Friday, October 18, 2019

Why do we need control orders again?

On Wednesday, the government was loudly telling us that it needed to legislate to allow it to impose "control orders" - effectively a parole regime, but imposed without charge, prosecution, conviction or real evidence - on suspected terrorists because they couldn't be prosecuted for their supposed crimes. Today, it turns out that that's not the case:

A warrant to arrest the man called the "bumbling Jihadi" - New Zealand-born man Mark Taylor - has been issued in Wellington District Court.

A charge sheet under the name Muhammad Abdul Rahman Hamza Omar John Daniel was filed in Wellington with a date showing he was due to appear before a registrar on Friday.


The charging document shows a Hamilton address and the charge is that between 11 June 2014 and 24 April 2015 at Raqqa, Syria he threatened to do grievous bodily harm to New Zealand police officers and soldiers

The charge is from the Crimes Act and carries a seven year maximum jail term.

(While the threats were made in Syria, the threatened assaults would have had to have happened in New Zealand, which seems to establish jurisdiction)

So why do we need control orders again?

Bullshitting the Minister

On Monday, the Hit and Run inquiry heard from NZDF's former director of special operations, who claimed that the defence Minister knew everything about the Operation Burnham raid. Today, the inquiry heard from that (former) Minister - and it turns out that he didn't know nearly as much as NZDF claimed:

Mapp – who the Minister of Defence from 2008 until late 2011 – on Friday told the inquiry he had been briefed about the report in the Beehive in September 2011.

"I now have a fragmentary memory of being told … that there was no evidence of civilian casualties but that it was possible that civilian casualties may have been caused during Operation Burnham," he said.

But he said because there had been no detailed evidence to confirm the deaths, he had never passed the information on to former Prime Minister Sir John Key's office.

"I was not left with any reason to think I had to take further action … I thought, on the basis of what I've been told, I can't take this matter any further, because there was no actual evidence," Mapp said.

Which sounds like Jim Blackwell, the former director of special operations, bullshitted the Minister, minimising the contents of the report, and then lied the inquiry about it afterwards in an effort to cover his own arse. But it also sounds like Mapp failed to exercise proper supervision of his agency, in that they (correctly) thought they could do this without getting caught.

There's a lesson in this: Ministers should never trust anything NZDF ever says to them, because they demonstrably will lie and obfuscate and exaggerate to cover their arses and get their way. That's not a basis for a healthy relationship, but what else can Ministers do when an agency has been caught doing this?

We need to bring the police under control

The last decade has seen a trend of increasing weapons availability to police. Assault rifles. Tasers on every hip. Guns in cars. And following the march 15 massacre, pistols on every hip, all over the country. At the same time, its also seen an increase in the abuse of force: the police routinely present firearms at unarmed people, taser people in the back without justification, and have shot more people in the last 10 years than the previous 40. We're getting near-daily reports from the Independent Police Conduct Authority of police using force unlawfully or displaying poor judgement with fatal consequences. And the police's response to all of this is to escalate it some more:

Special police vehicles carrying trained armed officers will routinely patrol Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury in a police trial that hopes to cut down response times to serious incidents involving firearms.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush is expected to make the announcement in Counties Manukau this morning.


The vehicles will be manned by armed offenders squad (AOS) members who would be ready to attend major incidents at any time if needed.

It is understood to be similar to what has been rolled out in the UK, where armed response vehicles have been adapted to accommodate specialist equipment.

So "our" police are going to be rolling through our poorest, brownest neighbourhoods (of course) in armoured black SUVs (of course), suited up in stormtrooper suits and carrying assault rifles, looking for trouble. This isn't a democratic police force under any recognisable version of the Peelian Principles - it is an army of occupation, or a death squad. Its not policing by consent anymore - its naked repression by paramilitary force. And the inevitable consequence of armed, hyped-up police going looking for people to shoot is that they will shoot people, without justification - just like they do in America. We desperately need to bring the police back under control, before that happens.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

We need to take guns off police

Today's IPCA report of police criminality: a police officer unalwfully tasered a fleeing suspect who posed no threat to anyone:

The police watchdog has found an officer unlawfully tasered an Auckland man who broke his ankle jumping off a balcony to escape arrest.


