Saudi regime beheading more people


This video is called Shocking Saudi Police Treatment Of A Bangladeshi Human Being.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Saudi Arabia executes 19 in one half of August in ‘disturbing surge of beheadings’

Natasha Culzac

Friday 22 August 2014

Saudi Arabia has beheaded at least 19 people since the beginning of August in a surge of executions, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

The deaths relate to the period from 4 to 20 August and are included in the 34 deaths ordered since the beginning of January.

According to HRW, international standards require that capital punishment should only be reserved for the “most serious crimes” in countries that still use it.

Offences that resulted in the Saudi Arabian death penalties in August ranged from drug smuggling [to] sorcery.

Four smugglers were executed on 18 August for smuggling a “large quantity of hashish” into the country amid an effort by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the government to tackle the social ill of narcotics and warned that anyone else doing the same would also be punished “according to Sharia”, the Saudi Press Agency said.

The men were all part of the same family and their deaths were condemned by Amnesty as being part of the “disturbing” surge in executions. Reuters reported that their confessions may have been obtained through torture.

Mohammed bin Bakr al-Alawi was beheaded on 5 August for allegedly practicing black magic sorcery, the Saudi Gazette reports, while according to Amnesty, a mentally ill man, Hajras al-Qurey, has been sentenced to death for drug trafficking “after an unfair trial” and will be killed on 25 August.

Al-Qurey’s son had reportedly confessed to drug smuggling and said that his father was unaware that the contraband was in the car.

The elder claims to have been beaten into confessing, despite repeatedly exclaiming that he was innocent and that he suffered a mental disability. He was held criminally liable despite an examination finding symptoms of mental illness including auditory hallucinations.

His son was sentenced to 20 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.

“Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling or sorcery that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director at HRW.

“There is simply no excuse for Saudi Arabia’s continued use of the death penalty, especially for these types of crimes.

“The current surge in executions in Saudi Arabia is yet another dark stain on the kingdom’s human rights record.” …

“The recent increase in executions in Saudi Arabia is a deeply disturbing deterioration. The authorities must act immediately to halt this cruel practice,” Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, said earlier this week.

“The death penalty is always wrong, and it is against international law to use it in cases involving non-lethal crimes and where evidence used to convict the person is based on ‘confessions’ extracted as a result of torture.”

Louisiania government lied to hospital about death penalty drugs


This music video from the USA is called Gil Scott-Heron: Angola, Louisiana (1980). The lyrics are here.

By Tom Hall in the USA:

Louisiana procured death penalty drug through deception

13 August 2014

The Louisiana Department of Corrections deceived a hospital in southwest Louisiana into providing it with a drug to be used in executions, according to a report from the New Orleans-area investigative journalism outfit The Lens. The drug in question, hydromorphone, is part of the same two-drug protocol used in the drawn-out, agonizing deaths of Dennis McGuire in Ohio and Joseph Wood in Arizona earlier this year.

The fact that Louisiana has resorted to cloak-and-dagger methods to procure the supplies needed to carry out its state killings testifies both to the immense and growing opposition to the death penalty and to the collapse of any commitment to democratic rights or the rule of law in the American ruling class.

In late January, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center’s Medical Unit contacted Lake Charles Memorial Hospital to request 20 vials of hydromorphone, a potent painkiller and controlled substance. It is common practice for licensed pharmacies to sell drugs to other pharmacies, provided that they are needed to treat medical patients. As the only facility housing the state’s chronically or seriously ill inmates, Hunt Correctional Center would have had a plausible reason to request the drug. Indeed, the prison pharmacist explicitly told the hospital that the drug would be used for a “medical patient.”

However, the real destination for the drugs was the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola, where the state’s death row facilities are located, where it was to be used to execute Christopher Sepulvado, sentenced to death for the 1992 murder of his stepson, in only a week’s time.

