May 10, 2019

IDPN 2019 Issue 18

Brunei: International backlash, led by celebrities, occurred after the country’s leaders announced that a version of Islamic Sharia would become the law of the land, including the execution for people engaging in homosexual acts. Now, in the face of such backlash, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has announced that a moratorium will be expanded for incoming legislation regarding homosexuality. Capital punishment is also allowed for crimes such as murder and drug trafficking. No executions have been carried out in over 20 years.


China: In April 2019, six men were executed in China for killing mine workers and claiming compensation. The six men were identified as Peng Wanjun, Guo Dejing, Wang Honglin, Zhang Yuanmei, Bai Yuangui and Liu Xuejun. The victims were persuaded to use identity cards that identified them as family members and apply for mining jobs. They would then be killed, and the men, claiming familial relation, would receive compensation.



Gambia: All 22 death row inmates have had their sentences commuted to life in prison, the government announced on May 7, 2019. The government also stated its intention to remove capital punishment for the law books.



Malawi: Willard Mikaele, a wealthy businessman, has been sentence to death for the murder and ritualistic dismemberment of 19-year-old Mphatso Pensulo in 2017. Mphatso was considered an albino, a person with a genetic condition that bleaches skin, eyes, and hair white, and was lured into Willard’s house. Superstition holds that the bones of an albino contain magical properties which will bring luck and wealth. The last execution in the country was in 1994.



Pakistan: Asia Bibi spent eight years on death row, after being accused and convicted of blasphemy. She was eventually acquitted by the Supreme Court, a decision which caused violent protests by religious Muslims. After being acquitted, Asia remained in protective custody, but was denied permission to the leave the country. Her children had already fled Pakistan. Now, Asia has finally been granted permission to leave and join her family. Blasphemy in Pakistan carries an automatic death sentence.



United States of America: Judge James Wynn of the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Virginia’s treatment of death row inmates is unconstitutional by violating their 8th Amendment rights. Specifically, Judge Wynn found that the fact that inmates live in solitary confinement for 23-24 hours a day to be unconstitutional. In his ruling, Judge Wynn upheld a ruling by a lower court. However, after the lower court’s ruling, Virginia made several changes to the daily schedule of death row inmates, allowing them more recreation time and access to family members.


After the New Hampshire legislature passed a bill ending capital punishment in the state, Governor Chris Sununu was swift to issue his veto. The bill did pass by veto-proof majorities in both the state House and Senate. It is expected that the legislature will take up the override questionably the end of the month.


The Senate in Louisiana has rejected a bill that would allow voters to determine the fate of capital punishment in the state. The last execution in the state occurred in 2008, and the state has had trouble obtaining execution drugs since then.


Brett Pensinger, a death row inmate in California has died of natural causes while awaiting his execution. He was 56 years of age. The exact cause of the death has not yet been determined. Brett was convicted of killing a mutilating a 5-month-old girl in San Bernardino.


Orlando Maisonet has spent the last 28 years of his life on death row in Pennsylvania He has now been, not only, removed from death row, but released from prison. Orlando is 60 years of age. Orlando was convicted of murdering Jorge Figueroa in Philadelphia in 1982, however Orlando has always claimed that two violent drug dealers carried out the murder and then forced him to help dispose of the body. At his resentencing hearing, Orlando was sentenced to 14-28 years in prison, plus two years probation, with credit for time served, making him immediately eligible for release. Orlando’s conviction was overturned due, in part, to misconduct by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and Roger King, the prosecutor in the case, by allegedly falsifying evidence, withholding information, and failing to notify the court of possible perjured testimony.


For more information regarding financial support, please click here.