Discussion:
death penalty news----IND., KY., ARK., KAN., UTAH, NEV., WASH., USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-10-06 13:38:13 UTC
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Oct. 6



INDIANA:

Condemned killer challenges state's execution process



A death row inmate is challenging the state's current method of execution on
the grounds that the public should have had a chance to comment on the process
put in place 3 years ago.

The Indiana Supreme Court considered the fate of the state's death penalty
protocol Thursday after hearing oral arguments in the case of Roy Ward. The
case comes after Ward broke into a Dale, Spencer County, home in 2001 and raped
and murdered a 15-year-old girl. He was sentenced to death in 2007.

Ward's attorney, David Frank of Fort Wayne, argued the state didn't properly
follow administrative procedures when it chose the new lethal injection drug
cocktail in 2014.

"The General Assembly dictates by law this combination of drugs use," Justice
Mark Massa said.

"If a state agency or unelected state agency adopts new protocols, they should
do it in front of the public," Frank said, noting current statute says public
comment must be allowed. He argued because there was no public hearing, the
death penalty protocol adopted in May 2014 is considered void.

The 3rd drug added to the state's cocktail - methohexital - has never been used
in another state, which makes some wary about how it would affect death row
inmates.

Often, death penalty appeals revolve around whether the drug mixture amounts to
a violation of the 8th Amendment's provisions against cruel and unusual
punishment. Ward isn't arguing that point, focusing instead on the drug not
being chosen in front of the public.

But some justices wanted to know why this is being brought up now.

"This issue has never been raised before," Justice Steven David said. "It's not
like the Department of Correction changed this in the last 25 years. There has
never been a rule making application with what the ingredients of the injection
are."

This issue, however, has been raised in other states. In 2010, a Kentucky judge
halted executions over concerns about the 3-cocktail injection. In 2012, the
state said it would switch to a 2-cocktail injection, which uses a sedative and
painkiller.

Indiana State Attorney Stephen Creason argued the statute gives the Department
of Correction authority to choose lethal injection drugs like it did 3 years
ago.

"Choice of drug only matters as to whether it constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment under the federal Constitution if constitutionally valid the
opinions of the public, the state agency and the state courts don't matter in
choosing a new drug," Creason said.

There have been no execution dates set for the 12 death row inmates at the
Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. If Ward's appeal prevails, then the
state would be left without legal means of carrying it out.

However, if the change enacted by the Department of Corrections was considered
a rule, then it would have to go through the administrative process - if not,
it stands as is.

The state's high court is expected to decide the case in the next several
months.

(source: thestatehousefile.com)








KENTUCKY:

Bell indicted, could face death penalty



A Pulaski County grand jury has returned a multiple-count indictment against
the transient accused of killing Carolyn New.

Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery has confirmed that Dwight Mitchell
Bell, 41, of Lexington, was indicted Wednesday on charges of murder; 1st-degree
robbery; theft by unlawful taking over $10,000; tampering with physical
evidence; and persistent felony offender.

Montgomery told the Commonwealth Journal that the murder and robbery charges
taken together qualifies as a capital crime (potentially punishable by the
death penalty). The prosecutor intends to file such notice at Bell's
arraignment, most likely to occur on October 26.

Bell is charged in connection to the death of the 70-year-old New, whose body
was found August 24 in Denham Street Baptist Church's activity center.

Bell was identified as a person of interest early in Somerset Police
Department's investigation, as someone who had been hanging around the church -
claiming to be homeless and in need of help - for the last couple of weeks
before New's murder.

After first being tracked to Indianapolis, Bell was ultimately arrested in
Dandridge, Tennessee, on September 12. SPD Detective Larry Patterson testified
that Bell admitted the crime when questioned. Bell reportedly told the
detectives that he was at the Denham Street Baptist Church on August 22 - the
last day for which New was accounted. He had told the woman (who was there to
clean the facility) that he was hungry, so she took him into the activity
center in order to give him a bag of chips.

According to Det. Patterson, Bell described putting the chips down and
accosting New - taking her to the back room where he eventually killed her.
Patterson said that New had been killed by a laceration to the neck and that
Bell admitted to taking her purse, cell phone and keys to New's 2014 Toyota
Corolla.

