January 20, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 03
Bahrain: Just days after having their death sentences upheld, 21-year-old Ali Al-Singace, 27-year-old Abbas Al-Samea, and 42-year-old Sami Mushaima, were executed by firing squad on Sunday, January 15, 2017. Allegedly, the men confessed to their crimes, although an international human rights group claims that the “confessions” were extracted through torture. This is the first execution in the kingdom since 2010.
Iran: On Saturday, January 14, 2017, at least 14 prisoners were executed by hanging at Karaj Central Prison. All were executed on drug related charges. Not all of the names have been released. Allegedly, two women were among those executed.
On Monday, January 16, 2017, an unnamed man was executed by hanging in public in Bektash in northwestern Iran. He was convicted of murder five members of a family in 2016.
On Monday, January 16, 2017, Arman Bahr Asemani and Shams Allah R. were executed by hanging at Kerman Prison. Arman was allegedly a juvenile at the time of the crime. The two males were convicted of murder in 2012.
On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, four prisoners were executed by hanging at Vakilabad Prison. Their names and their crimes were not released.
On Wednesday, January 18, 2017, four prisoners, including two Afghan nationals were executed by hanging at Taybad Prison in northeastern Iran. All were executed on drug related charges. The names of all the prisoners were not released.
Nigeria: Lawmakers in Nigeria recently approved a new law permitting kidnappers to be sentenced to death if their kidnapped victims died. The law also increased the penalties for those who threaten to kidnap an individual.
Pakistan: In the Islamic nation, the charge of blasphemy results in a death sentences, however the law is often abused, by being used to settle disputes. Now, a Senate committee is to discuss how to keep this law from being abused. In 2011, Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard for attempting to reform the law. Some individuals believe that to question or change the law is itself an act of blasphemy.
Parveen Bibi has been sentenced to death after confessing that she murder her 18-year-old daughter Zeenat Rafiq. Zeenat had run off and married a man in 2016. This action, according to her mother, brought shame upon the family, and was the reason for the murder.
Saudi Arabia: On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, the kingdom carried out its first execution of the year. Mamdough Al Anzi was executed in Arar for killing a fellow national in a dispute. He was executed by beheading.
United States of America: On Wednesday, January 18, 2017, Ricky Gray was executed by the state of Virginia. He was pronounced dead at 9:42 pm EST. Ricky was 39 years of age. He was executed for the murders of 49-year-old Brian Harvey, Brian’s 39-year-old wife Kathryn, and their children, 9-year-old Stella and 4-year-old Ruby, on January 1, 2006, in Richmond, Virginia. Read more about Ricky here.
John Lotter, a death row inmate in Nebraska, is asking the courts to consider the constitutionality of Nebraska’s death sentencing process. Unlike most states, a jury does not sentence an inmate to death in Nebraska, but a three-judge panel. The death sentencing process was recently overturned in Florida for giving a single judge, instead of a jury, too much power in determining a death sentence.
Bob Ferguson, the attorney general for the state of Washington has introduced legislation which would abolish the death penalty. While executions are still legal in the state, none will be carried out in the foreseeable future, as Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, has placed a moratorium on executions.
In the November 2016 election, voters in Nebraska had to opportunity to voice their opinions on capital punishment in the state. Over 60 percent of the voters voted to retain capital punishment, after the state legislature had repealed it earlier in the year. Now, some state legislatures are essentially saying that the voice of the people do not matter. They are, once again, introducing legislation that will ban capital punishment. While the legislature was successfully in the past, it is unknown if they can succeed again, much less once again override a governor’s veto.
Pete Ricketts, governor of Nebraska who helped successfully repeal the repeal of the state’s death penalty laws, has promised to “make every effort to proceed with the executions of the 10 men on Nebraska’s death row.” To that end, a bill has been introduced to the Legislature which would shield the identities of those who provide the state with execution drugs.
Isaiah McCoy was sentenced to death at the age of 25 for the 2010 murder of 30-year-old James Munford during a drug deal gone wrong. Four years later, at the age of 29, Isaiah walked out of a Delaware prison, a free man. On Thursday, January 19, 2017, just hours after a judge found Isaiah to be not guilty in James’ murder, Isaiah was reunited with his family, including his young daughters, and the team of attorneys that helped Isaiah achieve his acquittal.
On Thursday, January 19, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ordered that three death row inmates be resentenced, as their juries were not in unanimous agreement on the death penalty. This is not the first, nor is it likely to be the last, of such rulings by the Florida Supreme Court, due to the related ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling that Florida’s death sentencing process was unconstitutional. Legislatures are working to pass a bill which would meet the new guidelines given by the Florida Supreme Court. Due to the recent ruling, Florida has not carried out an execution in over a year.
Democratic lawmakers in Colorado have introduced legislation which would repeal the death penalty in the state. The bill would not affect the sentence of those already on death row, however, similar bills in other states had also promised the same, but they eventually led to all death row inmates having their sentences commuted to life in prison. There are currently three men on death row in Colorado. Currently, the governor of Colorado refuses to sign any death warrants, keeping executions from being carried out.