Thursday 4th of June 2020

alarm at the death penalty...


The use of the death penalty globally is continuing to fall, an annual report by Amnesty International has said.

Although 23 countries carried out executions in 2010, four more than in 2009, the number of people executed dropped from at least 714 to at least 527, the rights group said.

But that figure does not include China, whose executions are thought to be more than all other countries put together.

Gabon last year became the 139th country to cease the practice.

Mongolia declared a moratorium on the death penalty.

But following an execution-free year in Europe in 2009, the death penalty returned to the continent with two executions in Belarus.

The report expresses alarm that a significant number of executions or death sentences handed down in 2010 were for drug offences - including more than half of the death sentences in Malaysia.

Methods of execution employed worldwide were beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and various kinds of shooting.

No stonings were recorded in 2010, but stoning sentences were recorded in Nigeria, Pakistan and Iran.

Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty said: "In spite of some setbacks, developments in 2010 brought us closer to global abolition."

But he added: "The minority of states that continue to systematically use the death penalty were responsible for thousands of executions in 2010, defying the global anti-death penalty trend."


someone might be set free...

Mid-life crisis for Amnesty?

By Sir John Tusa

To understand Amnesty International at all, you need to think of this: an ordinary citizen sits in an ordinary home, writing an extraordinary letter on behalf of somebody they don't know, to a dictator who doesn't care.

The letter says: "We know you have imprisoned X. We know they are illegally detained. Be warned. We will go on writing until you have freed them."

The absurd act of faith that writing letters about prisoners of conscience might have an effect on the most hardened of dictators was first made by one man 50 years ago - the British lawyer, Peter Benenson.

He was so incensed at the imprisonment of two Portuguese students for a trivial insult to a dictator, that it stirred him to set up an international campaign on behalf of all political prisoners.

Incredibly, it caught on.


More simply, is Amnesty trying to do too much? Is it now simply: too much about everything?

Does it need to reconnect to the original single simple improbable vision of its founder Peter Benenson?

Fifty years ago he believed that ordinary people could do good by personal acts of faith, by bearing witness through an act of conscience; he believed that if you wrote your letter someone else might be set free?

The idea still retains its original power.

overriding juries to impose the death penalty...

According to EJI estimates, there are 40 men on death row in Alabama who were placed there after a judge overrode a jury's sentence of life in prison. Given that Alabama imposes few obstacles to the imposition of the death penalty by juries (a death sentence does not require a unanimous verdict in Alabama -- the agreement of 10 of 12 jurors is sufficient), and that jurors opposed to capital punishment are excluded from serving on Alabama juries, judicial overrides to impose death are particularly alarming. But these judicial overrides have not provoked charges of "activist judging," confirming that the charge of judicial activism has simply become right-wing shorthand to describe a judge whose independence gets in the way of the conservative agenda.

Among the most disturbing but unsurprising findings in the report are that the judicial override in Alabama is almost always imposed when a jury has given a defendant life in prison for the murder of a white victim. According to the report, in Alabama 75 percent of death overrides involve a white victim, even though only 35 percent of homicide victims in Alabama are white. This coincides with long-standing studies that demonstrate the death penalty is imposed most often when the victim of the homicide is white.

Yet another devastating revelation is the evidence that judges override juries to impose the death penalty more often in a judicial election year. If one plus one still equals two, this is among the most searing indictments of judicial elections (still used in 38 states). It suggests that in some instances, judges, feeling the pressure of upcoming election contests, may either consciously or unconsciously make decisions that will shore up their "tough on crime" bonafides.

rise in the death penalty...

One of the highest concentrations of executions and death sentences is in the Middle East, where there was a 50 percent rise in executions in 2011. Three of the largest contributors to global executions are Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, which sentenced more than 500 people in the last year.

texas... where else?...

A death row prisoner who has been medically diagnosed as "mentally retarded" and therefore exempt from execution is set to die on Tuesday (7AUG) in Texas, a state that rejects scientific consensus and instead applies its own definition of learning difficulties based on a character in a John Steinbeck novel.

Barring a last minute intervention by the courts, Marvin Wilson, 54, will be put to death by lethal injection even though he has been subjected to scientifically-recognised tests that show him to be intellectually disabled - or "mentally retarded" as the US legal system still calls the condition.