Bell has been charged as a persistent felony offender because he had previously
pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 10-year sentence in connection to
the 1999 fatal shooting of his father, 49-year-old Roger Bell, in the Murl
community of Wayne County.

Bell has been lodged at the Pulaski County Detention Center since September 13.

(source: Commonwealth Journal)








ARKANSAS:

AR Death Row Inmate Calls Himself 'Totally Competent' for Upcoming
Execution----"They started making me out to be a total idiot and retard from
day one."

The oldest Arkansas death row inmate and his victim's family agreed on one
thing Wednesday: Jack Greene is "totally competent" for his upcoming execution.

However, Greene's attorneys have argued he is too mentally ill to legally be
put to death.

Now the decision is in the hands of the Arkansas Parole Board, who will send
its recommendation to Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the next 72 hours.

"I've been jacked up like this for 12 out of the last 13 years," Greene told
the board during his clemency hearing at the Varner Unit Wednesday morning.

Instead of sitting in a chair next to his attorney, the 62 year old stood for
the entire hour and a half, breathing heavy, contorting his body in pain and
leaning against the table in front of them. He frequently touched his left ear
and nose, which were both clogged with tissue.

"They [attorneys] started making me out to be a total idiot and retard from day
one," he said. "I am totally competent to be executed. This is not a competency
hearing. It's a clemency hearing."

Greene's attorney, John Williams, was on a different page, arguing conspiracy
theories dominate his client's thoughts so much that he does not understand the
world or his scheduled Nov. 9 execution.

"I want to object verbally to everything this attorney is saying," Greene
interrupted.

A forensic psychologist, Dr. Dale G. Watson, told the board he has never seen
anyone as delusional as Greene.

"I believe him to be psychotic," Watson said. "His pain could be a physical
hallucination."

Dr. Watson explained he examined Greene first in 2009. When he returned to
Arkansas for further examinations in 2011 and 2015, Greene refused to see him.

The next time they saw each other was at a competency hearing when Dr. Watson
said Greene was "doing headstands literally in court."

Greene also interrupted Dr. Watson, calling him a "nut doctor." He argued he
has never received the proper medical treatment for his sharp ear pain and
brain and back injuries.

"I have been tortured nearly to death," he said. "It's by the grace of God and
sheer will that I've lived this long."

Greene was sentenced to death for the murder of 69-year-old Sidney Burnett, a
husband, father, WWII Air Force veteran and preacher from Johnson County.

"I knew what I was doing to him," he said. "I couldn't stand what I was doing
to him. And I put the gun to his head and killed him."

"He brutally murdered my father," Carolyn Walker, who came in from Indiana,
told the parole board Wednesday afternoon. "He shot him, stabbed him and cut
him from his mouth to his ear. Jack Greene has no integrity, no morals, no
respect for life and no remorse."

Prosecuting Attorney David Gibbons said Greene inflicted injury on Burnett for
the sole purpose of torture and mental anguish.

"I am not opposed to the death penalty," Gibbons told the board. "But I think
it should be reserved for the worst of the worst. This case presents the worst
of the worst."

Burnett's daughters said their dad gave Greene money, a job, even a place to
stay.

"He treated him like family," said Irene Burton. "Dad gave him life. What did
he give my dad?"

Their torture continues 26 years later.

"This really hits me today," said Linda Miller, who came in from Michigan. "It
hits me because I am now the age that my dad was when he was cruelly taken away
from us. It invaded our emotions, our souls and stole more from us than you
could even imagine. I still weep when I think of the torture dad was put
through and I wonder what his thoughts were, what his last words were. I will
not know. I'll never know."

An act of murder Burnett's daughters will never blame on Greene's mental state.

"Jack is doing this because he fears death," Burton said. "I believe that with
my whole heart. I don't believe he's mental. He, to me, his whole life has
manipulated people. If he could not get his way, he took revenge. He threw a
fit like a little child."

Burton read a message to Greene from her mother, Edna:

"I hope Jack repents so that he doesn't burn in Hell. He needs to be dead so
this never happens again. No one, not our family or even Donna Johnson, his
girlfriend, can find peace until he is dead."

"These are good, God-fearing Christian people," Greene said. "None of this
should have ever happened. What I did was horrible. What I did to Mr. Burnett
was horrible. What I did to my own brother was horrible, too."

