April 21, 2016

IDPN 2016 Issue 17



China:  Authorities have ruled that the death penalty is an acceptable punishment for high-sum embezzlement and/or bribe taking.  This new law is part of China’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign.  The Supreme People’s Court has ruled “high-sum” means in excess of three million yuan ($463,000).  Capital punishment will not be mandatory for those convicted.


Forty-one-year-old Huang Yu, a computer technician, has been sentenced to death for selling 150,000 classified document to foreign spies. Yu specialized in cryptography and sold the documents, which included military codes, from 2002 to 2011.  In 2008, a distant relative of Yu, who was a biomedical researcher, was executed for selling secrets to Taiwan.  It has not been specified to whom Yu was selling information.



India:  Forty-three-year-old Nino Mathew has been sentenced to death for murdering the four-year-old daughter and 60-year-old mother-in-law of his “colleague-turned-secret-lover,” Anushanthi.  Thirty-three-year-old Anushanthi has been given a double life sentence for her part in the murder.



Iran: On Saturday, April 16, 2016, three individuals, identified by initials and age only, were executed by hanging in a jail in Rasht, a city in northern Iran.  The crimes of the convicted were not reported.  The executions occurred while Federica Mogherini, the foreign policy chief for the European Union was in Tehran to strengthen trade ties.  The European Union has actively spoken out against Iran’s use of capital punishment, with some nations calling for financial aid to the country to be halted until executions are stopped.



Iraq:  In recently released photos and videos, the Islamic State has shown the murder of several men accused of being gay.  One was killed by being thrown off a 100 foot building onto concrete.  Another man was killed by being thrown off a roof into a pile of rocks.  When it became evident that he survived, he was stoned to death.  A third man was executed by beheading.  Crowds, including young children, are often gathered to watch these murders.



Saudi Arabia:  On Wednesday, April 20, 2016, Hussain al-Magaafi became the 85 individual executed so far this year in the kingdom.  Hussain was executed for the fatal stabbing of another national during an argument.



United States of America:  During the summer months, death row inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola argue that their rights are being violated due to the extreme heat and humidity.  During the three year legal battle, inmates have argued that they have the right to have air conditioning installed due to the extreme heat.  The state argued that installing air conditioning was extremely expensive and that there were other ways to cool off death row.  A plan has been accepted by Chief US District Judge Brian Jackson, who agreed that the extreme temperatures violated the inmates rights.  Instead of air conditioning, however, heat and humidity sensor have been installed and will be monitored from April 1 until October 31.  Additionally, hot and cold shower water valves have been installed, allowing for daily cold showers, an additional ice machine has been purchased, each death row inmate will receive individual ice containers, and additional fans have been installed.  The plan also states that if temperatures become too high, prisoners can be moved to the their were the death chamber is located, as it can be air conditioned.  Death row inmates argue that these new measures are “half hearted” and will do little to remedy the problem.


In the recently updated Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s “Offender Orientations Manuel,” it now states that “Offenders are prohibited from maintaining active social media accounts for the purposes of soliciting, updating, or engaging in others, through a 3rd party or otherwise.”  Inmates who violate this rule could be punished in prison.  Advocates for the prisoners, including those for death row inmates are concerned that this new policy will prevent individuals for making online advocacy pages.  It has also been argued that the policy violates the inmate’s right to free speech.  The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has defended the policy, stating that it is aimed at social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where some prisoners will sell items of their victims or harass the victim’s family members.  


Both the House and Senate in Mississippi have passed a bill that would make the names of prison employees involved in an execution and the providers of the drugs for the execution a state secret.  It would also protect the identities of the family members of the victim(s) and of the inmate who attend the execution.  The bill has now been sent to the Governor Phil Bryant for his approval or veto.


An investigation has revealed that Oklahoma used a wrong drug in its most recent execution, and it was going to be used in a second if prison officials had not noticed.  The drugs were delivered on the day of the execution.  Now, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed a bill into law that allows the Department of Corrections to store lethal injection drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.


Lawmakers in Virginia have approved the bill amended by Governor Terry McAuliffe.  The bill originally proposed that the electric chair be the default method of execution if the state was unable to obtain execution drugs.  The amended and approved bill will allow the state to the shield the identities of those who supply execution drugs from the public.