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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Philippine president swears at European MPs over death penalty criticism

President Rodrigo Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has berated the European parliament for passing a resolution condemning his plans to revive the death penalty for drug convicts.

“I’ll talk in English,” he said, speaking to Filipino expatriates on a two-day state visit to Myanmar. “Do not impose your culture or your belief in what would be a government in this planet. Do not impose on other countries, especially us.

“Why don’t you mind your own business? Why do you have to fuck with us, goddamn it?”

Since taking office in July last year, Duterte, nicknamed “the Punisher” for his lethal approach to policing, has led a bloody drugs war that has killed more than 7,000 people. Many of the dead are suspected low-level dealers and alleged drug addicts.

Loved by many in the Philippines for his confrontational style, the president has lashed out at his critics, labelling the United Nations “stupid” and former US president Barack Obama a “son of a whore”. He also announced he personally killed criminals, including throwing one suspect to his death from a helicopter.

The Philippine house of representatives approved a version of the death penalty bill this month that will allow the execution of drug convicts by hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection. The draft will now go to the senate.

A resolution delivered by European Union lawmakers last week said it was “deeply alarmed” that the Philippines was planning to reintroduce the death penalty and that it considers capital punishment to be “cruel and inhuman ... which fails to act as a deterrent to criminal behaviour.”

The text also called for the release of Duterte’s highest-profile critic, Senator Leila de Lima, who was arrested last month on drug trafficking charges that the EU said “are almost entirely fabricated”.

The body also condemned Duterte’s open threats to kill human rights defenders, “credible reports” that Philippine polices falsify evidence to justify extrajudicial killings, and plans to lower the age of criminal responsibility to nine years old.

Following the killing of a South Korean businessman by rogue officers, Duterte halted all police operations in his anti-drug campaign. However, he has asked the army to continue the crackdown on crime.

More than two-thirds of all countries in the world have abolished the death penalty.

The Philippines was one of the first states in southeast Asia to ban executions although Duterte said in his speech on Sunday that the punishment was a “favourite” in the region.

“Because there is a death penalty in Indonesia, Malaysia, and I’m trying to revive it,” he said.

Source: The Guardian, Oliver Holmes, March 20, 2017

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