Mother of Murder Victim: “The Death Penalty Would Inflict Additional Pain on Us”

Duval County, Florida prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the 2013 murder of Shelby Farah (pictured), over the objections of Ms. Farah’s family. After unsuccessful attempts to persuade prosecutors to non-capitally resolve the case, Darlene Farah, Ms. Farah’s mother, publicly expressed her views in a recent column in TIME. Farah said, “I do not want my family to go through the years of trials and appeals that come with death-penalty cases.” Instead, she wants her family to be able to, “celebrate [Shelby’s] life, honor her memory and begin the lengthy healing process.” Darlene Farah says her daughter would not have wanted the death penalty to be sought on her behalf, and “more killing in no way honors my daughter’s memory or provides solace to my family.” Duval County is among the 2% of U.S. counties that are responsible for a majority of U.S. death sentences and is represented by a prosecutor’s office that has sent more people to death row since 2009 than any other prosecutor’s office in the state. Farah has asked prosecutors to accept the defense offer to plead guilty to all charges, but she says “[prosecutors’] desire for the death penalty in my daughter’s case seems so strong that they are ignoring the wishes of my family in their pursuit of it.” Farah said the use of the death penalty is impeding the healing process: “Death-penalty cases are incredibly complex and drawn-out. It’s been two and a half years since my daughter’s murder, and the trial hasn’t even started…[W]e can’t start to heal and move beyond the legal process, which never seems to end.” “I have seen my family torn apart since my daughter’s murder, and the idea of having to face the lengthy legal process associated with a death-penalty case is unbearable. We have endured enough pain and tragedy already.”

(D. Farah, “My Daughter’s Killer Should Not Get the Death Penalty,” TIME, February 19, 2016; L. Robbins, “Victim’s mother urges State Attorney Angela Corey to take death penalty off the table,” WTLV First Coast News, February 24, 2016; Image by Darlene Farah, via WOKV News.) See Victims and New Voices.

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60-year-old woman killed after run-over by Israeli settler

PNN/ Jericho/

An 60-year-old Palestinian woman was killed, and her daughter moderately injured after they were run-over by an Israeli settler in Al-Fasayil village, southern Jordan valleys.

According to medical sources, Zeinab Rashayda (60) has died after the run-over, while her daughter, Fatima Yassin (30) sustained moderate injuries and a shock.

They were both moved to the Jericho governmental hospital, however, the mother passed away before arriving to the hospital.

According to Al-Mashreq news, Israeli police claimed that the settler has called and handed himself in after the run-over.

Funeral of Zeinab Rashayda (60) on Wednesday noonFuneral of Zeinab Rashayda (60) on Wednesday noon

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Palestinians in the Jordan valley have reported several harrassments by IOF and settlers, and are now subjected to displacement for settlement expansion.

Two weeks ago, IOF demolished five residential tents and barracks, in addition to animal barns in the Killat Khader area, northern Jordan Valleys, following Israeli confiscation of 1,540 Dunams (380 acres), of land near Jericho in the Valleys, announcing it as state lands.

This seizure is the largest appropriation in the West Bank since August 2014.

Cameron calls Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem ‘genuinely shocking’ aka: man who speaks with forked-tongue

London/PNN/ Speaking in response to a question in British parliament, Cameron says he is known as a friend of Israel but he condemns Israel’s ‘effective encirclement of East Jerusalem.’ A few days after the British government barred public institutions from boycotting Israel, British Prime Minister David Cameron severely criticized the Netanyahu government’s policy and said that construction in East Jerusalem settlements is “genuinely shocking.” The British prime minister was speaking during a parliamentary question period in response to a query from opposition Labor MP Imran Hussain, who asked: “Does the prime minister agree with me that illegal settlements and constructions are a major roadblock that hinder peaceful negotiations?” After Hussain described a visit he made to a Palestinian family in the Old City of Jerusalem, whom he said was fighting eviction by Jewish settlers, Hussain also asked what the British government was doing “to help prevent the infringement into Palestinian lives and land.” Cameron replied: “I am well-known as being a strong friend of Israel, but I have to say the first time I visited Jerusalem and had a proper tour around that wonderful city and saw what has happened with the effective encirclement of East Jerusalem – occupied East Jerusalem – it is genuinely shocking.” He added: “What this government has consistently done and gone on doing is saying yes, we are supporters of Israel, but we do not support illegal settlements, we do not support what is happening in East Jerusalem and it’s very important that this capital city is maintained in the way that it was in the past.” Cameron’s remarks were met with surprise in Jerusalem. Senior Israeli officials noted that his criticism may have been meant to balance his government’s recent decision against boycotts of Israel. According to the guidelines, any boycott decision by a public body in the U.K. must be in line with the foreign policy of the British government.

