"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, October 9, 2015

Relief Denied: Licho Escamilla to be 12th Texan executed this year

Licho Escamilla
Licho Escamilla in 2001
Texas will execute its 12th Texan this year when it sends Licho Escamilla to the gurney on Wed., Oct. 14.

Escamilla was convicted of capital murder in the Nov. 25, 2001, shooting death of 34-year-old Christopher Kevin James, an off-duty policeman carrying out secondary employment as a security guard at Dallas' Club DMX.

Escamilla, 33, shot James at 2:45am after a fight broke out on the sidewalk of the northwest Dallas club. (Evidence has also been presented to implicate that Escamilla fatally shot another man, Michael Torres, days before James' murder.)

One other officer was wounded in the gunfire and survived.

Escamilla was 19 at the time and already wanted for another slaying. Testimony at his trial showed he also was wounded in the gunfire and was arrested as he tried to carjack a vehicle to flee the scene.
Considered indigent, he was represented by underprepared attorneys who brought only 10 pages of handwritten investigatory notes to trial and attempted to sway jurors into convicting Escamilla of murder charges rather than capital murder (an admission of guilt for Escamilla) because at the time of the murder, James wasn't technically working as a Dallas police officer.

His counsel's admission and altogether ineffective assistance throughout proceedings have led the arguments Escamilla and his current set of attorneys have used in attempts to stave off his execution. (Escamilla has also brought up his abusive upbringing, and suggested that Texas' lethal injection protocols violate the Eighth Amendment.)

Thus far, he hasn't had much luck. Petitions for relief at the state and federal levels have both been unsuccessful, as was an April 2012 motion for a new trial (on many of the same grounds).

In February, Escamilla learned that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals did not see enough mitigating evidence in earlier requests for relief to reverse the decision on his execution.

Escamilla had a final petition with the U.S. Supreme Court denied Monday morning. He stands to be the 530th Texan executed since 1976.

Sources: Austin Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, October 5-8, 2015

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Death Penalty States Face Hurdles in Carrying Out Executions

Despite a Supreme Court ruling allowing a controversial drug to be used for lethal injections in Oklahoma, death-penalty states are finding it harder to carry out executions as they struggle to obtain and properly use limited supplies of ever-changing combinations of lethal injection drugs.

Prison officials in Texas and Virginia have improvised a short-term solution by trading drugs for lethal injections. Both Ohio and Nebraska have sought to buy a drug no longer available in the United States from overseas only to be told by the federal Food and Drug Administration that importing the drug is illegal.

Executions in Mississippi have been postponed for months over a federal lawsuit challenging the state's 3-drug protocol. The delay will stretch into next year, with a trial scheduled in July 2016. And in Montana on Tuesday, a judge blocked the state from carrying out executions, ruling that 1 of the 2 drugs it planned to use did not comply with the state law governing lethal injections. The only way Montana can resume executions with that drug, the judge said, is by having the State Legislature modify the law.

"Over time lethal injection has become only more problematic and chaotic," said Deborah W. Denno, a professor at Fordham Law School and an expert on lethal injections.

Oklahoma last week halted the execution of Richard E. Glossip, who was part of the challenge the Supreme Court had turned down, after officials realized 2 hours before it was to take place that the state's supplier had sent prison officials the wrong drug. The error led to a court-ordered stay of the 3 executions scheduled in October and November while officials conduct an investigation.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Glossip and 2 other Oklahoma death-row inmates who argued that 1 of the drugs in the state's 3-drug protocol - midazolam, a short-acting sedative - was unreliable. But the court's decision has had little impact, experts said. Several states appear to be reluctant to use midazolam in part because of its involvement in 3 high-profile executions in which prisoners appeared to suffer last year, in Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona.

The apprehension over midazolam, combined with a drug shortage caused by manufacturers' ceasing production or limiting how drugs can be used, has made it increasingly difficult for states to obtain drugs and carry out executions without delays, mistakes or controversies, and without pushing the legal limits of how drugs can be obtained.

The scramble for drugs has caused some states to embrace or consider more unusual or more antiquated ways of putting inmates to death.

In 2014, Tennessee authorized prison officials to use the electric chair if lethal-injection drugs were unavailable. Gov. Gary R. Herbert of Utah signed a bill into law in March approving firing squads when drugs cannot be obtained. In April, Oklahoma made nitrogen gas its new backup method. In Louisiana, where executions have been postponed following a federal lawsuit over its lethal-injection system, prison officials recommended in a report in February that nitrogen gas be adopted as an alternative method, through the use of a mask or other device but not a gas chamber.

Lethal injections in many of the nation's 31 death-penalty states have become increasingly varied in the type, combination and source of drugs used. The 6 executions in 6 states in January 2014 were conducted using 4 different protocols, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a group that opposes capital punishment.

In 1 of those cases, 2 drugs - midazolam and hydromorphone - were used together for the 1st time for an execution in the United States. The Ohio inmate who was injected with them in January 2014, Dennis McGuire, appeared to struggle for several minutes.

1 year later, Ohio officials said they would no longer use the 2-drug combination they had used on Mr. McGuire and postponed all executions planned for 2015 until they obtained new drugs. As it prepares to resume executions in 2016, Ohio's search for new drugs earned it a warning from federal authorities, after prison officials explored buying a sedative, sodium thiopental, from overseas. In June, an Food and Drug Administration official told the state in a letter that "there is no F.D.A.-approved application for sodium thiopental, and it is illegal to import an unapproved new drug into the United States."

Ohio officials declined to answer questions about the letter. JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said the agency "continues to seek all legal means to obtain the drugs necessary to carry out court-ordered executions."

In Nebraska, where proponents of the death penalty have been fighting a vote in May by state legislators to abolish capital punishment, prison officials ordered lethal-injection drugs from India but said they had not received them. A spokesman for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services said hundreds of vials and capsules of sodium thiopental and pancuronium bromide were ordered at a cost of more than $50,000.

Despite the Supreme Court's ruling allowing the use of midazolam, Florida has been blocked for months in using it as part of its 3-drug method because of legal challenges over midazolam raised by a death-row inmate, Jerry Correll. The Florida Supreme Court ruled against him on Friday.