Lawyers for Sepulvado were able to temporarily delay his execution, arguing that he had a right to know the manner in which he was to be executed. In May, after botched executions in Ohio and Oklahoma created a public uproar, the Louisiana Department of Corrections agreed to a six-month delay of Sepulvado’s execution in order to review the state’s lethal injection protocol.

The documents surrounding the state’s underhanded procurement of the execution drugs were made public last week as part of Sepulvado’s ongoing legal battle. By sheer chance the state, which, like other states, jealously guards the source of its lethal injection drugs, neglected to redact the name of the pharmacist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital in official records.

Like many other states throughout the country that currently administer the death penalty, Louisiana has scrambled in recent years to find alternative sources of lethal injection drugs after the European Union banned the export of chemicals to the US to be used in executions. Louisiana had switched to the two-drug protocol involving hydromorphone and midazolam, a commonly available sedative, on January 27, only a day before the Hunt facility filed its request for hydromorphone with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

Before then, Louisiana had used a one-drug protocol involving pentobarbital, which had been in widespread use throughout the country since 2011 after the previous three-drug standard had become unavailable due to shortages. However, pentobarbital has also become scarce, and the state’s supply ran out last fall.

The impending shortage of lethal injection drugs sent the state into a flurry of improvisation to find a work-around in order to execute Sepulvado. In September, the state explored the possibility of obtaining pentobarbital from a Tulsa-based compounding pharmacy, the Apothecary Shoppe. In addition to the significantly lower quality of drugs produced at compounding pharmacies, such an arrangement would have been in flagrant violation of state law, which requires that suppliers be licensed in the state of Louisiana.

The Apothecary Shoppe has allegedly also supplied lethal injection drugs to Missouri, which has carried out seven executions in 2014, and Oklahoma, which botched its execution of Clayton Lockett last May (see: “Missouri carries out seventh execution of 2014”).

Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the Louisiana state legislature to protect the confidentiality of the sources of the state’s lethal injection drugs, in addition to allowing the state to legally purchase medication from out-of-state suppliers. The bill attracted overwhelming support within the state legislature before it was pulled at the last minute by its sponsor, Joe Lopinto (R-Metairie), after public outrage erupted in the aftermath of botched executions in Ohio and Oklahoma.

The dangers inherent in the ad hoc hydromorophone-midazolam protocol that Louisiana switched to were known even before the horrific executions in Ohio and Arizona. Deborah Denno of Fordham University told Mother Jones in November of last year, “We don’t know how these drugs are going to react because they’ve never been used to kill someone … It’s like when you wonder what you’re going to be eating tonight and you go home and root through your refrigerator to see what’s there. That’s what these departments of corrections are doing with these drugs.” …

The author also recommends:

Arizona’s two-hour execution and the brutalization of America
[26 July 2014]

The horror in Ohio’s death chamber
[22 January 2014]

Arizona botched two-hour execution


This video from the USA says about itself:

24 July 2014

Arizona death row prisoner Joseph Wood was killed almost two hours after he received a lethal drug injection of midazolam and hydromorphone that had only been used once before in an execution in Ohio.

By Gabriel Black in the USA:

Arizona man dies in horrific two-hour execution

24 July 2014

The state of Arizona killed Joseph Wood by lethal injection Wednesday in an execution process that took almost two hours. The botched lethal injection was just one of several that have been carried out in the United States in the past few months.

The execution took place around 1.30 p.m., local-time. After Joseph Wood’s arms were injected with two lines, his veins were filled with a combination of the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone. According to an eyewitness with the Associated Press (AP), a look of pain overtook Wood’s face, and then Wood closed his eyes.

Ten minutes into the execution, roughly the amount of time lethal injections usually take to kill someone, Wood began gasping. Eyewitnesses reported that his jaw suddenly dropped and his chest puffed up. Afterwards he let out a gasp. AP reported: “The gasps repeated every five to 12 seconds. They went on and on, hundreds of times.”

After some time, the executioner turned on the microphone to the observers and informed them that Wood was, in fact, sedated, despite the noises he was making.

