USA | It Is Time to End the Lethal Injection Mess

On June 23, amidst all furor over its gun rights and abortion decisions, the Supreme Court handed down a little noticed death penalty decision, Nance v Ward . In that case, a five-Justice majority ruled that death row inmates could file suits using 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, a federal law that authorizes citizens to sue in federal court for the deprivation of rights, to bring suit alleging that an execution method violated the Eighth Amendment. Michael Nance, who was sentenced to death in 2002, will now be able to proceed with his suit contesting Georgia’s plan to execute him by lethal injection. Nance suffers from medical conditions that have compromised his veins. To use lethal injection, the only execution method now authorized by state law, prison authorities would have to “cut his neck” to establish an intravenous execution line. He also claims that his long-time use of a drug for back pain would diminish the effect of the sedative used in Georgia’s drug cocktail. Nance alleges that

Saudi Arabia executes record 81 people in one day

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Saudi Arabia executed 81 people convicted of crimes ranging from killings to belonging to militant groups on Saturday, the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history.

The number of executed surpassed even the toll of a January 1980 mass execution for the 63 militants convicted of seizing the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979, the worst-ever militant attack to target the kingdom and Islam's holiest site.

It wasn't clear why the kingdom chose Saturday for the executions, though they came as much of the world's attention remained focused on Russia's war on Ukraine - and as the US hopes to lower record-high gasoline prices as energy prices spike worldwide.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly plans a trip to Saudi Arabia next week over oil prices as well.

The number of death penalty cases being carried out in Saudi Arabia had dropped during the coronavirus pandemic, though the kingdom continued to behead convicts under King Salman and his assertive son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency announced Saturday's executions, saying they included those "convicted of various crimes, including the murdering of innocent men, women and children".

The kingdom also said some of those executed were members of al-Qaida, the Islamic State group and also backers of Yemen's Houthi rebels.

Those executed included 73 Saudis, seven Yemenis and one Syrian. The report did not say where the executions took place.

"The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process, which found them guilty of committing multiple heinous crimes that left a large number of civilians and law enforcement officers dead," the Saudi Press Agency said.

It did not say how the prisoners were executed, though death-row inmates typically are beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

An announcement by Saudi state television described those executed as having "followed the footsteps of Satan" in carrying out their crimes.

The executions drew immediate international criticism.

"The world should know by now that when Mohammed bin Salman promises reform, bloodshed is bound to follow," said Soraya Bauwens, the deputy director of Reprieve, a London-based advocacy group.

Ali Adubusi, the director of the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, alleged that some of those executed had been tortured and faced trials "carried out in secret".

"These executions are the opposite of justice," he said.

The kingdom's last mass execution came in January 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people, including a prominent opposition Shiite cleric who had rallied demonstrations in the kingdom.

Since taking power, Crown Prince Mohammed under his father has increasingly liberalised life in the kingdom, opening movie theatres, allowing women to drive and defanging the country's once-feared religious police.

However, US intelligence agencies believe the crown prince also ordered the slaying and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, while overseeing airstrikes in Yemen that killed hundreds of civilians.

In excerpts of an interview with The Atlantic magazine, the crown prince discussed the death penalty, saying a "high percentage" of executions had been halted through the payment of so-called "blood money" settlements to grieving families.

"Well, about the death penalty, we got rid of all of it, except for one category, and this one is written in the Quran, and we cannot do anything about it, even if we wished to do something, because it is clear teaching in the Quran," the prince said, according to a transcript later published by the Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya.

"If someone killed someone, another person, the family of that person has the right, after going to the court, to apply capital punishment, unless they forgive him.

"Or if someone threatens the life of many people, that means he has to be punished by the death penalty."

He added: "Regardless if I like it or not, I don’t have the power to change it."

Source1news.co.nz, The Associated Press, March 13, 2022

Saudi Arabia | 81 people put to death in a day

New Delhi: Saudi Arabia executed 81 people on Saturday. They were convicted under various charges, including murder, involvement in militant activities, and having “deviant beliefs”, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

This comes after a drop in mass executions in the last two years. In 2019, the kingdom had executed 184 people, of which six were women. After global condemnation, the executions dropped by 85 per cent to only 27 in 2020, but rose to 67 in 2021, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

The Saturday executions, according to the agency, are in line with the kingdom’s “unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten the stability of the entire world”, according to an AP report.

“The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process, which found them guilty of committing multiple heinous crimes that left a large number of civilians and law enforcement officers dead,” the Saudi Press Agency said.

