Conveyor belt of death

The Independent does go in for some pretty striking front pages, doesnt it? Todays is a corker: a moody photo of an electric chair with Bushs lethal legacy: more executions strap.

The storys about how there are new moves in the US to speed up the execution process, chopping down the time allowed for appeals.

The thinking seems to be that with only 53 executions last year the USA is falling behind rivals like China - which is killing people on an industrial scale, about 8,000 a year.

So: fast-track people to their deaths. That will sort out the backlog of three and half thousand people on Death Row USA. (Ok, Im being ironic).

Ive recently written about Kenny Richey, the Scottish man whos spent 20 years on death row. These changes are meant for people like him. Stop him having those appeals, get it over and done with.

Except an appeal is supposed to be a safety net, to stop miscarriages of justice. Kenny may have had several appeals, but then again hes got a lot to appeal about: dreadful three-day trial, dubious witnesses, fresh evidence.

In the last 30 years 123 people have been released from American death rows after it was shown theyd been wrongly convicted. How many of those would have gone to the electric chair or lethal injection chamber if theyd been denied a last appeal?

Meanwhile, yet more dreadful news from Iraq. Nearly 200 people killed in bombings targeting a minority sect, the Yazidis. Earlier this year a 17-year-old Yazidi girl was stoned to death in a barbaric honour killing. Theres speculation that these latest attacks are partly revenge for Yazidi behaviour - but also out and out sectarian violence. Whatever, its appalling and saddening.

Finally, to Edinburgh. Weve got a new funnier-than-hilarious podcast out, featuring Andrew Maxwell. Last Saturday at dawn he climbed local Edinburgh attraction Arthur's Seat, armed only with two bottles of champagne, four American students and a former US Democratic Party strategist ... check it out.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
View latest posts