In Texas, the execution of Michael Yowell in 2013 marked the 1st time the state had used a sedative known as pentobarbital that was made not by a drug manufacturer but by a compounding pharmacy. Such pharmacies are largely unregulated by the F.D.A. Texas changed its protocol from a 3-drug cocktail to a single drug after its stock of one of the drugs expired and it was unable to obtain a new shipment.

Virginia found itself in a similar situation as it prepared to execute Alfredo R. Prieto last week for the murders of a Virginia couple in 1988. Virginia uses a 3-drug combination that includes midazolam. The state's stock of midazolam was set to expire, and officials were unable to obtain additional supplies, according to court documents. Virginia wanted another sedative, pentobarbital, and turned to Texas for help.

Texas prison officials donated 3 vials of pentobarbital to the Virginia Department of Corrections for Mr. Prieto's execution, and 2 Virginia prison employees traveled to Texas in late August to bring the vials to Virginia, according to court papers. Texas was returning a favor: In 2013, Texas officials facing a shortage of pentobarbital were given the drug by Virginia.

"Even if the transactions between states do not comply with law, there is no recourse for death-sentenced prisoners," said Megan McCracken, a lethal-injection expert with the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. "Over the years, we have seen states obtain drugs for execution in ways that clearly do not comply with legal and regulatory frameworks."

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the supply of pentobarbital given to Virginia in August was legally purchased from a compounding pharmacy and tested for potency and purity. He said Texas law prohibited the agency from disclosing the supplier's identity.

Lawyers for Mr. Prieto questioned the efficacy of the drug. Virginia officials argued that Texas has used compounded pentobarbital successfully in 24 executions in 2 years. A federal judge sided with Virginia, and allowed Mr. Prieto's execution to proceed last week.

Source: New York Times, October 8, 2015

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Saudi juveniles now in ‘solitary confinement’ far from families, says father

Ali al-Nimr
Ali al-Nimr
The father of Ali al-Nimr, a Saudi juvenile facing execution for his role in protests, has spoken of his uncertainty and concern about the fate of his son, as it emerged Ali and a second juvenile are now being held in solitary confinement in a prison in Riyadh.

Speaking last night, Mohammed al-Nimr said that the family hadn’t seen their son since 15th September, saying: “I’m very worried now, because they’ve moved my son to a prison in Riyadh, and he’s in solitary confinement – I fear he could be executed at any moment.” He added that Ali was among several other young men sentenced to death in the wake of protests, including Dawoud al-Marhoon, whose sentence of beheading was upheld last week.

Both Ali and Dawoud were 17 when they were arrested in the wake of protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Both received death sentences after being tortured into ‘confessions’ used to convict them in the country’s secretive Specialized Criminal Court. Executions are shrouded in secrecy in Saudi Arabia, and it is possible that both juveniles could now be executed at any time, without prior notification to their families. However, speaking to Al Jazeera this week, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, the Saudi permanent representative to the UN, suggested that Ali’s case was still “being reviewed in legal circles”, ahead of his execution receiving the “personal approval of the King”.

Speaking to Channel 4 last night, Ali’s father Mohammed al-Nimr said that as the UK and Saudi Arabia had a “warm relationship”, he hoped that interventions by the British government would save his son. Prime Minister David Cameron has said the government has raised Ali’s case with the Saudi authorities; however, the Ministry of Justice has faced criticism over its ongoing bid to provide services to the Saudi prison system, which would be responsible for carrying out Ali and Dawoud’s executions.

Concerns over the UK’s position come amid growing calls for firmer interventions from close allies of Saudi Arabia, such as the UK and the US. Yesterday, the European Parliament passed a resolution that called on member states – including the UK – to “deploy all their diplomatic tools and make every effort to immediately stop the execution” of Ali and others arrested at protests.

Commenting, Kate Higham, caseworker at human rights organization Reprieve, said: “Saudi Arabia’s plans to kill Ali and Dawoud are appalling, and have rightly caused an international outcry. Now these two juveniles – who have been through a shocking ordeal of torture and unfair trials – have been disappeared to solitary confinement, far from their families, who have no idea what the next few days could bring. We can only imagine how terrified they must be. Countries like the UK and the US, who count the Saudis among their closest allies, must listen to Ali’s father and urge a halt to these executions. Britain’s Ministry of Justice must also urgently call off its bid to provide services to the Saudi prison service that will carry out these executions.”

Mohammed al-Nimr's comments were made to Channel 4 and the BBC in interviews broadcast last night. They can be viewed here and here.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Alarming number of countries flout international law by executing for drug-related crimes

Meth bust in Indonesia
Meth bust in Indonesia
The death penalty continues to be used as a tool in the so-called "war on drugs", with an alarming number of states across the globe executing people convicted on drug-related charges, in clear violation of international law, Amnesty International said ahead of the World Day against the Death Penalty (10 October).

At least 11 countries across the globe - including China, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia - have handed down death sentences or executed people for drug-related crimes over the past 2 years, while dozens of states maintain the death penalty for drug-related offences.

"It's disheartening that so many countries are still clinging to the flawed idea that killing people will somehow end addiction or reduce crime. The death penalty does nothing to tackle crime or enable people who need help to access the treatment for drug addiction," said Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International's death penalty expert.

International law restricts the use of the death penalty to the "most serious crimes" - generally defined to include only intentional killing. Drug crimes do not fall into this category. International law also sets the goal for states to move towards abolition of the death penalty.

Yet many states justify the use of the death penalty as a way to tackle drug trafficking or problematic drug use. These states are ignoring evidence that a response focused on human rights and public health, including prevention of substance abuse and access to treatment, has been effective to end drug-related deaths and prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. Even in relation to violent crime, there is not a shred of evidence that the threat of execution is more of a deterrent than any other form of punishment.

In Indonesia, for example, the government under President Joko Widodo vowed to use the death penalty to combat a "national drug emergency". 14 people convicted of drug-related crimes have been put to death in 2015 so far and the government has said it will deny all clemency applications put forward by people convicted on drug charges.