In a March 2022, a non-profit organisation based in Saudi Arabia called the European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) had stated that at least 44 detainees in the kingdom are facing the death penalty on charges including participating in demonstrations or expressing an opinion. 

In another report two months ago, the ESOHR claimed that while there was a drop in executions in 2020, it was not a result of change in state policy.  

“It was a personal desire of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was preoccupied with restoring his image tarnished by grave human rights violations,” it stated.

Saudi Arabia has the world’s second-highest number of executions after Iran and human rights organisations globally have raised questions on the judicial process followed by the kingdom preceding the executions.  

In 2019, Amnesty International’s review of the global death penalty stated that majority of the executions conducted in Saudi Arabia were for drug-related offences and murder. It also documented the increased use of the death penalty “as a political weapon against dissidents from Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a Muslim minority”.

Globally, more than 106 countries have abolished the death penalty, according to Amnesty.

Source: theprint.in, Staff, March 13, 2022

Saudi Arabia executes record 81 people in one day

Saudi Arabia said Saturday it had executed a record 81 people in one day for terrorism-related offences, exceeding the total number killed last year and sparking criticism from rights activists.

All had been "found guilty of committing multiple heinous crimes", the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported, saying they included convicts linked to the Islamic State group, Al-Qaeda, Yemen's Huthi rebel forces or "other terrorist organisations".

The wealthy Gulf country has one of the world's highest execution rates, and has often carried out previous death sentences by beheading.

Those executed had been sentenced over plotting attacks in the kingdom -- including killing "a large number" of civilians and members of the security forces, the SPA statement read.

"They also include convictions for targeting government personnel and vital economic sites, the killing of law enforcement officers and maiming their bodies, and planting land mines to target police vehicles," the SPA said.

"The convictions include crimes of kidnapping, torture, rape, smuggling arms and bombs into the kingdom," it added.

Of the 81 people killed, 73 were Saudi citizens, seven were Yemeni and one was a Syrian national.

'Strict and unwavering stance'

SPA said all those executed were tried in Saudi courts, with trials overseen by 13 judges, held over three separate stages for each individual.

"The kingdom will continue to take a strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten stability," the news agency added.

Saudi Arabia has been the target of a series of deadly shootings and bombings since late 2014 carried out by IS group extremists.

The kingdom is also leading a military coalition that has been fighting in Yemen since 2015 against Iran-backed Huthi rebels, who have in turn launched strikes on Saudi Arabia.

But the executions sparked condemnation from Britain-based campaign group Reprieve.

"Just last week the Crown Prince (Mohammed bin Salman) told journalists he plans to modernise Saudi Arabia's criminal justice system, only to order the largest mass execution in the country's history," Reprieve said.

"There are prisoners of conscience on Saudi death row, and others arrested as children or charged with non-violent crimes. We fear for every one of them following this brutal display of impunity."

Saturday's announcement of 81 deaths marks more than the total of 69 executions in all of 2021.

Up until Saturday, Saudi Arabia in 2022 had executed 11 people convicted of various crimes, according to an AFP tally based on official announcement. This brings the total executed so far this year to 92.

Around 50 countries worldwide continue to use the death penalty.

In 2020, 88 percent of all 483 reported executions took place in just four countries: Iran, with 246, followed by Egypt with 107, Iraq with 45, and then Saudi Arabia, which carried out 27 that year, according to Amnesty International.

Death row for teenage crime

The executions on Saturday were announced a day after the release of Saudi blogger and human rights activist Raif Badawi, who had been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years' prison on charges of insulting Islam.

But Badawi, who received only 50 lashes before the punishment was halted following global condemnation, is now subject to a 10-year travel ban, officials confirmed to AFP on Saturday.

It means the 38-year-old is unable to rejoin his wife Ensaf Haidar and their three children in Canada, where they fled following his arrest.

In recent years, Saudi has announced a series of reforms concerning sentences, including a moratorium on the death penalty for drug offences, as well as abolishing court-ordered floggings.

In April 2020, the kingdom also announced it was ending the death penalty for those convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18.

On Saturday, a rights group and relatives of a Saudi man sentenced to death when he was a minor said he had been taken to hospital after going on hunger strike and collapsing.

Abdullah al-Howaiti, who was just 14 when he was arrested in 2017 on charges of armed robbery and killing a police officer, was first sentenced to death in 2019, with the verdict upheld last month in a retrial.

"Abdullah has gone on hunger strike and has been hospitalised after collapsing," Reprieve said.

Source: Agence France-Presse, Staff, March 12, 2022

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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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