Troy Hayden, an eye witness to the execution, told USA Today that the execution was “very disturbing to watch … like a fish on shore gulping for air.” A reporter for the Arizona Republic, Michael Kiefer, said he “counted about 660 times he [Wood] gasped.”

As the execution continued, with the repeated gasping continuing on and on, Wood’s lawyers drew up an emergency appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court asking that the execution be immediately stayed.

In their plea they wrote, “He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour… He is still alive.” Indicting the state, they concluded: “This execution has violated Mr. Wood’s Eight Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment.”

The legal team drew attention to Arizona State law’s “Contingency Procedure” for executions, which states: “If at any point any team member determines that any part of the execution process is not going according to procedure, they shall advise the IV Team Leader who shall immediately notify the Director. The Director may consult with persons deemed appropriate and will determine to go forward with the procedure, start the procedure over at a later time within the 24-hour day, or stand down.”

The Supreme Court of Arizona held an emergency session by telephone in response to the lawyer’s motion; however, Wood was pronounced dead an hour later, while the court was still discussing the issue.

In April of this year, the state of Oklahoma killed Clayton Lockett in a 43-minute execution process. After being injected with the lethal drugs, Lockett began kicking and grimacing, trying to lift his head off the gurney to which he was strapped. Lockett’s veins exploded during the execution and he eventually died from a massive heart attack.

State execution chambers have been experimenting with drug cocktails after several European nations banned the export of drugs used for capital punishment to the United States. These experiments have led to multiple executions this year, in which the condemned is clearly in profound pain and, or, the killings took multiple times the usual length of ten minutes.

Before Wood was executed, his lawyers demanded that the court provide details regarding the two drugs they were going to use to kill him. His lawyers petitioned the court to stay the execution, which they did temporarily. The lawyers argued that Wood’s death would be both cruel and unusual.

After the execution Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona denounced Wood’s death and called for a halt to future executions in the state. Alessandra Soler, the Arizona ACLU’s Executive Director, stated: “What happened today to Mr. Wood was an experiment that the state did its best to hide.” She said that government officials “cannot be trusted to take seriously our Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.”

Wood was the 26th person to be executed this year in the United States. He was on death row for a double murder he committed in the late 1980s.

See also here.

Joseph Rudolph Wood was put to death by the state of Arizona on Wednesday. The 55-year-old’s execution was the third in the space of six months in which the condemned was subjected to a prolonged, agonizing lethal injection procedure. The previous atrocities occurred in Ohio and Oklahoma. In Wood’s case, the gruesome ordeal spanned nearly two hours: here.

Arizona lawyers lead call for inquiry into Joseph Wood’s two-hour execution: here.

US Tea Party politician praises stoning gays


This video from the USA is called GOP Candidate Scott Esk: Let Cities Decide Whether Gays Should Be Stoned To Death.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Oklahoma Tea Party candidate claims: ‘Stoning gays was a law that came direct from God’

Facebook post quoted biblical verse sanctioning the execution of homosexuals

Tim Walker, Los Angeles

Thursday 12 June 2014

A Tea Party candidate running for office in Oklahoma has appeared to endorse the practice of stoning gay people to death.

Last year, Scott Esk, who is in the race to represent the 91st district in the State House, responded to a friend’s Facebook post about the Pope’s stance on gay people by copying and pasting Bible verses including Leviticus 20:13, which describes homosexuality as “detestable” and demands gay people be “put to death”.

When asked by another Facebook user whether he supported executing homosexuals by stoning, Mr Esk replied: “That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realise, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”

This week, the Oklahoma magazine Moore Monthly uncovered the posts from 2013, and invited Mr Esk to clarify his position. Stoning gay people, Mr Esk said in a phone interview, was “done in the Old Testament under a law that came directly from God” he said, adding: “And in that time there it was totally just. It came directly from God.

“I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law. I do have some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins.”