In 2002, the US supreme court banned executions for all such prisoners under the Eighth Amendment of the constitution that prohibits excessive punishment. The 2002 ban, in Atkins v Virginia, is categorical: individuals with mental retardation cannot be put to death. The court allowed some discretion on the part of individual states to devise procedures for administering the injunction, but no right to ignore it.

Texas took that discretion to mean - wrongly in the view of many lawyers and mental health experts - that it could set its own definition of retardation.

Instead of a clinical or scientific approach, based on widely recognized tests set out by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Texas decided to go its own way.

It came up with a set of seven criteria, known as "Briseno factors" after the decision that announced them, to determine which prisoners with learning difficulties should live and which should die.
The determinants were posited around the character Lennie Small in Steinbeck's 1937 novel Of Mice and Men.

"Most Texas citizens," the argument ran, "might agree that Steinbeck's Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt" from execution. By implication anyone less impaired than Steinbeck's fictional migrant ranch worker should have no constitutional protection.

Read more:

Jammeh is Africa's forgotten dictator...

The dictator who turned his wrath on death row


The Gambia's ruler has vowed to kill all the condemned by next week - but you won't hear the West protesting. Phil Strongman on a forgotten despot


Thursday, 13 September 2012

In the next two weeks, all of the Gambia's death row prisoners could be dead. When the country's President, Yahya Jammeh, announced last month that all 47 detainees would be put to death by mid-September – the nation's first executions since 1985 – the international community responded with outrage. But to many, this is just the most recent sign that all is not well in the Gambia.

The detainees include former officials and military officers held for treason. Some are not Gambian, and others have been found guilty of crimes that would not usually warrant execution, prompting some West African observers to speculate that Jammeh might be bluffing.

But Jammeh rarely bluffs, as several correspondents – including myself – noticed during the 2007 Abolition of Slavery Celebrations.

When locals gathered 'without permission' at Fort Bullen, an anti-slavery post built by the British, Jammeh ordered his troops to disperse them. Many people were severely beaten by the soldiers. Others were shot, according to locals, and their bodies tossed into the River Gambia. There was no inquiry.

Jammeh is Africa's forgotten dictator, the army lieutenant who illegally seized power in 1994 and has never considered giving it back. Critics say his iron-fisted regime's mismanagement of the economy has wasted millions, much of it thrown away on a search for oil that has so far proved fruitless.

ex-executioner becomes opponent of death penalty...

Ex-Virginia executioner becomes opponent of death penalty

By Monday, February 11, 2:04 PM

Jerry Givens executed 62 people.

His routine and conviction never wavered. He’d shave the person’s head, lay his hand on the bald pate and ask for God’s forgiveness for the condemned. Then, he would strap the person into Virginia’s electric chair.

Givens was the state’s chief executioner for 17 years — at a time when the commonwealth put more people to death than any state besides Texas.

“If you knew going out there that raping and killing someone had the consequence of the death penalty, then why are you going to do it?” Givens asked. “I considered it suicide.”

As Virginia executed its 110th person in the modern era last month, Givens prayed for the man, but also for an end to the death penalty. Since leaving his job in 1999, Givens has become one of the state’s most visible — and unlikely — opponents of capital punishment.

See story at top...

convicted to death for being there...

Even at 93, He Finds a Case Too Important to Pass Up



Grab a few minutes on Thursday morning with Robert M. Morgenthau. But don’t be late. There’s a little time open after his two morning meetings, and before one that begins at 12:30. He hoists a legal brief from atop the heap on his desk, which seems to have been transported intact from the one he vacated in 2009 after 35 years as the Manhattan district attorney.

A vintage mess, but a fresh legal brief.

Mr. Morgenthau, 93, and two other prominent former prosecutors are asking the United States Supreme Court to take up the case of William Ernest Kuenzel, who has been on death row in Alabama for 24 years.

Based on the testimony of two witnesses, Mr. Kuenzel was convicted in 1988 of murdering a convenience store clerk. Records that became available only in 2010 revealed that those two witnesses — one of whom admitted that he himself was involved in the murder — actually did not implicate Mr. Kuenzel when they first spoke with the authorities. In fact, they originally gave entirely different accounts from what they testified to at trial, but the defense lawyer was unaware that their stories had changed. So were the jurors.

Mr. Morgenthau learned about the case from Jeffrey Glen, a law partner of his late son-in-law. Their firm, Anderson Kill & Olick, was working on the appeal, along with David Kochman. To Mr. Morgenthau’s disbelief, the case was rejected by federal courts in Alabama, which ruled that the new evidence did not “refute the possibility that the defendant committed the crime.”

