"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." Oscar Wilde

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ohio Reschedules Executions for 7 Death Row Inmates

The state on Friday rescheduled executions for 7 death row inmates as it tries to find new lethal drugs, meaning no inmate will be put to death in Ohio in 2015.

The announcement affects 6 executions this year, including 1 set for Feb. 11 for condemned child killer Ronald Phillips, and 1 previously scheduled for 2016 that was pushed farther back.

The move, which was expected, follows a federal judge's previous order delaying executions while the state puts a new execution policy in place, the state said.

The delays also allow the state time to find supplies of new drugs, according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

The new execution policy calls for Ohio to use drugs it doesn't have and has had difficulty obtaining in the past.

The delays mean that for the 1st time Ohio won't execute anyone in a calendar year since the state resumed putting inmates to death in 1999. The state put 1 inmate to death last year and 3 in 2013. A total of 11 executions are scheduled for 2016.

Under the revised schedule, the next execution is Jan. 21, 2016, when Phillips is scheduled to die for the 1993 rape and killing of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron.

Tim Young, the state public defender, applauded the move, saying there was no need for executions "until we have answers to the numerous legal and medical questions posed by lethal injection."

Earlier this month, the state ditched its 2-drug method after problematic executions in Ohio a year ago and Arizona in July. Ohio's supplies of those drugs, midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller, were already set to expire this year.

Underscoring concerns about midazolam, the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week ordered Oklahoma to postpone lethal injections executions using the drug until the court rules in a challenge involving midazolam.

Ohio's execution policy now calls for it to use versions of thiopental sodium or compounded pentobarbital, neither of which it has.

Death penalty experts question where Ohio would find supplies of thiopental sodium, saying it's no longer available in the U.S. and overseas imports would run afoul of importing bans.

The state also can't obtain compounded pentobarbital. A law that was enacted last month shielding the names of companies providing drugs was aimed at finding drug makers willing to provide pentobarbital.


Source: Associated Press, January 31, 2015

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Chinese Man Executed for Rape of Minor

A man in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province was executed on Friday for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, in collusion with his pregnant wife.

Bai Yunjiang was put to death by the Intermediate People's Court of Jiamusi City after the Supreme People's Court approved the death penalty.

In November, 2014, the Higher People's Court of Heilongjiang Province rejected the couple's appeals and upheld the sentences of the city court which sentenced Bai to death and his wife Tan Beibei to life imprisonment for intentional homicide, rape and robbery.

On July 24, 2013, Tan, who was pregnant at the time, lured the girl, identified as Hu, to their home by pretending to have pregnancy complications.

The couple then gave the teenager a yoghurt drink spiked with Clonazepam, a kind of sedative, and attempted to rape her. They were unsuccessful, but killed the girl anyway and buried her body, the court said.

Tan said her husband was aware that she had several extra marital affairs and the idea to acquire a young girl for her husband's pleasure had emerged out of guilt.

The couple were found to have previously failed in 2 similar attacks, 1, the attempted rape of one of their daughter's classmates in June, 2013, and the other an attempted robbery and murder of one of Bai's former classmates in mid July, 2013.

Source: CRI English News, January 31, 2015

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bali Nine pair lodge handwritten appeals

Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran
Bali: Australian drug smugglers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have lodged handwritten letters to Indonesia's president appealing for mercy as part of an application to have their death sentences reviewed.

In their letters written in Indonesian, Chan admits he deserves to be in jail but says he can be rehabilitated, while Sukumaran insists prison has changed him into an extraordinary and good man.

In his statement to President Joko Widodo and the Supreme Court chairman, Chan writes that life in prison is tough but he is not complaining, "because I know I deserved to be jailed for quite a long time".

He begs for the president and court to note his rehabilitation during his decade on death row.

"I'm like a broken cup, but that doesn't mean I can't be repaired," he writes.

Sukumaran's letter begins by apologising for a crime committed when he was "very young and foolish and uneducated".

He writes about the computer and art classes in Kerobokan jail and how, through teaching others, they have taught him.

"In a way, Bapak [Indonesian for Sir], I would like to thank you even though I'm in prison," Sukumaran writes.

"If the lowest point of a society is prison, then it must be noted that your prison has changed me into an extraordinary person, a good man, an educated man."

The Bali Nine ringleaders, who have been on death row in Kerobokan prison for 10 years, were unable to apply for the judicial review in person, so a court registrar visited them.

With their last-ditch application accepted, their legal team hopes arguments about their rehabilitation and past misapplications of law can be considered.

They want the Australians' death sentences to be commuted to 20 years in jail.

Legal uncertainty over whether the courts can hear a second judicial review, known as a PK, persists.

Attorney-General spokesman Tony Spontana told reporters the application for PK won't stop plans for the men's executions.


Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Gabrielle Dunlevy, January 31, 2015

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A dozen more Australians face death penalty abroad

Twelve Australians – including two grandmothers – are facing possible execution overseas, far more than previously known.

The imperiled dozen are in addition to three Australians already sentenced to death – Pham Trung Dung in Vietnam, and Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan in Bali.

Sukumaran and Chan could be killed by an Indonesian firing squad within weeks, with a spokesman for Attorney-General H.M. Prasetyo saying a freshly-lodged judicial review will not stop their executions.

However, Fairfax has learned that 12 other Australians have also been detained for serious offences or charged with crimes that carry the death penalty and could soon join the grim wait for the executioner.

Until now, only two cases of Australians in the predicament were known.

They were Peter Gardiner, the dual Australia-New Zealand man caught with 30 kilograms of methamphetamine in China and Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, a 51-year-old grandmother, caught with 1.5 kg of the drug in Malaysia.

Fairfax understands that a 71-year-old grandmother is among the other 10 Australians facing execution.

The Department of Foreign Affairs declined to provide any details on the other cases but it is understood the bulk of them, if not all, involve drug trafficking in Asia.

"These figures are subject to revision and represent the best of our knowledge. As a matter of policy we do not disclose the names or locations of these consular clients," a DFAT spokesman said.


Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Tom Allard, January 31, 2015

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Saudi Arabia postpones blogger flogging for third week

Raef Badawi
Dubai: Saudi Arabia postponed Friday for a third week in a row the flogging of a blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, his wife said.

Raef Badawi “was not flogged” on Friday, his wife Ensaf Haidar said, adding that the reason was unclear.

The 30-year-old received the first 50 lashes of his sentence outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9.

The next round of the punishment was postponed for the following two weeks on medical grounds.