"The use of the death penalty for drug-related crimes is far from the only concern. Shahrul Izani Suparman, for example, was just 19 years old when he was found in possession of more than 200g of cannabis, automatically presumed guilty of drug trafficking and later handed a mandatory death sentence in Malaysia," said Chiara Sangiorgio.

In many of the countries where the death penalty is imposed for drug-related crimes, the injustice is compounded by death sentences being handed down after manifestly unfair trials. Defendants are routinely denied access to lawyers, or coerced to make "confessions" through torture or other ill-treatment which are admitted as evidence, in countries like Indonesia, Iran or Saudi Arabia.

In April 2016 the UN General Assembly, the UN main deliberative body, will gather in a Special Session on drugs to discuss the world's drug control priorities, including the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences. The last time a special session on drugs was held was in 1998.

"The Special Session of the UN General Assembly next year will offer a critical opportunity to states to ensure that drug policies at both national and international level comply with international human rights law. States must once and for all put an end to the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences as a 1st step towards its full abolition," Said Chiara Sangiorgio.

Country examples

--China executed more people than the rest of the world put together last year, but with death penalty figures treated as a state secret the exact number is impossible to determine. Based on the data that able to confirm, people convicted on drug-related offences make up a significant proportion of those executed. China has made tentative steps to cut down on its use of the death penalty in recent years, including by reducing the crimes punishable by death. Drug-related crimes, however, continue to attract the death penalty.

--Indonesia has executed 14 people this year, all accused of drug trafficking. This has been a regressive step for a country that had looked to be moving to end executions just a few years ago, and which has successfully made efforts to seek commutations of death sentences for Indonesian citizens on death row in other countries. The use of the death penalty in Indonesia is riddled with flaws, as suspects are routinely tortured into "confessions" or subjected to unfair trials.

--Iran is the world's 2nd-most prolific executioner, 2nd only to China, and the country has put thousands of people to death for drug-related crimes over the past decades. Iran's extremely harsh drug laws mean that a person can be sentenced to death for possessing 30g of heroin or cocaine. More than 700 executions have been carried out in 2015 alone - many of those executed are foreign nationals and people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. 

--Drug trafficking in Malaysia carries the mandatory death sentence, and people found in possession of certain amounts of illegal substances are automatically presumed to be trafficking drugs. Malaysia does not publish information on executions, but Amnesty International's monitoring suggests that 1/2 of the death sentences imposed in recent years are for drug trafficking convictions.

--Executions for drug-related offenses have skyrocketed in Saudi Arabia over the past 3 years. In 2014, almost 1/2 of all 92 people who were known to have been put to death were convicted for drug-related crimes. Saudi Arabia's justice system lacks the most basic safeguards to ensure the right to a fair trial is protected. Often death sentences are imposed after unfair and summary proceedings, which are in some cases held in secret.


In 2014 and 2015, Amnesty International recorded executions or death sentences for drug-related offences in the following countries: China, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam.

As of today, drug-related offences, which can include different charges ranging from drug trafficking to drug possession, are punishable by death in more than 30 countries.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty violates the right to life, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Source: Amnesty International, October 8, 2015

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Texas: Gabriel Hall sentenced to death by lethal injection

Gabriel Hall
Gabriel Hall
After more than seven hours of deliberation, a Brazos County jury has sentenced Gabriel Hall to die by lethal injection.

Hall was convicted Sept. 11 in the 2011 slaying of Edwin Shaar, who was shot and stabbed. Hall also seriously injured Shaar's wife, Linda.

The jury began deliberations shortly after 12:30 p.m.

Jurors did not vote on life in prison or the death penalty, instead, they were instructed to answer two questions presented by the court in its instruction.

First, they had to decide if there was a probability that Hall would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society.

Ten votes were needed for a "no" answer, 12 votes are needed for a "yes."

Because the jury answered yes, it moved on to question two: whether there was anything in the defendant's character, background or moral culpability that bears a specific mitigating circumstance to warrant life in prison over the death penalty.

Jurors found nothing significantly mitigating to warrant life in prison.

Many of the jurors cried as Judge Travis Bryan III delivered the sentence. Gabriel Hall showed no emotion.

District Attorney Jarvis Parsons said he felt mixed emotions after the sentence was delivered. He said anyone who is human realizes the magnitude of what happened.

“It’s not something you feel joy about, because it’s a tragedy on both sides,” Parsons said. “We don’t take any pleasure in what happened, we just hope it gives some sense of peace to the Shaar family.”

Linda Shaar and her son were present for closing arguments, but didn’t stay for the verdict.

Defense attorneys declined to comment.

Death sentences are automatically sent to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for review.

Source: The Eagle, Jake Walker, October 7, 2015

After rare 10-month respite, Texas death row gets 1st new inmate in 2015

Death row in Texas is getting its 1st new inmate in 2015, ending a 10-month hiatus in death sentences imposed by juries in the nation's most active capital punishment state.

A Brazos County jury decided after 7 hours of deliberation Wednesday that 22-year-old Gabriel Hall should be put to death for an attack that left a 68-year-old man dead and his wife injured at the couple's home in College Station.

It is the 1st death sentence imposed in Texas since last December.

Jurors rejected the option of sending Hall to prison for life with no chance of parole - the outcome in 3 other Texas capital cases this year where the death penalty was a possibility.

Brazos County is about 100 miles northwest of Houston.

Source: Associated Press, October 8, 2015

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Autopsy reveals Oklahoma used wrong drug for execution of Charles Warner in January

Charles Warner
Charles Warner
An autopsy shows that Oklahoma used the wrong drug when it executed an inmate in January.

The Oklahoman reported Thursday that corrections officials used potassium acetate -- not potassium chloride, as required under the state's protocol -- to execute Charles Frederick Warner.

Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin issued a last-minute stay of execution for inmate Richard Glossip after officials discovered that potassium acetate had been delivered.

The autopsy says the items used in Warner's execution included 12 empty vials labeled "single dose Potassium Acetate Injection."

Potassium chloride, which stops the heart, is the final drug in the state's protocol.

After receiving the first drug in the series, midazolam, Warner said, "My body is on fire," but showed no other signs of distress and was pronounced dead after 18 minutes.

