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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

British dad spends 1,000th day on Ethiopia’s death row

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege and his family
Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege and his family
A father-of-three from London has now spent 1,000 days on Ethiopia’s death row, after the country’s security forces kidnapped and rendered him there in June 2014.

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, a vocal critic of Ethiopia’s ruling party, disappeared while transiting through an international airport almost three years ago.

Ethiopian officials later admitted to having illegally ‘rendered’ him to a secret prison, in a process which British diplomats privately deemed “completely unacceptable”.

Mr Tsege is being held unlawfully under a death sentence that was handed down in absentia, when he lived in North London with his partner and their three young children.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has failed to secure Mr Tsege’s return to the UK, despite visiting Ethiopia for the first time as recently as last week.

Mr Johnson claimed on Friday (17th) to have secured progress on the case, saying that Mr Tsege has been promised regular access to a lawyer.

However, the UK government’s focus on legal access for Mr Tsege has caused dismay among MPs from across the political spectrum.

A former Attorney-General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Lord Chancellor have all warned that: “The British Government’s emphasis on securing Mr Tsege a lawyer ignores statements by the Ethiopian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister confirming that ‘there is no appeal process’ available to Mr Tsege.”

Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said:

“It is appalling that Andy Tsege is spending his 1,000th day on death row in Ethiopia, just days after Boris Johnson missed a vital chance to seek his return to the UK. It’s clear there is no justice for Andy in the compromised Ethiopian court system, and it’s hard to see how a lawyer can help him when the Ethiopians have said he has no way of appealing his death sentence. It’s time for the UK Government to bring this British father home.”

On Monday (20th) at 2.30pm, Mr Tsege's partner and children will go to the Foreign Office to hand in a petition calling on Boris Johnson to secure his return to the UK.

➤ Further detail on Mr Tsege’s case can be found on the Reprieve website, here.

Source: Reprieve, March 19, 2017

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