December 16, 2016
IDPN 2016 Issue 51
Chad: The penal code in the African nation has been reformed and the death penalty mostly abolished. The death penalty remains viable in cases of terrorism, as the nation continues to face attacks from militant group Boko Haram. Other changes to the penal code include raising the legal marriage age from 16 to 18 years of age and punishes those convicted of homosexual acts with a fine or suspended prison sentence.
Egypt: Adel Habbara has had his death sentence confirmed by Egypt’s top court. Adel has been convicted in a deadly 2013 anti-security attack in Sinai, which killed 25. He has also been identified as an Islamist extremist.
Iran: Ten prisoners have been executed by hanging at Rajai Shahr Prison in northern Iran, on Sunday, December 11, 2016. Two of the prisoners were identified as Ali Jafari and Abdullah Ghaffari, while the remaining eight were not named. All were executed on murder charges.
Pakistan: Following a school massacre in December of 2014, the government overturned the death penalty moratorium, and resumed carrying out executions. Initially, the government specified that only those convicted on terror related charges would be executed. The government has since said they would execute anyone who was sentenced to death. In the past two years, over 400 individuals have been executed. According the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, only seven percent of those executed have been on terror related charges.
Philippines: The death penalty will not be reinstated in the nation before the end of 2016. The House Deputy Speaker announced that a debate on the bill reintroducing the death penalty would be moved to the beginning of next year in order to allow congressmen to have sufficient time to throughly debate the issue. Many are protesting such action, including various Catholic groups.
Syria: At least 200 individuals have allegedly been killed in the streets of war-torn Aleppo by governmental forces and their allies (Iranian militants). There are additional reports of nine children and four women being burned alive in the city. Extensive bombing and fighting has left little, if any, medical treatment facilities in the city.
Thailand: King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who recently obtained the crown after the death of his father, has granted full pardons to any inmate serving a three month sentence, or less, for a minor offense; for prisoners currently out on parole; and prisoners who are carrying out community/public services in exchange for paying fines. He has also reduced the sentences of many prisoners and commuted all death sentences to life in prison.
United States of America: In August, The Delaware Supreme Court ruled that the state’s death penalty law was unconstitutional as it allowed a judge to override a jury’s recommendation - a judge could sentence a person to death, even if the jury only recommended life in prison. At the time, the Delaware Supreme Court did not state if the measure would be applied to the 12 inmates currently sentenced to death in the state. Following appeals, the Delaware Supreme Court has overturned all death sentences, commuting them to life in prison without the possibility of parole. While the justices debated, the Department of Corrections moved the 12 men off death row, and began to integrate them into other housing units. Nine of the 12 are now sharing cells with inmates who have not been sentenced to death. Some of the death row inmates resisted the transition, however the prison is working with them. The inmates are now afforded more freedoms, including significantly more free time outside of their cells.
Two state legislators in Nevada have drafted a bill that would eliminate the death penalty in their state. In their proposal, the maximum sentence a person could receive would be life in prison, without the possibility of parole. The current governor, Brian Sandoval, has not commented on the legislation, however, he is a known supporter of capital punishment. The bill would have to be approved by the Nevada House of Representatives and Senate before going to the governor for approval. Currently, executions are on hold in Nevada because the state is unable to obtain execution drugs, and lethal injection is the only approved method of execution in the state. Nevada’s last execution was in 2006.
The man responsible for killing nine black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, Dylann Roof, has been convicted on 33 counts by a federal court. Dylann had previously confessed to the crime, a recording of which was played for the jury. Next month, the same jurors will gather for the sentencing phase of Dylann’s trial. Dylann could be sentenced to death or given life in prison without the possibility of parole.