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Showing posts from March, 2022

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USA | Parkland Case Challenges Us All to Figure Out What a Mass Murderer Deserves

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The ongoing sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, the 23-year-old Florida man who in 2018 murdered fourteen students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, will test whether the seven men and five women on the jury hearing his case can hate the sin but muster the courage to spare the life of the sinner. That is exactly what his defense team is asking them to do as they sit in judgment of the person who perpetrated one of this country’s most brutal mass murders. Like many death penalty defense lawyers before them, Cruz’s lawyers, to their credit, have not downplayed the gravity of the horrors their client inflicted in Parkland, Florida. Instead, during the sentencing trial, or what the journalist Dahlia Lithwick once called a “trial of the heart,” they have focused their attention on who Cruz is and the factors that shaped his life. As the Supreme Court said more than fifty years ago, in capital cases those who impose the sentence must consider “

Singapore | Shameful resumption of executions after two-year hiatus

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Responding to reports that the Singapore government executed Abdul Kahar bin Othman on 30 March, Amnesty International Southeast Asia Researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said:   “After two years of no executions, the hanging of Abdul Kahar bin Othman, who was sentenced for drug-related offences and to the mandatory death penalty, is a shameful breach of international law.  “There is overwhelming evidence that punitive drug policies, including imposing the death penalty for drug use and possession, do not solve problems associated with drugs. The Singapore government should focus on evidence-based and community-based approaches rooted in the respect of public health and human rights to avert drug dependence and other societal harms that may result from the use of drugs.  “Singapore’s use of the death penalty is out of step with the global trend towards abolition and the country is among a handful that still resort to executing those convicted of drug-related crimes. After a short hiatus of n

Dismay after Singapore court upholds death sentence for man with learning disabilities

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Execution of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who has IQ of 69, upheld despite claims it goes against international law A man with learning disabilities who has spent more than a decade on death row could face execution within days after Singapore’s top court dismissed his last-ditch appeal, in a case that has drawn global condemnation. Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, a Malaysian national, was arrested in 2009 for attempting to smuggle 43 grams of heroin – about three tablespoons –into Singapore. Nagaenthran, who was 21 at the time of his arrest, has said he was coerced into carrying the package, which was strapped to his thigh, and did not know its contents at the time. His case has provoked an outcry globally. UN experts have said the sentence is not only disproportionate for drug trafficking, and therefore illegal under international law, but also that there are concerns that accommodations were not made for his disabilities. Campaigners say that Nagaenthran has an IQ of 69, a level recognis

Idaho governor signs bill boosting secrecy of execution drugs

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The new law has drawn criticism from both sides of the political aisle, with opponents of the bill saying state officials should be upping transparency around executions rather than trying to shroud them in mystery. Idaho Governor Brad Little has signed a bill that drastically boosts the veil of secrecy over drugs used for executions in the state. Under the new law, Idaho officials cannot share where and how they acquired drugs used in lethal injection executions. Officials will be banned from disclosing the origins of the drugs even if ordered to do so by a judge. The bill sparked criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the Gem State, although it passed the Senate 21-14 and the House 38-30. GOP state Senator Todd Lakey, who sponsored the bill, said advocates against the death penalty have used a series of “organized aggressive social justice campaigns” to influence the suppliers of lethal injection drugs as a way to put a stop to executions in the state. He says thi

USA | Kentucky lawmakers vote to put limits on death penalty

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Kentucky would make the death penalty off-limits for some defendants diagnosed with severe mental illnesses under a bill that won final legislative approval Friday. The Republican-led Senate voted 25-9 to send the measure to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, capping a long effort led by death penalty opponents to restrict the use of capital punishment. Another proposal that crossed the finish line after languishing for years would require future constables and deputy constables to obtain training and law enforcement certification before wielding police powers. The bill won final Senate passage 23-11 and goes to Beshear's desk. With 4 days left in the 60-day session, stacks of bills are awaiting final decisions by the GOP-dominated legislature. Lawmakers have plenty of heavy lifting ahead, highlighted by work to finish a new 2-year state budget and to decide on tax legislation. The House has endorsed phasing out individual income taxes while extending the state sales tax to more service

India | Double-death sentence for man who raped, murdered 4-year-old in Madhya Pradesh

