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VIRGINIA DEATH-ROW PRISONERS WIN ‘LANDMARK’ PRISON CONDITION
Sat Mar 3, 2018 04:27
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HANDS OFF CAIN NEWS
The Hands off Cain newsletter
This newsletter is realized in the framework of a project founded by the European Union. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.

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Year 18 - n. 7 - 03-03-2018

In this issue:

1. Top story: VIRGINIA DEATH-ROW PRISONERS WIN ‘LANDMARK’ PRISON CONDITIONS LAWSUIT
2. Newsflash: MYANMAR: FOUR ROHINGYAS SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR ATTACK ON POLICE OUTPOST
3. Newsflash: IRAQ: 16 TURKISH WOMEN SENTENCED TO DEATH OVER DAESH MEMBERSHIP
4. Newsflash: IRAN JUSTICE MINISTER EXPECTS FEWER EXECUTIONS UNDER REVISED DRUG LAW
5. Newsflash: BAHRAIN UPHOLDS DEATH SENTENCE FOR BOMBING LINKED TO IRAN
6. Suggested links:


VIRGINIA DEATH-ROW PRISONERS WIN ‘LANDMARK’ PRISON CONDITIONS LAWSUIT
February 21, 2018: In what lawyers for Virginia death-row prisoners have called “a landmark ruling,” a federal judge has issued an injunction barring the Commonwealth from subjecting prisoners who have been sentenced to death to automatic solitary confinement, physical isolation from visitors and other prisoners, and other harsh conditions.

In a decision issued on February 21, Judge Leonie M. Brinkema wrote that the conditions to which Virginia subjected death-row prisoners before instituting reforms in 2015 violated the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishments.
Virginia had refused to commit to keeping the reforms, which it adopted only after the prisoners initiated suit, and the court's order prevents the state from reverting to the prior unconstitutional conditions.
Before 2015, death sentenced prisoners spent about 23 hours a day alone in a 71-square-foot prison cell and were separated from visitors—including family members—by a plexiglass wall, although the warden had discretion to permit contact visits with family. For one hour a day, five days a week, prisoners were taken to a small “outdoor cell” with a concrete floor and no exercise equipment. Death-row prisoners were barred from the recreational facilities used by prisoners in the general population and allowed to shower only three times per week. Brinkema decided in favor of the three remaining death-row prisoners who had sued the state in 2014. While the suit was pending, one of the orginal plaintiffs, Ricky Gray, was executed and another, Ivan Teleguz, was granted a commutation. Lawyers for the prisoners said Brinkema's decision was the first time a court had ruled such conditions unconstitutional. In granting the prisoners' petition, the court said that “the rapidly
evolving information available about the potential harmful effects of solitary confinement” set this case apart from prior prison-conditions lawsuits, and as a result the prior “decades-old determinations” by the Supreme Court and federal appeals court upholding death-row prison conditions were not binding. “As courts and corrections officers across the country have begun to realize, the years-long isolation that the pre-2015 conditions of confinement forced on plaintiffs created, at the least, a significant risk of substantial psychological and emotional harm,” Brinkema wrote.
Kathryn Ali, one of the lawyers for the prisoners, said “the law in this area is very bad but it's also very old. ... Judge Brinkema's ruling is a landmark ruling but I think its also just common sense, that we shouldn't be torturing people by keeping them in isolation.” Victor M. Glasberg, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the five original plaintiffs in 2014, said the court's decision could have implications for prison-conditions lawsuits in other states. “This opinion should serve as a snowball let loose at the top of a snowy mountain, to turn into an avalanche as advocates in other states bring similar suits to end what has become increasingly recognized as untenable conditions in which to hold human beings,” he said. Under the reforms Virginia implemented in 2015, death-row prisoners are permitted to have contact visits with family members one day per week, for up to an hour and a half, as well as non-contact visits on holidays and weekends. They now have access
to a covered outdoor yard for up to an hour and a half per day, five days a week. The yard has a basketball court and exercise equipment, which up to four prisoners at a time may share.
Virginia now also permits daily one-hour access for up to four prisoners at a time to an indoor recreation space that has games, music, and a television. Death-row prisoners also are now permitted to shower daily. 70% of the approximately 2,900 prisoners on death row in the U.S. are automatically held alone in their cells for more than 20 hours per day, with nearly two-thirds in solitary confinement more than 22 hours per day.
In March 2017, in settlement of a death-row conditions lawsuit, Arizona agreed to end its policy of automatically and indefinitely incarcerating death-row prisoners in solitary confinement. In February, a federal appeals court declared unconstitutional Pennsylvania's practice of automatically keeping prisoners whose death sentences had been overturned in solitary confinement pending the outcome of retrial or resentencing proceedings and its death-row prisoners have recently filed suit challenging the state's automatic indeterminate use of death-row solitary confinement.
(Source: Washington Post, 22/02/2018)
For further information :

