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

Friday, December 9, 2016

34 Years Ago, the First Person Died by Lethal Injection in Texas. It Was Controversial Then, Too

Texas' death house at 'The Walls' Prison
Texas' death house at 'The Walls' Prison, where the state of Texas carries
out its executions. The death chamber is located at the far end of this corridor.
It was seen as more humane and relatively painless, but that's not certain

When Charles Brooks Jr. lay down on a gurney in the execution chamber, there was no way to know exactly what would happen next.

On this day in 1982, Brooks was the first person to be executed by injecting a cocktail of drugs intended to numb his body and mind, paralyze him and stop his heart. His death, the 1st by lethal injection, sparked an ethics debate among the public and physicians about whether the procedure is humane, one that continues today.

Brooks was convicted of murdering David Gregory, an auto mechanic, wrote Dick Reavis for Texas Monthly in early 1983. Gregory rode with Brooks during a test drive at the used-car lot where he worked. That night, he was found tied up in a motel room. He had been shot in the head. In separate trials, both Brooks and partner in crime Woodie Loudres were sentenced to die for the crime. Loudres was able to reduce his sentence, but Brooks was not, although no weapon was ever found and officials never determined who shot Gregory.

Lethal injection was seen to be more humane than other execution methods, like gas, electrocution or hanging, according to an article on History.com. Because one of the drugs used was supposed to put the condemned in a state of deep sedation, it was also perceived to be painless. In spite of physician protests that lethal injection was a violation of medical ethics, wrote Robert Reinhold of The New York Times, it was seen as acceptable. But conflicting witness reports at Brooks's death led Reinhold to report that "the procedure did not seem to settle the question of whether such a death was painless."

The conviction that landed Brooks on death row wasn't his 1st. What was different this time: he knew that if the state didn't intervene in his case, he could become the 1st man on death row to be killed by a cocktail of drugs designed to numb his mind and stop his heart. "In his best mood," Reavis wrote: "Charlie thought that there was nothing to fear in death by injection. He believed that he could set it up to be like the surgery after the 1st of his bullet woundings."

Brooks and Reavis made an agreement: if the condemned man felt pain during his execution, he would shake his head, like he was saying "no," and Reavis would understand. They repeated the agreement at each meeting.

In the end, the state didn't grant Brooks a stay of execution. "For the 1st time in American penal history," Reavis wrote, "men who were neither physicians nor sorcerers got ready to execute a prisoner with the forbidden tools of medicine and pharmacology,"

"According to 4 reporters who witnessed the execution in a tiny room at the edge of the prison's Walls unit, Mr. Brooks appeared to have suffered some pain," Reinhold wrote.

Reavis was one of those reporters. He wrote:

It was perhaps a minute, perhaps 2 minutes, before he felt death creeping in. The [sic] he slowly moved his head towards the left shoulder, and back towards the right, then upward, leftward again, as if silently saying no.
I snapped to erectness. Charlie was wagging his head: was that his signal to me?

He couldn't be sure one way or the other.

Today, those killed by lethal injection are almost as likely to be guinea pigs for the procedure as Brooks was. Supplies of known lethal-injection cocktails are running out across the United States, reports Tess Owen for Vice. Injections nationwide are at a 25-year low, she writes, partially because it's increasingly hard for corrections departments to get the drugs they need to perform them. This deficit has led to correctional departments trying untested mixes of drugs to replace the old standards they aren't able to get anymore, with grim results. Only Texas, Georgia and Missouri are using the death penalty "with any regularity," writes Mike Brantley for AL.com. But the death penalty remains legal, and those who face the prospect of death at state hands may potentially be killed using untried cocktails of drugs.

Source: smithsonianmag.com, December 8, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

What happens next if Dylann Roof is sentenced to death

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
On Wednesday morning, jurors filed into a Charleston, S.C., courtroom to hear opening statements in the trial of Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old charged with federal hate crimes after the massacre last year at a historic church just a mile from the courthouse. Prosecutors outlined the shooting in brutal detail, saying Roof fired dozens of rounds, shooting the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church's pastor, "over and over again."

More than a year after the shooting, Roof is in court for the 1st of 2 trials. (He has also been charged with murder in state court, and faces trial on that next year.) Authorities say Roof confessed to the killings of 9 black parishioners at the Mother Emanuel church. His guilt in the trial is effectively unchallenged. An attorney for Roof did not argue with the facts detailed by the federal government Wednesday, and they have offered to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison.

Prosecutors have not accepted that offer. Instead, they are still seeking a rare federal death sentence in the case, a decision that has caused unease among some families of the victims. And if Roof is convicted and sentenced to die, it is not clear whether the government would be able to carry out the punishment.

Federal death sentences are extremely rare, and executions are even less common. There are 62 inmates on federal death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, compared to nearly 3,000 condemned inmates in states nationwide. Since the federal death penalty statute was reinstated in 1988 and expanded in 1994, the government has put 3 inmates to death, all by lethal injection.

