Fall is my favorite time of year: the air is cooler, the leaves are pretty, Amnesty International student groups are back together again, and people start signing up for the Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon.
In this—the world’s largest human rights event—we use letters, cards and more to demand the human rights of individuals are respected, protected and fulfilled. We show solidarity with those suffering abuses and work to improve people’s lives.
Ohio’s Parole Board has voted 7-0 to recommend clemency for Shawn Hawkinsdue to doubts about his guilt and an angry lawyer that berated his jury. Ohio Governor John Kasich does not have to follow this recommendation, but he should. (And you can urge him to do so.)
Hawkins’ conviction rests mainly on the testimony of an eyewitness who has changed his story several times (and was initially a suspect before being granted full immunity). There was no murder weapon found and Hawkins had several alibi witnesses.
Upset that his client was convicted despite such a weak case, Hawkins’ lawyer lashed out at (and vaguely threatened) the jury during the sentencing phase of the trial. He warned them (according to the Parole Board’s report) that, if they issued a sentence of death, “what comes around goes around”. No mitigating evidence was presented, and, not surprisingly, the jury came back quickly with a sentence of death.
Mostafaei is defending Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning.
But this is not the only unsettling development for those involved in the case. Yesterday, we denounced the arrest of Mohammad Mostafaei’s wife and brother-in-law, Fereshteh and Farhad Halimi, urging the Iranian authorities to stop harassing Mostafaei.
Mostafaei, a leading human rights lawyer, is defense counsel for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose sentence of death by stoning for alleged adultery recently provoked wide an international public outcry and is a focus of continuing protests and worldwide demands for clemency.
He was issued with a summons on July 21 requiring him to go to a branch of the Prosecutor’s Office in Evin Prison. He went there on July 24, was questioned for at least one hour and then was released. Later, however, he received a further summons by telephone. The same evening, his wife and her brother were arrested and have been detained since.
Mostafaei’s current whereabouts are not known. On the evening of July 24, he wrote on his Facebook account: “it is possible they will arrest me.”