Greene also killed his brother in North Carolina before moving to Arkansas.

"It wasn't out of hate but hurt," he told the board. "I swore upon my mother's
grave that I would kill Tommy and anyone else for letting her die."

The parole board asked him if he wants clemency.

For Greene, it came down to 2 options. If he can go back to a North Carolina
prison for medical treatment, he will take clemency. If not, he will see them
Nov. 9.

(source: arkansasmatters.com)

**********************

Arkansas judge barred from execution cases sues high court



An Arkansas judge who was barred from considering any execution-related cases
after blocking the use of a lethal injection drug and participating in an
anti-death penalty demonstration is suing the state's highest court, saying
justices violated his constitutional rights.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen on Thursday filed a lawsuit in
federal court against the 7 members of the state Supreme Court who disqualified
him.

"Judge Griffen has been materially harmed by the loss of prestige, job
satisfaction, and job duties suffered as a result of the Arkansas Supreme
Court's Order, by virtue of being barred and disqualified, forever, from
hearing the most serious cases a judge can hear in Arkansas," attorneys for the
judge said in the lawsuit.

Though photographs of Griffen strapped to a cot outside the governor's mansion
April 14 evoked images of a condemned inmate awaiting lethal injection, the
judge has said he was portraying Jesus and participating in a Good Friday vigil
with his church. The judge, who is also a Baptist pastor, wore an anti-death
penalty button and was surrounded by people holding signs opposing executions.

Griffen's lawsuit argues that the disqualification violated his constitutional
rights to free speech and exercise of religion, and said the move broke a 2015
state religious objections law. The state Judicial Discipline and Disability
Commission is investigating a complaint against Griffen over the demonstration,
along with a complaint the judge filed against the court over the
disqualification. Griffen has asked the commission to dismiss the complaint
against him, a request he renewed last week.

Earlier, on the same day as the demonstration, Griffen had issued an order
blocking Arkansas from using vecuronium bromide in lethal injections. McKesson
Corp. had sought the temporary order, saying it was misled by Arkansas that the
vecuronium bromide sold to the state would be used for inmate care. The Supreme
Court later lifted that order and barred Griffen from hearing any death penalty
cases.

Another judge later assigned the case also blocked the drug's use. The state
Supreme Court also lifted that order, allowing Arkansas to execute 4 inmates
over an 8-day period in April.

The lawsuit over the company's claims is still pending before the state Supreme
Court.

Arkansas is set to execute another inmate on Nov. 9.

(source: The Republic)








KANSAS:

Kansas considers moving execution site to El Dorado



Kansas is considering moving its execution chamber from Lansing to El Dorado.

The state has not executed anyone since the 1960s, but the death penalty was
reinstated in 1994 and a future execution remains at least theoretically
possible.

Currently, Kansas would conduct any executions by lethal injection at Lansing
Correctional Facility. The state Department of Corrections is pushing to
rebuild the prison, prompting talk that the agency may move its execution site.

"We have not decided that. There is a group that would maybe like to look at
doing that at El Dorado where death row is, but that has not been finalized,"
Mike Gaito, KDOC director of capital improvements, told lawmakers on Thursday.

Some 10 men in Kansas have death sentences against them, but their cases remain
in the appeals process.

The current lethal injection site at Lansing will be affected if the state
chooses to rebuild a portion of the prison. That's led to fresh discussion
about the viability of the death penalty in Kansas, where individuals have been
sentenced to death but the penalty has not been carried out in decades.

"Not only does it cost us half a million dollars anyway just to have the death
penalty on the books - this would add an additional cost in having to build a
new chamber," said Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka.

Lawmakers have come close to advancing a death penalty repeal before. A 2010
repeal bill failed in a 20-20 Senate vote.

A 2003 study by state auditors found that cases where the death penalty was
sought and imposed could cost about 70 percent more than cases where the death
penalty wasn???t pursued. The estimated median cost of a death penalty case was
$1.2 million compared to $740,000 for a non-death penalty case.

"It's something that we should think about if we're talking numbers and how
much it costs to run government. That's another area that we could address,"
said Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick.

On Thursday, Gaito also revealed that KDOC is in negotiations with two
companies to rebuild Lansing: CoreCivic and GEO Group.

