March 4, 2016

IDPN 2016  Issue 10


Iran:  An unnamed 52-year-old man was executed by hanging in Gorgan, in northern Iran.  He was executed on drug related charges.  His execution was carried out in secret.  Additionally, approximately 40 inmates on death row who asked that their cases be reviewed, have had their death sentences confirmed.



Iraq: Throughout the past year, in the city of Mosul, the Islamic State has executed 1,065 individuals.  The terrorist group has posted a list in hospitals and police stations naming those executed and their crimes.  Family members of those executed risk being executed if they express emotion (including grief) at seeing a loved ones name on the list, as it is viewed as support for the executed individual. 



Pakistan: On Monday, February 29, 2016, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri was executed by hanging.  Malik was executed for the murder of Salmaan Taseer, a former governor who called for a change to the country’s blasphemy laws.  The execution was carried out in the high-security prison of Rawalpindi.  Security officials were placed on high alert, as protests were expected.  Qadri, a former police security guard, shot Salmaan 27 times in the back in January of 2011.  Qadri accused Salmaan of blasphemy.


Two brothers, Ahsan and Zeeshan Butt, have been twice sentenced to death for killing their sister Saba and her husband Shafiq, whom she married without the permission of her family.  The two brothers argued that the murder was an honor killing.  



Saudi Arabia: On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, five individuals were executed by beheading.  Mohammed Jarboui, a Qatari, was executed in the eastern part of the kingdom for the murder of Saudi national.  Abdullah Tayaha, a Jordanian, was executed in the northwestern part of the kingdom for trafficking amphetamine.  Sliman and Ahmed Messoudi were executed in northern Tabuk, also for trafficking amphetamine.  Finally, Kassadi Atoudi was executed in southern Jazan for murder.



Syria:  Seventeen-year-old Hasna and 16-year-old Madiha were murdered by stoning by Islamic State militants in Deir ez-Zor, which is in eastern Syria.  Both girls were accused of committing adultery after being caught in house with two men.  The two men whom they were with each received 50 lashes in a public flogging.  They were then set free.  Several residents were upset with the gross unfairness in punishment.  Approximately two weeks ago, four women were raped by fighters by the Islamic State.  The women were then murdered by stoning, accused of “committing adultery.”  It is believed that their rapists were not punished.



United States of America:  A death penalty repeal bill in Utah has passed the state Senate with the minimum number of necessary votes.  The bill, which would remove capital punishment as a possible sentence beginning May 10, 2016, will now move onto the Utah House of Representatives.  The bill would not be retroactive and would allow inmates already sentenced to death to have their sentences carried out.  However, in 2012, Connecticut also abolished capital punishment, saying that those already sentenced to death would have their sentences carried out.  The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled last year that inmates sentenced to death could not have their sentences carried out.  It is uncertain if the Utah bill will pass the House or if the governor, who has previously spoken out in support of capital punishment and last year signed a bill allowing the use of firing squads, would sign a bill abolishing capital punishment.


Two months ago, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Florida’s current capitol punishment statute was unconstitutional, as it allocated too much power to the judges when sentencing a defendant, allowing the judge to override the recommendation of a jury.  On Thursday, March 3, 2016, lawmakers in both the state Senate and House of Representatives have passed a bill, which if signed by Governor Rick Scott, would require 10 out of 12 jurors to recommend a sentence of death and removes language that would allow a judge to override the recommendation of a jury.  Governor Scott has a week to act upon the bill.  If signed, this bill will allow the state to continue with capital punishment trials.  The status of inmates who have already been sentenced to death (under Florida’s now unconstitutional process) will be determined by state courts.


In light of the recent Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling on Florida’s process for sentencing inmates to death, three assistant public defenders in Delaware are arguing that Delaware’s similar system is unconstitutional and needs to be fixed by lawmakers.  Like Florida, judges in Delaware can override the recommendation of a jury, giving a defendant a death sentence, even if it is not recommended by the jury.  The Delaware Department of Justice has 30 days to respond to the arguments presented.


Another state looking at their sentencing process for capital punishment, in light of the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling on Florida, is Alabama.  Like Florida, a judge can override a jury’s recommendation of life in prison and assign a death sentence instead.  Jefferson County Circuit Judge Traci Todd has ruled against Alabama’s on Thursday, March 3, 2016, saying their method is also unconstitutional.


In a bill before Mississippi lawmakers, the names of employees and family members attending an execution, along with those suppling the lethal injection drugs, would be kept secret.  Opponents to the bill claim that the bill illegally restrains First Amendment rights.


A panel for the Virginia Senate has passed a bill that approves the mandatory use of the electric chair, if the state is unable to procure lethal injection drugs.  In October of 2015, Virginia had to obtain execution drugs from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in order to carry out the execution of Alfredo Prieto.  Virginia had previously supplied Texas with execution drugs.


The New Hampshire Senate has struck down a death penalty repeal bill and a bill that would have suspended the use of capital punishment until “methods exist to ensure an innocent person isn't executed.”  New Hampshire is currently the only New England state to still have the option of capitol punishment, although the last execution in the state occurs in 1939.  New Hampshire only has one inmate on death row.