Badawi’s case has already prompted worldwide outrage and criticism from the UN, US, the EU and others.

On Thursday, Ensaf, who has sought asylum with their three children in Canada, voiced concerns about the health of her husband, who has been suffering from hypertension since his arrest in June 2012.

“Raef’s health condition is bad and it’s getting worse. I am very concerned about him,” Ensaf told reporters and lawmakers in Canada.

“It is impossible for a human being to withstand 50 lashes every week,” she said.

Badawi co-founded the now-banned Saudi Liberal Network along with women’s rights campaigner Suad Al Shammari, who was also accused of insulting Islam and arrested last October.

The charges against Badawi were brought after his group criticised clerics and the kingdom’s religious police, who have been accused of a heavy-handed enforcement of Shariah.

Rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday Badawi could suffer “debilitating long-term physical and mental damage” from continued flogging, which violates international law.

“Raef Badawi is a prisoner of conscience, whose only ‘crime’ was to set up a website for public discussion,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.

Source: Agence France-Presse, January 30, 2015

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URGENT ACTION - Indonesia: 6 executed, 9 more at risk

The Indonesian authorities executed six people by firing squad on 18 January. Nine more people are at risk of execution. 

Rani Andriani alias Melisa Aprilia (Indonesian), Daniel Enemuo (Nigerian), Ang Kiem Soei (Dutch), Tran Thi Bich Hanh (Vietnamese), Namaona Denis (Nigerian) and Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira (Brazilian) were executed by firing squad just after midnight on 18 January. All were convicted of and sentenced to death for drug-related offenses. Five of them were executed on Nusakambangan Island while Tran Thi Bich Hanh was executed in Boyolali district, both in Central Java. 

Amnesty International is concerned that more executions will follow. The Indonesian government announced in December 2014 that 20 people are scheduled to be executed in 2015. Nine men are at imminent risk of execution after their clemency applications were rejected by President Joko Widodo in December 2014 and January 2015. They are Syofial alias Iyen bin Azwar (Indonesian), Harun bin Ajis (Indonesian), Sargawi alias Ali bin Sanusi (Indonesian), Myuran Sukumaran (Australian), Andrew Chan (Australian), Martin Anderson alias Belo (Ghanaian), Zainal Abidin (Indonesian), Raheem Agbaje Salami ‎(Nigerian) and Rodrigo Gularte (Brazilian). They were convicted for either premeditated murder or drug-related crimes. Another two people have also had their clemency applications rejected. 

Death sentences in Indonesia are carried out by firing squad. The prisoner has the choice of standing or sitting and whether to have their eyes covered, by a blindfold or hood. Firing squads are made up of 12 people, three of whose rifles are loaded with live ammunition, while the other nine rifles are loaded with blanks. The squad fires from a distance of between five and 10 meters. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

The following is further information on the nine men: 

* Syofial alias Iyen bin Azwar, Harun bin Ajis and Sargawi alias Ali bin Sanusi, all Indonesian nationals, were sentenced to death by the Bangko District Court in November 2001 for the murder of seven members of an indigenous community (Suku Anak Dalam) in Merangin District, Jambi Province.

* Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, Australian nationals, were sentenced to death by the Denpasar District Court in February 2006 for attempting to traffic more than 8 kilograms of heroin to Australia in 2005.

* Martin Anderson alias Belo, a Ghanaian national, was sentenced to death by the South Jakarta District Court in June 2004 after being convicted of possessing 50 grams of heroin in Jakarta in November 2003.

* Zainal Abidin, an Indonesian national, was initially sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by the Palembang District Court in September 2001 for smuggling 58.7 kilograms of marijuana. He was later sentenced to death by the Palembang High Court in December 2001.

* Raheem Agbaje Salami, a Nigerian national, was initially sentenced to life imprisonment by the Surabaya District Court in April 1999 for smuggling 5.3 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia at the Juanda airport, East Java province in September 1998. In May 2006 he was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court and was not able to appeal against his death sentence to a higher court, a right guaranteed by Safeguard No.6 of the UN Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, approved by Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984.

* Rodrigo Gularte, a Brazilian national, was sentenced to death by the Tangerang District Court in February 2005 for smuggling six kilograms of cocaine into Indonesia at the Cengkareng airport, Banten province. According to his lawyer, he has paranoid schizophrenia and has not been able to recognize or discuss his case with his counsel. International law and standards on the use of capital punishment clearly state that the death penalty should not be imposed or carried out on people with mental or intellectual disabilities. This applies whether the disability was relevant at the time of their alleged commission of the crime or developed after the person was sentenced to death. 


Name: Rani Andriani alias Melisa Aprilia (f), Daniel Enemuo (m), Ang Kiem Soei (m), Tran Thi Bich Hanh (f), Namaona Denis (m), Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira (m), Syofial alias Iyen bin Azwar (m), Harun bin Ajis (m), Sargawi alias Ali bin Sanusi (m), Myuran Sukumaran (m), Andrew Chan (m), Martin Anderson alias Belo (m), Zainal Abidin (m), Raheem Agbaje Salami (m) and Rodrigo Gularte (m).

Issues: Death penalty, Imminent execution, Legal concern

Further information on UA: 305/14 (5 December 2014) and update (January 13 2015, 15 January 2015)

Issue Date: 30 January 2015

Country: Indonesia 

Please let us know if you took action so that we can track our impact! 

EITHER send a short email to uan@aiusa.org with "UA 305/14" in the subject line, and include in the body of the email the number of letters and/or emails you sent. 

OR fill out this short online form to let us know how you took action. 