Source: kjrh.com, October 8, 2015

Autopsy: Oklahoma Used The Wrong Drug To Execute Charles Warner

Corrections officials in Oklahoma used the wrong drug to execute Charles Warner back in January. 

The revelation was included in Warner's autopsy report, which was just made public by the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. According to the report, officials used potassium acetate - not potassium chloride, as state protocol calls for - to stop Warner's heart. 

Warner, 47, had been scheduled to die on the same night as Clayton D. Lockett. If you remember, Lockett's 2014 execution was also botched. A report issued after his death, found that a phlebotomist misplaced the IV line intended to deliver the lethal cocktail of drugs directly into Lockett's bloodstream. Instead, the cocktail was delivered to the surrounding tissue and Lockett eventually died of a heart attack. 

According to The Oklahoman, which first reported on Warner's autopsy report, explains: 

"The drug vials and syringes used in Warner's execution were submitted to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner after his death. 2 of the syringes were labeled with white tape '120 mEq Potassium Chloride,' his autopsy report shows. 

"However, the 12 empty vials used to fill the syringes are labeled '20mL single dose Potassium Acetate Injection, USP 40 mEq\2mEq\mL,' the autopsy report shows." 

Back in September, Gov. Mary Fallin stopped the execution of Richard Glossip, saying that the state had received potassium acetate rather than potassium chloride. 

Following that stay, Robert Patton, Oklahoma's prisons director, told reporters that the state's drug provider told them that the 2 drugs were interchangeable. Medical professionals say they are 2 different drugs. 

In a statement, Fallin said she had not been made aware that the 2 drugs may have been switched during the Warner execution until she was told the wrong drugs were procured for the the Glossip execution. 

"The attorney general's office is conducting an inquiry into the Warner execution and I am fully supportive of this inquiry," she said. "It is imperative that the attorney general obtain the information he needs to make sure justice is served competently and fairly." 

Fallin said that until the state has "complete confidence in the system" she will delay any scheduled executions. 

Oklahoma death chamber
Oklahoma death chamber
Glossip's attorney, Dale Baich, said in a statement that Oklahoma cannot be trusted to get this procedure right. 

"The State's disclosure that it used potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride during the execution of Charles Warner yet again raises serious questions about the ability of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to carry out executions," Baich said. "The execution logs for Charles Warner say that he was administered potassium chloride, but now the State says potassium acetate was used. We will explore this in detail through the discovery process in the federal litigation." 

According to the AP, Oklahoma's execution protocol does allow for some wiggle room in the kind of drugs used in executions. 

"The protocols include dosage guidelines for single-drug lethal injections of pentobarbital or sodium pentothal, along with dosages for a 3-drug protocol of midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride," the AP reported. "The protocols also allow for rocuronium or pancuronium bromide to be substituted for the 2nd drug. The protocols do not list an alternate for potassium chloride, which is the 3rd drug used." 

Of course, this case again points to the issues surrounding how and where states are getting their execution drugs. Oklahoma and other states have struggled to adjust to new combinations of execution drugs after manufacturers, under pressure from critics of capital punishment, ceased providing states with drugs they had long used. 

States have turned to so-called compounding pharmacies for new drug combination that the states and the pharmacies may know little about. 

Source: NPR.org, October 8, 20125

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US High Court Starts Hearing Death Penalty Cases

(Source: The New Yorker)
The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments Wednesday questioning how the death penalty is carried out in the country.

Executions are carried out unevenly in the United States, with 31 states still sanctioning the death penalty for a range of crimes, while 19 states have banned capital punishment.

None of the cases the Supreme Court has agreed to consider represents an attempt to overturn capital punishment in the United States, but rather to raise legal questions on how states conduct executions.

In the first of at least 6 capital punishment cases it expects to consider during the next several months, the court heard lawyers argue whether death sentences should be reinstated against 2 brothers involved in a 2000 crime spree in the central state of Kansas that left 5 people dead. The state's highest court threw out death sentences against the brothers.

The case centers on whether each brother should have been entitled to a separate sentencing hearing and whether the trial judge erred in his instructions to jurors. A ruling is expected by next June.

In other cases, the high court is considering whether judges have too much discretion in imposing death sentences, whether prosecutors improperly struck all four prospective jurors who are black from a capital punishment case, and whether a judge who initially prosecuted a death penalty case should have removed himself from considering an appeal in the case.

Source: Voice of America, October 8, 2015

Supreme Court defends contested death penalty verdicts in Kansas

A Supreme Court deeply divided over the death penalty appeared slightly more persuaded Wednesday that death sentences may have been appropriately rendered in 2 notoriously heinous murder cases from Kansas.

During oral arguments that exposed the same tensions and fault lines over capital punishment first revealed on the high court's last day of decisions in June, a majority of justices defended death sentences against three men that had been thrown out for procedural reasons by Kansas' highest court.

It was the first of several days the high court will devote to death penalty cases this fall, following its 5-4 decision that upheld a controversial form of lethal injection implicated in 3 botched executions last year. When that decision was announced June 29, 4 justices jousted emotionally over the relative correctness or cruelty of capital punishment, and Justice Stephen Breyer said it might be unconstitutional.

Jonathan and Reginald Carr
Jonathan and Reginald Carr
Wednesday's cases involved the Kansas Supreme Court's decisions striking down death sentences against three convicted murderers because of instructions given to the juries and, in the case of 2 brothers, the use of a joint rather than separate sentencing hearings. The state sought to restore the death sentences, and a majority of justices appeared to agree.

Noting that 6 of the state's 9 death row inmates could win new hearings if the Kansas court's ruling stands, Justice Antonin Scalia said, "Kansans, unlike Justice Breyer, do not think the death penalty is unconstitutional." He later went out of his way to read the gory details of the more notorious murder case, in which 5 men and women were repeatedly raped and abused before 4 were murdered and the 5th shot execution-style.

Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the court's June opinion in Glossip v. Gross upholding lethal injections, called the Kansas killings "some of the most horrendous murders that I have seen in my 10 years here, and we see practically every death penalty case that comes up anywhere in the country. These have to rank as among the worst."

