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  1. Aimee Griffin

    Akmal Shaikh must not be forgotten

    Aimee Griffin on 12 January 2010

     The execution of fifty three year old Akmal Shaikh has touched the lives of many in the United Kingdom. Up until the official announcement of his execution at 10.30am on the 29th December, many held on to the belief that clemency would be granted.

    Unfortunately this would not be the case and a family in the North of London were left devastated by the loss of a man who was a father, brother, cousin and friend.

    On Sunday last I witnessed a group of peaceful protestors gathered outside the Chinese Embassy to pay respect to Mr. Shaikh. Many of ...

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  2. Clemency Wells

    What’s the matter with Kansas? Perhaps not as much as previously thought…

    Clemency Wells on 12 January 2010

    On January 19 the Kansas legislature will hold four days of hearings to establish whether or not to repeal the death penalty. Should this bill pass Kansas will become the third state in as many years to abolish capital punishment.

    "What’s the matter with Kansas?" So asked Thomas Frank in his 2004 lament over the rise of conservatism in a state previously known as a bastion of liberalism. Sadly, the new climate also brought legislative support for capital punishment.

    Kansas had originally abolished the death penalty on January 30th 1907, subsequently celebrated as Abolition Day, but the legislature re-introduced ...

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  3. Chris Chang BW

    A message of thanks to supporters from Mohammed el Gharani

    Chris Chang on 08 January 2010

    I’ve just got back from Chad where I was working with Mohamed el Gharani, who was released from Guantanamo in June. Mohamed was just 14 when he was taken to the prison, and while he is delighted to be free, sadly things haven’t been easy for him since he got out.

    His family are in Saudi Arabia, and he hasn’t been able to see them since his release. The government of Chad haven’t given him a passport yet, and he’s been left on his own in a strange country as he comes to terms with ...

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  4. zero dB logo

    Music torture in the Big Brother House

    Reprieve volunteer on 08 January 2010

    We’ve all heard tales of celebrities and their diva-ish behaviour, and so a news story about a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother who claimed this morning that he’d been “tortured” is likely to be greeted with scepticism. When it becomes clear that this torture amounted to listening to some music, albeit for quite a long time, that scepticism would reach dizzying heights.

    Parents of teenagers may be more sympathetic – as would someone who had been a guest of the US Government in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Or perhaps in Bagram Airbase, in Afghanistan, or any number of unknown prisons ...

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  5. Clemency Wells

    Support for death penalty dealt a devastating blow

    Clemency Wells on 07 January 2010

    Yet more evidence that the maintenance of capital punishment is an untenable position has emerged via the New York Times. 

    Adam Liptak wrote on Monday that The American Law Institute -- a group of lawyers and legal professionals which in 1926 created the modern framework for the death penalty as part of the Modern Penal Code -- announced that it was officially jettisoning support for, and work on, the death penalty. According to Liptak this represents “a tectonic shift in legal theory.”

    Their decision follows an extensive report on the capital punishment system by the ALI in April 2009 which concluded that ...

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  6. Cori Crider

    My Guantanamo Client Is Not Your Yemeni Bogeyman

    Cori Crider on 07 January 2010

    Today at Guantánamo I met Samir Mukbel, one of Reprieve's Yemeni clients. I'm not allowed to say what he said at this meeting, but I can certainly tell you he bears no resemblance to the Yemeni bogeyman of recent cable news fame.

    I know his story well from prior meetings. Samir is a simple man, a poor man, who from age 11 worked in a plastics factory in Ta'iz. His $50 monthly paycheck went entirely to support his family. When a man from his village told him he could make three times that in Afghanistan, Samir took ...

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  7. Emmanuelle Purdon 2009 BW

    Death penalty hits its lowest point in the USA since 1976

    Emmanuelle Purdon on 05 January 2010

    According to a report by the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), 2009 had the lowest number of death sentences handed down since the death penalty was brought back in 1976.
    This means judges and jury members gave the death penalty to less convicted criminals in the past year, while prosecutors gave out less death sentences.

    Only 106 people were sentenced to death which is significantly less than ten years ago (284 sentences in 1999), says the report. It is the 7th straight year of decline and 60% lower than in the nineties.

    The report says that the recent economic ...

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  8. Andrew Wander BW

    Skeletons in the closet?

    Andrew Wander on 04 January 2010

    There is little doubt that when history comes to consider the first decade of the 21st century, it will not be forgotten that some Western governments were complicit in the use of torture techniques more at home in the 17th.

    Nor will it be forgotten that in the course of fighting the wars that followed the shocking attacks of September 11, 2001, liberal democracies colluded in the illegal imprisonment of thousands of people, many of them entirely innocent.

    But what might be forgotten, according to veteran human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, is the expansion of government secrecy powers that ...

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  9. Emmanuelle Purdon 2009 BW

    An interview with Benyamin Rasouli, a young man rescued from execution in Iran

    Emmanuelle Purdon on 04 January 2010

    Although Iran is signatory to the UN convention on the Rights of the Child stating that capital punishment should not be imposed on persons below eighteen years of age, several young offenders in Iran are hanged each year. Benyamin Rasouli is one of the youth who was sentenced to death, showing how the country does not hesitate to violate the UN convention to execute adolescents accused of murder, drug smuggling, or engagement in sexual relationships.

    Benjamin Rasouli was eventually forgave by the victim's family. He tells his excruciating story in an interview by Benyamin by Saba Vasefi, showing This ...

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  10. Clive Stafford Smith

    China has made a mockery of justice

    Clive Stafford Smith on 29 December 2009

    In the wake of Akmal Shaikh's horrific execution, it is perhaps worth discussing the position taken by the Chinese in more depth. Cast aside for one moment the unassailable case that we made for his mental illness, and assume that Shaikh was truly guilty, and that the Chinese courts delivered something other than the mockery of justice that we encountered.

    How would we then assess their claim – made officially through the Chinese embassy on Christmas Eve – that executing Shaikh was necessary because "150mg of heroin of high degree of purity would be lethal. The amount of heroin he carried ...

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