Thank you for taking action! Please check with the AIUSA Urgent Action Office if sending appeals after the below date. This is the third update of UA 305/14.
Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA21/003/2015/en. If you receive a response from a government official, please forward it to us at uan@aiusa.org or to the Urgent Action Office address below. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP 

Please write immediately in English, Indonesian or your own language: 
* Urging the authorities to immediately halt plans to carry out any executions; 
* Calling on them to establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty and to commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment; 
* Pointing out that there is no convincing evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments and that the decision to resume executions has set Indonesia against the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty and the country’s own progress in this area. 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 13 MARCH 2015 TO: 

President of the Republic of Indonesia 
H. E. Joko Widodo 
Istana Merdeka 
Jakarta Pusat 10110 
Indonesia 
Fax: 011 62 21 386 4816 / 011 62 21 344 2233 
Twitter: jokowi_do2 
Salutation: Dear President 

Attorney General 
H. M. Prasetyo 
Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin No. 1, Jakarta Selatan, Jakarta 12160, Indonesia 
Fax: 011 62 21 722 1269 / 011 62 21 725 0213 
Salutation: Dear Attorney General 

And copies to: 
State Secretariat Minister 
Pratikno 
Gedung Sekretariat Negara RI 
Sayap Timur Lantai 3 
Jalan Veteran III No. 10 
Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia 10110 
Fax: 011 62 21 345 6189 

Also send copies to: 
H.E. Ambassador Budi Bowoleksono, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia 
2020 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036 
Fax: 1 202 775 5365 I Phone: 1 202 775 5200 I Email: ikuhn@embassyofindonesia.org or 

Please share widely with your networks: http://bit.ly/1KeNhxK

We encourage you to share Urgent Actions with your friends and colleagues! When you share with your 
networks, instead of forwarding the original email, please use the "Forward this email to a friend" link found at the very bottom of this email. Thank you for your activism! 

UA Network Office AIUSA │600 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington DC 20003 
T. 202.509.8193 │ F. 202.509.8193 │E. uan@aiusa.org │amnestyusa.org/urgent 

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Family of Pakistani death row prisoner told to “bring a shroud” to his hanging

The relatives of a man set to be wrongfully executed in Pakistan have been given an official notice of his hanging next week – and told to bring a shroud and a gurney to dispose of his body.

Shoaib Sarwar was convicted of murder in Pakistan 17 years ago, following a trial process which saw a number of irregularities. His hanging, scheduled for Tuesday, 3rd February, will mark the first execution in Pakistan of someone who not only was convicted of non-terrorist offences, but was not even convicted in a terrorism court. There are concerns that his hanging could lead to plans to execute more than 8,000 other prisoners convicted of non-terrorist offences on Pakistan’s death row, which is the largest in the world.

Resuming executions in late 2014 after a longstanding moratorium on the death penalty, the Pakistani government announced it would hand death warrants only to those convicted as terrorists under the country’s flawed anti-terror legislation. Mr Sarwar’s situation is unique, however, as the authorities do not consider him to be a terrorist, or his case to be in any way terrorism-related.

A notice of execution issued to the family of Mr Sarwar today told them to come to his prison in Rawalpindi on Monday for a final visit. The document instructed them to bring both a gurney and shroud to take his body away after the hanging.

The decision to execute Mr Sarwar has caused confusion among authorities in Pakistan; a document filed to the court this week by the Superintendent of Rawalpindi Jail, where Mr Sarwar is being held, raised questions about the planned execution in light of the Government's stated policy of executing only 'terrorists'. The court dismissed the filing, however, and ordered the execution to go ahead.

Commenting, Kate Higham, an investigator at legal charity Reprieve said: “The rush to execute Shoaib Sarwar, despite an official policy that would expressly forbid his hanging, is shocking. It flies in the face of the Pakistani Government’s claim that they are only executing ‘terrorists’. The issuing of grisly instructions to Mr Sarwar’s desperate family merely shows the terrible reality of this resumption of the death penalty – and the risk to the 8,000 people on Pakistan’s death row. The international community must tell Pakistan without delay that this opening of the floodgates is unacceptable.”

Source: Reprieve, January 30, 2015

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New Zealand's Antony de Malmanche to face death penalty

Indonesian prosecutors have confirmed they will press charges carrying the death penalty against a New Zealand man caught with crystal meth at Bali's airport.

Antony de Malmanche, 52, says he thought he was going on his 1st overseas trip to meet a woman he met online.

Instead he says he found himself diverted to China at the direction of a man claiming to be the woman's personal assistant.

The man gave him a bag and instructions to fly to Bali, where he would finally meet "Jessie".

Lawyers for de Malmanche say he didn't know there was 1.7kg of the drug known as ice inside the backpack when he was intercepted by customs in Bali.

On Thursday (local time), the invalid pensioner tripped and fell as he was taken to the prosecutor's office and needed medical attention.

Asked what he expected to happen at trial he said: "To be found not guilty."

Prosecutor Siti Sawiyah says she has received the police brief of evidence including a green backpack and 1709 grams of "shabu", or crystal meth.

She confirmed the Kiwi would be charged with offences carrying a maximum penalty of death.

"We will keep the suspect in detention in Kerobokan prison," she told reporters, adding she hoped a trial could begin as soon as possible.

Indonesian lawyer for de Malmanche, Chris Harno, says his client - who spent 3 years in institutional care as a child - is in poor physical and mental health.

"He suffers pain in his spine and the back of his neck ... suffered long ago, but he still feels it now," he told reporters.

"My focus in court will be to try to get him off the death penalty."

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said there will be "no compromise" in executing drug offenders sentenced to death, as part of his determination to stop drug crime.

Barrister Craig Tuck, representing de Malmanche, is set to use a groundbreaking defence at trial.

A specialist team of human rights and legal experts from Indonesia and elsewhere will demonstrate that de Malmanche is a victim of human trafficking.

Source: 3news.co.nz, January 30, 2015

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Indonesia: Police "ready for executions"

Pasir Putih Prison on Nusakambangan Island,
Central Java, Indonesia
The police are making assurances that the prison island of Nusakambangan in Cilacap, Central Java, is ready for the executions of death row convicts, including the Bali 9 duo.

Cilacap Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Ulung Sampurna Jaya said that they were only waiting for the order to commence the executions.

"We are very ready. It's now just a matter of pressing the button," Ulung said as an analogy during an interview with The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

According to him, additional special personnel had been assigned to the areas around the Wijaya Pura Pier, the official entrance gate to the prison island, since all officials and visitors to the prisons land on the island after a 7-minute ride from Cilacap on the mainland on board a ship provided by the Nusakambangan correctional facility office.

Ulung said that he had received messages indicating that the executions of 2 members of the Bali 9 would be conducted in February, but the exact date had yet to be revealed.

"That's why we prepare the squad to remain ready so that any time there is a command there will be no problem," Ulung said.

The Attorney General's Office has revealed a plan to execute another 11 death row convicts, including drug convicts, who are on the prison island.

Attorney General HM Prasetyo said on Thursday that as an isolated island Nusakambangan was considered an ideal place for executions in terms of security. On Jan. 18, the government executed an Indonesian and 5 foreign nationals for their involvement in drug trafficking. Some of the executions took place on Nusakambangan Island. The list of the 11 convicts to be executed include drug convicts Rodrigo Gularte of Brazil, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso of the Philippines, Serge Areski Atlaoui of France, Martin Anderson alias Belo of Ghana, Raheem Agbaje Salami of Spain and Zainal Abidin of Indonesia. 3 Indonesian murder convicts, Syofial, Sargawi and Harun, are also on the list.