“It’s so wrong to say there’s presumption of guilt because he was convicted once — without the newly discovered evidence,” Mr. Morgenthau said. “I just thought that was off the wall.”      


Justice is a dirty word in some (many) US justice courts and departments...

toilet break and the death penalty...

Oklahoma's highest court ended the state's "constitutional crisis" by ruling that the secrecy law permitting the anonymity of lethal injection drug suppliers is constitutional. The decision paves the way for two convicted murders to be executed next week

There was a time when the Oklahoma court system settled internal disputes far more privately than the way things played out this week, when a legal appeal from two death row inmates ignited a messy public fight among two state courts, the attorney general and the governor. In those days, according to longtime court watchers, disagreements between the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals were often resolved far away from prying eyes — inside a courthouse men’s room.

“The chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the chief judge of the court of appeals would confer in the men’s bathroom because it was halfway between them,” says Stephen Jones, a prominent Oklahoma attorney who defended Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. “It was a toilet conference.”

one botch out of two ain't good...


One of two death row inmates who lost a case in the Oklahoma Supreme Court has died of a heart attack after what appeared to be a botched execution.

Clayton Lockett, 38, experienced a vein failure which prevented the deadly drug cocktail from working properly.

The execution was halted after 20 minutes, during which Lockett writhed and shook uncontrollably.

The execution of fellow inmate Charles Warner, who was due to be put to death two hours later, has been postponed.

A spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections told US media Lockett died of a heart attack following injection of three lethal drugs.

Those drugs were previously said to be midazolam, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

Warner, 46, had been scheduled to be put to death in the same room two hours later in a rare double execution.

Lockett was sentenced to death for the 1999 shooting of a 19-year-old woman. Warner was convicted for the 1997 murder and rape of an 11-month-old girl.


Please note: illustration at top from an original old book published in the early 1800s — Gus Leonisky's private collection of old stuff.


the lethal injection protocol failed...


President Barack Obama says the botched execution of a murderer in Oklahoma raises questions about the death penalty in the United States and he will ask his attorney-general to look into the situation.

The condemned man, 38-year-old Clayton Lockett, who was convicted of murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery in a 1999 crime spree, died of an apparent heart attack after the lethal injection protocol failed.

A prison report said the problem was largely due to a collapsed vein during the injection of the lethal drugs and that the needle was inserted in Lockett's groin instead of his arm.

Oklahoma's director of corrections called for a revision of the state's execution methods and a suspension of executions until new procedures are in place.

"What happened in Oklahoma is deeply troubling," Mr Obama said.


Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei: A controversial new penal code for oil-rich Brunei that will eventually include tough Islamic sharia penalties such as severing of limbs and death by stoning came into effect on Thursday.

Brunei's all-powerful Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah had said on Wednesday that he would push ahead with the introduction of the new criminal code that has sparked rare domestic criticism of the fabulously wealthy ruler and international condemnation.

The initial phase beginning introduces fines or jail terms for offences including indecent behaviour, failure to attend Friday prayers, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

There were no known events to mark Thursday's implementation.

A second phase covering crimes such as theft and robbery is to start later this year, involving more stringent penalties such as severing of limbs and flogging.

Late next year, punishments such as death by stoning for offences including sodomy and adultery will be introduced.

Read more:


reviving the firing-squad...

"It sounds like the Wild West, but it's probably the most humane way to kill somebody," said a Republican state Rep. Paul Ray, who plans to propose reintroducing the firing squad as a more humane form of execution in a legislative session next year

A Utah lawmaker plans to reintroduce the firing squad as a more humane form of execution, after several botched executions using lethal injectionshave raised a public outcry over capital punishment in recent weeks.

“It sounds like the Wild West, but it’s probably the most humane way to kill somebody,” said Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican state lawmaker from the northern Utah city of Clearfield.

Ray said he’ll introduce the controversial proposal in Utah’s January legislative session after similar efforts stalled in Wyoming and Missouri, the Associated Press reports. Utah eliminated execution by firing squad in 2004, but executed an inmate in 2010 using .30-caliber Winchester rifles, as the convict had been sentenced to death before the ban.

reviving the electric chair....

Tennessee's governor has signed a bill allowing the state to use the electric chair in executions if lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

The bill was overwhelmingly passed by state legislators last month.