Nevertheless, the Kansas Supreme Court tossed out the death sentences for two reasons. It said the juries were not told that mitigating factors such as troubled childhoods did not need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and it said brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr should have had separate sentencing hearings.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor took the lead in questioning the death sentences, as she did earlier this year in criticizing Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol. She said the state court's criticism of the jury instructions was reasonable, if not under the Constitution, then under state law.

"What a wonderful system we've created," she said sarcastically. "Even when a state court is wrong in convicting somebody, so long as they are reasonably wrong, we uphold them. And when they are wrong on a legal conclusion applying our test, we jump in and reverse them."

But even the court's more liberal members expressed doubt about the Kansas court's ruling that the Carr brothers deserved separate sentencing hearings, so that a jury could parse accusations about who was the gunman, who was the leader, and who had a more troubled childhood. Breyer warned that could lead to similar demands in countless numbers of trials involving gang members.

"Given the kind of evidence that was presented in this case," Justice Elena Kagan said, "the idea that somebody was a lousy big brother seems pretty small in the scale of things."

Source: USA Today, October 8, 2015

For Justices, Death Penalty Cases Are Personal

With the long black robes, red velvet curtain and secret conference room, the U.S. Supreme Court can seem like a pretty weird place. But the court is never weirder than when the death penalty is being discussed, as it was in Wednesday's oral arguments. On the surface, the justices must decide whether co-defendants can have their sentences determined in a single hearing, and whether a jury must be told that factors mitigating against a capital sentence don't need to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. But underneath these technical legal issues, something more profound is at stake: the immediate, personal involvement of the nine justices in the intentional killing of human beings.

Because the court thinks "death is different," its usual rules for choosing which cases to hear don't apply. It considers cases where there's no split of authority among the courts of appeal or among the states, and it corrects errors that it thinks were made by the courts below. More than that, the court gets into the guts of how the death penalty is determined and administered, making it the de facto supervisor of what Justice Harry Blackmun memorably called the "machinery of death."

Quicktake Lethal Injections

The court doesn't hear every death penalty appeal, but the clerks and justices do in practice review every legal argument made by desperate death row inmates and their lawyers as their dates of execution draw near. For decades, the court has employed a special "death clerk," not one of the justices' clerks who typically serve for a year, but a permanent staff member who has developed an expertise in the arcana of state and federal death penalty law. The death clerk monitors the appeals, makes sure the justices vote on them in an orderly fashion, and communicates the responses back to the states and the lawyers.

Although the court prefers otherwise, sometimes all this happens in the dead of night, in anticipation of a crack-of-dawn execution. If it's after hours, each justice leaves a law clerk behind in chambers to monitor developments and communicate with his or her boss at home. I can tell you I've never experienced anything eerier than staying up to the small hours in the darkened, almost-empty Supreme Court building, waiting for someone to die in Texas or Arizona or Oklahoma so that I could go home.

I mention the detail to suggest how closely the justices are involved in administering the death penalty -- and how that experience becomes part of the justices' professional routine. There are many fewer executions now than there were in the late 1990s, when I clerked, but reduced numbers don't, I think, reduce the psychological impact -- possibly the reverse.

Public attention tends to focus on whether the court will strike down the death penalty as cruel and unusual, which it did in effect from 1972 to 1976. The day-to-day death penalty jurisprudence isn't as legally dramatic. But the right answer often depends on what you think about the death penalty writ large.

Take the question of whether it's fair to sentence co-defendants in the same proceeding. The Carr brothers, whose case is before the court, were convicted of a vicious crime spree in which they killed 5 people and almost killed a 6th. Reginald, the older brother, seems to have been leader of the 2. Jonathan, the younger brother, presented evidence at trial that made Reginald look worse than he -- in the hopes of getting the jury to sympathize with him as a follower who didn't deserve the death penalty. Reginald's lawyers have argued that this was unjust. Jonathan's lawyers, for that matter, argue that sentencing him alongside his brother must've prejudiced the jury against him.

If you oppose the death penalty, you'll probably think the answer is pretty obvious: Each man bears independent guilt, so each man should get a separate sentencing hearing.

But if you think the death penalty is warranted, you might conclude that there's nothing wrong with sentencing murderers together for crimes they committed together. Criminals are tried together and sentenced together all the time for joint crimes. Indeed, a jury that considered the crimes of both Carrs and their punishments could arguably do it better in a single proceeding than in 2 separate ones.

2 justices, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, made headlines last term by saying they consider the death penalty unconstitutional in all circumstances. The court's 2 younger liberals, Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, kept their powder dry, declining to join their older colleagues' position at this comparatively early stage in their Supreme Court tenures.

The only way the death penalty will be struck down the foreseeable future is if Justice Anthony Kennedy thinks it should be. Kennedy doesn't like to be pigeonholed as a bleeding-heart liberal, and given his landmark liberal vote for gay marriage in June, it's very unlikely that he wants to become a death penalty pioneer, at least for now.

That leaves the court with skirmishes over procedure that stand in for the real question: How much can the justices tolerate their intimate connection to death? For now, the answer is that they can. Dostoevsky, no stranger to capital punishment, said it best: "Man grows used to everything, the scoundrel!"

Source: Bloomberg News, Noah Feldman, October 8, 2015

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Sultan approves amendments to Oman drug law

Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed
Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed
Amendment has harsher penalties for peddlers and smugglers, including the death penalty

Amid Omani efforts to curb a growing drug menace in the country that affects mostly the youth, Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed has approved amendments to the Combating Narcotics and Psychotropic Drugs law.

Qaboos issued on Monday a royal decree (number 34/2015) approving the amendments in the drug act.

The amendments introduce stiffer penalties, including the death penalty and life sentence, for drug peddlers and smugglers.

The previous law did include the death penalty but specified it for quantities over 50kg. The amendment doesn't specify the quantity.

Article 43 of the amended law stipulates the death penalty or life in prison for drug dealers as well as a fine of more than 25,000 rials (Dh238,519). It also stipulates the death penalty for anyone who has a connection with international drug trafficking gangs.

Anyone who produces, imports or exports drugs will face either the death penalty or a life sentence, according to the article 43.