The last federal execution was more than a decade ago. Louis Jones Jr., a Gulf War veteran, convicted of the 1995 kidnapping, rape and murder of Tracie Joy McBride, a 19-year-old Army recruit, was put to death in 2003. 2 years before that, the government executed Timothy McVeigh for the Oklahoma City bombing and Juan Raul Garza for murdering 3 men.

The government has taken a little more than 200 federal death penalty cases to trial since 1988, according to the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project. (Attorneys general had agreed to let prosecutors seek death sentences in more cases, but many of those ended with plea deals or the government opting not to pursue the death penalty, the project's records show.) In the federal cases that actually saw juries decide on a sentence, they opted for life imprisonment about twice as often as death sentences.

Most recently, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death on federal charges last year for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing. Tsarnaev, the newest addition to the federal death row, is being held at the federal penitentiary in Florence, Colo., according to the Bureau of Prisons. If he is put to death, he will be brought to the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., where federal death sentences are carried out.

The Justice Department sought death for Tsarnaev last year and Roof this year, but it has also announced what is effectively a federal death penalty moratorium while officials review their policy; it does not look like this review will finish before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. President Obama has called the death penalty "deeply troubling," but has remained in favor of using it for particularly heinous crimes, while Trump has been a vocal supporter of the death penalty.

Nationwide, polls have shown that American support for the death penalty has declined since peaking in the 1990s, and a survey earlier this year showed that less than 1/2 of Americans supported the death penalty for the first time in decades. (A different poll, not long after, found stronger support for capital punishment.)

Republicans still strongly back the death penalty, while a majority of Democrats oppose it. White people are much more likely than black or Hispanic people to support the practice, which studies show has been disproportionately sought for black inmates. In South Carolina, a poll showed a similar racial split, with most black people saying Roof should get life in prison and most white people saying he should be sentenced to death.

But if Roof is condemned to die, it remains unclear when such a penalty could be carried out. The appeals process could stretch on for years, and whether he is actually executed could depend on the status of the death penalty nationwide at that time.

Death sentences and executions alike have plummeted nationwide in recent years, while states seeking to execute inmates have struggled to obtain lethal injection drugs amid an ongoing shortage. Some states do have alternative methods on the books, but lethal injection remains the primary method of execution nationwide. (In a minor coincidence, opening statements on Wednesday occurred on the 34th anniversary of the country's 1st lethal injection, which was carried out by officials in Texas.)

Federal officials said last year that the government did not have any lethal injection drugs, which are increasingly difficult for officials to obtain, due to the shortage sparked, in part, by European objections to capital punishment interrupting the supply of drugs. When asked last month if the Bureau of Prisons had any drugs or planned to try to obtain any, a spokesman said the agency was "currently in the process of revising its execution protocol."

The current federal lethal injection protocol involves 3 drugs - an anesthetic, paralytic and a drug to stop the heart - a combination commonly used in executions across the country until the drug shortage began. As a result, states have turned to a number of other drugs and combinations, some of which were used in executions that went awry. Some states have sought to hide the identity of drug suppliers, while others have turned to older, largely abandoned methods of execution, like the electric chair or a firing squad.

Questions about Roof's sentence will not end with this case. Roof also faces a potential death sentence in his state trial, on charges of murder and attempted murder, set to begin next year.

If he is convicted and sentenced on the state charges, Roof would become the 39th person on South Carolina's death row, which last sent an inmate to the death chamber in 2011. South Carolina does not have any lethal injection drugs, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections said Wednesday, and it does not appear likely it will obtain any in the near future.

Source: Washington Post, December 8, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Philippines: Hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection pondered as execution methods

Police officers, Philippines
Lawmakers are up for more discussions when it comes to passing the proposed death penalty bill in Congress.

One part of that bill is the mode of execution to the person convicted of a heinous crime.

Under the bill, death penalty may be executed either by hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection.

It also states that the death penalty shall be carried out from 1 year to 1 1/2 years after the judgment has become final and executory.

Lawmakers want capital punishment for a number of drug offenses.

Under the proposed bill reviving the death penalty, selling, trading, distributing, and transporting of dangerous drugs, regardless of quantity and purity, and manufacturing dangerous drugs may be punishable by death.

Any person who possesses at least 10 grams of any dangerous drugs or 500 grams of marijuana may be punished by death.

Any person - including foreigners - who brings in illegal drugs into the country, regardless of quantity and purity, may also be executed.

Lawmakers also want death for other non-drug related crimes such as kidnapping, and murder.

Any person who kills because of a price or a reward, kills during calamities, or kills with cruelty are also candidates for the execution chamber.

Rape may also be punished by death - but it still depends on how and when it happened.

Even public officials are not spared from the death penalty.

A public officer proven to have committed plunder or amassing ill-gotten wealth amounting to 50P million or more may be punished with death.