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A special fast track court in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh has awarded double-death sentence to a 32-year-old man for rape and murder of a 4-year-old girl. Accused was earlier arrested in connection with rape of her aunt. The sentence was given under Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code, under an amendment made in light of the gruesome Nirbhaya rape case. Besides capital punishment under Section 376A and Section 302 of IPC for murder by the trial court, he was sentenced to death under Sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012 also. Categorizing the case as “rarest of rare” (which under a legal precedent is critical precedent for the awarding of death penalty), the court also turned down his contention for leniency on grounds of young age, making it clear that it can’t be mitigating circumstance in cases of extreme depravity, said sources. Incident took place in Khirkari village on February 4, 2021. The 4-year-old girl belonged to a poor family of la

Kazakhstan completes accession to major international instrument on abolition of death penalty

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Kazakhstan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Magzhan Ilyassov, deposited with the United Nations the instrument of ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Kazinform cites the Kazakh MFA. This step confirms Kazakhstan’s firm commitment to further consolidate human rights and fulfill its international obligations in this area. Kazakhstan became the 90th out of 193 UN Member States to accede to the Protocol. The first step of Kazakhstan's accession to this international document was its signing in New York on 23 September 2020. It was on 2 January 2021 that the nation’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed the law ratifying this document. The provisions of the Protocol required that the country's national criminal legislation be brought into compliance with the Protocol's norms. All procedures were therefore followed by Ka

Bipartisan majority of Texas House urges clemency for death row inmate Melissa Lucio

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In a rare show of solidarity among Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives in the Texas House, a bipartisan majority of lawmakers united Thursday to urge state officials to halt next month's execution of death row inmate Melissa Luci o. The legislators said they had serious questions about Lucio's guilt and concerns about the legal process that led to the Harlingen woman's 2008 conviction in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah. "The system literally failed Melissa Lucio at every single turn," state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Allen, said Thursday morning at a Capitol news conference. "As a conservative Republican myself, who has long been a supporter of the death penalty in the most heinous cases, I have never seen a more troubling case," he said. RELATED | Seeking clemency, lawyers argue Texas is about to execute an innocent woman Leach said that 81 of the 150 members of the Texas House had signed a letter urging the Board of Pardons and

Daily executions in Saudi Arabia in run-up to Grand Prix

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Saudi Arabia has executed 16 more people since the mass execution of 81 men on March 12. Eight of those executions took place this week, including two executions on Wednesday March 23, only two days before F1 practice sessions begin. On average, Saudi Arabia is executing more than one person per day.  If the Kingdom continues to carry out executions at its current rate, there would be nearly 500 executions this year.  This would far exceed the highest recorded number of executions, which was 186 in 2019. Already in 2022 Saudi Arabia has executed 108 people which is more people than in 2020 and 2021 combined.  Nearly three-quarters of the 81 men killed in the mass execution were accused of non-lethal offences and, as confirmed by the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights, more than half were killed for taking part in pro-democracy protests. Maya Foa, Reprieve's Director, said:  “Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali says Saudi Arabia is headed in ‘the right direction

Texas | Supreme Court says death row inmate can have spiritual adviser ‘lay hands’ and pray aloud during their execution

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The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a Texas death row inmate could have his spiritual adviser pray aloud and “lay hands” on him during his execution, establishing new guidelines that will govern similar requests in other prisons across the country. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 8-1 decision. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissent. The dispute is the latest case the court has reviewed asking it to balance an inmate’s request for a religious accommodation at execution and a state’s wish to respect security and safety concerns in the chamber. The case arose after the court in September agreed to block the execution of John Henry Ramirez while the justices considered his requests concerning his pastor. The current policy in Texas is to allow a pastor in the chamber, but the pastor cannot speak up or physically touch the inmate. Ramirez was convicted of robbing and murdering Pablo Castro in 2004, stabbing him 29 times in a convenience store parking lot. He also robbed a second

Bangladesh | Four sentenced to death for killing schoolboy

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The Narayanganj Additional District and Sessions Judge Court-2 on 20 March 2022 sentenced four people to death and two others to life term rigorous imprisonment for killing a schoolboy in 2013. Judge Begum Sabina Yeasmin of the court handed down the verdict. The convicts who received death penalties are Siraj, 45, Ahmed Ali, 55, Nahid, 21, and Sentu Mia, 25. Those who received life term imprisonment are Salma, 42, daughter of Sirajul Islam Siraj and Husna, 47, wife of Ahmed Ali. The court also acquitted four other accused from the charges as allegations brought against them were not proved before the court. According to the prosecution, Ahmed Ali, a Bangladeshi expatriate in Singapore and son of Ismail Hossain of Char Radhanagar village in Fatulla area, had longstanding enmity with his nephew Iqbal. As a consequence of the enmity, Ahmed abducted Iqbal’s brother Emon Hossain, 13, and killed him on 13 June 2013. Emon was a student of class VI at the time of his abduction. Ahmed and his a