Both are private prison companies, though KDOC has emphasized that the rebuilt
facility would be state-operated. Previously, the agency had declined to reveal
the names of the bidders, though the Kansas Department of Administration had
released the names of companies that had expressed interest.

A 3rd company that had been named earlier, Lansing Correctional Partners, is
not a bidder. Little was known about the organization.

(source: kansas.com)

**********************

Prison Rebuild Plans Might Prompt New Kansas Death Penalty Debate



Proposals to rebuild part of the prison at Lansing could prompt a new debate
over the Kansas death penalty. Plans for the prison include closing the
facility that houses the state's death chamber.

Kansas hasn't executed anyone since the death penalty was reinstated in the
1990s. At a committee meeting Thursday, Republican Sen. Carolyn McGinn said
instead of building a new death chamber, legislators might want to consider
eliminating the death penalty.

"It costs us a lot of money and we don't finish the job," McGinn said. "We're
housing them anyway, and they're costing us more because they have to go down 2
paths. They have to go down a life in prison [path] and they have to go down a
death penalty path."

Department of Corrections staff said the state could also build a new death
chamber at the El Dorado prison, which houses the state's 10 death row inmates.

(source: KMUW news)



UTAH:

Utah double-murderer Ron Lafferty loses another challenge of his death
sentence----Prosecutor calls federal court ruling a "major milestone in terms
of moving the case forward."



After a decade of litigation, a federal judge has rejected Utah inmate Ron
Lafferty's challenge of his murder convictions and death sentence for the
slayings of his sister-in-law and her baby daughter in 1984.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson dismissed a petition that sought to
vacate the convictions and sentence on the grounds that they violated
Lafferty's federal constitutional rights.

"This is a major milestone in terms of moving the case forward, at very long
last," Utah Assistant Solicitor General Andrew Peterson said.

Dale Baich, a federal defender who represents Lafferty, said he plans to appeal
the decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Lafferty's challenge, filed in October 2007, included numerous claims of
ineffective assistance by trial and appellate attorneys, prosecutorial
misconduct and violation of his constitutional rights.

In addition, the now-76-year-old Lafferty alleged the death penalty was
unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment, saying he has spent years "under
brutal prison conditions, experiencing daily trauma of facing death."

But Benson, in rejecting that claim, quoted a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that
says there is no support for "the proposition that a defendant can avail
himself of the panoply of appellate and collateral procedures and then complain
when his execution is delayed."

According to court documents, the gruesome murders appear to have been
triggered by Lafferty's unorthodox religious views, which had caused his wife
to divorce him in early 1984 and take their 6 children with her to Florida.

Lafferty, in turn, blamed the end of his marriage on 4 people, including
sister-in-law Brenda Wright Lafferty and her daughter, "who he believed would
grow up to be just as despicable as her mother," court documents say.

In spring 1984, Lafferty claimed he received a revelation from God ordering
that the 4 be removed "in rapid succession" and shared the revelation with
several other members of his small unorthodox sect, including his brother Dan
Lafferty, court documents say.

On the morning of July 24, 1984, Ron and Dan Lafferty forced their way into
their sister-in-law's American Fork home and severely beat her, strangled her
with a vacuum cord and slit her throat, court documents say. Dan Lafferty then
killed 15-month-old Erica Lafferty by slitting her throat.

The brothers then broke into the home of a friend of Ron Lafferty's wife, who
was the next intended victim, but no one was there, court records say.

And after missing the turnoff to the home of the 4th intended victim - the
divorced couple's ecclesiastical leader, whom Ron Lafferty believed was
responsible for his excommunication from The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints - the brothers headed to Nevada.

The Laffertys were arrested in Reno, Nev., several weeks later.

In 1985, both men were convicted of murder, and Ron Lafferty was sentenced to
death. Dan Lafferty, now 69, was sentenced to life in prison without the
possibility of parole.

The 10th Circuit later overturned Ron Lafferty's capital murder conviction and
ordered a new trial after finding that the wrong standards had been used to
evaluate his mental competency. Lafferty was convicted and sentenced to death
again for the murders in 1996.