Qualified bribery or refusing to arrest or prosecute an offender after being given or receiving a gift may also be punishable by death.

Limiting death penalty to drug-related offenses, a weak law


Majority Leader Rudy Farinas said some lawmakers want to limit the death penalty to drug-related cases.

Anti-crime group Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC), however, do not agree to proposed limitations to the bill.

"Hindi maganda yan. That will be tantamount to selective masyado," VACC President Dante Jimenez said. "Kung illegal drugs lang iyan, ay napakalambot at napaka-mababaw masyado sa amin." [That's not good. That will be tantamount to becoming so selective. If it's limited to illegal drugs, then it's so weak and shallow for us.]

Amnesty International, however, is all against the revival of death penalty.

The group said the re-introduction of the death penalty would be a major setback in the promotion of human rights.

"Regardless of the crime hindi kami naniniwala na ang death penalty ay tumutugon sa obligasyon ng pamahalaan na i-respeto, protektahan, at i-fulfill ang mga karapatang pantao," Amnesty International Philippines Chairman Ritzlee Santos said. "Hindi kami naniniwala na death penalty will deter crime"

[Translation: Regardless of the crime, we don't believe that death penalty would respond to the government's obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights. We don't think that death penalty would deter crime.]

The group also said that criminal justice systems are vulnerable to error - which could mean executing even those who are wrongly convicted but actually innocent.

Source: cnnphilippines.com, December 8, 2016


⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Alabama executes Ronald Smith

Ronald Smith
Ronald Smith
Ronald Smith executed for 1994 capital murder

Ronald Smith was executed Thursday night for committing capital murder in 1994. He was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m.

Media witnesses said Smith gasped and coughed for 13 minutes of execution, which began at 10:25 and ended at 11:05.

He was twice administered a consciousness check, and gave a level of reaction media witnesses who have covered several executions say they have never seen.

It is the Alabama Department of Corrections' protocol to give a consciousness check after the 1st drug in the 3-drug lethal injection is given. The 1st drug is meant to anesthetize inmate's beyond consciousness. The 2nd drug is a paralytic and the third stops the heart.

The 1st conscious check was at 10:37, the 2nd was at 10:46, ADOC spokesman Bob Horton said. Kent Faulk, an al.com reporter who witnessed Smith's execution along with 2 other lethal injection executions said this was the 1st time he has seen a consciousness check given twice.

Smith's family did not attend the execution. One member of the victim's family who wished to not be identified was present.

His was the 2nd execution in Alabama this year; Christopher Brooks was executed in January for a 1992 rape and murder.

Shortly after his arrest, Smith confessed to killing and attempting to rob Wilson, a convenience store clerk and new father.

A Madison County jury found 24-year-old Smith guilty of capital murder. They voted 7-5 to sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

2 months later, the judge overrode their decision and gave him death. He cited the "particularly heinous" nature of the crime, pointing to evidence that indicated Smith killed Wilson "execution style."

Alabama is the last state in the country that allows a judge to override a jury's recommended sentence.

In January, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Hurst v. Florida that Florida's sentencing scheme, which also allowed judicial override, was unconstitutional.

Following Hurst, The Delaware Supreme Court found that its sentencing scheme that also let judges override juries was also unconstitutional.

Smith's attorneys petitioned SCOTUS to stay the execution in light of Hurst. Despite issuing two temporary stays in the hours leading up to Smith's execution, the high court ultimately denied his appeal in a 4-4 split.

They filed another appeal asking the court to stay the execution that would have challenged the state's lethal injection protocol. The U.S. Supreme Court denied that petition as well.

Less than a month ago, SCOTUS issued a stay of execution for Thomas Arthur, who had also challenged the death penalty protocol in a complaint separate from Smith's.

The justices were again split 4-4 on whether to issue a stay, but Chief Justice John Roberts then cast a courtesy vote, allowing Arthur's execution to be delayed.

It was the 7th time Arthur avoided execution.

Both suits alleged that Alabama's death penalty process would cause cruel and unusual pain because the 1st drug administered does not properly anesthetize the condemned before injecting the 2nd and 3rd drugs. Without proper anesthetization, condemned inmates would feel burning and paralyzing sensations caused by the 2nd and 3rd drugs.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins ultimately ruled against Smith.

Smith's attorneys appealed his decision to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but that court upheld Watkins' decision.

Prior to his execution, Smith met with his mother, father, son and 4 friends. He was served a last meal at 2:34 p.m. He declined breakfast.

A practicing Methodist, 45-year-old Smith asked to receive Holy Communion at 3:30 p.m. Department of Corrections Spokesman Bob Horton said his request was granted.

Smith becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Alabama and the 58th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983. Smith becomes the 20th and last person to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1442nd overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

Sources: Montgomery Advertiser, Rick Halperin, December 8, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

UN: Philippines will violate international pact if it restores death penalty

Al Hussein pointed out that the Philippines passed Republic Act 9346 in 2006, abolishing capital punishment. It also ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which aims to abolish the death penalty.