To avoid arrest, the man jumped over his apartment balcony's railing onto the concrete about four metres below and broke his ankle, the IPCA said.

The arresting officer fired his taser at him twice, missing the first time, unaware the man had broken his ankle, it said.

The authority has ruled it was unlawful of the officer to use the taser to carry out the arrest or prevent the man's escape.

"The Authority is not satisfied that the officer fired the Taser to defend himself or others, because the man had just run away from the officers and his partner, removing any imminent threat the officer believed he posed to them.

"Nor did the man pose an immediate danger to anyone else after he jumped from the balcony. Additionally, the officer was not justified in using the Taser to prevent the man's escape."

There's the obvious question here: why isn't this cop in court for assault with a weapon? Because if you or I did anything like this, that's where we'd be, and the law surely must apply to those who enforce it as well as those it is enforced upon. But also, its a perfect demonstration of why we need to take guns off police except for specialist units: because they clearly cannot be trusted to use them appropriately or lawfully. Instead, they're behaving like Americans. It is time to take their toys away.

"Bringing kindness back"

"Auckland City Mission: 10% of Kiwis experiencing food insecurity", RNZ, 16 October 2019:

About half a million people are experiencing food insecurity, according to new research from the Auckland City Mission.

Food insecurity, or food poverty, is defined as not having enough appropriate food.

The City Mission said over the last few years, demand for food has continually and dramatically increased.

It said information about food insecurity in New Zealand was outdated and sparse, but its research estimates about 10 percent of the population is experiencing food insecurity.

"'We are in deep trouble': Dire lack of state housing creates a new homeless", New Zealand Herald, 17 October 2019:
The future demand for state houses will outstrip the Government's build targets by almost double, a Herald analysis has found.

The dire shortfall is expected to force thousands more into homelessness, including increasing numbers of low-income working parents and retiring baby boomers who don't own property and can't afford escalating rents.

Commentators and officials fear the housing undersupply has now grown to the point it may be irreversible, with some predicting a new reality where living in caravan parks or motels is normal.

"Govt won't make financial hardship grounds for MSD debt write-off", RNZ, 17 October 2019:
The government has no plans to change the rules to allow debt write-offs for beneficiaries struggling to pay back loans to cover basic living costs.

More than $500 million is owed to the Ministry for Social Development for recoverable hardship assistance and grants - up more than $100 million on what it was four years ago.

The loans are used to cover essentials like school uniforms, power bills and car repairs, but there have been growing calls for the government to reconsider how it treats this debt.


But Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said she's not looking at making changes to make serious financial hardship a ground for debt write-offs.

When this government was elected, Jacinda Ardern promised to "bring kindness back". Kindness to whom? Because looking at the above, its certainly not those in desperate need. Instead, while sitting on a $7.5 billion surplus, Ardern is leaving them hungry, homeless, and in permanent debt-slavery to WINZ, all to avoid troubling rich people like herself.

The government has the money to solve these problems. It chooses not to. And that's as close to a definition of "evil" as you can get.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

An odious bill

The government has decided that someone has done Something Bad. But despite their belief, there seems to be no evidence that they have actually broken the law. So the government's solution is to pass a retrospective law allowing them to be punished anyway, on a lower standard of proof.

If it was Russia or China doing this, we would have no qualms at all about condemning it as a tyrannical abuse of power and a violation of basic human rights. But its not Russia or China: it's New Zealand:

On Wednesday, Justice Minister Andrew Little introduced a new bill to to strengthen counter-terrorism laws and support the de-radicalisation of New Zealanders returning from overseas.

The need for law change was highlighted when it came to light that a case against Taylor, known as the "bumbling jihadi", would not necessarily be a slam dunk with much of the case dependent on proof.


The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill will now give the New Zealand Police the ability to apply to the High Court to impose control orders on New Zealanders who have engaged in terrorism related activities overseas.

The orders are effectively a bail regime, allowing someone's freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression to be restricted for up to six years. While imposed by a court, there's an implicit assumption that evidence will be secret (or rather "non-disclosable" to the accused), and it will be done on a civil rather than criminal standard of proof. Like asset forfeiture, its essentially a way to punish without prosecution or evidence (and to punish those acquitted by the courts), freeing the police from having to do their actual jobs properly. Except here, there'll be default permanent name suppression, so we won't be able to see who it is being applied to.