Law enforcement officers and government employees working in the anti-narcotic forces found to be involved in drug peddling and smuggling will face a life sentence.

Those who use minors to smuggle and peddle drugs will face the death penalty.

The amendments were recommended by the elected Consultative Council, the Majlis Al Shura, and State Council.

Article 56 stipulates that anyone who assaults drug enforcement staff will be jailed for a minimum of ten years and will be fined no less than 3,000 rials. It also stipulates the life sentence in cases of assault resulting in permanent disability. The death penalty will apply in case the assault results in death.

If a suspect refuses to provide the necessary samples for the detection of the narcotics, he or she will be jailed for 6 months at least and face a fine of 100 rials.

The 1st Omani Narcotic Law was issued by royal decree number 17/99 in 1999.

Observers believe that introducing such punishment will lead to a significant drop in drug-related crimes in Oman.

Muscat is working hard to tackle the drug menace by conducting intensive campaigns nationwide targeting the youth, the largest segment of drug users. The number of drug addicts stood at 5,000 in 2014, compared to 4,000 in 2013, according to the ministry's figures.

Oman set up more than 12 rehabilitation centres in all governorates due to the increase in drug abuse in the country.

A source in the Royal Oman Police told Gulf News that the number of drug cases has been rising by more than 10 % every year. The source added that applying the death penalty will definitely reduce drug cases in Oman.

An official at the Royal Oman Police (ROP), earlier told Gulf News that Oman's geography, with its long coastline and proximity to some drug exporting countries, poses a major challenge in combatting drug trafficking.

He added that most of the drug traffickers who were arrested in Oman are expatriates. According to ROP figures, heroin is the number one drug seized by the ROP.

An official at the National Committee for Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances told Gulf News that there were death verdicts against only 5 drug smugglers and peddlers in the past 15 years.

Implementation of the death penalty was halted in Oman since 2004.

Source: Gulf News, October 8, 2015

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Over 6000 death row prisoners in Pakistan

There are now more than 6000 death row prisoners in Pakistan - more than anywhere in the world - new government figures have revealed.

According to the Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rahman, 6016 death row convicts are imprisoned in various jails across the country. He informed the Senate that the process for execution of the convicts who had availed of all legal options and whose mercy petitions had also been rejected continue as per law since Dec 17 last year, the month chosen by the terrorists to attack Army Public School in Peshawar.

Capital punishment is legal in Pakistan. There had been a moratorium on executions since 2008, but the moratorium was lifted for terrorism related cases as of 16 December 2014, following the massacre of 132 students and 9 members of staff of the Army Public School Peshawar.

The executions are now part of the National Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy to deal with the terrorist elements in the country. The last such prisoner, Mohammad Aslam, was executed in the Bahawalpur jail last month. According to the interior ministry, a total of 588 people were killed and 1,007 injured in 821 acts of terror in the country in first 8 months of the year 2015. As of September 2015, Pakistan has executed 239 death row prisoners since 2014 Peshawar school massacre.

The European Union (EU) had sharply reacted over lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty in the country and has demanded its immediate restoration, which had been in place since 2008. Pakistan along with the United States and Yemen have raised the minimum age to 18 in law to be eligible for execution.

Pakistan death row cells, often measuring 8ft x 12ft, were originally designed to hold one or two prisoners but now typically hold more than six condemned inmates each. Prisoners are confined to these small cells for up to 23 hours per day. They suffer from inadequate nutrition, sanitation and lack of exercise. The Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan has recognised the serious human rights violations suffered by Pakistani condemned prisoners. As a partial remedy, the court declared that condemned prisoners may only be transferred to a death row cell after the death sentence is confirmed by a High Court, rather than directly following a trial court conviction. Unfortunately, this still means that a prisoner may spend upwards of ten to twelve years on death row awaiting execution.

Source: The Nation, October 8, 2015

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China reduces the number of crimes punishable by death to 46, but keeps drug trafficking in the list

China removes nine non-violent and rarely used criminal offenses from capital punishment.

The amended Criminal Law, which will take effect on Nov. 1, removed 9 crimes punishable by death including: smuggling weapons, ammunition, nuclear materials or counterfeit currency; counterfeiting currency; raising funds by means of fraud; arranging for or forcing another person to engage in prostitution; obstructing a police officer or a person on duty from performing his duties; and fabricating rumors to mislead others during wartime.

It is the 2nd time China has reduced the number of crimes punishable by death over the past 5 years. 

In 2011, the NPC Standing Committee dropped the death penalty for 13 crimes, reducing the list from 68 to 55.

The death penalty is still used for a wide range of crimes, including non-violent crimes such as corruption and drug-related offenses. 

China remains the country with most executions in the world, estimated at 2,400 in 2014.

Source: worldcoalition.org, October 8, 2015

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MEPs demand answers over EU funding for executions, as Iran drug hangings hit 500

European Parliament, Strasbourg, France
European Parliament, Strasbourg, France
The European Parliament has today called on the EU to ensure that it is not using taxpayers’ money to fund the execution of alleged drug offenders overseas.

In a resolution passed today by 569 to 38, MEPs called on both the European Commission and member states “to reaffirm the categorical principle that European aid and assistance, including to UNODC counter-narcotics programmes, cannot facilitate law enforcement operations which lead to death sentences and executions of those arrested”.

The EU is the world’s second largest donor to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which oversees anti-drug operations in countries which apply the death penalty for drug offences, such as Iran and Pakistan.

The resolution comes as new figures from NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR), also published today, indicate that Iran has hanged more that 500 people for drug-related charges in 2015 so far – already exceeding last year’s total of 367. The 500 make up the majority of the 800 people that IHR believes Iran has executed this year in total. Meanwhile, Pakistan has leapfrogged Saudi Arabia to become the world’s third most prolific executioner, hanging at least 240 people in the last 10 months. 

The EP resolution also demanded increased transparency, requesting the European Commission publish “an annual account of its funding for counter-narcotics programmes… outlining what human rights safeguards have been applied to ensure it does not enable death sentences”.

