March 1, 2019
IDPN 2019 Issue 09
Bahrain: Two individuals have been sentenced to death after being convicted by the First High Criminal Court. The names of the two men were not released. They were convicted of attempting to smuggle hashish into the nation from Iran, via water. The men were also fined for their actions. A third man was also arrested and tried in the case. He was only fined.
France: Thirteen French Islamic State fighters are currently on trial in Iraq, after being captured in Syria. France, like all European nations except Belarus, has banned the death penalty and advocate for abolition of the death penalty world-wide. France’s Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet, has announced that if the French fighters are sentenced to death in Iraq, the French government will intervene. In Iraq, the law states that anyone caught providing material aid to the Islamic State or other extremist groups will be sentenced to death. The French government is willing to allow the fighters to be tried in Iraq, but wants to impose limits to ensure that the death penalty is off the table.
Indonesia: Lindsay Sandiford, a British national, has been on death row since 2013, when she was caught and convicted of smuggling drugs into the nation. She has repeatedly claimed that she was forced to smuggle the drugs, as her family was being threatened. After years of appealing, raising money for the appeals online, and asking for help from the British Foreign Office, she says she has given up on her appeals and is no longer fighting her executions. Executions are carried out by firing squad in Indonesia. No date has yet been set for her execution.
Sri Lanka: As the government works to restore capital punishment in the nation, 102 individuals have applied for the position of hangman. There are currently 48 inmates on death row, however many of them have appeals remaining. A review of the applications for hangman has already begun. Interviews are the next step in the application process.
United States of America: On Thursday, February 28, 2019, Billie (BIlly) Coble was executed by the state of Texas. He was executed at the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Billie was 70 years of age. He was the oldest inmate executed in Texas in recent years. Billie is convicted of the murder of Waco Police Sgt. Bobby Vicha and his parents Robert and Zelda Vicha, on August 29, 1989, in Axtell, Texas.
The states of Mississippi, Alabama and Oklahoma have all passed measures approving the use of gas for executions. The measures came as lethal injection drugs have become more and more difficult to obtain, resulting in new combinations of execution drugs, which have led to legal lawsuits, and resulted in some problems during executions. However, officials in Oklahoma have announced that they are experiencing many of the same problems purchasing supplies to carry out executions by gas as they have for executions by lethal injections; namely that companies are fearful of being associated with such activities.
The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that death row inmates, like Vernon Madison in Alabama, who suffers from dementia, and others who have severe mental illnesses, cannot be executed, as it is a violation of their 8th Amendment rights. In the decision, the Court specified that a person with a mental disorder that cannot “reach a rational understanding of the reason for [their] execution” cannot be executed. The inmates must understand the “meaning and purpose” of the execution or the “link between the crime and its punishment.”
For the second time in two years, lawmakers in Iowa are attempting to bring back capital punishment to the state. Iowa’s last execution was in 1963, with the state banning the practice two years later, in 1965. Now 20 lawmakers, have sponsored a bill that allow for the death penalty in cases of first-degree murder if the crime also involves the kidnapping and sexual abuse of a minor. The measure made it out of committed by a vote of 3-2. It will now head to the full 50-member State Senate.
By a vote of 7-6, the Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee of the Kansas House of Representatives has rejected a bill that would have repealed capital punishment in the state, replacing it with life in prison, without the possibility of parole. There are currently 10 men on death row in Kansas and the last execution occurred by hanging in 1965.
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