anyone convicted of "terrorism," which can include membership of an extremist group even if they are not convicted of any specific acts. Rights groups have warned that executions were being used for political reasons. Since Baghdad officially declared victory over IS in 2017, Iraqi courts have sentenced hundreds to death for crimes perpetrated by the jihadists who had set up a "caliphate" in territory seized in Iraq and Syria in 2014. Only a

Bangladesh | Islamic militants get death penalty for killing 2 gay activists

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DHAKA: A Bangladesh court on Tuesday sentenced to death six Islamist extremists for the brutal murders of two gay rights activists, prosecutors said. Xulhaz Mannan, editor of a magazine for Bangladesh’s gay and lesbian community, and fellow activist Mahbub Tonoy were hacked to death in a Dhaka apartment by machete and gun-wielding attackers in April 2016. A special anti-terrorism tribunal ordered the death penalty for six members of militant Islamist group Ansar Al-Islam, prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan said. Four of the six found guilty are still on the run. Two other suspects in the case were acquitted. Nazrul Islam, one of the defence lawyers, said appeals would be made. “My clients are completely innocent. They are not linked with these murders. They were framed unjustly,” he said. The sentencing is the first time a Bangladeshi court has acted on violence against gay rights activists. Homosexuality is illegal in the Muslim-majority nation and security was tightened around the court fo

Tennessee | Review of death-sentence defendants shows how justice is unevenly applied

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The death penalty is not a comparatively proportional sentence for the murder of a single victim. As of Aug. 12, I have identified 2,838 adults who have been convicted of first-degree murder in Tennessee since 1977, when the death penalty was reinstated.  Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 12 requires the trial court judge to file a report with the Supreme Court when there is a first-degree murder conviction. In 1999 then-Chief Justice Riley Anderson stated that the court’s primary interest in the database that is established from the reports is for comparative proportionality review.   That consists of comparing the gravity of the offense and the harshness of the punishment with those factors in other cases. This is done to avoid arbitrariness in the punishment for first-degree murder.  I have found that in approximately 45% of the cases, the trial court judge has not filed the required report. There are 193 adult defendants who have received death sentences for first-degree murder since 19

India | 4 men charged with rape and murder of 9-year-old Dalit girl; could face death penalty if found guilty

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4 men, including a Hindu priest, have been charged with the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl in the Indian capital Delhi, police said Saturday, in a case that has once again highlighted widespread sexual violence and caste-based discrimination in the country. The men, who were arrested on August 2, have been formally charged with rape, murder, and destruction of evidence, among other crimes, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.  They could face the death penalty if found guilty. The victim belonged to India's Dalit community, the most oppressed in Hinduism's caste-based hierarchy, senior police official Ingit Pratap Singh told CNN.  The victim was allegedly gang-raped and killed on August 1 in a southwestern district of the Indian capital, after she had gone to fetch water from a crematorium, he said. The crematorium's priest had called the victim's mother and showed her the body of her dead child, Singh said, citing the mother's statement.  The pri

Nevada | Trio Tortures Neighbor for Hours Before Killing Him at Abandoned Roadside Attraction; Prosecutors Considering Death Penalty for at Least One Assailant

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Nevada prosecutors are considering seeking the death penalty for at least one of the three people accused of torturing a neighbor for hours before forcing him to walk off a cliff and then shooting him with a shotgun. Roy Jaggers, 27, was found dead on August 1 at the bottom of a cliff in Cathedral Canyon, an abandoned ’70s and ’80s roadside attraction in Nye County, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported. Within 36 hours, investigators had arrested 27-year-old Heather Pate, her 36-year-old boyfriend Kevin Dent, and her 37-year-old former boyfriend Brad Mehn.  Mehn has been accused of shooting Jaggers multiple times after he went off the cliff, police said — an autopsy found that Jaggers’ cause of death was mulitple gunshot wounds.  Mehn’s attorney told the newspaper that prosecutors were considering capital punishment for his client. Pate and Dent are accused of luring Jaggers to her home, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office said, because they believed Jaggers had hurt one of Pate’s sons. P