The EU has contributed over €72m to UNODC projects focused on ‘organised crime and drug trafficking’. This money has paid for equipment and training for the narcotics forces in Iran and Pakistan, both of which ascribe the death penalty for non-violent drug offences in violation of international law.

Besides donating to UNODC projects, the EU also funds counter-narcotics operations in Iran and Pakistan through its own €15.5m initiative aimed at tackling heroin trafficking.

UN human rights experts yesterday condemned executions for drug crimes, arguing “they amount to a violation of international law and are unlawful killings”. The UN Special Rapporteurs on summary executions and torture said: “International agencies, as well as States providing bilateral technical assistance to combat drug crime, must ensure that the programmes to which they contribute do not ultimately result in violations of the right to life.”

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at international human rights charity Reprieve, said:
“Today’s vote is a stinging rebuke of ‘EU execution aid’ by MEPs from across the political spectrum. As the UNODC seeks to negotiate secretive funding deals for drug police in Iran and Pakistan, MEPs have made clear that European taxpayers’ money should never enable executions. The European Commission must now lay out its plans to end European aid for executions once and for all – and do so in a transparent and open manner.”

Commenting, Jean Lambert MEP, said:
“For far too long the European Union and Member States have given their backing to aggressive anti-drug operations which send non-violent offenders to death row. This support undermines Europe’s position on capital punishment and is helping to fuel a global resurgence in the use of the death penalty for drug offences. Instead of enabling executions in this way the EU should be using its influence constructively, and making all such support strictly conditional on recipient states abolishing the death penalty for drug crimes. Our resolution has been passed today with a resounding majority reflecting all shades of political opinion, and European decision makers must sit up and take note.”

Commenting, Richard Howitt MEP said:
“It is a disgrace that European taxpayers’ money is being used to fuel executions overseas. It’s perfectly possible to assist foreign law enforcement bodies while applying common sense conditions which ensure our aid does not lead to executions. The EU has must look into the consequences of its lethal counter-narcotics assistance, and that’s why I'm pleased that today a resounding majority of MEPs have called for transparent annual reports on this spending.”

  • The text of the resolution which was voted on today, and passed with 569 MEPs for, 38 against and 54 abstaining, can be read here; the final adopted text will be available here.
  • The most up-to-date figures on the number of executions in Iran this year, including those for drug offences, have been released by Iran Human Rights today and can be viewed here.

Source: Reprieve, October 8, 2015

EU welcomes Fiji's abolishment of death penalty

Fiji has been praised for being the 99th country in the world to have joined the ranks to abolish the death penalty of all crimes. The European Union has welcomed Fiji's decision to abolish the death penalty through the R F M F Amendment Act of 2015.

EU Ambassador to the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs, says this is a big step forward for the nation as we prepare to commemorate World Day against the Death Penalty on Saturday. He adds that it's important to continue to push for the abolishment of death penalty worldwide - as it represents an inhumane, degrading treatment.

"There's no proven deterrent factor in having the death penalty and having a death penalty allows judicial errors which can no longer be corrected after a death penalty has been carried out."

Jacobs says Fiji's repeal of the death penalty will hopefully trigger similar positive moves in the region. The EU is calling on the remaining island countries -Tonga, Nauru and Papua New Guinea to abolish the death penalty as well.

Earlier this month, Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola told the U N that Fiji's ban of on death penalty stemmed from the growing international trend to remove capital punishment. Kububola adds that this is consistent with Fiji's new Constitution which guarantees every person the right to life.

Source: Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, October 8, 2015

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Will Richard Glossip Kill The Death Penalty [analysis]

Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip’s execution was stayed twice and the execution drugs contained the wrong ingredients. Analysts say that the Glossip case, no matter how it turns out, could signal the death of the death penalty. Analysis.

aNewDomain — So far, luck’s been on the side of death row inmate Richard Glossip, who avoided execution at the hands of the State of Oklahoma again last week.

This time, OK Governor Mary Fallin, not the court, ordered a stay, just minutes before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection for a murder no court has ever said he personally committed. Indeed, a growing number of supporters, like those gathering in Washington, D.C. this week to protest his execution, believe he might not be guilty of planning the murder of an Oklahoma City hotel clerk either. Witnesses have come forward to say that another man, the man who admitted he was the one who killed the victim during Glossip’s trial, framed Glossip. They have yet to be heard.

But the stay wasn’t ordered on grounds that there should be an evidentiary hearing to review new evidence. Rather, Gov. Fallin said it had to do with one of the drugs ordered for the lethal cocktail. And that only highlights, Glossip’s supporters say, how ill-equipped Glossip’s executioners really are.

After Fallin stayed the September 30 execution of Glossip at the eleventh hour due to reservations about the state’s lethal injection drug protocol, we should note, OK Attorney General Scott Pruitt followed suit and announced he was seeking an indefinite stay of all scheduled executions in the state.

The Mystery of The Mystery Cocktail

The drug used for execution is supposed to be Potassium Chloride, but the state received Potassium Acetate. That might be sufficient to kill a man, innocent or guilty, but it isn’t protocol and it was the wrong drug to order. So why did that drug end up in the death chamber? Oklahoma Department of Corrections Officer Alex Gerszewski reportedly attempted to answer this question in an email to Time, saying: “I still don’t know why we had Potassium Acetate … we can’t discuss how we obtain the drugs.”

In an effort to calm this perfect storm, Pruitt sat down with The O’Collegian yesterday evening, the student newspaper of Oklahoma State University, to address the growing controversy now surrounding the indefinite stay of not just Glossip’s execution but also those of other Oklahoma death row inmates scheduled to die. The Department of Corrections “advised my office and the governor’s office very late in the process barely an hour before the execution that they had received the wrong drug,” Pruitt said, adding:

"We have three different drug protocols — three different options involving different drugs. Potassium chloride is one of the drugs that is used in each of those protocols, and Potassium Chloride has been used by the state for a long time.”

As Potassium Acetate is not part of the protocol, you’d think that, on delivery about two hours prior to Glossip’s scheduled execution, officials would’ve gotten the wheels turning on delaying the execution. Reportedly, though, they briefly considered whether to improvise and use an improper drug again.

