Tag Archives: Capital Punishment

“Kill the Gays” Bill Reintroduced in Uganda

English: Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

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A bill mandating the death sentence for gays who are “repeat offenders” has been reintroduced in Uganda’s parliament.

A small but vocal anti-gay movement, led by several MPs and a group of bishops, was determined to reintroduce the proposed legislation.

The bill was proposed in 2009 by David Bahati, a legislator with the ruling National Resistance Movement party, provoking an international outcry.

It brings in the death penalty for anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time and for gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV. It also criminalizes public discussion of homosexuality and penalizes a person who knowingly rents property to a homosexual.

Barack Obama denounced the bill. Hillary Clinton called on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to reject it. Some international donors threatened to cut aid if it became law.

The bill was shelved last May. The cabinet said in August it had decided to drop the bill because existing laws were enough to deal with homosexual crimes.

Via Al Jazeera.

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Belarusian Woman Fights to Save Son from Execution

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In November, Lyubou Kavalyova’s son was sentenced to death for participating in a terrorist attack in Belarus, based only on a confession allegedly obtained by torture.

Ms. Kavalyova and people across Europe are racing against the clock to save her son, Uladzislau Kavalyova, and his friend Dzmitry Kanavalau from being put to death for a crime that Belarusians (even victims of the attack) believe they did not commit.

Almost 20,000 people have signed Ms. Kavalyova’s petition, prompting officials from the European Council and the Parliament of Europe to join her campaign. As the international pressure grows, so does the possibility of Europe’s highest offices intervening to tell Belarus to stay the executions. Click here to sign the petition and demand that European officials intervene to save Ms. Kavalyova’s son and his friend from execution in Belarus.

Uladzislau Kavalyova and Dzmitry Kanavalau could be killed any day; in 2010, Belarus executed two men without informing their families of the time of their executions.

Belarus is the last country in Europe with the death penalty, so global outcry could make their fate a European issue and put the brakes on their execution.

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Judge Sentences to Death Accomplice in Connecticut Home Invasion Case

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A judge in Connecticut, sentenced thirty-one-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky to death Friday for his role in a 2007 home invasion that killed a woman and her two daughters.

Mr. Komisarjevsky ‘s accomplice, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death after a jury convicted him on sixteen of seventeen charges last year.

Prosecutors argued that the men went into a family home, beat and tied up William Petit, raped and strangled his wife, molested one of their daughters, and set the house on fire.

The two daughters, who were tied to their beds, died of smoke inhalation, while William Petit managed to escape from the basement, where he had been held.

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Iran Sentences American to Death for Espionage

American Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, on trial in Iran for espionage, has been sentenced to death.

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported that a court convicted Mr. Hekmati of “working for an enemy country … for membership in the CIA and also for his efforts to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism.”

Mr. Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested in August while visiting his grandmother and other relatives, his family in Michigan said last month.


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European Commission Restricts Production of Drugs for Executions


The European Commission announced a restriction on drugs produced by European manufacturers for use in lethal injection executions.  The restriction marks a widening of the gulf between the capital punishment policy of Europe and the United States.


A lethal injection room in Alabama (Photo courtesy of The Guardian)


The drug, sodium thiopental, is a sedative commonly used in administering executions.  It can only be exported from Europe after authorization by national authorities.


The reason for the restriction is to “prevent their use for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”


The move was cheered by opponents of the death penalty.


The restriction forbids the sale of the drug to countries that practice the death penalty.  It is consistent with the opposition to the death penalty expressed in the European Charter:  “[T]he European Union opposes the death penalty under all circumstances. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that no one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed. In this regard, the decision today contributes to the wider EU efforts to abolish the death penalty worldwide.”


The impact of the regulation is yet to be known in countries that practice the death penalty.  States like Ohio, Texas, and Georgia that execute people often have taken to using alternative drugs and looking to other countries overseas to meet its demand.  Switching to the use of alternative drugs, however, places a burden on states that want to perform lethal injections by complicating the process of obtaining the drugs.


Tuesday’s announcement is effort to cut the supply of drugs for executions.  In April, Great Britain announced a ban on exportation to the U.S. of three drugs used for lethal injections. An Indian pharmaceutical manufacturer that supplied sodium thiopental to Nebraska announced it would stop supplying the drug to American prison officials.  In July, a Danish manufacturer attempted to quell the sale of its drug for executions by making its distributors promise they would not use the drug for that purpose.