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HANDS OFF CAIN - NEWS FLASH

MYANMAR: FOUR ROHINGYAS SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR ATTACK ON POLICE OUTPOST
February 23, 2018: Four Rohingya militants were sentenced to death by a special court in Maungdaw district of Rakhaine state in Myanmar, according to a report by The Irrawaddy news magazine.
The Rohingyas were found guilty among 30 people accused of an attack on Nga Khura police outpost in northern Maungdaw township on October 9, 2016 that killed two security officials.
The other 26 convicts were handed out sentences in jail ranging from 10 to 20 years.
Another 15 suspects were released after the court acquitted them, the report said quoting the deputy district judge of Maungdaw.
“The court sentences the four to death for the crime of homicide,” the report quoted the deputy judge as saying, adding that the 45 people were initially charged under articles 303, 326, 33 and 34 of the Myanmar penal code.
The deputy judge said hearings in the cases of another 294 Rohingya were under way at the special court and verdicts would be announced soon, the report further added.
Additionally, 76 Rohingya villagers accused of involvement in a series of attacks on security outposts on August 25 last year have been charged with committing acts of terrorism, according to the Rakhine State Attorney General’s office.
(Sources: nenow.in, 24/02/2018)
For further information :

IRAQ: 16 TURKISH WOMEN SENTENCED TO DEATH OVER DAESH MEMBERSHIP
February 25, 2018: A court in Iraq has sentenced 16 Turkish women to death over membership in the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and involvement in acts of terror across the conflict-ridden Arab country.
Abdul Sattar al-Biraqdar, spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council, said the Central Criminal Court sentenced 16 female Turkish citizens to death after they confessed to marrying Daesh elements or providing members of the group with logistical aid or helping them carry out terrorist attacks.
(Sources: presstv.com, 25, 02/2018)
For further information :

IRAN JUSTICE MINISTER EXPECTS FEWER EXECUTIONS UNDER REVISED DRUG LAW
February 27, 2018: Iran’s justice minister said a recent reform of its drug laws should lead to fewer executions after the U.N. Secretary General said he remained alarmed about their high number - nearly 500 last year.
As Ali Reza Avai addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council, protesters rallied outside against the senior official who is on European Union and Swiss sanctions lists over alleged involvement in violations including arbitrary arrests and a rise in executions while he was president of the Tehran judiciary.
Avai was a senior judiciary official during the 1980s and the Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group, accuses him of playing a role in the Islamic Republic’s execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
Attempts by Reuters to reach the Iranian foreign and justice ministries as well as its diplomatic mission in Geneva for comment were not successful.
About 100 demonstrators gathered outside the United Nations’s European headquarters in Geneva to protest against Avai’s participation in the rights council session.
Avai told the forum that in Iran, the Islamic penal code and criminal procedure code had been revised to be more efficient and safeguard the rights of the accused.
“In this context the counter-narcotics law was amended. As a result, executions related to drug crimes will decrease remarkably,” he said.
(Sources: Reuters, 27/02/2018)
For further information :

BAHRAIN UPHOLDS DEATH SENTENCE FOR BOMBING LINKED TO IRAN
February 26, 2018: Bahrain's highest appeals court upheld a death sentence and lengthy jail terms in a mass trial over a fatal 2016 bombing that authorities have linked to Iran.
The Court of Cassation upheld capital punishment for one defendant, a life sentence for a second, and lengthy prison terms for six others, according to a statement by the public prosecutor's office.
All eight have also had their Bahraini citizenship revoked.
A judicial source close to the case said the defendants were Shiites, who form the majority of the population in the Sunni-ruled monarchy.
The 2016 bombing, in the eastern village of Sitra, targeted a police patrol, authorities said at the time. The casualties, however, were civilians -- a woman was killed and her three children wounded.
A criminal court found 10 Bahrainis guilty of charges linked to the attack, including homicide, ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, espionage and "terrorist" activity.
Authorities say two of them are still on the run.
(Sources: Afp, 26/02/2018)
For further information :

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