It’s worth noting that state law here attempts to remove any ambiguity about the cocktail: Officials must notify the condemned and identify the specific substances in the protocol “in writing 10 calendar days prior to the scheduled execution date.”

Source: aNewDomain.net, Jim Kelly, October 6, 2015

Reddit AMA: I am Don Knight, one of the pro bono defense attorneys for Richard Glossip

I have 33 years of experience in criminal defense, with the last 15 years doing death penalty work.
If you're interested in learning more, Ian Woods of Sky News is doing a serial podcast about Richard Glossip and his quest for exoneration.
Right now we have an indefinite stay of execution and I'm worried about this case withering on the vine. How do we keep it in the public eye?

MST3Kimber: The main reaction I've been seeing from fellow Oklahomans is that he's guilty because he's been convicted not once, but twice. I personally don't believe the justice system is fool-proof, but when I try to explain this to those I have a discussion about this case with, that is their go-to answer. "He must be guilty because he's been convicted TWICE."

How do you, as his attorney, explain how an innocent man can be convicted twice for this crime? Best of luck to you guys and Mr. Glossip. I know you guys have a difficult road ahead of you. I'm pulling for you guys!

Don_Knight: The first trial was overturned on direct appeal due to ineffective assistance of counsel. Therefore, by its very nature, that trial did not count. There have been many people who have been exonerated even off of death row, who were convicted by a jury more than one time and yet these people were not guilty. It is not a stretch to have people receive trials and be found guilty and yet be innocent of the crime that they've just been convicted of. It comes down to how hard the lawyers have worked, how much money they've been given, and how much time they've had to prepare.

ryanmerket: Is there any other evidence that Glossip hired Sneed besides Sneed's testimony that ultimately reduced his sentence to 'Life in Prison' from death?

Don_Knight: No. Not other than Sneed's testimony.

Sleipnoir: I..don't understand how this can be legal? Can you really charge someone and give them the death penalty when the only evidence is one person's word (who had incentive to lie)?

Don_Knight: No. There needs to be some kind of corroborating evidence, however, it's pretty loose as to what constitutes corroborating evidence. In this case, Richard had $1200 cash on him. The prosecutor said this came from the murder even though there was no way to show that was true, but this is what constituted the corroborating evidence that was needed.

Click here to read the full thread

Source: reddit, October 6, 2015

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Is this a room or a tomb? This is Cell LL, the isolation cell next to Oklahoma's death chamber

Cell LL - the isolation cell next to Oklahoma's death chamber
Cell LL - the isolation cell next to Oklahoma's death chamber
Is this a room or a tomb? 

This is Cell LL - the isolation cell next to Oklahoma's death chamber. 

Oklahoma's protocol of execution mandates that the condemned be removed from their companions on death row and brought to this isolation cell 35 days prior to execution. 

Everything in Cell LL is cement, including the bed. The door, open for photos, is always kept closed. It's underground, so there is no natural light. Instead, bright lights are kept on all the time. This makes it hard to sleep, even if you pull sheets over your eyes.

Richard Glossip was held here for 60 days total over the past several months - first before his scheduled execution on September 16 (a 2-week stay came at 12:30 pm); then before his scheduled execution on September 30 (a stay came at 4 pm).

At 9 pm on the night before an execution, visits end and phone calls are cut off. Richard was completely alone until he was supposed to be taken out to die. 

Richard was not allowed to play music. Officials claim that music "can stir deep emotions." They want a calm, compliant prisoner and an "antiseptic" death. "Guards have to get through the execution, too," officials claim. "It's hard on everyone."

On September 30, Richard was stripped to boxer shorts and very cold. "It was freezing," he said. He paced, trying to warm up.

As 3 pm (the scheduled execution time) came and went, he kept asking, "What's happening?" He got no information. Around 4 pm, a guard told him that he got a stay but provided no details.

This last face off with death on September 30 was Richard's third experience of being brought to the very brink of death. January 29 was the first, when a stay came in the early evening of January 28.

Cell LL - the isolation cell next to Oklahoma's death chamber
"For where did Dante take the material of his hell but from our actual
world? And yet he made a very proper hell of it."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer, Homo Homini Lupus

Source: Sister Helen Prejean's Facebook page, October 7, 2015

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Sri Lanka will not implement death penalty for now: Justice minister

October 6, 2015: Sri Lanka will not implement the death penalty temporarily as the country has decided to vote in favor of a UN resolution for moratorium on death penalty in 2015, Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha said in parliament.

The Minister noted that Sri Lanka had voted in favor of the UN resolutions calling for moratorium on death penalty in 2007, 2008 and 2010. In 2012, Sri Lanka had abstained from voting for the resolution.

However, Sri Lanka, to be in line with the current global trends, has decided to vote in favor of the UN resolution for moratorium on death penalty in 2015 when the vote is taken at the UN General Assembly.

He recalled that that Pope when addressing the inaugural session of the UN General Assembly on September 24 requested all countries to abolish death penalty.

Emphasizing that more than 100 countries have abolished the death penalty, the Minister told the parliament that especially in democratic countries punishments are aimed at correction and rehabilitation. The world opinion with regard to the capital punishment is in favor of not implementing it, he added.

There is no evidence that the death penalty is any more effective in reducing crime, the Minister emphasized.

He said Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in his address to the UNHRC on September 14 also stated that Sri Lanka would not implement the capital punishment.

The Justice Minister however, said an interactive dialogue should be held to find out the root causes of crimes and the Parliament should focus attention on strengthening the laws to prevent crimes.

President Maithripala Sirisena, while posing as a moral crusader, told a meeting in Galle on September 18 that he would implement capital punishment from next year if parliament approved. Though the penalty can be imposed via his executive powers, “I thought that the better option was debate in the parliament,” he said. “As a leader who respects moral principles, I will pay strict attention to the demand of the people to enforce the death penalty.”

Although Sri Lankan courts give death penalty in serious crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking, no executions have been carried out since 1976.

Following the recent abduction, sexual assault and murder of a five-year old Seya Sadewmi, Sri Lankans have demanded the death penalty for the perpetrators of heinous crimes. 

Sources: colombopage.com, wsws.org, HOC, October 7, 2015

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