Death Penalty report


Death Penalty report for August – September

September 2022

We are pleased to attach the monthly death penalty report with thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it. Note it contains no information about China which is believed to execute more of its citizens than the rest of the world put together, but the details are a state secret.

Death penalty report, June/July


We are pleased to attach the latest death penalty report thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling this. There is a lot this time about Ukraine and as usual, the USA and its tortuous processes especially in the southern states. Note that there is no report on China which is believed to execute more of its citizens that the rest of the world combined but where information is a state secret.

Urgent Action: Texas


TEXAS EXECUTION SCHEDULED FOR CRIME AT 18

Ramiro Gonzales is scheduled to be executed in Texas on 13 July 2022. He was sentenced to death in September 2006 for a murder committed in January 2001 when he was 18 years old and emerging from a childhood of abuse and neglect. He is now 39. Amnesty International is urging the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the state Governor to grant clemency.

Texas has executed more people than any other state in the Union and five times as many as Oklahoma, the next heaviest user of the penalty. If the method is a deterrent which is so often claimed, why the need for its continuing use?

Below we attach a draft letter to the Governor which you can adapt to your own circumstances. Note that the cut off date is 13 July.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Office of the Governor

PO Box 12428, Austin

Texas 78711-2428

USA

Dear Governor Abbott,

Ramiro Felix Gonzales (TDCJ #999513) is scheduled to be executed in Texas on 13 July 2022.

Ramiro Gonzales was 18 years and two months old at the time of the murder of Bridget Townsend in 2001. He was emerging from a childhood of serious neglect and abuse. A neuropsychologist testified at trial that he “basically raised himself”, had the emotional maturity of a 13- or 14-year-old, and in her opinion was likely in the top 10% of emotionally damaged children.

I do not wish to minimize the consequences of violent crime, but I am disturbed by your state’s use of the death penalty, including against young adult offenders. Over 13 per cent of all those executed in Texas between 1982 and 2022 were 18 or 19 years old at the time of the crime.

When banning the execution of under 18-year-olds in 2005, the US Supreme Court noted that “the qualities that distinguish juveniles from adults do not disappear when an individual turns 18” and made clear that the death penalty be “limited to those offenders… whose extreme culpability makes them the most deserving of execution”. I urge you to consider how a death sentence imposed on a severely emotionally damaged 18-year-old meets this requirement.

I urge you to stop the execution of Ramiro Gonzales and to ensure that his death sentence is commuted.

Yours sincerely,

Additional information

In October 2002, Ramiro Gonzales pled guilty to the abduction and rape of a woman in September 2001 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Soon after he began this sentence, he admitted to the murder of an 18-year-old woman committed in January 2001 while robbing the home of the person who supplied him with cocaine (a drug he had already consumed that day). At the time of the murder, Ramiro Gonzales was 72 days past his 18th birthday.

At the sentencing phase of his 2006 trial, the prosecution presented a psychiatrist who testified that Ramiro Gonzales would likely commit acts of violence in prison. He acknowledged that the American Psychiatric Association viewed such predictions of “future dangerousness”, a jury’s finding of which is a prerequisite for a death sentence in Texas, as unscientific and unreliable. Such predictions have long been shown to be grossly inaccurate, even if seen as effective for the prosecution’s pursuit of a death sentence. While Ramiro Gonzales has had some minor disciplinary infractions on death row, all have been non-violent.

The defence lawyers presented witnesses at the sentencing who testified that the defendant was effectively abandoned by his mother, who had huffed paint, drunk alcohol and abused drugs during the pregnancy and had twice tried to abort the child (on appeal, the claim that the defence lawyers should have retained an expert to assess Ramiro Gonzales for possible Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder for additional mitigation evidence have been rejected). His father was not present during his childhood either. Left with his maternal grandparents, Ramiro Gonzales had little or no supervision. Witnesses also gave details of physical and sexual abuse to which he was subjected, including sexually abuse by a cousin when he was six years old or younger; and by an older woman when he was 12 or 13. Ramiro Gonzales started abusing alcohol and drugs at the age of 11. A neuropsychologist testified that he “basically raised himself” and had the emotional maturity of a 13- or 14-year-old. She testified that he was a “very damaged young man”, and that in her opinion, was likely in the top 10% of emotionally damaged children. She diagnosed him with reactive attachment disorder, a condition whereby a child has been unable to form stable, emotional bonds with parents or caregivers, often because of emotional neglect or abuse at an early age.