Terrorists who commit or plan murder and mayhem should (and can) be prosecuted for their crimes. But this odious bill is an attack on the rule of law and the fundamental principles of a free society. And it is proving once again that (in the words of the UK Supreme Court) the real threat to the life of the nation comes not from terrorism but from laws such as this.

National is now the party of climate arson

So, Judith Collins has done a Facebook rant about climate change, peddling the same shit National has been shovelling for the past twenty years: the impacts are overstated, there's no need to do anything about it, and its too hard anyway (oh, and its so unfair that people who peddle this bullshit get called on it). And according to Newshub, her views have the full backing of Simon Bridges:

National leader Simon Bridges said Collins is "right".

"This isn't an emergency, I don't think... We need practical, sensible actions, but we're not going to sit by and let our economy be ruined by radical, meaningless proposals... We're not going to see farm production go down the toilet."

So that's that: National is now the party of full-on climate arson, willing to burn the world - including New Zealand - for the profit of their farmer cronies. They've responded to the school strike, and the 170,000 people who marched, and the countless others who supported it, with a "fuck you, and fuck your future".

Which makes it crystal clear: if you want effective climate policy, if you want a future, don't vote for climate arsonists. Don't vote for National.

Passing the buck

Last month, NZDF's shoddy coverup of what it knew about civilian casualties in Operation Burnham began to fall apart, with the revelation that a report on the matter, which NZDF claimed not to have, had been sitting in an NZDF safe for the past nine years. Yesterday, the man responsible for putting it there was finally questioned on the issue, and adopted a new line: the Defence Minister knew everything. But oddly, the records which would prove (or disprove) this story had been deleted:

Blackwell's memory was questioned by lawyers. He had initially told a Defence Force lawyer he had no memory of the report, but recent media reporting had rekindled his recall.

He specifically remembered receiving the report by email, and speaking to [then-Defence Minister Wayne] Mapp. But his records, including emails, calendars and other operational documents had been deleted since he left the military.

Why emails and records from others who held this position were available to the inquiry was an open question.

How convenient. Meanwhile, its worth noting that none of this fits with Mapp's public statements on the issue that he found out about civilian casulaties from a 2014 TV documentary, and that he has absolutely no reason to lie about this. So on the face of it, it looks like another attempt at passing the buck by NZDF, another attempt to avoid accepting responsibility. And for an organisation which supposedly prides itself on integrity, that is simply contemptible.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A climate of tyranny

For the past week, Extinction Rebellion has been peacefully protesting in London to demand action on climate change. The British government's response? Ban their protests:

Police have banned Extinction Rebellion protests from continuing anywhere in London, as they moved in almost without warning to clear protesters who remained at the movement’s camp in Trafalgar Square.

The Metropolitan police issued a revised section 14 order on Monday night that said “any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’ ... must now cease their protests within London (MPS and City of London Police Areas)” by 9pm.

Almost immediately, officers moved into Trafalgar Square and demanded that protesters remove their tents. Most XR activists staying at the site had already decamped to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, south of the river, and only a few dozen tents, along with gazebos and other infrastructure, remained on the square.

Which speaks volumes about the intentions of the British government. Face with people raising the alarm about the biggest crisis facing humanity, the establishment's response is to gag them. Not only do they not want to know - they don't want anyone else to be told. They'd rather UKanians all drowned rather than face the inconvenience of admitting the problem and taking credible action on it. Which is a prime example of why that political establishment needs to be voted out on their arses.

Still, it could be worse: at least they're not just murdering them - the British establishment's instinctive response to protest. But if you're in XR in London, I guess its time to take off your "XR" badge, put on a "school strike" one, and keep on doing exactly what you're doing.

More disappointment

When they were running for election, Labour promised to overhaul the Employment Relations Act and introduce fair pay agreements to set basic pay and conditions on an industry level, preventing bad employers from undercutting good ones. They followed this up by establishing a working group, which reported back in January this year supporting the idea. But since then, there's been nothing. And understandably, the union movement would like the government to keep its promises:

The leader of the Council of Trade Unions is calling on the Government to make progress on fair pay agreements.