Mr Esk continued: “I know what was done in the Old Testament and what was done back then was what’s just… And I do stand for Biblical morality.”

While Oklahoma is a largely conservative state, Rob Morris, the publisher of Moore Monthly, said he had never met any other Oklahomans who held views comparable to Mr Esk’s.

“Even people that don’t agree with things like gay marriage… nobody wants the death penalty for gays,” Mr Moore told RawStory.com.

Oklahoma introduced a ban on same-sex marriage in 2004. The law was overturned in January 2014 by a federal judge in Tulsa, who declared the ban unconstitutional. His decision was stayed, pending an appeal. Earlier this year one Oklahoma Republican, state Representative Mike Turner, suggested the state do away with all marriages, including heterosexual marriages, saying it was the only way to keep same-sex marriage illegal while also upholding the US Constitution.

Though there is no recent polling readily available on the level of support for same-sex marriage in the state, The Atlantic magazine has estimated, based on existing data that, in 2012, 35 per cent of Oklahomans supported same-sex marriage.

See also here.

Botched death penalty in Ohio, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

16 Jan 2014

A condemned Ohio inmate appeared to gasp several times and took more than 15 minutes to die Thursday as he was executed with a combination of drugs never before tried in the U.S.

Death row inmate Dennis McGuire made several loud snorting or snoring sounds during one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.

In attempting to halt his execution with the new method, McGuire’s attorneys had argued last week he was at substantial risk of “agony and terror” while straining to catch his breath as he experienced a medical phenomenon known as air hunger.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Ohio prisoner suffers horrific death in botched execution

17 January 2014

An execution carried out Thursday morning, using an experimental two-drug mixture, resulted in 53-year-old Ohio death row inmate Dennis McGuire writhing in agony for 25 minutes before being pronounced dead.

McGuire’s lawyers last week sought to halt the execution. They argued that the use of an untried lethal combination of drugs could lead to a medical condition known as “air hunger” and cause McGuire to suffer “agony and terror” while struggling to breathe. That is apparently what happened, as the prisoner made loud snorting noises before finally succumbing.

At a January 12 hearing on the new execution procedure, the state’s expert, Dr. Mark Dershwitz, said, “I truly don’t know how many minutes it will take the inmate to stop breathing.” He added, “There is no science to guide me on exactly how long this is going to take.”

In opposing the prisoner’s motion, Assistant Ohio Attorney General Thomas Madden argued that while the US Constitution bans cruel and unusual punishment, “you’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.”

US District Judge Gregory Frost ruled in favor of the state, allowing the execution to go forward as scheduled.

Allen Bohnert, McGuire’s public defender, called the convicted man’s execution a “failed, agonizing experiment,” and added, “The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their name.”

McGuire had been on death row for several decades after being found guilty in the 1989 rape and murder of 22-year-old Joy Stewart. The victim was pregnant at the time of the attack. He was recently denied a stay of execution by Republican Governor John Kasich. McGuire’s lawyers argued that the prisoner had been mentally, physically and sexually abused as a child and had impaired brain function.

Authorities suspect that the cause of the botched procedure was the state’s decision to use a two-drug serum consisting of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. The standard three-drug combination of potassium chloride, pancuronium bromide and pentobarbital had been discontinued by the state after drug manufacturers began refusing to provide substances used for executions.

Witnesses said that after the initial dosage was given, no visible motion from McGuire could be noted until, after ten minutes had passed, he began making “several loud snorting or snoring sounds.” He was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m.

A local reporter said McGuire’s family, present at the procedure, was “crying and visibly upset.” Amber McGuire, the daughter, cried out, “Oh my god,” as her father writhed in his final moments.

Ohio has five more executions scheduled this year, with the next set for February 19.

Nearly all 32 US states that administer the death penalty rely on lethal drug combinations for executions. “In the old three-drug combination, each drug was being used for what it was designed for,” said Dr. Jonathan Groner, a lethal injections expert who teaches clinical surgery at Ohio State University, speaking to the Nation magazine. “Ohio is taking drugs that are normally used for things like a colonoscopy, and they’re giving massive overdoses to kill people. They’re using them for their toxic side effects,” he added.