(source: Salt Lake Tribune)








NEVADA:

Nevada Supreme Court upholds death penalty conviction



The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the convictions and death sentences
for Donte Johnson in connection with a 1988 quadruple homicide in Las Vegas.

Johnson raised multiple issues in his post-conviction appeal, but the court
unanimously upheld the lower court decision, which found no merit to the
claims.

Johnson was sentenced to death for killing Jeffrey Biddle, 19, Tracey Gorringe,
20, Matthew Mowen, 19, and Peter Talamantez, 17.

The men were bound with duct tape while Johnson and two other men searched
their east valley home. Before they left, Johnson shot each man in the back of
the head. The robbers made off with about $240, a pager, a videocassette
recorder and a video game system.

The trial jury deadlocked in 2000 during the penalty phase, and a 3-judge panel
later handed down a death sentence. But that sentence was overturned.

A jury again sentenced Johnson to death in 2005. He is on death row at Ely
State Prison.

The post-conviction appeal covered issues both in his 2000 conviction and later
2005 death sentence.

Among the claims were that the jury selection process in his 2000 trial was
flawed because there was an under-representation of African Americans in the
jury pool. Johnson also argued that his attorney should have challenged the
introduction of evidence, including autopsy photos.

The Supreme Court rejected all of the claims.

(source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)








WASHINGTON:

2 death row exonerees share their stories at CWU panel



When Sabrina Butler-Smith took her 1st steps as a free woman after spending
more than 5 years on death row for a crime she didn't commit, she literally
kissed the ground and hugged the trees.

"I was so happy," Butler-Smith said. "That is a great feeling. I watched TV
until I had seen every movie I missed. I couldn't sleep that night. It just
makes you appreciate everything."

Butler-Smith and Randal Padgett were both convicted of murder, sentenced to
death and later exonerated, but not before irreparable damage was caused to
their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

The 2 spoke at Central Washington University on Tuesday, sharing their stories
about what it was like to be on death row, how the system doesn't always look
for the truth, and why they are a part of Witness To Innocence, an organization
that works across the country to abolish the death penalty. The event was
organized through CWU's Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

In 1989, a 17-year-old Butler-Smith was accused of killing her son in
Mississippi. Her child had stopped breathing in the middle of the night. She
ran around her apartment complex, yelling and screaming, begging anyone to help
her. Finally, someone drove her to the hospital, and during the car ride
instructed her on how to give CPR.

"I applied adult CPR on a 9 month old," Butler-Smith explained, saying that
infant CPR is much different.

Hospital officials wouldn't allow Butler-Smith to accompany her infant, and
soon came out to tell her nothing could be done. She was told to go to the
police station, where she gave her statement and then was sent home. The next
day, Butler-Smith went back to the hospital to try to find more details about
what had actually happened to her son, but she was met by detectives who took
her back to the police station and interrogated her for 3 1/2 hours until she
finally just agreed to everything they had said.

"You have to be interrogated to understand how police officers get a
confession," Butler-Smith said. "That was the confession they ultimately used
to convict me."

Butler-Smith had 2 court-appointed attorneys, 1 of whom she said was drunk the
whole time. The other wasn't much help. No witnesses were brought in on her
behalf, no medical records were admitted from the hospital and her attorneys
refused to let her take the stand.

"The (district attorney) just had a field day with that," Butler-Smith said.
"They found me guilty - the jury took an hour to deliberate."

Butler-Smith was sentenced to die July 2, 1990.

Waiting to die

Butler-Smith was not told how the process of death row works, and how the state
must exhaust all possibilities before a prisoner could be executed, so all she
knew was that once July 2, 1990 rolled around, that was it.

She recalled seeing scenes on television with walking down a long hall and a
priest beside her, so she when she woke up that morning, she was waiting for
that scene to play out.

"I thought that was how it really went," Butler-Smith said. "I wouldn't wish
that on nobody, one of worst day of life. ... I paced floors, listened for
every sound, every chain ... I thought that was the day I was going to die."

She didn't die that day, however. Eventually her conviction was overturned due
to prosecutorial misconduct, but the process left her in county jail for
another 3 years before she was finally released.

It turned out her son had myriad medical problems, including a rare kidney
disease that her 1 of her current children also has.