When the US Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that states could continue executing individuals for crimes committed when they were 16 or 17 years old, the four dissenting Justices noted that “many of the psychological and emotional changes that an adolescent experiences in maturing do not actually occur until the early 20s”, and that “adolescents on death row appear typically to have a battery of psychological, emotional, and other problems going to their likely capacity for judgment and level of blameworthiness.” When the Court in 2005 banned the death penalty against individuals who were under 18 at the time of the crime, it expressly recognized young people’s immaturity, impulsiveness, poor judgment, underdeveloped sense of responsibility and vulnerability or susceptibility to “negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure”, as well as their potential for reform. This time the majoritynoted that “the qualities that distinguish juveniles from adults do not disappear when an individual turns 18”.

Sixty per cent of the USA’s executions of those under 18 at the time of the crime occurred in Texas. Of these 13 individuals, nine were Black (8) or Latino (1), and six of these nine (67%) were convicted of crimes involving white victims. While not subject to the categorical international and constitutional law prohibition relating to under 18-year-olds, the execution of those who were 18 or 19 at the time of the crime has followed a similar geographic and racial pattern. More such individuals have been executed in Texas than in any other state; indeed, only four other states have executed more people of any age than Texas has executed individuals who were 18 or 19 at the time of the crime. Seventy-seven of the 574 people (13%) put to death in Texas from 1982 to June 2022 were 18 or 19 at the time of the crime. Of these 77 people, 48 were African American (62%), 34 of whom (71%) were convicted of crimes involving white victims. Since 2014, Texas has executed nine people for crimes committed when they were 18; four were Black, three were Hispanic, and two were white. Ramiro Gonzales is Hispanic. The victim was white.

Two of the 13 federal executions carried out in the USA between July 2020 and January 2021 in the USA were of two Black men convicted of the murder of a white couple committed when they were 18 or 19. They were convicted in federal court in the same District of Texas in which Ramiro Gonzales was tried at state level. As the second of the two federal executions approached, the federal prosecutor who defended the death sentences on appeal revealed that she had changed her mind. She noted that “science has established that the structures of the brain are not fully developed in young men until they are 25 or 26” and that “18-year-olds are no different from 17-year-olds in both immaturities and potential for rehabilitation.”

There have been seven executions in the USA this year, one in Texas, which accounts for 574 of the 1,547 executions in the USA since 1976. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, unconditionally.

PREFERRED LANGUAGE TO ADDRESS TARGET: English.

You may also write in your own language.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE UNTIL: 13 July 2022

NAME AND PRONOUNS: Ramiro Gonzales (He/his)

Additional TARGETS

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
Clemency Section
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78757, USA
Fax: +1 512 406 0945
Email: bpp-clemency@tdcj.texas.gov
Salutation: Dear Presiding Officer Gutiérrez and Members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles

Ms Jane D Hartley 

U.S. Embassy

33 Nine Elms Lane, London SW11 7US

Latest death penalty report


We are pleased to attach our latest death penalty report thanks to group member Lesley for preparing it. It is a lengthy one – possibly the longest we have posted – as there is a lot going on, both positive and negative, on this topic. Note as ever that China is not reported on as information about executions are a state secret. China is believed to execute more of its citizens than the rest of the world combined.

Amnesty’s annual death penalty report published


Amnesty’s annual death penalty report for 2021 has just been published

The introduction to the report is reproduced here. The full report is available from this link.