There are 138 inmates on death row in Ohio. Despite a general decline in the number of people being put to death by authorities across the US, Ohio has increased its use of capital punishment. Its six executions in 2013 and six planned for this year are surpassed only by Texas and Florida.

The first four US executions this year are all employing never-before-tried compounds. Last week in Oklahoma, Michael Lee Wilson was quoted by newspapers as exclaiming, “I feel my whole body burning,” as he was administered the fatal mixture that ended his life.

Republican Senator Bruce Burns of Wyoming in a comment to the press this week said he would propose legislation to re-introduce firing squads as a means of execution.

Fueling these fascistic sentiments is an effort by states to find cheaper ways of administering lethal drugs to prisoners. Many states have turned to using federally unregulated compounding pharmacies to mix their concoctions. Ohio had reportedly purchased its drugs from one such vendor.

The proper response to the atrocity committed Thursday in Ohio is to criminally prosecute and convict all of the state officials responsible for McGuire’s execution, and to impeach and prosecute the federal judge who denied the prisoner’s motion for a stay of execution.

The family of a death row inmate is planning a lawsuit against the state of Ohio following his botched execution. Dennis McGuire was put to death using an untested combination of medical drugs that appeared to cause him prolonged distress, in violation of the US Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment: here.

Dennis McGuire, 53, was put to death on Thursday, January 16, in the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. News of McGuire’s execution—and details of the gruesome manner in which authorities carried out his death sentence—have evoked disgust and revulsion in the US and internationally: here.

“Oklahoma prison officials halted an inmate’s execution on Tuesday after a new drug combination left the man writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney, before he later died of a heart attack. Clayton Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of the state’s new three-drug lethal injection combination was administered. Three minutes later, though, he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.” A local reporter on the scene tweeted about the horrorific proceedings. CNN has some facts about the state of the death penalty, which is gradually declining in the U.S. The debate over capital punishment has been reignited. And Vox documents how botched executions have been around for a long, long time. [AP]

Oklahoma death row prisoner Charles Warner’s execution was postponed at the last minute yesterday evening after fellow prisoner Clayton Lockett’s execution was botched: here.

Oklahoma execution: Clayton Lockett was tasered by guards before lethal injection: here.

An injection of chemicals used to execute death row inmates can cause such excruciating pain that veterinarians are banned from using them to put down animals, according to one of the most thorough reviews ever undertaken of the administration of the death penalty: here.

US state of Oklahoma botches execution carried out using untested cocktail of drugs: here.

In the face of numerous manufacturers’ refusal to produce drugs used in executions, many US states, in efforts to continue the grisly ordeal of capital punishment, have begun relying on chemicals formulated in unregulated compounding facilities: here.

Texas executes Mexican national in defiance of international law: here.

“More than 4 percent of inmates sentenced to death in the United States are probably innocent, according to a study published Monday that sent shock waves across the anti-death penalty community. What the researchers call a ‘conservative estimate’ about the number of wrongfully convicted death row inmates is more than double the percentage of capital defendants who were exonerated during more than three decades that were studied.” Here’s a short graphic on the history of the death penalty in the United States, as well as a graphic breakdown of the death penalty around the world. The Economist also maps out the death penalty broken down by state. [HuffPost].

“Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said. The findings troubled the bureau, and it stopped the review of convictions last August. Case reviews resumed this month at the order of the Justice Department, the officials said…The inquiry includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s in which the FBI’s hair and fiber unit reported a match to a crime-scene sample before DNA testing of hair became common. The FBI had reviewed about 160 cases before it stopped, officials said.” [Washington Post]

A major inquiry conducted by the US Justice Department (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has found hundreds instances in which FBI forensic units charged with gathering data on cases involving violent crimes provided false information. The doctored FBI lab reports led to the imprisonment of thousands of innocent people, some of whom were executed, according to a report Wednesday in the Washington Post: here.