2 Australians - Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran - are also said to be among those to soon be executed. Sukumaran, 33, and Chan, 31, are being detained at Kerobokan Penitentiary. They are 2 of 9 Australians, the so-called Bali 9 group, who were convicted for attempting to smuggle about 8 kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia in 2005. Their clemency pleas were officially rejected by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo this month.

Despite the denial of their requests for clemency, lawyers for the 2 Australian drug smugglers are pushing forward with efforts to save their clients from execution.The pair's legal team said they were planning to file for a 2nd case review (PK) with the Denpasar District Court, arguing that the convicts had reformed themselves after serving more than 10 years in prison.

According to an existing regulation issued by the Supreme Court, a convict can request only 1 additional case review in order to establish legal certainty. The team submitted a PK in 2010 that was rejected.

Nusakambangan is home to around 1,500 high-profile inmates and has often been the venue for executions. It is considered secure as it is located about 2 km off the Teluk Penyu beach, Cilacap.

There are 2 execution sites on the island: the Nirbaya and Li- musbuntu shooting fields.

Source: Jakarta Post, January 30, 2015

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Judicial review into Bali Nine pair 'would not stop executions': Attorney-General

A judicial review into the condemned Bali Nine members filed on Friday would not stop executions proceeding, according to a spokesman for Indonesian Attorney-General H.M Prasetyo.

Tony Spontana accused lawyers for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran of trying to delay the executions by filing out an application for a case review, known as a PK.

"Since the norm is that the PK will not stop the execution we hope that the judges in the Denpasar District Court will reject it," he told a press conference.

Mr Spontana said a meeting on January 9 attended by representatives from the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and other agencies had agreed that there could only be one judicial review of a case.

No decision had been made on who would be included in the second round of executions of felons in Indonesia this year.

It had also not been finalised where or when they would be held.

However Mr Spontana said two Australians were among 11 convicts who had lost their clemency pleas and would face the firing squad.

Chan and Sukumaran had their clemency pleas rejected by Indonesian President Joko Widodo earlier this month.

Mr Spontana said the Attorney-General's office was still evaluating the first round of executions, in which six drug felons - five of whom were foreigners - were shot dead on January 18.

He said problems had included delays in the timing of the executions and the convicts changing their last wishes, such as where they wanted to be buried and their religion.

The Melbourne lawyer for chan and Sukumaran, Julian McMahon, said the focus of the judicial review, which had been filed in the courts, was on rehabilitation.

"The matter is now before the courts according to the rule of law which is a very important thing to understand," he said.

"My clients have now been in jail for 10 years and slowly with the help of the Indonesian jail system their lives have been turned around and improved greatly.

"They are a wonderful example of what can happen in the jail system. Obviously there is no advantage to anybody in executing reformed prisoners."

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, January 30, 2015

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Syria 'adultress' survives jihadist stoning: Monitor

A Syrian woman stoned by the jihadist Islamic State group for alledged adultery and left for dead has miraculously walked away from the brutal punishment, a monitor said Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jihadist group sentenced the woman to be "stoned for adultery" in the town of Raqa, the IS stronghold in northern Syria.

Militants carried out the punishment and "stoned her until they thought she had died," said the Britain-based monitor.

But just as they had stopped pelting her with stones, the woman stood up and tried to flee.

"An IS militant was about to open fire at her when an Islamist jurist intervened and stopped him saying it was God's will that she did not die," said the Observatory, without specifying when it happened.

The IS jurist told the woman she can walk free but that she must "repent".

According to the Observatory, at least 15 people, nine of them women, have been executed by jihadists in Syria, including Al-Qaeda-linked militants, since July for alleged adultery and homosexuality.

The IS and the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's Syria branch, hold large swathes of Syria and have imposed a brutal version of Islamic law in territory under their control.

Source: Agence France-Presse, January 30, 2015

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Indonesia: Execution looming for French national Serge Atlaoui

French national Serge Atlaoui
President Joko Widodo of Indonesia rejected the clemency appeals of several foreigners sentenced to death for drug trafficking, including the appeal of French national Serge Atlaoui, who could be executed soon, the Jakarta Attorney-General's office aid.

The Attorney-General's office has received "official copies of the presidential decree dismissing the clemency appeals from eleven death row inmates," a spokesman for the attorney general said.

Among the eleven men and women in line for execution by firing squad are seven foreigners sentenced to death for drug trafficking, including French citizen Serge Atlaoui, he added.

The other foreigners come from countries including Australia, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria and the Philippines.

Death penalty for drug traffickers

The Frenchman Atlaoui was arrested in 2005 in a secret laboratory producing ecstasy close to Jakarta and sentenced to death for drug trafficking.

Spokesman Tony Spontana stressed that the Attorney-General had already established a list of 11 death row inmates to be executed in the weeks to come, but he had not yet decided which prisoners would be put to death in the next round of executions. An announcement is expected shortly, he said.

Dozens of Indonesians and foreigners sentenced to death for drug cases are sitting on Indonesia's death row. Indonesia has some of the strictest anti-drugs laws in the world.

Six prisoners, including five foreigners, were executed by firing squad on January 18, which caused Brazil and the Netherlands to recall their ambassadors.

Source: RTL, January 30, 2015

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Bali Nine: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran lodge fresh appeal

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran
Lawyers for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the two Bali Nine members on death row in Kerobokan prison, successfully lodged an application for a second review of their cases on Friday, in a final bid to save the pair from the firing squad.

Members of Chan and Sukumaran’s legal team arrived at the prison shortly before 8.30am, followed by a Denpasar court clerk who came out showing media the signed applications for a judicial review (PK).

Indonesian lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis later said an application for a judicial review of the case had been accepted.

“It has been accepted, it will go to the courts, then it depends on the district court heads,” he told media. “There should not be an execution because the legal process should be respected as well.”

Chan and Sukumaran’s lawyers are at this stage asking for the death sentences to be commuted to life, not an acquittal, Mulya stressed. “Those two men, the petitioners, have changed a great deal. They have become good men.”

The appeal has been complicated by confusion in the Indonesian justice system about whether death row prisoners have the right to more than one PK. It is the last of all possible avenues of appeal, and Indonesia’s supreme and constitutional courts are divided over the issue.