Source: Cameron calls Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem ‘genuinely shocking’

Spain′s Podemos suspends talks with Socialists to form government | News | DW.COM | 24.02.2016

High-ranking Podemos member Inigo Errejon said on Wednesday his party would suspend talks with the Socialists about forming a coalition government, the same day the announcement of the deal was originally made. The source of contention was the Socialists’ announcement that they had secured backing for the government pact from centrist party Ciudadanos, which Errejon said would prevent “the possibility of forming a pluralistic government of change.” Specifically, Podemos has taken issue with some of the new policy proposals put forth by the coalition, such as tax reforms.

Source: Spain′s Podemos suspends talks with Socialists to form government | News | DW.COM | 24.02.2016

Hopes and `Honour` Killings

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports an increase in honor killings in Pakistan - 923 women and 82 minor girls in 2014.Only 20 percent of cases are brought to justice. Credit: Adil Siddiqi/IPS

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports an increase in honor killings in Pakistan – 923 women and 82 minor girls in 2014.Only 20 percent of cases are brought to justice. Credit: Adil Siddiqi/IPS

By Rafia Zakaria
Feb 24 2016 (IPS)

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently watched A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Sharmeen Obald Chinoy`s Oscar-nominated documentary about `honour` killings. In a statement following the screening, he told Ms Chinoy and his audience that there is no `honour` in murder.

In the days sinceithas been announced that the government will move to plug holes in laws that currently allow killers (often family members) to go unpunished. Ms Chinoy has expressed the hope that her film would help put an end to honour killings in Pakistan.

It would be wonderful if her wish came true. The reasons it will not are the ones that the government needs to address if it truly wishes to tackle the problem.

Before reasons, however, consider context. I pulled up two sets of statistics compiled by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

The first covers the period spanning Feb 1, 2004, to Feb 1, 2006. During this time, there were 988 incidents of honour killings in Pakistan. Nearly, but not exactly half, did not even have FIRs registered for the crime. Firearms were the weapon of choice for doing away with the victims, followed by blunt force injury with a heavy weapon.

Fast-forward a decade: another set of statistics I pulled from the HRCP database was from between February 2014 to February 2016. The number of honour killings in this period was 1,276, nearly 400 did not have FIRs registered, and most of the victims were killed by guns.

The decade in the middle has not been one without legislative initiatives or civil society campaigns to end honour killings. I chose the period immediately following 2004 because that marked the passage of a bill against honour crimes. As political machinations go, the bill that was actually passed was a diluted version of the one first introduced by senator Sherry Rehman. There was much clapping and clamour then too.

The whole thing repeated itself in March of last year with the passage through the Senate of the Anti-Honour Killings Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2014. Meanwhile, international human rights organisations have devoted budgets and campaigns to ending honour killings in Pakistan. As the numbers show in both cases, hon-our killings (to the extent they are even reported) have continued and even increased.

Here is why. First, legislative initiatives have focused on the legal dimensions of the issue, the latest a much needed amendment to the gisas and diyat laws that would prevent the pardoning of honour killers.Thisis a greatidea.

At the same time, like legislative initiatives of the past, it has no teeth at all against the root of the problem: that women (and men) are considered social capital in a family, marrying them a form of adding sociological assets, creating relationships that families, increasingly torn by migration and demographic change, require.

When a woman rebels against this mechanism, not only does the family lose the possibility of capital accrued from arranging her marriage, her decision jeopardises the futures of remaining brothers and sisters, their possibilities of making good matches that sustain them in a web of relationships where individual choice defeats collective security.

In a cultural and sociological system where the family and tribe are still the only and often unitary form of social insurance against catastrophe, the death of a breadwinner, illness and job losses, collective control over the individual is the glue that holds everything together.

The second reason for failure lies in the brokenmechanisms of international advocacy, particularly as they exist in countries like Pakistan, which have faced the brunt of international aggression. Simply put, since `saving brown women` became the reason to go to war, stories of hapless victims of honour killings in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria have served to fuel a moral reason as to why such imperial overtures are justified. Some brown women, those at risk of honour killings, are to be saved; others who happen to be near target zonesfordrones donot.

The hypocrisy of this is not lost on local populations but it manifests in a particularly grotesque way in the towns and villages of Pakistan that have borne direct hits from American aggression; maintaining honour, which translates roughly to controlling women, has become a nationalistic goal, a stand for local sovereignty.

Women are paying with their lives; simply telling their stories has not saved them and will not save them. This last point is important, for it represents a very troubling moral bifurcation in the aid and advocacy economy via which campaigns against honour killings are funded and the communities in which moral change must take place.

The campaigns are providing jobs and causes and in some cases, international acclaim for a few; but that will never bridge the vast chasm between topdown advocacy and urgently needed grass-roots change.

The words of the prime minister are heartening.

Like most women, I would rather have a leader willing and sincere in recognising the horror of honour crimes than one who capitulates as so many others have done.

A Pakistani woman honoured at the Oscars is also a good thing, an inspiring individual victory and a hopeful honouring, even if it is one that cannot stop future dis-honourings of less lucky Pakistani women. For that, a deeper effort is required, a local and grass-roots conversation directed at those for whom family, honour and survival are intertwined, the murderous killing of the rebel justified because it pretends to be saving all the rest.

The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy rafia.zakaria@gmail.com