"When a State ratifies the Second Option Protocol to ICCPR, it guarantees that no one can be executed within its jurisdiction," he said.

"International law does not permit a State that has ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to denounce it or withdraw from it," the commissioner added.

"The Philippines would violate its obligations under international human rights law if it reintroduced the death penalty, I appeal to you and all members of Congress to uphold the international human rights obligations of the Philippines and maintain the abolition of the death penalty," Al Hussein said.

He said that there is no "denunciation clause" in the protocol "thereby guaranteeing the permanent non-reintroduction of the death penalty by States that ratified the Protocol."

Al Hussein also said that the ICCPR, which the Philippines is a party to, only allows States with capital punishment to apply the death sentence for the most serious crimes.

"On various occasions, the Human Rights Committee has determined that drug-related offenses did not meet the threshold of 'most serious crimes,'" he said.

He also said that the International Narcotics Control Board, which monitors State compliance with drug control treaties, "considers that the use of the death penalty for drug crimes is incompatible under international law."

Innocent people killed


Al Hussein said that "decades of research" have proven that there is "no reliable evidence that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime."

"What we do know is that executions have led to the wrongful killing of many innocent people across the world," he said. "The use of the death penalty leaves no room for human error, with the gravest of consequences."

He pointed out that statistics also show that death penalty "disproportionately discriminates against the poor and most marginalized individuals and subsequently results in social injustice."

Stronger rule of law, an effective justice system and a strong public health approach are most effective in addressing drug-related offenses, Al Hussein said.

Source: inquirer.net, December 8, 2016

Congress should block effort to reintroduce death penalty


Statement signed by 70 organizations and individuals

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, express serious concern over the rapid efforts by members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to adopt a bill restoring the death penalty in the country.

On 29 November 2016, the Sub-Committee on Judicial Reforms of the House Committee on Justice, which is chaired by Congressman Marcelino "Ching" Veloso, approved a bill restoring the death penalty in the Philippines by railroading the proceedings in the committee and ignoring important questions from other lawmakers questioning the need for the legislation or its urgent passage.

The decision to approve such a bill by the sub-committee was done with so much haste that there was not even a report presented, as is the normal practice, on the discussions and information presented in the previous hearings.

The Philippines is a State Party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which means that it is obliged not to carry out executions within its jurisdiction and not to reintroduce the death penalty.

The Philippines has always been viewed as a regional and global leader on the drive to abolish the death penalty around the world. Bringing back the death penalty into its laws would be an enormous step backward for the country, signaling a comprehensive degradation of respect for the right to life and other international legal obligations.

The UN General Assembly has repeatedly adopted resolutions by overwhelming majorities, calling on all States that retain the death penalty to impose a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing it.

We categorically and absolutely oppose the death penalty in any and all circumstances and consider its use to be a violation of the right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment.

It cannot be emphasized enough that significant and overwhelming evidence shows that the death penalty is not effective at deterring crime at a greater rate than alternative forms of punishment.

We call on the Government of the Philippines to instead invest in improved detection and investigation techniques and capacity, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system. These measures are more likely to achieve real results in reducing crime.

We strongly urge members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to ensure their discussions in the next few days on this bill restoring the death penalty are based on evidence and facts.

We strongly urge members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines not to view this as a purely political exercise and instead seriously consider not only what the impact of the passage of this bill will have on the international obligations of the Philippines, but also on how it would affect the notions of justice and human rights in the country.

We appeal to members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to stop further attempts to reintroduce the death penalty and to block any legislation that subverts human rights.

Source: fidh.org, December 8, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Turkey: A scary scenario in the Ankara political backstage

Reinstating the death penalty was imposed on the political agenda by the Turkish leadership after the bloody coup attempt of July 15.

The slogan "We want executions back" was first chanted by a group among the people who rushed to the Istanbul airport on that night to welcome and defend President Tayyip Erdogan, following his call via the private broadcaster CNN Turk.

Erdogan channeled the feelings of the furious masses with that slogan. Later, using the justification that "my people want it so," he vowed that if parliament voted for it, he would approve it. His Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) dominates in parliament, and it is not only the AK Parti, but also its partner in the new constitution, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), that is in favor of bringing back capital punishment.

The death penalty was abolished in 2000 as part of the framework of harmonizing Turkish legislation with that of the EU after the arrest of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), in 1999, who was later sentenced to death. Ironically, the MHP and its leader, Devlet Bahceli, were part of the ruling coalition back when it was abolished. But the abolition of the death penalty became official in 2004 under AK Parti rule after Erdogan became the prime minister.

Reinstating the death penalty has always been a popular issue for Turkish politicians of both Islamist and nationalist roots, as it is seen as both a deterrent method of punishment and exists in the Quran.

Bringing it back would not be something difficult for the AK Parti-MHP collaboration in parliament now, but its political and economic consequences could make life difficult for Turkey and Turkish citizens.