They were concerned by the increasing unavailability of the drugs amid a ban on their use in executions by European pharmaceutical firms.

Eight other US states give inmates a choice of death by the electric chair or lethal injection.

Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center said Tennessee was the first state to enact a law allowing the electric chair to be imposed on an inmate.

But he said he would expect legal challenges to arise if such a punishment went ahead as it could contravene constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

beheaded at the kings pleasure...

Human rights groups say there has been an upsurge of executions in Saudi Arabia, after more than one execution per day in the first three weeks of August was carried out. To date this month, the country has almost doubled the number of declared executions in the seven months before August 4.

Charges have included murder, drug smuggling, and sorcery. On August 18, four members from the same family in the southwestern city of Najran were beheaded for smuggling a "large quantity of hashish".  The next day a Saudi national was executed in the northern city of Qurayyat for sorcery.

The Saudi Ministry of Justice has announced the execution of 26 individuals since August 4. In the seven months prior, 15 executions were carried out, bringing the total number to 41 so far this year. However, there were no executions during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan this year between June 28 and July 28.

"One theory behind the increase is that there is a backlog of cases [since the start of the year]," said Adam Coogle, a representative of New York-based Human Rights Watch.

According Sevag Kechichian, a researcher with London-based Amnesty International, the rate of executions in the first half of last year was high, before slowing down, while this year the reverse is true. One way of explaining this, Kechichian said, is that Saudi authorities may be trying to reach an annual target: at 79, the number of announced executions in 2012 and 2013 was identical.

In May, a Saudi court sentenced to death prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was arrested in July 2012. The court convicted him of inciting violence in his speeches and supporting the unrest in the eastern province of Qatif, home to many of the kingdom's minority sect who say they face discrimination. Al-Nimr's defence counsel has appealed the sentence, and a final ruling is expected on September 16, according to al-Nimr's brother via Twitter."A major cause of executions is the aftermath of the 2011 uprisings across the Middle East," he told Al Jazeera, adding that this, coupled with Shia mobilisation in Saudi Arabia and intra-regime fighting, might mean the authorities want to send a message. "It's about keeping the regime stable."

Shia Muslims number roughly two million in Saudi Arabia, or 15 percent of the population. Protests in Qatif have been ongoing since 2011.

In that year, at least 82 executions took place, more than three times the figure of 27 in 2010.

However, Professor Gregory Gause, head of International Affairs at Texas A&M University, does not see a direct political explanation for the recent spate of executions. "It's not like people are being arrested for protesting in the Eastern Province and then sentenced to death," he said. The executions "certainly fit in with a more general crackdown on the small margin of political freedom that the king allowed before 2011, but these executions are not for political crimes".

The legal system of Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia, Islamic law. Unlike other countries that use Sharia for legal guidance, Saudi Arabia does not possess a codified legal system, though attempts in this direction began in 2010. Since the country does not have a formal penal code, it leaves judges free to hand out sentences based on their interpretations of Islamic law.

Discussing the status of Sharia in the country, an editorial published by Saudi newspaper Al-Iqtisadiah last week said that "it has become urgent for a quick, efficacious and studied application of [personal law] rulings".

Khaled Abou El Fadl, a professor of Islamic law at UCLA, told Al Jazeera that Saudi law is based on two separate systems. In business matters, it is sophisticated. In civil law, however, Islamic courts retain jurisdiction. "What this has amounted to is Sharia courts staffed by judges who are completely disconnected from modern criminal law," he said. "The amount of discretion left to judges is monumental", so that "there is no way to guarantee a fair trial".

According to Abou El Fadl, judges in civil courts have also become more vicious in their application of Islamic law, as they vent their frustrations against what they perceive to be the un-Islamic behaviour of foreigners or members of the royal family.

Al Jazeera could not reach the Saudi Justice Ministry and repeated attempts for comment from the Saudi Interior Ministry went unanswered. In 2007, the Justice Ministry stated in a document the publication of judicial decisions in the kingdom is based on the use of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and Islamic law.

It also explained that judicial outcomes are based on the correct application of Islamic law with a view of interpreting current events.

Meanwhile, the rate of executions has slowed down in the last week, with recent beheadings carried out only in the case of murder charges.

The planned beheading of Hajras al-Qurey scheduled for August 25, which prompted complaints from rights groups, has since been delayed.