Stop Ugandan gay death penalty law


From AVAAZ:

Dear friends,

David Kato

In hours, Uganda could pass a law that could impose the death penalty or life imprisonment for homosexuality. An international outcry shelved this bill last year — we urgently need to ramp up the pressure to press President Museveni to stand up for human rights and stop this brutal law. Sign below, and tell everyone:

The Ugandan Parliament is set to pass a brutal law that may carry the death penalty for homosexuality. If they do, thousands of Ugandans could face execution or life imprisonment — just for being gay.

We’ve helped stop this bill before, and we can do it again. After a massive global outcry last year, Ugandan President Museveni blocked the bill’s progress. But political unrest is mounting in Uganda, and religious extremists in Parliament are hoping confusion and violence in the streets will distract the international community from a second push to pass this hate-filled law. We can show them that the world is still watching.

We have no time to lose. Let’s get one million voices against Uganda’s horrific anti-gay law in the next 24 hours — we’ll deliver it to Uganda’s leaders and key countries. Click here to take action, then forward this email to everyone:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/uganda_stop_gay_death_law/?bHFhfab&v=19509

Being gay in Uganda is already dangerous and terrifying. LGBT Ugandans are regularly harassed and beaten, and just last year gay rights activist David Kato (pictured above) was brutally murdered in his own home. Now they are threatened by this draconian law which could impose life imprisonment for people convicted of same-sex relations, and the death penalty for “serial offenders”. Even NGOs working to prevent the spread of HIV can be imprisoned for “promoting homosexuality” under this hate-filled law.

Right now, Uganda is in political turmoil — missing millions of aid money has embroiled the Parliament in scandal. This upheaval has provided religious extremists in Parliament the perfect chance to slip in the shelved anti-gay bill, calling it a “Christmas gift” to Ugandans.

President Museveni backed away from this bill before, after international pressure threatened Uganda’s support. Let’s build a million strong petition to stop the horrific anti-gay law again, and save lives. We only have hours — sign below, then tell friends and family:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/uganda_stop_gay_death_law/?bHFhfab&v=19509

Last time, our international petition condemning the gay death penalty law was delivered to Parliament – spurring a global news story and enough pressure to block the bill for months. When a tabloid newspaper published 100 names, pictures and addresses, of suspected gays and those identified were threatened, Avaaz supported a legal case against the paper and we won! Together we have stood up, time and time again, for Uganda’s gay community — now they need us more than ever.

With hope and determination,

Emma, Iain, Alice, Luis, Ricken, Joseph, Michelle and the whole Avaaz team

MORE INFORMATION

Kadaga wants anti-gay Bill tabled (Daily Monitor)
http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Kadaga-wants-anti-gay-Bill-tabled/-/688334/1621218/-/j0h230z/-/index.html

Ugandan Parliament to debate anti-gay bill (AFP)
http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/15453168/ugandan-parliament-to-debate-anti-gay-bill/

Order paper Tuesday 20th November 2012 (Parliament of Uganda)
http://www.scribd.com/doc/114102346/PARLIAMENT-OF-UGANDA-Order-paper-Tuesday-20th-November-2012

Pulling Out All the Stops to Push an Antigay Bill (New York Times)
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/world/africa/14uganda.html

Texas death penalty for mentally disabled


This video from the USA is called Mentally Disabled Man Executed in TEXAS – System Failure?

The barbarity of the death penalty was on display last night as the state of Texas executed the second mentally disabled death row prisoner in less than three weeks: here.

AT least 38 people still on death row in The Gambia are at imminent risk of execution following official confirmation that nine other death row inmates were put to death last week: here.

Drop the charges against Gambian journalists: here.

GAMBIAN President Yahya Jammeh’s conditional moratorium on executions of death row prisoners leaves at least 38 people at great risk of execution, Amnesty International said today: here.