The first consequence could be the cutting of all ties with Brussels, which could be followed by the possible freezing of the Customs Union between the two sides. With or without economic sanctions, it is possible that economic relations between the pair (half of all Turkish exports go to EU countries) could be expected to decline.

But the consequences would not be limited to that. If the psychological barrier of bringing back the death penalty is broken, it is possible that the state of human rights and democratic freedoms in Turkey in other areas would experience a further decline. Considered along with the executive presidential system that is currently being prepared, the same thing could be speculated for judicial independence, which could also have an impact on foreign investments.

This might seem a pessimistic picture for many. But for a few people in Ankara, this is the game plan that President Erdogan should follow.

According to some unconfirmed information doing the rounds, a group of people with close access to Erdogan have been promoting the following elaborate plan to him: Bring back the death penalty, get rid of the limits of EU legislation when the EU cuts all relations, let the stock exchange collapse (i.e., get rid of the pressure from big companies and foreign capital, which are not "from us" anyway), meet the military needs of NATO in a bargain with "our own needs" to get rid of the excessive political pressure from the West, press for and get the executive presidency, start to give back some rights according to "our needs" (including on the Kurdish issue, out of democratic generosity), and then witness the recovery of a more "native" economy.

It may sound scary, but a handful of people have been trying to make variations of this scenario the official line of President Erdogan.

There is no preparation yet - either in the presidential compound in Bestepe in Ankara or in the Justice Ministry - to reinstate the death penalty. There is strong rhetoric but little legal action so far, which indicates that Erdogan has not yet adopted this scenario as his final policy.

That is good, because such a scenario might not only cause Turkey to drift away from the democratic and economic values of the modern world, but could lead to unexpected new fault lines in Turkish society.

Regarding the "my people want it so" rhetoric, Erdogan is experienced enough to know that the best leaders do not follow the masses, but themselves lead through steps forward. The path for a better future for Turkey certainly does not pass through the reinstitution of the death penalty, which has become the most crucial of all debates in the country after the July 15 coup attempt.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News, Opinion, December 7, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Theresa May fails to raise child executions at Gulf summit

London, UK
Theresa May has apparently declined to raise the issue of the death penalty for juveniles and political protestors in Saudi Arabia, despite emphasising in a speech today (7 December 2016) that the UK is the Gulf's "partner" in reform and of the "embedding" of international norms. 

Theresa May met yesterday with Saudi Arabia's King Salman during her 3-day visit to the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Bahrain. According to reports today, Downing Street could not confirm whether "specific cases of imprisoned or exiled dissidents" had been raised during the meeting. 

The comment appears to mark a change in stance from previous statements; as recently as September, the Foreign Office confirmed that Boris Johnson had raised with his Saudi counterparts the cases of 3 juveniles facing execution in the Kingdom. Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al Marhoon and Abdullah al Zaher were arrested in relation to protests at the ages of 17, 17 and 15, and tortured into false 'confessions.' 

The Saudi authorities have executed several juveniles this year, and the international human rights organisation Reprieve has written to Theresa May, asking her to use this week's Gulf visit to press for the release of the 3. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23610) Reprieve has warned the Prime Minister of evidence that more juveniles have recently been sentenced to death. The Prime Minister's predecessor, David Cameron, said last year that he would attempt to raise the cases with Saudi Arabia. 

Reprieve has also asked the Prime Minister to ask Kuwait to drop its plans to lower to 16 the age at which people can be executed; and to urge Bahrain to release prisoners who were tortured and sentenced to death for attendance at protests, such as father of 3 Mohammed Ramadan. The Prime Minister is due to meet with the King of Bahrain today. Yesterday Mr Ramadan's wife, Zainab Ebrahim, appealed to Mrs May to secure his release. 

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have received substantial support and training from the UK for their prison and police services, and this morning, Mrs May said that the UK is "determined to continue to be your partner of choice as you embed international norms and see through the reforms which are so essential for all of your people." 

However, Reprieve has raised concerns over both countries' continued use of the death penalty and torture to extract false 'confessions'. During 2016, Freedom of Information requests by Reprieve have revealed that: 

--A Foreign Office project has seen hundreds of Bahraini prison guards in Bahrain's death row jail; 

--British Police have trained their Saudi counterparts in investigation techniques that could lead to the arrest, torture and sentencing to death of protesters; 

These projects have been undertaken without the safeguards that are supposed to be put in place under the Government's flagship guidance on the death penalty and torture overseas - known as the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance (OSJA) guidance.(http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23452

Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve, said: "Theresa May's bid to be the Gulf's 'partner of choice' sounds more like a sales pitch than a much-needed call for reform. Despite years of substantial UK support apparently intended to improve the human rights situation in the Gulf, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia continue to torture and sentence to death juveniles and political dissidents - an appalling breach of the 'international norms' that Mrs May says she wants to promote. If the Prime Minister is going to commit the UK to greater cooperation with the Gulf, she must also call for an immediate end to these abuses - and the release of prisoners like Ali al-Nimr." 