The 53-year-old and his son, Muhammad, were arrested in 2012 and charged in 2013 with drug smuggling and attacking a policeman. Both claimed to have been tortured and forced to give false confessions during interrogation. An appellate court and the country's supreme court upheld the verdict.

But members of the al-Hajras family told Al Jazeera by email that they hope the king will intervene to grant a pardon. "These are not celestial rulings, but human interpretations open to error. The king has often granted pardons in similar cases, but unfortunately these are frequently given to those with a relationship to powerful people."

"There is a classist and ethnic bias in the way the Sharia courts handle cases," said legal scholar Abou El Fadl. "Depending on whether you're Bangladeshi, Indian, Syrian and so on, different gradations tend to be at different levels of risk."

Each year, the Saudi government executes foreign nationals as well as local citizens.

However, Fahad al-Anzi, a member of the king's consultative council, has accused foreign organisations of basing their views on distorted facts. In response to calls by Amnesty International to stop the execution of Hajras al-Qurey, al-Anzi said the human rights group "has not understood the system of criminal procedures that define many of the accused's [legal] guarantees".

Al-Anzi added the decision to execute drug smugglers is subject to judgments that transcend international agreements and human rights as they are understood in the West. Instead, it is based on legal rulings of religious scholars and religious law.

For Abou El Fadl, however, this is not a question of East versus West:

"I think it's the consensus of Muslim, educated experts that [in Saudi Arabia] there is abuse of a legal system that's being applied out of its historical context … There is discretion and anarchy. It's politicised, racialised, and classist," he said.

nitrogenising at the state pleasure...


Could Nitrogen Asphyxiation Replace Lethal Injection?

By Markus Feldenkirchen  in Oklahoma City

There have been several botched executions by lethal injection this year, turning many Americans against the death penalty. Now an Oklahoma politician wants to put death-row convicts to death using a new method: nitrogen asphyxiation.

Following a series of botched executions in the US, one lawmaker in the state of Oklahoma is now trying to gather support behind a new form of capital punishment. Mike Christian, a Republican in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, would like to see nitrogen asphyxiation introduced as a method to execute death row inmates. Nitrogen and noble gases such as helium are seen by proponents of assisted suicide as offering a reliable, quick and painless way to die.

Christian plans to introduce his proposal this week at a House hearing on the future of the death penalty. By December, Christian told SPIEGEL, he hopes to be able to present a draft law. Should it receive the requisite support, nitrogen asphyxiation could replace lethal injection as the primary execution method used sometime next year.

"It's the most humane way to die. You just sit there and a few minutes later, you're dead." Christian says. "I think it will definitely meet the standards (set) by the United States Supreme Court that it is definitely not cruel and inhumane."

For nitrogen asphyxiation executions, convicts would be placed in an airtight chamber or under a large plastic sack. The introduction of nitrogen, and the absence of oxygen, leads to a rapid loss of consciousness and, ultimately, to death. The method has never been used for capital punishment cases in the US. And there is disagreement as to whether it is as painless as Christian suggests, with some reports claiming that it is an agonizing way to die.

Of the 38 US states in which executions are carried out, 37 currently use lethal injection. The procedure was developed by a medical examiner from Oklahoma in 1977 and was long considered to be more effective and less painful than previous methods such as hanging, the electric chair or the gas chamber. "Back then, it was Oklahoma that came up with an innovation, and today we should take the lead again and come up with an innovative method," Christian says.

Dr. Michael Copeland, assistant professor at East Central University in Oklahoma City, has been tasked by Christian with providing an expert opinion on the issue. "Nitrogen is the most humane, cheapest and easiest way to execute people," Copeland says. In contrast with gases used previously for capital punishment, he says that convicts executed with noble gases such as nitrogen would not feel as though they were suffocating.

"With nitrogen we won't have the problem of drug shortage that we've witnessed recently," Copeland says. "It's ubiquitous." Unlike with lethal injections, little can go wrong, he says. "You don't need a doctor or other medical personnel to find a vein."


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Sometimes, I worry about my fellow humans... Their desire for sadistic quickery is astonishing, even in the case of "approved" killerisation.


See also:



human rights should take precedence — no to death penalty...


Indonesian diplomats have told a global human rights summit that a moratorium on the death penalty could be reintroduced - just as the country prepares to execute drug criminals, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

The Indonesian comments in Geneva on Wednesday came after the UN's top human rights official called for a global ban on the death penalty, warning the practice of killing prisoners too often targeted "foot soldiers" and not kingpins of the illegal drugs trade.

