International Death Penalty News 2023
August 25, 2023
A new report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has disclosed that the Taliban, after seizing control, carried out at least 218 executions, in addition to the hundreds of arrests, mentions, torture, ill-treatment, and forced disappearances of many members of the previous government. These atrocities occurred after the Taliban agreed to a “general amnesty” towards the previous government. The Taliban seized control in 2021, after the United States withdrew their troops, which have occupied the area since shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack in the United States. The Taliban has also instituted harsh religious laws after saying it would not.
Almost one year ago, nationwide protests were sparked following the death of a young woman who was arrested for incorrectly wearing her hijab. Twenty-two-year-old Mahsa Amini died while in police custody and her family alleges she was beaten to death. The protests have evolved into anti-government protests, with hundreds of people being arrested. Some have been sentenced to death, with at least seven even having their executions carried out. Hundred remain in prison for participating in the protests. If convicted, they could be sentenced to death.
On Sunday, August 6, 2023, three individuals were executed at Karaj Penitentiary. Two of the men were identified as Amir Jahangiri and Javad Bazgir. The third was not identified by name. All were convicted on drug-related charges. State officials and the media have not reported their executions.
On Tuesday, August 8, 2023, 40-year-old Hossein Nasirian and Hassan Ali Shakib were executed in Shiraz Central Prison. Both were convicted on drug-related charges. A third man, convicted of murder, was also to be executed, however, he was returned to his cell. The executions have not yet been reported by state officials or the media.
On Wednesday, August 9, 2023, Ahad Hashemi and Manouchehr Khazayi were executed in Hamedan Central Prison. Both were convicted on drug-related charges. State officials and the media have not yet reported their executions.
On Wednesday, August 9, 2023, five men were executed in Marand Prison. All five men were convicted of raping a woman on May 21, 2022. They were not identified by name. In many cases, torture is often used to obtain confessions, making many human rights groups question the authenticity of the confessions. Defendants have also been known to be brought to trial without proper legal representation.
On Wednesday, August 9, 2023, Asadollah Arjmand was executed in Yasuj Central Prison. He was convicted 14 years ago of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is retribution in kind. Iranian law does not recognize differing degrees of murder and considers all killings “intentional murder.” Following conviction, the family of the victim is required to choose between accepting a monetary payment, granting forgiveness, or qisas. His execution has not yet been reported by state officials or the media.
On Thursday, August 10, 2023, 30-year-old Afshin Rahim Hedayat and a woman identified as Roghieh Abedini were executed in Hamedan Central Prison. Roghieh was convicted on drug-related charges, while Afshin was convicted of murder. Neither execution has yet been reported by state officials and the media.
On Thursday, August 10, 2023, two Baluch ethnic minorities, 45-year-old Hamid Barahouyi and 44-year-old Ahmad Narouyi, were executed in Mashhad Central Prison. They were convicted and sentenced to death on drug-related charges in the same case. Their families were not notified of their pending executions, preventing them from having a final visit. Their executions have not yet been reported by state officials or the media.
On Saturday, August 12, 2023, 30-year-old Cheraghali Bameri was executed in Zahedan Central Prison. Bameri was a Baluch ethnic minority. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. He was arrested about three years ago. Iranian law does not recognize differing degrees of murder and considers all killings “intentional murder.” Following conviction, the family of the victim is required to choose between accepting a monetary payment, granting forgiveness, or qisas. His execution has not yet been reported by state officials or the media.
On Sunday, August 13, 2023, two men were executed in Bam Prison. Executions are traditionally carried out by hanging. Both men were convicted on drug-related charges. One of the men was identified as Hamed Jamshidi, while the second man was not named. State officials and the media have not yet reported the execution.
On Sunday, August 13, 2023, Mohammad Gorgij, a Baluch man, was executed in Birjand Prison. He was convicted on drug-related charges. His execution has not yet been reported by state officials or the media.
On Sunday, August 13, 2023, 48-year-old Baluch ethnic minority Abdolghani Arbabi was executed in Kahnuj Prison. He was convicted on drug-related charges. Allegedly, his family was not notified of his pending execution. His execution has not yet been reported by state officials or the media.