Source: ekklesia.co.uk, December 7, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Strong support for death penalty but support declines under different circumstances: Singapore study

SINGAPORE - Most Singaporeans are in favour of the death penalty, but the support wavered when faced with different scenarios, a new survey has found.

Fewer people back the mandatory death penalty, and this support is weaker for drug trafficking and firearms offences where no death or injury has happened.

The findings of the study come four years after Singapore removed the mandatory penalty for some crimes, and amid a recent global debate on abolishing the death penalty.

In Singapore, the death penalty remains mandatory if someone is convicted of certain crimes, such as firearms offences and drug offences where the person is a trafficker.

"It's important for us to continue to review the use of the death penalty because it's such a serious, harsh penalty, and one that is irreversible," said National University of Singapore (NUS) associate law professor Chan Wing Cheong at a media briefing on Thursday.

He and three other researchers - NUS sociologist Tan Ern Ser, Singapore Management University law don Jack Lee and human rights group Maruah's president Braema Mathi - helmed the survey of 1,500 Singapore citizens aged 18 to 74.

It was conducted between April and May this year (2016).

Seven in 10 people were in favour of the death penalty, a level of support similar to what an October survey of 1,160 people by government feedback arm Reach found.

But when researchers drilled down to the specifics of the sentencing, or the details of each case, this support declined, noted Prof Tan Ern Ser.

For instance, 92 per cent said they are in favour of the death penalty for intentional murder, 86 per cent for drug trafficking, and 88 per cent for discharging a firearm.

But when people were asked if they favoured the mandatory death penalty for the same offences, the level of support was lower: 47 per cent for intentional murder, 32 per cent for drug trafficking, and 36 per cent for firearms offences.

Most supported the mandatory death penalty as they believe that it acts as a deterrent. As for those who support the discretionary death penalty, most believe that circumstances differ and not every offender deserves to die.

Respondents were also asked to judge 12 specific scenario cases ranging from intentional murder to drug trafficking and firearms offences, with mitigating or aggravating factors such as like a prior criminal record or fatalities.

Researchers found that when faced with the reality of these scenarios, support for the mandatory death penalty dropped.

Older Singaporeans and those who are more highly-educated are more likely to support the death penalty in general.

The support also varied across religions, with Chinese Taoists and Buddhists twice as likely to support the death penalty as Protestant Christians, and Protestant Christians twice as likely to support the death penalty as Catholics.

Source: straitstimes.com, December 7, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Indonesia's AG says next round of executions being planned, will prioritize drug convicts

Indonesia's AG HM Prasetyo: "Executions not a pleasant thing"
Indonesia's AG HM Prasetyo: "Executions not a pleasant thing"
President Joko Widodo brought back the regular use of the death penalty under his administration and his time in office has seen three rounds of executions and the state-sanctioned killings of 18 people, all convicted of drug-related crimes.


Jokowi gave death penalty opponents some hope last month when he said in an interview that the government wanted to move in the direction of abolishing the death penalty. But if any such movement is being made, it is evidently not stopping Indonesia’s attorney general, HM Prasetyo, from preparing for the next round of executions.

After a meeting with House Commission III today, Prasetyo confirmed to the media that plans were being made and that drug criminals were still being prioritized for the firing squad.

“As for [the next round of executions] we are still prioritizing drug [criminals], yes, that is our first priority," Prasetyo said as quoted by Detik.

Prasetyo would not give any sort of timeframe for when the next round of executions would take place but said that they would take place at the right time when “everything is ok”. 

When pressed on whether the executions would take place before the end of the year, the attorney general only said that the executions were not a pleasant thing but it had to be done to move the country forward. 

Prasetyo’s vagueness in discussing the next round of executions is in line the government's approach to the previous round in which they attempted to keep details of the executions quiet until close to the actual date in order to prevent a large international outcry. But it may also mean that the next executions are still largely theoretical at this point and the president is actually rethinking his approach to capital punishment.

There is reason to believe that President Joko Widodo has reconsidered his stance on the death penalty. Former president Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, a strong opponent of the death penalty, personally appealed to Jokowi to spare the life of Pakistani citizen Zulfiqar Ali, who Habibie said is likely innocent of the crimes he was charged with. Many believe Habibie's appeal to have been effective in getting Jokowi to call off the executions that day.

Source: Coconut Jakarta, December 6, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; send a submission; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Execution or life in prison? Delaware Supreme Court to decide

State Supreme Court Justices didn't filter their comments much during a hearing Wednesday that could let those currently on death row live the rest of their life in prison.

Earlier this year, the court ruled Delaware's capital punishment system unconstitutional because juries weren't the ones ultimately responsible for locking in a death penalty conviction.

Previously, juries decided whether a defendant was eligible for a death sentence, but then a judge weighed different factors to hand down his or her ruling.

