August 5, 2016
IDPN 2016 Issue 32
Iran: On Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 32-year-old Reza Sabzevari and Nasrollah Reigi were both executed. Reza, a former police officer who worked in a department fighting against drugs, was executed by hanging at Mashhad Central Prison in the northeastern part of the nation. His crime was not reported. Nasrollah was executed by hanging at Yazd Central Prison in the central part of the nation. He was executed on drug related charges and spent the last five years in prison.
On Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 20 Sunni prisoners were executed at Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj. Shahram Ahmadi, Khaled Maleki, Mukhtar Rahimi, Bahman Rahimi, Kaveh Veisi, and Kaveh Sharifi were among those executed. Iran Human Rights claims that most, if not all, of those executed had unfair trials and were tortured into confessing. Families of the inmates were denied a final visit prior to the execution.
On July 18, 2015, Hassan Afshar was executed by hanging for rape. According to Amnesty International, Hassan was a juvenile when this crime was committed, if he even committed a crime. Amnesty International alleges that Hassan did not rape anyone, but was partaking in consensual, homosexual intercourse. Iran’s laws on homosexual intercourse are complex, with differing sentences based on religion and participation in the act. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases under any circumstance.
Morocco: On Throne Day, a national holiday in Morocco, King Mohammed VI granted pardons to 1,272 individuals across the kingdom. Among the pardons were 23 death row inmates, whose sentences were commuted to life in prison. King Mohammed also reduced prison terms for 939 inmates and allowed 11 to be released on time served.
North Korea: Six officials have been publicly executed in response to the defection of 13 workers in China. The six officials were in charge of supervising the workers and included intelligence officials. Witnessing the execution was 80 public officials and 100 individuals who have family members working overseas.
United States of America: Dylann Roof, the man accused of killing nine parishioners at an AME church in Charleston, South Carolina is challenging the constitutionality of the federal death penalty. His lawyers are arguing that the federal death penalty is “prohibited by both the Fifth and Eighth Amendments.” While awaiting his November trial, which could result in him being sentenced to death, Dylann was attacked in prison by a black inmate. His injuries were minor. He is currently in protective custody.
The death penalty law in Delaware has been ruled unconditional by the Delaware Supreme Court. The Court ruled that the current law violates the Sixth Amendment role of the jury. The recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States regarding Florida’s death penalty law was cited as the reason for the decision of the Delaware Supreme Court. Delaware, like Florida, allowed a judge to decide, instead of a jury, if the death penalty was warranted. Judges also had the ability to override the recommendation of the jury, sentencing and inmate to death with the jury’s recommendation. According to the Supreme Court of the United States, the Sixth Amendment requires a jury to decide if a crime warrants a death penalty. Three of the five justices agreed that the entirety of death penalty law was unconstitutional. A fourth agreed that part of the law was unconstitutional, but not the whole, while the fifth did not find any part of the law unconstitutional. Republican lawmakers have announced that they plan to introduce death penalty legislation which meets constitutional standards. Attempts to pass a bill ending capital punishment in the state of Delaware failed earlier this year, when the bill failed to pass the House after being approved by the Senate. The Governor of Delaware has announced his support for ending the death penalty. Delaware last carried out an execution in 2012, and has 14 prisoners on death row.
Ernest L. Johnson, a death row inmate in Missouri is arguing that lethal injection will cause him pain and suffering during his execution due to the removal a brain tumor in 2008. Instead, Ernest is asking to be executed by lethal gas, which is permissible under Missouri law, however, the state has not had a working gas chamber in over 50 years. State law does not specify what type of gas is to be used. Ernest’s lawyer points to Oklahoma, which recently passed a bill allowing nitrogen gas to be used in executions. Ernest’s lawyer also suggests that it would not be necessary to build a gas chamber, as it could be given via a hood, mask, or other enclosed device.