On Sunday, August 20, 2023, 48-year-old Mousa Afkhami was executed in Sari Central Prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is retribution in kind. His execution has not yet been reported by state officials or the media.
On Monday, August 21, 2023, five Baluch ethnic minorities were executed in Zahedan Central Prison. Four men have been identified as 29-year-old Abdolsamad Khadem, Yaghoub Ejbari, Mohammad Anwar Barahouyi, and Esmail Ghanbarzehi. The fifth man was identified by his last name only. All were convicted on drug-related charges. State officials and the media have not reported any of the executions.
On Monday, August 21, 2023, 29-year-old Rasoul Narouyi, a Baluch man, was executed in Kahnuj Prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is retribution in kind. He was arrested about four years ago. State officials and the media have not yet reported his execution.
On Monday, August 21, 2023, 40-year-old Saeed Rigi, a Baluch man, and Abdolghafour Toumaj, a Turkmen minority, were executed in Kerman Central Prison. They were both convicted on separate drug-related charges. Neither execution has yet been reported by state officials or the media.
On Monday, August 21, 2023, four people were executed at Zahedan Prison. All were convicted on drug-related charges. Three of the men were identified as 29-year-old Abdul Samad Khadem, Aqoob Ejbari, and Mohammad Anwar Barahui. The fourth man was only identified as Qanbarzadrug ohi. So far this year, Iran has executed at least 474 individuals. Not all executions are reported, making it difficult to determine the exact number of people executed.
On Tuesday, August 22, 2023, a Kurdish man, Shouresh Morovati, was executed in Sanandaj Central Prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is retribution in kind. The murder was committed during an armed robbery in 2009.
Mass killer Anders Behring Breivik alleged in a lawsuit that his human rights are being violated due to his “extreme” isolation. Forty-four-year-old Breivik is convicted of murdering 77 people, the majority of whom were teenagers, during a shooting and bombing in July 2011. Norway does not have the death penalty, and Breivik is serving the longest sentence in the nation, 21 years. His sentence can be extended if he is still considered a threat at the end of the sentence. A parole request was rejected last year, as he was determined to still pose a risk of violence. Breivik and his attorneys allege that the only human contact he has is with the guards and his attorney.
On Wednesday, August 16, 2023, Bishoy Sharif Naji Naseef was executed in the Riyadh region. Executions are traditionally carried out by beheading, however, the method of execution was not stated. Naseef, a United States national, was convicted of torturing and murdering his Egyptian father. Naseem also allegedly used drugs and attempted to kill another person.
Twenty-nine-year-old Asven Pachan Pillai Sukumaran, an Indian national, has been arrested and accused of murdering Mohd Israt during a brawl at the Concorde Hotel and Shopping Mall. Six others have also been arrested and charged. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.
Trinidad & Tobago
Four men have been removed from death row and had their death sentences vacated. Garvin Sookram, Jay Chandler, Keron Lopez, and Mukesh Chandradath have each alleged that their rights have been violated concerning the amount of time that they have spent on death row. They will also be compensated for the violation of their rights and be resentenced by a judge. All four men were convicted of murder.
United States of America
On Wednesday, August 9, 2023, Facundo Chávez was sentenced to death by a jury in Texas. Chávez was convicted of murdering El Paso Sheriff’s deputy Peter Hererra during a routine traffic stop on March 22, 2019. When Hererra asked Chávez to exit his vehicle, Chávez immediately began shooting. The jury took about a day to announce their verdict. Chávez will likely face years of appeals before being given an execution date.
The five members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board are responsible for reviewing cases and, on death penalty cases, deciding if they should recommend the Oklahoma governor grant clemency to an inmate, sparing him or her from execution. Now, two members of the Board have resigned, including the chairman. Resignations are not uncommon. Governor Kevin Stitt has announced the replacement for one board member, while the Oklahoma Supreme Court will choose the replacement for the chairman.