The test case before the court is that of Derrick Powell, who shot and killed Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer in 2009.

His lawyer, Patrick Collins, says continuing to execute death row inmates who were convicted under an unconstitutional system flies in the face of precedent.

"Executing Derrick Powell would far and away be an extreme outlier as opposed to just about any other state that has considered the question," he said.

Justice Collins Seitz Jr. openly agreed later in the hearing.

"How could it ever be just to execute someone who was sentenced under a flawed statute? I don't understand how that's just," Seitz said.

Maryland legislatively abolished its death penalty in 2013 without including those already convicted and facing execution. Then Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) later commuted the sentences of the four men on death row to life in prison in 2015.

State prosecutors rebutted that these sentences should remain intact because this court previously said new rulings on constitutional issues can't necessarily be applied retroactively. There are 2 exceptions, but prosecutors argue they don't apply here.

After repeatedly interrupting during the state's presentation, Chief Justice Leo Strine told the deputy attorney general he had yet to flesh out his argument.

The state Supreme Court will issue its ruling in the coming months.

Source: delawarepublic.org, December 7, 2016

Delaware Supreme Court weighs fate of 13 on death row


Even though the Delaware Supreme Court did not immediately rule, some of the justices seemed swayed by arguments Wednesday that the 13 men on death row should not be executed in light of the court's finding the state's death penalty law unconstitutional in August.

As a prosecutor was peppered with questions about why the state wants to proceed with the executions, Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr. summed up much of the sentiment, asking how the state can proceed under a flawed statute.

"Isn't death different?" he asked. "I don't understand how that is justice."

Deputy Attorney General John Williams argued to the justices in Dover that the court should apply a long-standing rule against retroactively applying a new ruling after a criminal case is completed.

Patrick Collins, the attorney arguing on behalf of 29-year-old Derrick Powell, who was sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer, disagreed.

"It has long been a principle of constitutional law that death is different, and it is not just a hollow phrase," Collins said. "It means special procedural protections have to be in place to ensure that if death is going to be imposed, that it is only imposed when those constitutional protections have been afforded."

Wednesday's arguments stemmed from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January that struck down Florida's death penalty law, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution by giving judges, and not juries, the final say to impose a death sentence.

Alabama and Delaware were the only other states that, like Florida, allowed judges to override a jury's recommendation of life.

The Delaware Supreme Court found that the state's capital punishment law was also unconstitutional. The move halted all future death sentences unless the General Assembly acts to change the current law.

The court on Wednesday heard arguments over whether the court's ruling should be applied retroactively to Powell and the others on death row.

Powell is Delaware's youngest inmate on death row.

In September 2009, he and 2 men arranged to rob another man during a marijuana deal. The robbery attempt went awry, and Powell fired at the fleeing man in the parking lot of a Georgetown McDonald's, according to court documents.

The incident led to a police chase that ended when Powell fired a shot at a police car, fatally wounding the 29-year-old officer and father, court documents said.

Powell was found guilty of 1st-degree murder and other charges in February 2011. He was sentenced to death in May of that year.

Source: The News Journal, December 7, 2016

Delaware court mulls retroactivity of death penalty ruling


Delaware's Supreme Court justices are mulling whether their ruling declaring the state's death penalty law unconstitutional can be applied retroactively to a dozen men already sentenced to death.

The court heard arguments Wednesday in an appeal filed by Derrick Powell, who was sentenced to death in 2011 for killing Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer in 2009.

In August, a majority of the Supreme Court justices declared that Delaware's death penalty law was unconstitutional because it allowed judges too much discretion in sentencing and did not require that a jury find unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant deserves execution.

Attorney General Matt Denn declined to appeal that ruling in federal court but said he believes that it cannot be applied retroactively to offenders already sentenced to death.

The court also heard an appeal by Otis Phillips, who was convicted of murder in the 2012 killing of soccer tournament organizer Herman Curry at Wilmington's Eden Park. He was also convicted of manslaughter in the death of 16-year-old soccer player Alexander Kamara.

In answering Phillips' appeal, prosecutors said that because his conviction is on direct appeal and not considered final, he is covered under an August state Supreme Court ruling declaring Delaware's death penalty unconstitutional.

Source: Associated Press, December 7, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; send a submission; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Iran: Two prisoners executed

Public execution in Iran
Iran Human Rights (DEC 7 2016): A prisoner was reportedly hanged at Dizel Abad Prison (Kermanshah province, western Iran) on Tuesday December 6 on murder charges, and a prisoner was reportedly hanged at Salmas Central Prison (West Azerbaijan province, northwestern Iran) on Wednesday December 7 on drug related charges.

The human rights news agency, HRANA, has identified the prisoner hanged at Dizel Abad Prison as Ali Akbar Karami. 

According to HRANA, Mr. Akbar Karami had turned himself in to Iranian judicial authorities two months after allegedly committing murder about three years ago.