CTU president Richard Wagstaff said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern needed to fulfil her election promise to workers and introduce the collective agreements.

The union released a framework on fair pay agreements ahead of the organisation's annual conference, being held today.

"The Labour Party have pledged their commitment to fair pay agreements, but action is needed to turn the concept into reality."

And they're running out of time. It takes between 6 months to a year (depending on submissions and filibustering) for a bill to become law after being introduced to Parliament, and there's an election in a year. If a bill for fair pay isn't introduced by the holidays, then it will be clear that its just not going to happen this term. And that will add another policy to the long list of under-delivery for this government of disappointment, and make it that much harder to encourage its voters to turn out for it.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Spain is not a democracy

Two years ago Catalans braved police batons and rubber bullets to vote overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum. Today, Spain jailed nine politicians who organised and supported that referendum process for a combined total of a hundred years for "sedition", after a trial that was little more than a judicial lynching. Protests against the verdicts are already breaking out across Catalonia, but Spain has invaded with 1500 riot police to "keep order". So we'll probably see more scenes of peaceful protesters being beaten, gassed and shot for daring to express the view that a democratic society should resolve questions democraticly.

Because that, fundamentally, is what this is about. While Catalans are divided on independence, there has always been overwhelming support for the idea that as a democratic society they should be allowed to vote on it. Spain has responded to that idea with violence and brutality. It has treated Catalonia like a colonial possession, whose people must be kept in line by force, rather than as citizens of a democratic state. It has not behaved like a democracy, but like the fascist dictatorship it supposedly ended 40 years ago.

That treatment has unsurprisingly strengthened the desire for independence, as people seek to leave the country which mistreats them. When this mess began, Spain could have allowed a vote, and probably won it, and that result would have been accepted for a decade or more. Now, there's really only one outcome: independence. The question is how long it takes, and many people Spain murders trying to stop it.

UK Conservatives hate democracy

With an unfair voting system, uneven electorates and an un-elected upper house, the UK's "democracy" is barely worthy of the name. But now the government wants to make it worse:

The government has been accused of suppressing voters’ rights with the potential disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of people after plans to introduce compulsory photo ID for voters were leaked.

Reports that the Queen’s speech contains proposals to make showing ID such as driving licences or passports at the ballot box a requirement have been met anger by campaigners who say the move is a threat to democratic participation.

Ministers were accused of using a “sledgehammer to crack a nut” as the numbers of personation fraud during elections was tiny, critics said. Instead, voters were far more worried about low turnout, questionable donations and foreign interference, it was claimed.

Over 3.5 million UKanians do not have any form of photo ID, and 11 million don't have passports or driver's licences. And naturally, these are concentrated among poorer and browner UKanians - those least likely to vote Tory. So its not just an attack on democracy, its very specifically a US-style attempt to stack the electoral deck for the benefit of the party in power.

On the other hand, does it really matter what is in the government's programme? Its not as if they have a majority for anything any more. But on the gripping hand, it suggests the Tories are becoming increasingly anti-democratic, lusting to return to Jacob Rees-Mogg's C19th "utopia" when only the rich could vote and everyone else's voices were excluded. So they need to be thrown out of power so they remember who is really in charge: the people.

New Fisk

Trump and Erdogan have much in common – and the Kurds will be the tragic victims of their idiocy

What is wrong with our building industry?

Back in the 90's and early 2000's, the building industry was building leaky homes which should never have been granted consent. Now it turns out they've been building dodgy office blocks as well:

New imaging technology has revealed hundreds of major buildings nationwide have defective or missing concrete or reinforcing steel.

Concrete investigators say their scanning shows many buildings have not been constructed according to the plans.

They were "astounded" and "appalled", Jane Roach-Gray of Wellington company Concrete Structure Investigations said.


Critical structural parts were defective or missing in 1100 of the 1200 buildings they had scanned since 2016, Ms Roach-Gray said.

"The divide occurs between what's in the plans and what ends up in the structure," she said.

They can't name any of the buildings "for legal reasons" (meaning: fear of being sued if they told the truth about what's wrong with them), but the implication is clear: pretty much anything that has been built in the last 40 years has these problems. And some may be structurally unsound or outright unsafe as a result.

