January 18, 2019

IDPN 2019 Issue 03

China: Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian national, was arrested on charges of drug smuggling in 2014. At his trial in 2016, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Now, upon appeal, Robert has been sentenced to death. During the most recent trial, prosecutor argued that the sentence was too lenient, although no new evidence was presented. Diplomatic tensions have been high between the two nations, after Canada arrested a Chinese tech executive last month.


Iran: On Sunday, January 13, 2019, three men - Keykavous Jamal Sirat, Rostam Rezaei, and Abdullah Johari - were executed by public hanging in the city of Yasuj. All were convicted of armed robbery.


On Wednesday, January 16, 2019, a 29-year-old was executed by hanging. The unnamed man was executed after being convicted and sentenced to death for coming a murder during a robbery in Moziraj District of Babol city in September 2012.



Morocco: King Mohammed VI has, as part of the 75th Anniversary of the Manifesto of Independence, pardoned 783 prisoners. In this case, a pardon means that the sentences for the inmates were reduced, including one death row inmate who had his sentenced commuted to life in prison. Additionally, 13 prisoners who had life terms had their sentences reduced.



Pakistan: Asia Bibi was once sentenced to death in the nation for blasphemy. She has since been acquitted and released from prison, however, she remains under guard, unable to leave the country. Her acquittal drew outrage and violent protests by Islamist extremists who continue to demand her execution. The Supreme Court is currently weighing a petition that demands her execution. Several high-profile individuals who spoke out in support of Asia, have been killed. Her lawyer is currently in hiding, fearing for his life. Asia’s children have been taken out of the nations for their safety.



Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte has introduced a bill which would reduce the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine. Several Senators have spoken out in opposition to the President. President Duterte won his election based on his campaign promises to eliminate crime, drugs, and corruption. Since taking office, President Duterte has stated that the issues were much large then he had imagined. International children and human rights organizations have opposed President Duterte’s plan.



Sri Lanka: According to the Ministry of Justice and Prisons Reforms, there are a total of 1,299 inmates on death row in the nation, including 84 females. Also included in the total is the 789 males and 34 females who are appealing their sentences. The last execution in the nation was carried out in 1976. A person can be sentenced to death for murder and drug trafficking.



Tunisia: In 2015, 17-year-old Mabrouk Soltani was beheaded while watching his sheep graze on Mount Mighilla. His cousin was forced to watch Mabrouk’s murder and carry his head home to his family. Now, 49 jihadists have been convicted and sentenced for the murder, 45 of which were sentenced in absentia. Four of the 49 were sentenced to death, while the rest received prison sentences between 15 and 36 years. The last execution in the nation occurred in 1991.



United States of America: Blaine Milam was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. His execution was stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals due to some of the evidence at his trial now being discredited. Additionally, there are concerns over his mental health. Blaine was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of the 13-month-old child of his girlfriend in 2008.


The Supreme Court of the United States has refused to hear the case of, and thereby let the death sentence stand for Donnie Cleveland Lance, a death row inmate in Georgia The Georgia Supreme Court had previously also refused to hear the case. Lance was sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of his ex-wife and her boyfriend. During his penalty phase, Lance’s lawyer presented no mitigating evidence, despite him allegedly suffering from clinical dementia, and having a borderline IQ for intellectual disability. In its ruling, the Georgia Supreme Court noted that given the facts of the murder, mitigating evidence would have been futile, although the defense attorney’s perforce was deficient.


Legislators in Wyoming are sponsoring a bill that would abolish capital punishment in the state. They argue that no one has been executed in Wyoming since 1992, and that death penalty cases are extremely expensive. Additionally, a number of death sentences in the state have been overturned.



Vietnam: Forty-year-old Vu Ba Xenh, a school teacher, has been sentenced to death for drug trafficking. Xenh was a member of a group of drug smugglers, whom the police attempted to arrest. The rest of the group returned fire on the police, injuring and confining one officer to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Trafficking over 100 grams of either meth or heroin can result in a death sentence.

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