With Indonesian diplomats sitting among representatives of more than 24  countries gathered for a "high-level panel" at the Human Rights Council, UN assistant secretary-general Ivan Simonovic said capital punishment was "inhuman and outdated" and there was no evidence that executions stop crimes.

He also warned of mistakes and abuses where the death penalty had been imposed, the UN news service reports.

Mr Simonovic did not mention the case of the Bali nine pair - awaiting execution on an Indonesian prison island - or single out any individual country in his remarks on Wednesday.

But he put a special emphasis on the futility of executing prisoners convicted of drug crimes.

"Several countries continue to use the death penalty for drug-related crimes, with the argument that this harsh punishment is needed for deterrence purposes," he said.

"However, there is no evidence that the death penalty deters any crime," he said - adding the focus of crime prevention should be on strengthening the justice systems and making it more effective.

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in the land of guns and looney tunes...

Utah will resume the use of firing squads to carry out the death penalty when lethal injections drugs are not available.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed the measure into law on Monday.

The move makes Utah the only US state to use firing squads as a method of execution.

Some US states are considering alternative execution methods as they struggle to obtain lethal injection drugs amid a nationwide shortage.

Drug inventories dwindled after European manufacturers opposed to capital punishment refused to sell the lethal concoctions.

Civil rights groups have said use of firing squads makes Utah "look backward and backwoods".

Governor Herbert finds the firing squad "a little bit gruesome,'' but said the state needs a back-up execution method.

"We prefer to use our primary method of lethal injection when such a sentence is issued," the governor's spokesman Marty Carpenter told the Associated Press.

"However, when a jury makes the decision and a judge signs a death warrant, enforcing that lawful decision is the obligation of the executive branch."

Last execution

It will probably be years before Utah's next execution. The head of Utah's prison system has said the state does not have any reserves of lethal injection drugs.

The new Utah law reinstates the use of firing squads more than a decade after the state abandoned the practice.

read more:

say no to the death penalty...

let be clear about it: NO to the death penalty means NO death penalty


Presently the USA (or one state) has sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston bomber, to death


and Egypt has sentenced Morsi to death..


Say no to the death penalty ALL OVER.

recruiting executioners... no experience required...


From Peter Reith...

When the Indonesian government executed two Australian drug runners it was big news, but when an United States court announced the death penalty for the Boston bomber, the media and the politicians had moved on. Has the Australian government, the Catholic Church or others lodged a complaint with US authorities?

I do not doubt the principled position taken strongly by politicians and the media over the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. To the contrary, I ask the question because the issue of the death penalty cannot be forgotten while the latest political kerfuffle takes centre stage in Canberra and the death penalty issue subsides for the time being.



Yes Peter... The MMMM is biased on many issues... Including employing your services. But that's another story. You are correct on the subject of the death penalty and the media response.  On this subject, the death penalty, we at yourdemocracy are against it. see: say no to the death penalty...

It does not serve justice. Meanwhile our "friends" the Saudis lead the way on murdering people through the death penalty:



Washington: Saudi Arabia has executed 85 people so far in 2015, already almost hitting the total number of executions in 2014. While Saudi authorities haven't explained what is behind this upward trend, don't expect it to end anytime soon: According to a job posting on a Saudi government website, the country is seeking more executioners to help with the workload.

The job listing, posted on the Ministry of Civil Service's site on Monday, advertises a position for "religious functionaries" who would be required to implement a "judgment of death" as well as other punishments, such as amputations. Eight executioners were needed, according to the advertisement.

While no experience is necessary for the positions, applicants should bear in mind that the salaries would be on the lower end of the Saudi civil service pay scale.

Saudi Arabia's use of capital and corporal punishment has come under international scrutiny recently, with observers noting that some of the Saudi kingdom's legal punishments, such as public beheadings, bear a similarity to the punishments meted out by the Islamic State, the extremist organisation that operates in Syria and Iraq.


skyrocketing rise in the death penalty...

The global death penalty rate is skyrocketing. According to the latest tallies, published today by Amnesty International, at least 1,634 people were put to death last year, a 54 percent increase from the previous year. That's the highest number of recorded executions in more than a quarter century, and it's not even counting deaths in China, the world's top executioner, where death penalty data is treated as a state secret.

