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Q&As: Kirsten Han, anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore

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In the third of the DPRU's (Death Penalty Research Unit, University of Oxford, Faculty of Law) series of Q&As with death penalty experts from around the world, Kirsten Han, an anti-death penalty advocate in Singapore, tells DPRU Research Officer Jocelyn Hutton about her current work and about her involvement in the case of the recently executed Nagaenthran Dharmalingam . Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do in relation to the death penalty? A lot of my contribution to the campaign to abolish the death penalty in Singapore has to do with storytelling, since that fits with the skills that I have as a writer and journalist, and because abolitionist perspectives, or any in-depth coverage of capital punishment, are missing from the local government-controlled mainstream media. I write about death row prisoners and the experiences of their families, try to humanise this issue. For many Singaporeans, it’s so distant and so abstract that it’s very easy to dismiss; so

Texas death row inmate sues to allow pastor to lay hands on him during execution

State prison officials have denied John Henry Ramirez's request to have his pastor's touch as he dies from a lethal injection, according to the suit. He is scheduled to be put to death on Sept. 8.

A Texas death row inmate has sued state prison officials to allow his pastor to lay hands on him as he dies from a lethal injection.

John Henry Ramirez, 37, is scheduled to be put to death in the Texas death chamber on Sept. 8, but his attorneys said in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Corpus Christi that state prison officials had denied his request to have his pastor lay hands on him as he dies.

The lawsuit asked a federal judge to allow Dana Moore, pastor of the Second Baptist Church, a Corpus Christi congregation of about 200 worshippers, to be present in the death chamber at his execution and lay hands on him as Ramirez dies. 

The lawsuit states that Moore has ministered to Ramirez for five years.

Officials of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which operates the Texas state prison system, had no comment, a department spokesman said.

The lawsuit cites a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court order that stayed Patrick Murphy’s execution unless the inmate’s Buddhist spiritual advisor be allowed to accompany Murphy in the Texas execution chamber. 

Murphy, who is one of the “Texas 7” gang of escaped inmates convicted of killing a suburban Dallas police officer, has not received a new execution date.

Ramirez was condemned for the 2004 stabbing death of Pablo Castro, a 45-year-old Corpus Christi convenience store worker. Authorities say Castro was stabbed after a robbery that netted just $1.25.

Ramirez has already had two stays of execution, once in 2017 so he could get a new attorney and again last September because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: The Associated Press, Staff, August 13, 2021


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