Iran | As Ebrahim Raisi begins his presidential role, oppression is set to soar

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The Islamic Republic of Iran inaugurated its eighth president on August 5. Ebrahim Raisi, the former Chief Justice and head of the regime's judiciary apparatus, won the presidential election on June 19 in a landslide victory. Many observers both in Iran and internationally were hardly surprised at Raisi’s victory. Leading up to the vote, the regime took all the steps it could to ensure the Chief Justice would win at the polls. Just weeks before the election, Iran’s Guardian Council, a regulatory body controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, swiftly and unilaterally disqualified the vast majority of Raisi’s opposition from the ballot, including many popular reformist candidates who had been gaining public support in the months prior. Raisi was not so much elected as he was installed. His credentials as the quintessential regime insider made him the ideal candidate as far as the Ayatollahs were concerned. Indeed, there is probably no man alive today who has contributed more to th

Florida | Ted Bundy’s lawyer has advice to save Parkland shooter’s life: Try to humanize him

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For defense lawyers, there has rarely been as hopeless a case as that of the man accused of shooting up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. The defendant recorded himself planning it. He killed, again and again, children, adults, strangers — 17 times. He tried to kill 17 more. It was recorded on surveillance video. He confessed. That Nikolas Cruz, 22, will spend the rest of his life in prison is all but a foregone conclusion. He’s even offered to skip the trial and plead guilty just to get shipped to prison and be done with it. “The main goal for the defense in a case like that is to get the jury to see the defendant as a real person,” said Ted Bundy’s defense lawyer, John Henry Browne. “I try to present my client as a human being who made a mistake, who did something bad, but not as someone who deserves to die.” Browne’s client list includes serial killer Ted Bundy and Seattle “Wah Mee massacre” defendant Benjamin Ng, one of three men charged with killing 13 people at a gamb

Justice Liu Urges California Supreme Court to Reconsider Constitutionality of Death Penalty

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A California Supreme Court justice is calling on his colleagues to revisit the constitutionality of the death penalty after the court affirmed a death penalty verdict in a case that capital punishment opponents hoped would lead to sweeping reforms . On Thursday, the high court affirmed a death sentence verdict for Don’te Lamont McDaniel, who was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. Justice Goodwin Liu authored the 77-page opinion affirming the sentence in adherence with precedent, but he also wrote a 30-page concurrence expressing doubts about the case law that allowed juries to consider certain circumstances that would increase the severity of a crime and allow for death penalty sentencing. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2000 landmark decision in A p prendi v. New Jersey , which found “any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt,” raises

Taliban 'brutally' killed a popular Afghan folk singer just days after it said 'music is forbidden' in Islam, former minister says

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The Taliban killed a popular Afghan folk singer just days after the group said it hoped to ban music from being played in public in Afghanistan, according to a former minister. Fawad Andarabi was "brutally killed" on Saturday, said Masoud Andarabi, who was the Interior Minister under former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in a Twitter post. He was reportedly dragged from his village home in Andarab, near the Panjshir Valley, before being shot dead, according to LBC News. "Today they brutally killed folkloric singer, Fawad Andarabi who was simply brining [sic] joy to the valley and its people," Masoud Andarabi wrote in a post accompanying a video of the folk singer performing. -Masoud Andarabi (@andarabi) August 28, 2021 During an interview with The New York Times, published on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Taliban said that "music is forbidden in Islam." Zabihullah Mujahid, who is seen as a likely contender for the new government's culture minister rol

‘A virtual death sentence’: Gay Afghans brace for uncertain future under Taliban

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LGBTQ Afghans and their advocates fear the return of Taliban rule will mean the application of severe penalties for homosexuality. N, a 20-year-old student living in Afghanistan, is in hiding as she hopes for news that she and her family can leave the country. As a lesbian, she believes she will be targeted by the Taliban government.  “They will kill us without sympathy,” she said, requesting that her full name and exact location not be published to protect her safety.   Faraz, who asked to be identified by only one name, is a 25-year-old gay man who said he fears for himself and his three sons. He fears he and his family will be kidnapped and killed if they remain in Afghanistan. “The Taliban is in search of the gay people. They are going from street to street,” he said, pleading for the U.S. State Department to evacuate him and his family. U.S officials expect 50,000 to 65,000 Afghans will seek evacuation in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, the country’s capital. Among th