Most of those deaths were in the Middle East: Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia accounted for nearly 90 percent of all executions in 2015. The vast majority of Iran's executions were for drug-related crimes, while Pakistan lifted a moratorium on civilian executions in 2014 to more aggressively punish suspected terrorists. In Saudi Arabia, the justice system is so opaque that it's hard to know what's driving executions, but since the new king came to power last year, the country has drawn increasing international condemnation for its crackdown on dissidents.

While executions surged in those three countries, the trend elsewhere was more heartening. Four more countries abolished the death penalty last year, which means that for the first time ever, more than half of all nations have legally abolished it. (Other countries have abandoned it in practice, after not executing anyone for at least a decade.)

And where does the United States stand? Just like in 2014, it ranked fifth on the list of the world's top executioners last year. The country recorded 28 executions, its lowest annual amount since 1991, and 52 new death sentences, the lowest since 1977. Since 1846, 19 states have abolished the death penalty, but even though lethal punishment here is on the decline, we're still the only country in the Americas to execute people.

You can read Amnesty International's full report here.


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on the little horrid prince's dark planet...

Riyadh has drawn outrage from human rights advocates after it put to death 37 people and displayed a mutilated body of one of them on a pole. The execution was carried out after "sham trials," the Amnesty International said.

The ultra-conservative kingdom on Tuesday beheaded 37 of its citizens in its biggest mass execution in three years and first of that scale since Mohammed bin Salman became the heir apparent to the throne in June 2017. AP reported, citing Saudi dissident Ali Al-Ahmed, that at least 34 of those who were executed were members of the country's Shia minority. According to Al-Ahmed, it became the "largest execution of Shiites in the kingdom's history."

The Saudi Interior Ministry said that that the men were subjected to capital punishment for their role in spreading extremist ideologies and establishing terrorist cells. Those executed, the ministry argued, were bent on fueling sectarian tension and plunging the country into chaos. Some were found guilty of killing law enforcement officers, staging attacks against security infrastructure and assisting an enemy of the state.

A beheaded body of one of the men, reported to be a Sunni militant, was pinned to a pole and put on public display.

While the Saudi government insists that all the executions were perfectly in line with the country's law and order, the Amnesty International sounded alarm over what it labelled a "shocking execution spree."

The Amnesty reported that 11 men were found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia's archrival, Iran, while 14 others were sentenced to death for 'violent offences' they allegedly committed while taking part in anti-government protests against the Saudi government in 2011-2012. The protests rocked the country's Eastern Province, a home to the Saudi Shia minority, that demanded an end to anti-Shia discrimination and the release of political prisoners. Riyadh's crackdown on dissent led up to the execution of the leader of the unrest, Shia cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, in 2016. Al-Nimr was put to death along with 46 other prisoners in the largest mass execution since 1980.


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Read from top.

a welcome momentum...

Momentum is building among the states to put an end to one of our country’s most barbaric law enforcement practices—the death penalty. While this progress is a welcome step in the right direction, it’s no replacement for long overdue action at the national level.

Earlier this month, the New Hampshire State Senate passed a bill to end the death penalty in the Granite State. Governor Chris Sununu has indicated that he’ll veto the legislation, but there are enough votes to override him. If that happens, New Hampshire will become the 21st state (along with the District of Columbia) to ban the death penalty outright. In addition, four states have put a moratorium on the death penalty, including California, which did so earlier this year, ending all current death sentences though the practice hasn’t been outlawed for future administrations.

In addition to this traction at the state level, many 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are voicing their support for ending the death penalty. Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Congressman Beto O’Rourke and Senator Cory Booker have all called for the abolition or suspension of the death penalty at the national level. Senators Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand have applauded California’s moratorium, and former Washington governor Jay Inslee played an instrumental role in ending his state’s capital punishment program.

With so many states curtailing the death penalty and candidates for the nation’s highest office calling for an end to the practice, it seems unfathomable that the U.S. would actually be increasing its overall executions—but that is exactly what’s happened. Despite global capital punishment numbers falling by 31 percent in 2018, the U.S. had 25 executions, which continues an upward trend since 2016. That means the U.S. killed more prisoners than nations such as Iran, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, and Pakistan.

Many conservatives argue that the death penalty is a strong deterrent against severe crimes, such as murder, but the experts disagree. In fact, 88 percent of criminologists believe that capital punishment “does not add any significant deterrent effect above that of long-term imprisonment.”


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