Using executive authority, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has asked the Board of Pardons and Committee on Parole to review the 56 clemency applications filed by nearly all the death row inmates in the state. The Board had previously stated they did not have the standing to review the cases, as it was outside the time frame in which the inmates could file petitions. Governor Edwards has reiterated his opposition to the death penalty, however, he can only grant clemency if it is recommended by the Board. Attorney General Jeff Landry has said that the law only permits the Board to consider clemency petitions if filed within one year after a direct appeal is denied or if an inmate has a pending execution date. In rejecting to hear the petitions, the Board was following Landry’s recommendation. Governor Edwards had criticized the recommendation as too narrow an interpretation of the law. The Board, following the Governor’s request, has scheduled hearings for 20 of the 56 requests. All are seeking a reduced sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole.
A man in Tennessee has avoided a death sentence after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors. Michael Cummins was accused of murdering eight people in rural Westmoreland, Tennessee in April 2019. He was on probation at the time of the murders for attempting to burn down his neighbor’s house. Prosecutors were seeking a death sentence, however, after a brain scan showed “significant problems,” which would have made convincing a jury to sentence Cummins to death difficult, a plea deal was reached. In exchange for pleading guilty to murdering his parents 51-year-old David Cummins and 44-year-old Clara Cummins, his 45-year-old uncle Charles Hosale, his uncle’s 43-year-old girlfriend Rachel McGlothlin-Pee, Rachel’s 64-year-old mother Marsha Nuckols, and Rachel’s 12-year-old daughter Sapphire McGlothlin-Pee, Cummins will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The United States government has informed families who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that the suspected architect and four others may never face the death penalty. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected architect of the attack, and four others have been held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay for over a decade, as prosecutors worked to make them face justice. Now, under a possible new plea agreement, the five men would never face a trial in an attempt to bring a resolution to the case. No plea agreement has yet been reached.
Thirty-three-year-old Jonathan Quiles has been arrested and accused of raping and murdering his pregnant 16-year-old niece Iyana Sawyer in Florida. Iyana disappeared in December 2018. Her body has never been found, however, it is believed that Quiles was the father of her child. Quiles has also been charged with raping another young relative. While prosecutors are seeking a death sentence, Quiles and his attorney are arguing that the current death penalty law should not apply to him. Specifically, they are arguing that to sentence him to death, a unanimous jury recommendation should be required, as it was the law when Quiles was arrested.
A mother could be sentenced to death in Arkansas for the murder of her 14-year-old daughter. A coroner has discovered that Ciana Roberts died by compressional asphyxiation, which is outside pressure applied to the chest, forcing oxygen out and preventing the person from taking new oxygen. Ciana’s mother, Shelette Strong, has been accused of murdering her daughter. Police were called to the home on February 27, 2023, and Ciana was taken to the hospital, where she died four days later. Prosecutors have announced capital charges against Strong. Instead of a death sentence, she could also receive a sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole, if found guilty.
A military judge has ruled that the confession of 58-year-old Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri must be thrown out as it is the product of torture by the CIA. al-Nashiri is accused of orchestrating the bombing of the USS Cole on October 12, 2000. Seventeen US Sailors died in the attack at Yemen’s Aden Harbor. This ruling is likely to affect other cases, such as that of the five men being held for their parts in the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Prosecutors in Utah have announced they will not be seeking a death sentence against 33-year-old children’s author Kouri Richins. Kouri is accused of murdering her husband, 39-year-old Eric Richins, by putting a lethal dose of fentanyl in his drink in 2022. Following his death, Kouri wrote a children’s book about dealing with grief over the loss of a loved one. Kouri claims she did not kill her husband. Prosecutors came to their decision to not seek a death sentence after conferring with the family of the victim.
For the last five years, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has continually delayed and pushed back execution dates, claiming that the state could not obtain execution drugs without risking drug suppliers cutting off the entire state. Now, prosecutors in the state have suggested resuming executions through the use of nitrogen hypoxia. Execution by nitrogen hypoxia is legal in a few states, however, none have carried out an execution using this method.
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