So how did this happen? One part is almost certainly the building industry's culture of lowballing contracts, which then encourages them to cut corners to turn a profit. But in theory, buildings are meant to be inspected, to ensure that that doesn't happen and that everything is built according to the plans. So there have obviously been some terrible failures there. Who's responsible for inspections? Those same territorial authorities who granted consents to leaky homes, and who are under relentless pressure from Boomers to Keep Rates Low. Except that skimping on this is a fool's strategy, because councils are legally liable for their failure to inspect, and in the case of leaky homes, that adds up to billions. They could now be on the hook for billions more.

Local bodies

Local body election results were released over the weekend, to joy or despair depending on where you live. In Auckland, Phil Goff trounced John Tamihere, who is muttering darkly about running for Parliament again (but which party would want him?) Wellington is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Weta Workshop, except Peter Jackson only bought the mayor rather than the councillors, who probably still will be reluctant to pay for his stupid vanity museum. Dunedin elected the country's first Green mayor. And in Canterbury, ECan voters got to vote for the first time in nine years, having had their democracy stolen by National - and promptly showed why National did it, by electing a council interested in cleaning up the rivers. So no doubt we'll see farmers agitating for a dictatorship again.

Meanwhile in Palmerston North the mayor easily retained his seat (damn), but our council now has two Greens, two Labour, and a few less Boomers. But turnout is still well below 2016, bucking the national trend; I'm wondering if it has something to do with voters being presented with a choice of politicians or a paedophile, and just throwing their hands up in disgust. Alternatively, maybe the postal system here is worse than elsewhere? Either way, from reports from other cities, it looks like having actual polling booths is a definite way to go to increase it in future.

Friday, October 11, 2019


The Ugandan government wants to murder gay people:

Uganda has announced plans to impose the death penalty on homosexuals.

The bill, colloquially known as “Kill the Gays” in Uganda, was nullified five years ago on a technicality, but the government said on Thursday it plans to resurrect it within weeks.

The government said the legislation would curb a rise in “unnatural sex” in the east African nation.

The death penalty is barbaric enough. Seeking to apply it to private acts between consent adults is utterly mind-boggling. That's simply not the proper domain of the state, let alone of state murder.

Last time Uganda's bigoted government tried to push this law through, the international community responded with sanctions. Hopefully we will do the same again.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The SIS unlawfully spied on Nicky Hager

Back in 2011, journalist Nicky Hager published Other People's Wars, an expose on NZDF's activities over the previous decade of the "war on terror". NZDF didn't like this, and especially didn't like the fact that it was based on leaks from their own. So, they had the SIS investigate him for "espionage" in an effort to uncover and punish his sources. In the process, the SIS acquired two months of his phone metadata (more on that later). Now, the Acting Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has ruled that it their suspicions were absurd and the entire operation unlawful:

The Acting Inspector General of Intelligence and Security has upheld a complaint by investigative journalist Nicky Hager against the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service for unlawfully attempting to uncover his journalistic sources.


The SIS sought to justify this use of its powers against Mr Hager by claiming that it was investigating espionage. However, the Acting IGIS found that the SIS had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that any espionage had occurred.

In her report, the Acting IGIS wrote that, “NZSIS provided that assistance despite a lack of grounds for reasonable suspicion that any activity had occurred that was a matter of national "security'”. She also concluded that she had “been unable to find that the Service showed the kind of caution I consider proper, for an intelligence agency in a free and democratic society, about launching any investigation into a journalist's sources.”