Europe’s new regulation will make it more difficult for prisons to replenish supplies in the future.  It is also difficult for regulators to promise that the drugs will not be sold to prison through the back door.  In order to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the regulations, the European Council has retained the power to add other drugs to the ban as it sees fit.


In the United States, lethal injections have become the main method of executions in recent years.


Since 2007, the E.U. has called for a worldwide halt on the death penalty.

Via Impunity Watch.



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Ohio Justice Who Helped Write Capital Punishment Law Calls for Its Repeal

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An Ohio Supreme Court justice who helped write the state’s death penalty law urged lawmakers Wednesday to repeal it.

“This is where the decision is made as to what should be the ultimate penalty,” Justice Paul Pfeifer, a Republican, said at an Ohio House of Representatives committee hearing. “I have concluded that the death sentence makes no sense to me at this point when you can have life without possibility of parole. I don’t see what society gains from that.”

Justice Pfeifer called on Republican Governor John Kasich in January to end capital punishment. A spokesman for the governor immediately shot down Pfeifer’s suggestion.

Wednesday marked the first time he testified before lawmakers that the death penalty should be repealed.

In 2003, Justice Pfeifer raised concerns about whether the death penalty was applied evenly based on race and geography during testimony before a House committee.

After his testimony, Justice Pfeifer said he doesn’t expect much support for his position in the GOP-controlled legislature either. Nevertheless, he laid out his case against the punishment, which he referred to as a “death lottery.”

Justice Pfeifer was testifying in support of House Bill 160, which would abolish the death penalty and resentence death row inmates to life in prison without parole.

Justice Pfeifer was chairman of the Ohio Senate’s Judiciary Committee in 1981 when the death penalty statute became law. Executions resumed in Ohio until 1999. Since then, the state has executed forty-six inmates. Twelve more are scheduled by September 2013.

Pfeifer said the punishment was meant for the “worst of the worst” — but that is not always the case today. He also said the punishment is not an effective deterrent.

Via Cleveland.com.

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Number of Executions, Like Support for Capital Punishment, Dropped Dramatically in 2011

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The number of executions and death sentences nationwide continues a steady decline, matching dwindling public support for capital punishment in general, according to the Death Penalty Information Center’s annual report.

Only seventy-eight people were sentenced to death this year, the first time that number dropped below 100 since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Death sentences last year were at 112, and have declined by nearly 75% from fifteen years ago, when more than 300 people were condemned.

A report showed forty-three people were executed in 2011, down three from last year and a 56% decline from twelve years ago.

A CNN/Opinion Research Poll in October found more Americans for the first time favor a sentence of life in prison over the death penalty for murderers, 50% to 48%. CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said his analysis shows a difference between thinking the government should have the death penalty as an option and actually wanting to see it applied.

The decline in the number who prefer the death penalty as the punishment for murder may be related to the growing number who believe that at least one person in the past five years has been executed for a crime that he or she did not commit. In 2005, when a solid majority preferred the death penalty, 59% believed that an innocent person had been executed within the previous five years. Now that figure has risen to 72%.

The year’s highest profile execution dealt with questions of innocence. Troy Davis was given a lethal injection in September, ending a battle for the man convicted of killing a Georgia officer. He drew widespread support for his claims an innocent man was being put to death, after federal and state courts had rejected his calls for a new trial. Since Davis’ conviction in 1991, seven of the nine witnesses against him had recanted their testimony, and no physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing of the officer.

A Texas execution also attracted international attention. Mexican national Humberto Leal Garcia was convicted of killing a sixteen-year-old girl. A world court found Texas violated his rights by not giving Mr. Leal access to Mexico’s consulate upon his arrest, as required by an intentional treaty. U.S. and Mexican officials, along with a variety of human rights groups, urged Texas to delay the execution, but to no avail.

Texas continues to lead the nation as the busiest death penalty state, with thirteen executions this year. Alabama was next with six, and Ohio with five.

Thirty-four states have capital laws; thirteen states carried out the punishment in 2011. Several states with capital punishment laws failed to sentence anyone to death in 2011.

Illinois this year became the fourth state in four years to get rid of the death penalty, while Oregon’s Democratic governor said no executions would occur while he is in office.

California voters could decide next year whether to abandon the practice. That state has the highest death row population, but no one has been executed there since 2006.

Connecticut and New Hampshire are the only New England states with the death penalty, but only one person has been executed in the region since 1960.

Via CNN.

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