March 8, 2019

IDPN 2019 Issue 10

Bangladesh: On Sunday, March 3, 2019, Saiful Islam Mamun was executed by hanging for murder. Saiful was executed at Kashimpur High Security Central Jail. Saiful was convicted, along with three others, for the murder of 45-year-old, non-diplomatic Saudi consulate official Khalaf Al Ali.  


China: Zhang Baoyan, a delegate to the 13th National People’s Congress has proposed a law that would allow for those convicted of trafficking woman and children to be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of them being sentenced to death. Currently, the punishment is 5-10 years in prison. Zhang has previously established a nonprofit that helps track down missing or abducted children. He has been a long-time advocate for women and children. Approximately 70,000 children go missing every year in China. Zhang believes that harsher punishments would help deter criminals.


India: Dnyaneshwar Suresh Borkar was sentenced to death 18 years ago, after being convicted of killing a child for ransom. Upon reviewing his case, the Supreme Court has commuted his sentence to life in prison after determining that Dnyaneshwar “would not be a continuing threat to society.” Since being in prison for the last 18 years, Dnyaneshwar has had good conduct, continued his education, and has realized his mistake and worked to become a productive member of society.


Khushwinder Singh has been sentenced to death by a three-judge bench, after being convicted of murder. In 2012, Singh killed six of his wife’s relatives, under the pretext of performing a religious ritual. Singh had previously been convicted of murdering a family of four in 2004. In both cases, Singh drowned his victims. Singh is appealing his sentence.


Six men on death row have been acquitted of the rape and murder for which they were convicted nearly 20 years ago. On June 5, 2003, robbers broke into a home, killed five family members and raped two women, one of whom died. The attackers were identified by a rape victim, however, more individuals were identified than there were attackers. Due to significant flaws in the case of the prosecution, the men were eventually acquitted and released.



Iraq: Government officials in Iraq have announced that any foreign Islamic State fighters who are tried and convicted in Iraq could face the death penalty, if they are convicted. Further, the trials will follow, and be conducted under, Iraqi law. This announcement comes as many western countries are trying to decide what to do with citizens who joined the Islamic State and now want to return. Iraq has stated that it is open to returning foreign fighters to their home countries.



South Sudan:In February of 2019, at least seven individuals were executed, including three individuals from the same family. This is the same number of individuals executed in all of 2018, leading human rights groups to criticize the government. All those executed were men and all were executed by hanging. Four of the seven were convicted of murder, while the crimes of the remaining three were not reported.



Tanzania: A court has sentenced to death 51-year-old teacher Respicius Mtazangira for the murder of his 14-year-old student, Sperius Eradius. The teacher accused the student of stealing a handbag and proceeded to death the boy the death. The student had denied the accusation. The beating was witnessed by another teacher and several students.



United States of America: Former Texas death row inmate Alfred Dewayne Brown was released from prison in 2015, after serving nearly 10 years, when his conviction was thrown out by the courts. However, since he was never declared “actually innocent,” he did not qualify for compensation for his time spent behind bars. On Friday, March 1, 2019, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced that the outside attorney she had hired to investigate the case, found Alfred innocent. This finding allows Alfred to receive $80,000 for every year he wrongful spent in prison, in addition to other compensation. Alfred was falsely convicted of murdering Houston Police Officer Charles Clark in 2003. Two other men, including one on death row, have also been convicted of Officer’s Clark murder. Phone records support Alfred’s alibi for the murder; he was at his girlfriend’s house during the time.


Lisa Cunningham, an Australian national, has been accused of murdering her seven-year-old stepdaughter, Sanaa, in February 2017, in Phoenix, Arizona. If convicted, Lisa could be sentenced to death. Lisa’s husband, former police detective Germayne Cunningham, also the father of Sanaa, is also charged with the murder. A judge has ordered that the couple, who have denied any wrongdoing, give a DNA sample. It will be at least two years before they stand trial.


For years, Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier asked the state to allow his punishment, execution, to be carried out. Outside appeals, and pushback from drug manufactures resulted in numerous delays until, two months ago, Scott committed suicide in Ely State Prison. Now another death row inmate, Kevin Lisle, has dropped his appeals, indicating he would not fight his execution. Forty-eight-year-old Kevin is convicted of murdering 19-year-old Kip Logan and 19-year-old Justin Lusch in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1994. Two days after Kevin dropped his appeals, lawmakers introduced legislation to end the death penalty in the state.


A bill to end capital punishment in Colorado is headed to a full Senate vote, after narrowly making it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The vote was split along party lines. Colorado Governor Jared Polis has promised to not only sign the bill, but also commit the sentences of the three men currently on death row, should the bill pass. Colorado’s last execution occurred in 1997, the only execution to occur since capitol punishment was reinstated in 1976.


Mike DeWine, governor of Ohio has delayed the executions of three more death row inmates. The three inmates who had their executions rescheduled are Cleveland Jackson, Kareem Jackson, and Gregory Lott. Governor DeWine had previously halted the execution of Warren Henness. The executions were delayed after a federal judge found that Ohio’s currently lethal injection protocol is “cruel and unusual punishment,” however, the judge failed to issue an order halting executions. Due to the judges recommendation, Governor DeWine has chosen to halt executions until a new lethal injection protocol can be developed.


The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed a bill that would repeal capital punishment in the state. Previous attempts to ban capital punishment have failed to have enough votes to override a governor’s veto. The bill will now move onto the Senate. Governor Chris Sununu has promised to veto the bill if it arrives on his desk.


James Hardy and Freddie Lee Taylor have spent a combined total of 70 years on death row in California. Now, they have both been released. James was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder Nancy Morgan, and her son Mitchell Morgan, in 1984, in Los Angeles. He was released on probation after he pled guilty to both murders in exchange for a suspended sentence. James was released after the California Supreme Court overturned his sentence due to inadequate legal consul. Rather than re-try James, a plea deal was reached. Freddie was convicted of the 1986 murder of 84-year-old Carmen Vasquez in Contra Costa County. His conviction was overturned due to his attorneys failure to properly investigate his long-standing mental illness. Again, instead of retrying him, a plea deal was reached.

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