Both men would have had to be present for the PK application, which meant allowing a court clerk to come inside the prison, or arranging for the two men to go outside the prison to court, Guardian Australia was told.

Delays, including refusals by the justice department to allow a court visit because of security concerns, prompted fears an execution date would be set before leave was granted.

Chan and Sukumaran were sentenced to death for their parts in a heroin smuggling attempt in 2005.

Both men were denied clemency by the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, in recent weeks and there have been conflicting statements from Indonesian officials about when the execution order would be given.


Source: The Guardian, January 30, 2015

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Texas executes Robert Ladd

Robert Ladd
HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas man convicted of killing a 38-year-old woman nearly two decades ago while he was on parole for a triple slaying years earlier was executed Thursday evening. He was pronounced dead at 7:02 p.m.

Robert Ladd, 57, received lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments he was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty. The court also rejected an appeal in which Ladd’s attorney challenged whether the pentobarbital Texas uses in executions is potent enough to not cause unconstitutional pain and suffering.

Ladd was executed for the 1996 slaying of 38-year-old Vicki Ann Garner, of Tyler, who was strangled and beaten with a hammer. Her arms and legs were bound, bedding was placed between her legs, and she was set on fire in her apartment.

Ladd came within hours of lethal injection in 2003 before a federal court agreed to hear evidence about juvenile records that suggested he was mentally impaired. That appeal was denied and the Supreme Court last year turned down a review of Ladd’s case. His attorneys renewed similar arguments as his new execution date approached.

“Ladd’s deficits are well documented, debilitating and significant,” Brian Stull, a senior staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union Capital Punishment Project, told the high court.

Kelli Weaver, a Texas attorney general, reminded the justices in a filing that “each court that has reviewed Ladd’s claim has determined that Ladd is not intellectually disabled.”

Ladd’s lawyers cited a psychiatrist’s determination in 1970 that Ladd, then a 13-year-old in custody of the Texas Youth Commission, had an IQ of 67. Courts have embraced scientific studies that consider an IQ of 70 a threshold for impairment. The inmate’s attorneys also contended he long has had difficulties with social skills and functioning on his own.

Ladd also was a plaintiff in a lawsuit questioning the “quality and viability” of Texas’ supply of its execution drug, pentobarbital. The Texas Attorney General’s Office called the challenge “nothing more than rank speculation.”

When he was arrested for Garner’s slaying, Ladd had been on parole for about four years after serving about a third of a 40-year prison term for the slayings of a Dallas woman and her two children. He pleaded guilty to those crime.

Source: The Associated Press, January 29, 2015


Texas Uses Of Mice and Men Standards to Execute Mentally Disabled Man

Barring a last-minute intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, Texas will execute a man with an IQ score of 67 tonight.

Robert Ladd is scheduled for execution by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday for the 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner. This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that executing a mentally disabled person for murder is unconstitutional. Stranger still, Texas has once again used standards derived from John Steinbeck's classic 1937 novella, Of Mice and Men, to justify executing a man that meets the clinical definition of intellectually disabled.

"Anywhere else in the country, Mr. Ladd's IQ of 67 would have meant a life sentence, not death," Brian Stull, Ladd's attorney, said in a statement. "But the Texas courts insist on severely misjudging his intellectual capacity, relying on standards for gauging intelligence crafted from 'Of Mice and Men' and other sources that have nothing to do with science or medicine. Robert Ladd's fate shouldn't depend on a novella."

And yet.

Texas has been executing people as fast as it can since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. However, the question of whether or not anyone should be executing the intellectually disabled has come up a bit since then. The U.S. Supreme Court made a broad decision on the issue back in 2002 with Atkins v. Virginia. The high court ruled that executing an intellectually disabled person for murder was a violation of the Eighth Amendment which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment."

Here's what Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his opinion (and yes, they used the term "retarded" back then):

"Construing and applying the Eighth Amendment in the light of our 'evolving standards of decency,' we therefore conclude that such punishment is excessive and that the Constitution 'places a substantive restriction on the State's power to take the life' of a mentally retarded offender."

However, the Supremes left the actual definition of what constitutes intellectually disabled up to the states. In Texas, after the 2003 state legislature failed to lay out the rules that would clearly prevent the execution of intellectually disabled people convicted of murder, it fell to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to pin down the requirements. Judge Cathy Cochran was the one to write the opinion, and she came up with a doozy.

This is where Steinbeck enters the legal picture. Cochran was born in California and decades ago she and her husband lived in Monterrey near Cannery Row, the area that Steinbeck immortalized. Cochran started reading his books since she was living in the place that inspired so much of his writing. One of the books she picked up was, of course, Of Mice and Men.

For those who dozed off in high school English class, Of Mice and Men is the story of George, a vagabond ranch hand, and his friend Lennie, a mentally disabled giant of a man. George and Lennie travel together working and George struggles throughout the book to keep Lennie, who is fascinated with soft things and doesn't realize the damage he is capable of, from getting in trouble. Eventually this leads to an accidental murder and George finds Lennie hiding from a vigilante group. George knows the men will find his friend and will execute him, so he kills Lennie himself. It's a brutal, tragic and incredibly moving work of fiction, and it turns out that the story stayed with Cochran, though probably not in the way Steinbeck would have intended.

Cochran landed on the Court of Criminal Appeals in 2001. In 2004 she was working out how to apply the Supreme Court's Atkins ruling in Texas and she found herself thinking of Lennie, according to Life of the Law. She even mentions Lennie in the opinion she wrote in Ex Parte Briseno, the 1st Texas case post-Atkins that saw the court working out how to handle convicted murderers who might be intellectually disabled.

And for a second, it reads like she actually got the point of the book, but then she goes on:

"Most Texas citizens might agree that Steinbeck's Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt from execution. But does a consensus of Texas citizens agree that all persons who might legitimately qualify for assistance under the social services definition of mental retardation be exempt from an otherwise constitutional penalty?"

Cochran concluded Texans would not want to exempt every convicted murderer with a low IQ from being executed. John Blume, a law professor at Cornell University who has studied how states have actually applied Atkins, says Cochran basically undid everything Atkins was supposed to do. "If you read the Briseno opinion itself it's clearly an attempt on its own terms to circumvent Atkins. It says we understand that the Supreme Court decided on Atkins but we have some room to operate here and we're going to use it."

So Cochran, in writing the opinion for the Court of Criminal Appeals, essentially took Atkins and worked around it to create new very flexible guidelines for the courts in Texas. She came up with what would come to be known as the Briseno Factors.