Randal Padgett

Padgett said he doesn't tell his story to many people he doesn't know, mostly
because of the trust issues he's developed. He explained how he told his story
to police he didn't know, and was arrested for capital murder. He then told his
story to a jury full of people he didn't know, and they convicted him. A judge
he didn't know heard the same story, and sentenced him to the electric chair.

After what Padgett recalled was a pretty normal life, including getting a
business degree and raising a family in a rural Alabama town with a population
no larger than 8,000, he made a terrible mistake.

"I had an extramarital affair," Padgett said. He and his wife separated, and he
moved about 7 miles away.

One night, on the eve of a trip to Florida with his new partner, his children
were spending the night. That was the night his ex-wife was stabbed 47 times
and raped. Padgett received a call his 1st night in Florida, and became
physically ill when he heard the news.

"I threw up 2 or 3 times and drove all night to get back home," he said. When
he arrived at the police station, he waited until he could talk to an
investigator to see what happened. The police immediately told him he was a
suspect.

"I was the spouse, the 1st place they look, plus the affair," Padgett said. "I
tried to tell them, 'You're looking at the wrong person.' I wanted them to find
who killed my wife."

DNA had never been used in Padgett's county, and a blood-type test was used by
prosecutors, as well as a DNA test on the semen found in his wife's body. After
waiting 12 weeks for the results, the test came back a match for Padgett.

"I was scared to death," Padgett said.

Padgett hired an attorney, who recommended they do their own DNA test, which
the lab employee said was much quicker. The lab employee said he would testify
to the fact that Padgett didn't even have the same blood type as the suspect,
let alone the same DNA. Unfortunately, the lab employee who was set to testify
became terminally ill, and was unable to show up in court on Padgett's behalf.

"We had the guy's reports, but it wasn't as good as him testifying," Padgett
said.

After about a week of testimony, including his son testifying he was with his
father the night of the murder. On the last day of the trial, Padgett's
attorney discovered the state had performed a 3nd DNA test, which also came
back with the same results as Padgett's test - it wasn't him. They asked for a
mistrial, but the judge wouldn't allow it, and the jury ended up convicting him
and recommended life without parole. The judge sentenced him to die.

Padgett's case was eventually retried, and he won his appeal on the very 1st
day, after spending 2 1/2 more years in prison. He now tells his story to try
to enlighten people that have belief systems about the death penalty similar
what he used to hold.

"It's easy as pie to get convicted of something you didn't do," Padgett said.
"Once you're convicted, nobody wants to believe otherwise."

Life on death row

Death row was a totally foreign place for both Padgett and Butler-Smith. They
were easily identifiable because of the special red uniforms they had to wear.

"I can't describe the feeling," Padgett said. "It plays on your mind if you're
innocent. People think you're some kind of monster that needs killing."

Butler-Smith said she was told by guards that she would never make it out
alive, and that she had to fight every day just to survive. She was the 1st
woman in the United States to ever be exonerated, and is currently 1 of 159
death row inmates to have their convictions overturned since 1973, including 3
in 2017.

"That's a lot of mistakes," she said. "Something is wrong with the system. How
can you make that many mistakes, not including ones that were killed that were
innocent?"

Both now work with the Witness To Truth organization, trying to open people's
eyes to the reasons why the death penalty should be abolished. Besides the
chance of killing innocent people, WTI director of communications Stefanie
Anderson said the process of executing a person sentenced to death is far more
expensive than life without parole, and convictions are often carried out after
trials filled with junk science, eyewitness misidentification and false
confessions.

"I know there's bad folks out there, but we can bring them to justice and
sentence them for what they did," Butler-Smith said. "Lock their behinds up and
they can stay there forever until they rot."

(source: Daily Record)








USA:

Trump UN Ambassador attempts to smear Obama in gay death penalty row



The US Ambassador to the United Nations has made false claims about Barack
Obama as she struggles to justify a controversial vote.

The US recently sparked anger when it sided with the Egypt, Saudia Arabia and
Iraq in voting against a measure at the United Nations Human Rights Council
that condemned the imposition of the death penalty for homosexuality.

The motion, which passed despite the US opposition, condemned the use of the
death penalty "arbitrarily or in a discriminatory manner", including for
homosexuality.