Ali Chartagh is the name of the prisoner who was reportedly hanged at Salmas Prison, according to HRANA and independent sources close to Iran Human Rights.

"Ali Chartagh was arrested three years and seven months ago and was charged with participating in the storage of 750 grams of crystal meth. He was sentenced to death by the revolutionary court in Salmas," a confirmed source tells Iran Human Rights.

According to close sources, Mr. Chartagh was executed by Iranian authorities even though he had reportedly requested a retrial and his case file was in the process of being reviewed by Branch 38 of Iran's Supreme Court, presided by Judge Latifi Rostami.

Iranian official sources, including the Judiciary and the media, have been silent about these two executions.

Source: Iran Human Rights, December 7, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; send a submission; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Georgia executes William Sallie

William Sallie
William Sallie
A Georgia man who shot and killed his father-in-law before abducting his estranged wife and her sister became the ninth man executed by the state this year.

William Sallie, 50, died by lethal injection at 10:05 p.m. Tuesday at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

His execution had been scheduled for 7 p.m. But the state waited to hear from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether Sallie's execution would be stayed.

In his final statement, Sallie apologized for his crime and asked for forgiveness. He accepted a final prayer before the deadly dose of drugs was administered.

Sallie was sentenced to death for the March 1990 murder of John Moore.

He had already abducted his 2-year-old son and moved to Illinois when he returned to Georgia and rented a mobile home in Liberty County under an assumed name.

He had a friend buy a 9-millimeter pistol for him and, on March 28, 1990, went to the home of John and Linda Moore — his estranged wife, Robin's parents — where he cut the phone line while Robin was talking to her boyfriend.

At about 12:45 a.m., Sallie pried open a back door of the home, went into the master bedroom and shot John and Linda Moore. John was hit six times, including two shots that damaged his heart, and died.

Linda was shot in the thumb, the shoulder and both thighs.

Sallie went outside to reload and Robin and her 17-year-old sister, April, pleaded with him to let them get help for her parents.

Instead, he re-entered the home and handcuffed a bleeding Linda Moore to Justin, Robin's 9-year-old brother. He then bound Robin and April to each other with handcuffs and duct tape.

He took the two of them to his Liberty County mobile home, where he assaulted them both.

After a few hours, Linda and Justin managed to get themselves free and get to a neighbor, who called police.

Sallie released Robin and April in Bacon County the night of March 29, after asking them not to press charges. He was arrested shortly thereafter.

Sallie became the 68th inmate executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

He was the 46th inmate put to death by lethal injection. There are presently 58 men under death sentence in Georgia.

This year, Georgia has nearly doubled its records for executions. The death penalty was carried out five times last year.

Source: Loganville Patch, December 7, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; send a submission; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

ISIS Publicly Executes Man On Charges Of Homosexuality in Aleppo, Syria

"Crowds including children were then ordered to stone the body."
The terror group has reportedly executed hundreds of men for having same-sex sexual relations.

Images of a Syrian man being thrown to his death after being accused of homosexuality have been released by Islamic State today (December 5).

The unidentified victim was reportedly dragged to the top of a building in Maslamah City in war-torn Aleppo, Syria, before being thrown to his death.

According to reports, crowds including children as young as six were then ordered to stone him.

Capital punishment for men accused of homosexuality has been used by ISIS to assert its supposed ideological purity since the terrorist group began exerting power, with the group describing gay men as the “worst of creatures”.

In September this year, an ISIS defector revealed the extent of the cruelty with which gay and bi men are treated in ISIS-controlled areas, including punitive rape.

“I saw the worst things one can imagine on the face of the Earth,” Kamandar Bakhtiar revealed to the United Arab Emirate’ Alaan TV.

He added: “All these things run counter to Islam. I was very upset by these deeds, but there was nothing I could do.”

Images of men being thrown to their deaths as punishment for suspected homosexuality has become one of the defining features of ISIS occupation in the Middle East. However, according to one former ISIS member, rape is also used as a punishment by the extremist group.

Kamandar Bakhtiar, a former member of the so-called Islamic State’s Afghanistan branch, spoke about some of the punishments he witnessed during his time with the terror group in a video interview published by The Daily Caller.

“During the three months I spent in the ranks of ISIS, I saw the worst things one can imagine on the face of the Earth,” He revealed to the United Arab Emirate’ Alaan TV on September 7.

“They kill and behead innocent people, plunder the property of regular people, and they do the worst possible things, such as raping homosexuals.”

He added: “All these things run counter to Islam. I was very upset by these deeds, but there was nothing I could do.”

Severe punishments for men accused of homosexuality are commonplace in ISIS-controlled territories. According to reports boys as young as 15 have been executed for alleged homosexuality.

In June this year, ISIS praised the deadly attack on gay nightclub, Pulse, which killed 49 people and injured 53 more.

Source: Attitude, Josh Lee, Dec. 5, Sep. 16, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; send a submission; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!