There are 7 factors. Translated out of legalese, the Briseno Factors essentially mean a person who has tested as intellectually disabled but is still able to get an idea and follow through on it, or is not clearly being manipulated by others, or can handle a social situation without drooling, or is able to tell a lie and remember the lie long enough to keep telling it is mentally competent enough for execution. The same goes if he or she can talk coherently and was able to, you know, actually plan the crime in question.

Blume says that in practice the Briseno factors can undo almost any legal acknowledgment of intellectual disability, making Atkins just this side of worthless in preventing a mentally disabled person who may not entirely understand what they've done -- hence why the Briseno Factors are also known as the Lennie test -- from being executed.

Using the Lennie test almost anyone can be proved competent enough to be executed. "That's where Texas is really an outlier and where people really seem to lose when it comes to the adaptive functioning," Blume says. "The courts use the Briseno factors despite the fact that they are at odds with the clinical definition of intellectual disability, and when it comes to the Briseno factors it's almost impossible to win."

Translated into practical terms this workaround led to the execution of Marvin Wilson in 2012. Wilson was a man who sucked his thumb and who couldn't make change or use a phone book. He had an IQ of 61, but he had also held a job, married and had a child. Wilson was convicted in 1994 in the shooting death of Jerry Williams, 21, who had identified him to police as a drug dealer, according to the Huffington Post. Despite his low IQ the court system found that he should be executed according to the Lennie test since he was able to hold a job and marry, as Atlantic noted.

That was when Steinbeck's son Thomas Steinbeck found out that his father's work was being used as justification for executing convicted murderers with low IQs. He issued a statement vehemently decrying the entire thing. "To judge anything based on a piece of fiction, I think, is a stretch," he told Studio360 in 2013. "And I think it would've made my father extremely angry."

Thomas Steinbeck pointed out his father was decidedly against the death penalty. He noted that his father once told him that if you have to take another man's blood to make your point, you haven't thought out the question very thoroughly.

Last year, the Supreme Court made a more narrow decision on the issue in Hall v. Florida, ruling that states have to actually stick to the clinical definition of intellectual disability when measuring who can and can't be executed. However, this ruling has had virtually no apparent effect on how judges in Texas handle these cases, Blume says.

And the thing is lawmakers -- perhaps the ones who read Of Mice and Men and get how ridiculous it is that the state currently executing the most people in the country should cite this particular work to justify some of the most morally questionable executions -- have been trying to get the Lennie test replaced with actual state legislation for years.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis has been working on getting a bill passed outlining how to determine whether someone is mentally competent enough to be executed for more than a decade. The bill he filed in the 2013 legislative session never made it out of senate committee. "I've actually had to preside over executions when I was the acting governor in 1999 and 2000, so I know firsthand the importance of getting it absolutely right when it comes to the ultimate punishment," Ellis stated via email. "Texas' current system falls far short of that standard, so I hope that my 16 year quest to pass this bill is finally successful this session."

Ellis has already filed a similar bill for the 84th legislative session. Ellis says his bill is designed to get Texas away from the Lennie list and into line with, well, the law. "To ensure compliance with the Constitution, my bill would put in place a clear standard to determine whether a defendant is eligible for the death penalty." There's no telling if the bill will gain any traction this time around.

Either way time is running out for Ladd. Ladd was acknowledged in court as someone who met the clinical criteria of intellectually disabled, Blume says, but Briseno cancelled that consideration out, something that has often happened when it is applied in Texas.

Ladd, who previously pled guilty and served 14 years for killing his cousin and her two children in Dallas back in 1978, beat Vicki Ann Garner to death in 1996. Garner was also intellectually disabled, according to the Daily Tribune. There's no question of Ladd's guilt, only of whether he ever possessed the mental capacity to understand what he was doing. Ladd's lawyers say he did not. After the Court of Criminal Appeals denied Ladd's death penalty appeal, his lawyers filed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday, asking them to step in.

At this point the entire issue is in the hands of the Supremes. If the Supreme Court doesn't make Texas stop using these standards to work around Atkins, Blume says it looks like Texas will keep using the Lennie test to allow the execution of the intellectually disabled. And so far there have been no signs of any change on the horizon in Texas courts. "They're continuing to apply these factors in state and federal courts in Texas and nobody says no. They've been in effect for a number of years and they've been used by judges in a lot of different courts," Blume says. "I'd like to think the legislature will do something, but that doesn't seem likely, so it will have to fall to the Supreme Court. Until the Supreme Court steps in and says no, you can't do this, they're going to keep doing it."

Source: Houston Press, January 29, 2015

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Texas poised to execute intellectually disabled inmate

Robert Ladd
Robert Ladd's lethal injection to come days after Georgia's execution of another intellectually disabled man; lawyer condemns policy based on fiction

Texas is hours away from executing the second intellectually disabled prisoner in the US this week, in what lawyers say is a clear violation of the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

The convicted murderer Robert Ladd, 57, will be killed with a lethal injection at 6pm Central Time on Thursday barring last-minute action by the US supreme court, where the case now resides. He was first found to have what was then called "mental retardation" when he was 13, and has repeatedly been diagnosed with the condition throughout his life.

In 2002, the supreme court banned executions for mentally impaired prisoners under the 8th amendment of the constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. But Texas says it is not bound by this ruling because it claims Ladd does not conform to the state's unique, and bizarre, method of defining "mental retardation".

Under what are known as "Briseno Factors", the state sets out the profile of an individual whom ordinary Texans would agree was intellectually disabled. It points to Lennie Small, the lumbering and childlike character in John Steinbeck's 1937 novel Of Mice and Men, identifying him as the legal yardstick.

Ladd's lawyer, Brian Stull of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that his client's fate should not "depend on a novella. Instead of sticking to the standards set by science, they refer to a character in Of Mice and Men."

Ladd was convicted of the 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner in east Texas. Previously, he had served 16 years of a 40-year prison sentence for murdering another woman and setting her Dallas apartment on fire, killing her 2 children.

Ladd would be the second intellectually impaired prisoner to be executed this week, should the supreme court allow the procedure to go ahead. On Tuesday, Georgia executed Warren Hill , 54, a convicted murderer who had been found to be mentally disabled by every medical expert who had examined him.

Stull said that in light of the earlier Hill execution, "if Robert Ladd is put to death tonight, it will become clearer than ever that we are in the midst of a complete systems failure in terms of honouring the constitutional protections the supreme court ordered for intellectually disabled people."