The full report is here, and it is very interesting reading. Some highlights:
  • The ruling depending heavily on the definition of "security" in the old New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act 1969, which specifically referred to protection from "espionage". While the report does not include a timeline, presumably the complaint was in the system when the new Intelligence and Security Act 2017 was being drafted. Which explains why the government at the time was very keen not to define "national security": so the SIS could interpret it to mean whatever they wanted it to mean, and legitimise this behaviour. So once again, the spies have been allowed to rewrite the law to legalise their behaviour after being caught out.
  • The Inspector-General finds that, given its seriousness, imputing a motive of intending to prejudice the defence and security of New Zealand (a necessary requirement for espionage) requires some actual foundation, and neither SIS nor NZDF had anything of the sort. Along the way, they also pour scorn on the SIS's theory that any publication of classified information is communication with a foreign power and therefore criminal. That is simply not a construction supported by the law (so I guess we can expect the SIS to push for changes to that as well). Incidentally, that's the argument used by the SIS's foreign partners against publishing leaks, and its good to see that our oversight agencies think it is bullshit.
  • It is unclear from the report how the SIS acquired Hager's phone metadata. There are a number of options here: they could have acquired it using an intelligence warrant, or they could have acquired it simply by asking his phone company (Hager being a New Zealander and the government having denied mass-surveillance, presumably they didn't get it from the GCSB or their foreign "partners"). If they got it under warrant, then that warrant would have had to have been signed by the Minister - who at the time was none other than John Key, which given his role in Dirty Politics again raises the issue of government use of spies for persecution. OTOH, if his phone company provided it without any lawful authority to do so, then given the lack of any basis for the investigation, that seems like a violation of the Privacy Act, just as was committed by his bank when they provided information on request to the police. And hopefully he'll go after them as well, pour encourager les autres.
The Inspector-General has recommended that the SIS apologise. I'd go further: they invaded Hager's privacy, and should be paying damages. And I'd hope that the staff who approved this baseless and intrusive investigation will be facing employment consequences, assuming they're still around. We trust our spies with tremendous powers. We must hold them properly to account when they abuse them. Update: The complaint was not made until 2018, after the Intelligence and Security Act was law.

And they wonder why we think they're environmental vandals...

The Zero Carbon Bill is due back from select committee in two weeks, and will likely pass its final stages in November. So naturally, farmers are planning a hate-march against it. But they're not just demanding lower methane targets so they can keep on destroying the planet; they're also demanding that forestry be removed from the ETS to remove the incentive to draw down carbon by planting trees, plus an end to planned water quality targets and nitrate limits, which will directly reduce emissions.

Farmers call this "a fair go". What it actually is is a free ride, at the expense of urban New Zealand and the rest of the planet. That's our atmosphere they're polluting, our rivers they are poisoning. And they need to be made to stop or pay for the damage they are causing (which, if you believe them, amounts to the same thing).

Meanwhile, farmers are complaining about the public viewing them as environmental vandals. Well, if they don't want to be called that, maybe they should stop vandalising the environment, or loudly proclaiming their "right" to do so. Just a thought...

Climate Change: Paying the price in California

Last year, California burned. This year, to stop it happening again (or rather, to stop themselves from being found liable if it happens again), Pacific Gas and Electric is cutting power to half the state for a week:

Schools are closed. Traffic lights down. Tunnels dark. Businesses unopened. Hospitals running on generators.

Much of northern California is facing life without electricity or gas for as many as five to seven days, after the country’s largest utility company cut power to an unprecedented swath of the state as a preventive measure against wildfires.

The preventive power shutoffs by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) may affect up to 2.5m people by the end of the week. The first wave of shutoffs began on Wednesday to portions of 20 of the state’s 58 counties. PG&E is expected to shut off power to 10 more later in the day.

And that's the price of climate change: a huge chunk of one of the richest parts of the world where you can no longer get reliable electricity for fear of climate-change induced fires. And its a terrible price, because its not just a question of inconvenience - PG&E is basicly leaving anyone medically dependent on electricity to die (the expected cost of that presumably being lower than the expected cost of being found liable for another massive fire). And given the way the climate is going, this is likely to happen every year, until they find a way to stop their lines from causing fires (or until people adopt distributed generation to avoid disruption).

10/10: World Day Against the Death Penalty

Today, October 10, is the world day against the death penalty. Out of 195 UN member states, 84 still permit capital punishment. Today is the day we work to change that.

This year's theme is children. Having a parent sentenced to death or executed causes long-term trauma and stigmatization which amounts to a violation of their human rights. Thirty years ago, the world (except for the USA) agreed on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which enshrined the best interests of children as the primary consideration in all actions affecting them. Thirty years on, it is time to admit that the state murdering their parents can never be in the best interests of a child.

In the past year no countries formally abolished the death penalty, though the Gambia commuted all existing death sentences to life imprisonment following its ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. The US states of New Hampshire and Washington also formally abolished their death penalties. Progress may have slowed, but we are still headed in the right direction.