May 27, 2016

IDPN 2016  Issue 22


Indonesia: President Joko Widodo has approved a new law that would allow the death penalty for child rapists.  Several recent, brutal gang rapes have caused not only national outrage, but international outrage as well.  According to the President Widodo, those convicted of sexually abusing children could also face chemical castration and being tagged with a chip to monitor their movements.



Iran: On Tuesday, May 24, 2016, three prisoners were executed by hanging at Karaj’s Qezelhesar Prison.  Only one of the men, Ruhollah Roshangar, has been identified by name.  Their crimes were not reported.


On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 11 prisoners - all between the ages of 22 and 25 - were executed by hanging.  The mass execution took place at Gohardasht (Rajai-Shahr) Prison in Karaj.  Among those executed was Mehdi Rajai, who was believed to have been just 16, a juvenile, when he was arrested.  It violates international law to execute an individual who was a juvenile at the time of their crime.  Eight of the remaining prisoners have been identified as Mohsen Agha-Mohammadi, Asghar Azizi, Farad Bakhshayesh, Iman Fatemi-Pour, Javad Khorsandi, Hossein Mohammadi, Masoud Raghadi, and Khosrow Robat-Dasti.  The two remaining prisoners have not been identified.  Their crimes were not reported.



Pakistan: On Thursday, May 26, 2015, Said Jehan was executed at the District Jail in Timegara.  Said was convicted of the murder of his parent-in-laws.  He was executed by hanging.



Saudi Arabia:  On Tuesday, May 24, 2016, Imad al-Assimi was executed by beheading for the murder of a compatriot during a dispute.  Imad was a Saudi national.  He was the 94th execution in the kingdom so far this year.



Syria: On Monday, May 23, 2016, 15-year-old Jamal Nassir al-Oujan was stoned to death by Islamic State militants.  Jamal was accused and convicted of sodomy.  Jamal’s arrest, conviction, and murder, all took place within three days.  Jamal was murdered in the Mayadin city of Deir ez-Zor province.  He was killed in public, with members of the public participating.



United States of America: For three years, inmates on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary have been arguing in court to have air conditioning installed due to the intense heat, often in the triple digits, which is alleged to violate their 8th Amendment rights.  State officials have counter argued that air conditioning is an unnecessary expense and that the heat and humidity can be managed through other methods, such as ice, fans, and cold showers.  A hearing is scheduled for June in front of US District Judge Brian Jackson to determine the effectiveness of the current measures.  He had previously ruled that prison officials needed to offer options to keep the inmates cool, as it is unconstitutional to keep inmates where the heat index exceeds 88 degrees.  If the current measure employed by the state are found unsuitable, the judge could order the state to install air conditioning.


Timothy Foster was sentenced to death in Georgia in 1987.  On Monday, May 23, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned his conviction and sentence by a vote of 7-1, citing unlawful practices by the prosecution during jury selection.  According to the Supreme Court’s order, Timothy must be retired or have the charges against him dismissed.  Read more about Timothy and his case here.


Federal prosecutors have decided to seek the death sentence for Dylann Roof.  Dylann is accused of the murder of nine parishioners at an AME church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015.  He has also been indicted on federal hate crime charges.  Dylann is white, while all nine murder victims were black.


The Louisiana legislature has passed a bill that would make it a hate crime to target police.  In most states, hate crime laws refer to ethnicity, disability, gender, or religion.  If the bill is signed by the governor, all public-safety personnel will become a protected class.  The law was, in part, inspired by recent events in the country which have caused greater tension between the police and the people they have sworn to protect.  Louisiana would become the first state to classify public-safety personnel as a protected group, although several other states, including Louisiana, currently have enhanced penalties for assaulting police officers.


The Connecticut Supreme Court has upheld the decision that the 11 men on death row cannot be executed since the state outlawed capital punishment in 2012.  When state legislatures chose to eliminate capital punishment, they stated that those convicted before it was outlawed would still be eligible to be executed.  This compromise was one reason some were willing to vote in favor of abolishing the death penalty.  Last year the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that those convicted before the state abolished the death penalty could not be executed, and now the court has reinforced that decision.  Instead the men will face life in prison, with no chance of parole.