On Wednesday, the supreme court ordered a stay of execution in 3 pending cases in Oklahoma as a result of the court's earlier decision to consider the use of the sedative midazolam in lethal injections. Midazolam has been linked to a spate of recent botched executions in Oklahoma, Arizona, Florida and Ohio.

The review does not touch upon Texas's procedures, as the state has chosen to use pentobarbital, a barbiturate it is believed to have acquired from a relatively unregulated compounding pharmacy.

Source: The Guardian, January, 29, 2015


Texas Uses Of Mice and Men Standards to Execute Mentally Disabled Man

Barring a last-minute intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, Texas will execute a man with an IQ score of 67 tonight.

Robert Ladd is scheduled for execution by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday for the 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner. This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that executing a mentally disabled person for murder is unconstitutional. Stranger still, Texas has once again used standards derived from John Steinbeck's classic 1937 novella, Of Mice and Men, to justify executing a man that meets the clinical definition of intellectually disabled.

"Anywhere else in the country, Mr. Ladd's IQ of 67 would have meant a life sentence, not death," Brian Stull, Ladd's attorney, said in a statement. "But the Texas courts insist on severely misjudging his intellectual capacity, relying on standards for gauging intelligence crafted from 'Of Mice and Men' and other sources that have nothing to do with science or medicine. Robert Ladd's fate shouldn't depend on a novella."

And yet.

Texas has been executing people as fast as it can since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. However, the question of whether or not anyone should be executing the intellectually disabled has come up a bit since then. The U.S. Supreme Court made a broad decision on the issue back in 2002 with Atkins v. Virginia. The high court ruled that executing an intellectually disabled person for murder was a violation of the Eighth Amendment which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment."

Here's what Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his opinion (and yes, they used the term "retarded" back then):

"Construing and applying the Eighth Amendment in the light of our 'evolving standards of decency,' we therefore conclude that such punishment is excessive and that the Constitution 'places a substantive restriction on the State's power to take the life' of a mentally retarded offender."

However, the Supremes left the actual definition of what constitutes intellectually disabled up to the states. In Texas, after the 2003 state legislature failed to lay out the rules that would clearly prevent the execution of intellectually disabled people convicted of murder, it fell to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to pin down the requirements. Judge Cathy Cochran was the one to write the opinion, and she came up with a doozy.

This is where Steinbeck enters the legal picture. Cochran was born in California and decades ago she and her husband lived in Monterrey near Cannery Row, the area that Steinbeck immortalized. Cochran started reading his books since she was living in the place that inspired so much of his writing. One of the books she picked up was, of course, Of Mice and Men.

For those who dozed off in high school English class, Of Mice and Men is the story of George, a vagabond ranch hand, and his friend Lennie, a mentally disabled giant of a man. George and Lennie travel together working and George struggles throughout the book to keep Lennie, who is fascinated with soft things and doesn't realize the damage he is capable of, from getting in trouble. Eventually this leads to an accidental murder and George finds Lennie hiding from a vigilante group. George knows the men will find his friend and will execute him, so he kills Lennie himself. It's a brutal, tragic and incredibly moving work of fiction, and it turns out that the story stayed with Cochran, though probably not in the way Steinbeck would have intended.

Cochran landed on the Court of Criminal Appeals in 2001. In 2004 she was working out how to apply the Supreme Court's Atkins ruling in Texas and she found herself thinking of Lennie, according to Life of the Law. She even mentions Lennie in the opinion she wrote in Ex Parte Briseno, the 1st Texas case post-Atkins that saw the court working out how to handle convicted murderers who might be intellectually disabled.

And for a second, it reads like she actually got the point of the book, but then she goes on:

"Most Texas citizens might agree that Steinbeck's Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt from execution. But does a consensus of Texas citizens agree that all persons who might legitimately qualify for assistance under the social services definition of mental retardation be exempt from an otherwise constitutional penalty?"

Cochran concluded Texans would not want to exempt every convicted murderer with a low IQ from being executed. John Blume, a law professor at Cornell University who has studied how states have actually applied Atkins, says Cochran basically undid everything Atkins was supposed to do. "If you read the Briseno opinion itself it's clearly an attempt on its own terms to circumvent Atkins. It says we understand that the Supreme Court decided on Atkins but we have some room to operate here and we're going to use it."

So Cochran, in writing the opinion for the Court of Criminal Appeals, essentially took Atkins and worked around it to create new very flexible guidelines for the courts in Texas. She came up with what would come to be known as the Briseno Factors.

There are 7 factors. Translated out of legalese, the Briseno Factors essentially mean a person who has tested as intellectually disabled but is still able to get an idea and follow through on it, or is not clearly being manipulated by others, or can handle a social situation without drooling, or is able to tell a lie and remember the lie long enough to keep telling it is mentally competent enough for execution. The same goes if he or she can talk coherently and was able to, you know, actually plan the crime in question.

Blume says that in practice the Briseno factors can undo almost any legal acknowledgment of intellectual disability, making Atkins just this side of worthless in preventing a mentally disabled person who may not entirely understand what they've done -- hence why the Briseno Factors are also known as the Lennie test -- from being executed.

Using the Lennie test almost anyone can be proved competent enough to be executed. "That's where Texas is really an outlier and where people really seem to lose when it comes to the adaptive functioning," Blume says. "The courts use the Briseno factors despite the fact that they are at odds with the clinical definition of intellectual disability, and when it comes to the Briseno factors it's almost impossible to win."

Translated into practical terms this workaround led to the execution of Marvin Wilson in 2012. Wilson was a man who sucked his thumb and who couldn't make change or use a phone book. He had an IQ of 61, but he had also held a job, married and had a child. Wilson was convicted in 1994 in the shooting death of Jerry Williams, 21, who had identified him to police as a drug dealer, according to the Huffington Post. Despite his low IQ the court system found that he should be executed according to the Lennie test since he was able to hold a job and marry, as Atlantic noted.

That was when Steinbeck's son Thomas Steinbeck found out that his father's work was being used as justification for executing convicted murderers with low IQs. He issued a statement vehemently decrying the entire thing. "To judge anything based on a piece of fiction, I think, is a stretch," he told Studio360 in 2013. "And I think it would've made my father extremely angry."

Thomas Steinbeck pointed out his father was decidedly against the death penalty. He noted that his father once told him that if you have to take another man's blood to make your point, you haven't thought out the question very thoroughly.