It called for the death penalty to be banned "as a sanction for specific forms
of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex
relations", as well as criticising its use on minors, mentally ill people and
pregnant women.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who was appointed by Donald Trump, has defended
herself amid the row, claiming that it was long-standing US policy to vote
against measures relating to the death penalty.

She tweeted: "Fact: There was NO vote by USUN that supported the death penalty
for gay people. We have always fought for justice for the LGBT community.

"Fact: The vote that took place in Geneva is the same US vote that took place
under the Obama admin. It was not a vote against LGBT #Fact"

However, her #Facts are not actually facts, and are actually #Complete
#Falsehoods.

Though the UN did vote on a measure on the death penalty in 2014, during
Obama's term of office, it contained no such measure relating to LGBT people.

The vote last week was the 1st time that condeming the death penalty for
homosexuality had been part of a Human Rights Council motion.

In addition, the US didn't cast "the same vote" under Obama on the motion
incorrectly identified by Haley.

The US abstained on the 2014 motion, while in 2017 it cast a vote against.

And despite her claims that the Trump administration is opposed to the
executions of gay people around the world, a key Trump aide has this week
refused to make any such condemnation.

Sam Brownback, who Trump has nominated as a 'religious freedom' Ambassador, was
asked about the issue during his confirmation session this week.

He was asked: "Is there any circumstance under which criminalizing,
imprisoning, or executing people based on their LGBT status could be deemed
acceptable because somebody asserts that they are religiously motivated in
doing so?"

Brownback declined to make an explicit condemnation, saying: "I don't know what
that would be, in what circumstance, but I would continue the policies that
have been done in the prior administration in working on these international
issues."

Of the 47 countries on the Human Rights Council, 27 voted in favour while 13
states voted against.

The United States voted against the motion, alongside Botswana, Burundi, Egypt,
Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab
Emirates.

Cuba, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya all
abstained.

Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global told PinkNews: "Ambassador Haley has failed the
LGBTQ community by not standing up against the barbaric use of the death
penalty to punish individuals in same-sex relationships.

"While the UN Human Rights Council took this crucially important step, the
Trump/Pence administration failed to show leadership on the world stage by not
championing this critical measure.

"This administration's blatant disregard for human rights and LGBTQ lives
around the world is beyond disgraceful."

Andre du Plessis, Head of UN Programme and Advocacy at the International
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) explained to
PinkNews: "No votes on this resolution as a whole are generally
best-interpreted as a position by a country on the death penalty as a whole.

"It is important to point out that a 'no' vote on the resolution is not
addressing same-sex relations, but the wider application of death penalty
generally. "The United States, for example, has the death penalty and has a
consistent record of voting no on resolutions that are against it."

He added: "We are grateful for the leadership of the eight countries that
brought this resolution - Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Moldova,
Mongolia and Switzerland - countries that come from every corner of the globe
showing truly cross-regional support."

There are currently 6 countries where the death penalty is enforced for
same-sex relations - Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, plus some regions of
Nigeria and Somalia.

The death penalty is also carried out by ISIS-controlled areas in northern Iraq
and northern Syria.

5 further states - Afghanistan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and the UAE -
permit the death penalty technically, but it has not publicly been invoked.
Brunei changed the law in 2014 to allow the death penalty for homosexuality,
but is yet to enact the change.

Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director of ILGA, said: "It is unconscionable to
think that there are hundreds of millions of people living in States where
somebody may be executed simply because of whom they love.

"This is a monumental moment where the international community has publicly
highlighted that these horrific laws simply must end."

Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, co-Secretaries General at ILGA, added: "The
entrenched patriarchy and gender stereotyping behind adultery laws are the same
causes behind laws that seek to criminalise and execute persons for consensual
same-sex relations.

"These laws don't just affect those with non-normative sexual orientations.
Trans and gender non-conforming persons also face oppression and violence
because of them. We stand together in solidarity."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently released a report on the
question of the death penalty where he examined its disproportionate impact on
different groups and its discriminatory use based on gender or sexual
orientation.

He wrote: "The imposition of the death penalty for offences relating to
consensual homosexual conduct continues to be provided for in the legislation
of many States.

"While few cases of executions for consensual same-sex conduct have been
carried out recently, the existence of such laws discriminates against the
conduct of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons."

(source: Pink News)
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