Last year, the Supreme Court made a more narrow decision on the issue in Hall v. Florida, ruling that states have to actually stick to the clinical definition of intellectual disability when measuring who can and can't be executed. However, this ruling has had virtually no apparent effect on how judges in Texas handle these cases, Blume says.

And the thing is lawmakers -- perhaps the ones who read Of Mice and Men and get how ridiculous it is that the state currently executing the most people in the country should cite this particular work to justify some of the most morally questionable executions -- have been trying to get the Lennie test replaced with actual state legislation for years.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis has been working on getting a bill passed outlining how to determine whether someone is mentally competent enough to be executed for more than a decade. The bill he filed in the 2013 legislative session never made it out of senate committee. "I've actually had to preside over executions when I was the acting governor in 1999 and 2000, so I know firsthand the importance of getting it absolutely right when it comes to the ultimate punishment," Ellis stated via email. "Texas' current system falls far short of that standard, so I hope that my 16 year quest to pass this bill is finally successful this session."

Ellis has already filed a similar bill for the 84th legislative session. Ellis says his bill is designed to get Texas away from the Lennie list and into line with, well, the law. "To ensure compliance with the Constitution, my bill would put in place a clear standard to determine whether a defendant is eligible for the death penalty." There's no telling if the bill will gain any traction this time around.

Either way time is running out for Ladd. Ladd was acknowledged in court as someone who met the clinical criteria of intellectually disabled, Blume says, but Briseno cancelled that consideration out, something that has often happened when it is applied in Texas.

Ladd, who previously pled guilty and served 14 years for killing his cousin and her two children in Dallas back in 1978, beat Vicki Ann Garner to death in 1996. Garner was also intellectually disabled, according to the Daily Tribune. There's no question of Ladd's guilt, only of whether he ever possessed the mental capacity to understand what he was doing. Ladd's lawyers say he did not. After the Court of Criminal Appeals denied Ladd's death penalty appeal, his lawyers filed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday, asking them to step in.

At this point the entire issue is in the hands of the Supremes. If the Supreme Court doesn't make Texas stop using these standards to work around Atkins, Blume says it looks like Texas will keep using the Lennie test to allow the execution of the intellectually disabled. And so far there have been no signs of any change on the horizon in Texas courts. "They're continuing to apply these factors in state and federal courts in Texas and nobody says no. They've been in effect for a number of years and they've been used by judges in a lot of different courts," Blume says. "I'd like to think the legislature will do something, but that doesn't seem likely, so it will have to fall to the Supreme Court. Until the Supreme Court steps in and says no, you can't do this, they're going to keep doing it."

Source: Houston Press, January 29, 2015

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Philippine woman faces death in Indonesia for drugs

The Philippines is trying to prevent the execution of a female citizen, who faces death by firing squad in Indonesia for drug smuggling, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

Manila's revelation that a Filipina is on death row, comes after recently-elected Indonesian leader Joko Widodo's government executed 6 convicted drug smugglers and prepares to execute 11 more.

"The Philippine government is making all the appropriate representations with the Indonesian government at all levels on our ... request for judicial review," foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose said.

He said an application to review the woman's death sentence was filed at a district court near Yogyakarta last week.

Foreign ministry officials said the woman -- whose name was not disclosed -- was arrested at Yogyakarta airport in April 2010 carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin on a flight from Malaysia.

After putting 5 foreigners and an Indonesian to death by firing squad earlier this month, Indonesia announced Thursday it was ready to execute 11 more people.

Among them are 2 Australian leaders of the "Bali 9" drug-smuggling gang, who have been on death row for almost a decade.

Despite his image as a reformist, Indonesia's new president has been a vocal supporter of capital punishment for drug offenders, disappointing rights activists who had hoped that he would take a softer line on the death penalty.

Source: Agence France-Presse, January 29, 2015

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Nepal government unaware of national's fate in Indonesia or of Nepalis jailed in other countries

Indonesia, a country of 250 million, is notorious for its severe drug policy. Most often drug traffickers are executed or imprisoned for life.

On January 18, Indonesia executed 5 people convicted on drug trafficking charges; 4 of them were foreign nationals from Brazil, Malawi, Nigeria, and the Netherlands.

More than 138 people await execution on death row, 1/3 of them foreigners, reports the Guardian newspaper.

Among them is a Nepali man, Indra Bahadur Tamang, arrested in 2001 with 900 grams of heroin. Nearly 14 years later, it is still uncertain when Indra Bahadur will face execution.

Nepal's protracted transition has no doubt taken a toll on all facets of governance. And this cost has been especially telling in Nepal's diplomacy.

So it comes as no surprise that the government remains unaware of Indra Bahadur's fate in Indonesia or of Nepalis jailed in other countries.

It is estimated that more than a dozen Nepalis await execution in the Middle East and Malaysia. Last August, in one telling incident, Shova Pariyar, a single mother from Tanahun, was beheaded by Saudi Arabia on murder charges.

The Nepal government did not make any attempts to appeal for clemency.

Despite the contributions that remittances from migrant workers make to the Nepali economy, there is little effort from the government to safeguard their rights.

Most migrants leave with little to no knowledge of the language and culture of their countries of destination and hence, become easy prey for unscrupulous employers.

Most countries in the Middle East and East Asia, the primary destinations for Nepali migrants, have opaque legal proceedings and stringent punishments when found guilty.

Many international rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have raised legitimate concerns over such legal processes and capital punishment provisions.

Nepal, to its credit, has refused to enshrine capital punishment for any crime. On this moral ground alone, it is the responsibility of the Nepal government to press for the repatriation of its citizens on death row or at least appeal for clemency.

Indonesia itself made a strong appeal against the execution of 1 of its citizens in Saudi Arabia. Brazil and the Netherlands made similar overtures to Indonesia on behalf of their citizens.

The Nepal government's efforts in this regard have been sorely lacking. Lacking government initiatives, civil society and Non-Resident Nepali organizations have stepped in to raise 'blood money', a debt that can be paid to aggrieved parties in the Middle East to appeal for amnesty.

But unless high-level initiatives are forthcoming, Nepalis will continue to meet their doom. The government, therefore, must immediately initiate efforts to appeal to the governments of host countries to repatriate its citizens on death row.

Failing this, it can still appeal for a reduction in sentencing to life imprisonment. As international human rights law restricts the use of the death penalty to "the most serious crimes," there is a strong moral case to be made in favour of such Nepalis.

Source: The Kathmandu Post, Editorial, January 29, 2015

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