Amnesty International recorded 579 executions in 18 countries in 2021, an increase of 20% from the 483 recorded in 2020. This figure represents the second lowest number of executions recorded by Amnesty International since at least 2010. Most known executions took place in China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria – in that order.

China remained the world’s leading executioner – but the true extent of its use of the death penalty is unknown as this data is classified as a state secret; the global figures for executions and death sentences therefore exclude the thousands of people that Amnesty International believes to have been sentenced to death and executed in China. Figures for North Korea and Viet Nam, which are believed to have extensively resorted to executions, were also not included in the global executions figure, as secrecy and lack of access to independent information made it impossible to assess trends.

Amnesty International recorded 24 women among the 579 people known to have been executed in 2021 (4%), in the following countries: Egypt (8), Iran (14), Saudi Arabia (1) and USA (1).

Belarus, Japan and UAE resumed executions. Amnesty International did not record any executions in IndiaQatar and Taiwan, having done so in 2020.

Iran executed at least 314 people (up from at least 246 in 2020), their highest number of executions since 2017, reversing year-on-year declines since then.

Recorded executions in Saudi Arabia rose sharply, from 27 to 65, an increase of 140% percent.

Despite these increases, the 2021 global executions figure constitutes the second-lowest figure recorded by Amnesty International since at least 2010. For the second consecutive year, the number of countries known to have executed people was the lowest the organization has recorded. In 2019, 2020 and 2021 Amnesty International recorded 657, 483 and 579 executions respectively.

In July, Sierra Leone’s parliament unanimously adopted an Act which abolishes the death penalty for all crimes.  Kazakhstan adopted legislation in December abolishing the death penalty for all crimes, which came into effect this year.  Papua New Guinea embarked on a national consultation on the death penalty, which resulted in the adoption of an abolition Bill in January 2022, still to come into force. The Government of Malaysia announced that it would table legislative reforms on the death penalty in the third quarter of 2022.

At the end of 2021, more than two thirds of the world’s countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.  108 countries, a majority of the world’s states, had abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes and 144 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.  55 countries still retained the death penalty.

Amnesty International recorded commutations or pardons of death sentences in 19 countries: Bangladesh, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, UAE, USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Amnesty International recorded seven exonerations of people under sentence of death in four countries: Bahrain (1), Kenya (1), USA (2) and Zambia (3).

Amnesty International recorded 2,052 death sentences imposed in 56 countries, up 39% from at least 1,477 in 54 countries in 2020.

Ethiopia, Guyana, Maldives, Oman, Tanzania, and Uganda handed down death sentences having not done so in 2020, while the reverse was true of Bahrain, Comoros, Laos and Niger.

At the end of 2021, at least 28,670 people were known to be under sentence of death. Nine countries held 82% of the known totals: Iraq (8,000+), Pakistan (3,800+), Nigeria (3,036+), USA (2,382), Bangladesh (1,800+), Malaysia (1,359), Viet Nam (1,200+), Algeria (1,000+), Sri Lanka (1,000+).

The following methods of execution were used across the world in 2021: beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.

Four people were executed for crimes that occurred when they were below 18 years of age: in Iran (3) and Yemen (1).  Amnesty International believes that other people in this category remained on death row in Maldives, Myanmar and Iran.

At least 134 executions for drug-related offences were known to have been carried out in two countries (China and Iran), an increase of 346% from 2020 (30). Information on Viet Nam, which is very likely to have carried out such executions, was unavailable.

Death sentences were known to have been imposed after proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards in countries including Algeria, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Egypt, Iran, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Singapore and Yemen.


The Salisbury group collects information from around the world and publishes a report each month. The most recent report can be accessed here and others by searching the site or via a search engine.

Singapore execution carried out


Singapore executes Nagaenthran Dharmalingam today

Despite international protests, the Singapore government executed by hanging Nagaenthran Dharmalingam – a man with an intellectual disability – today (27 April 2022). He was convicted in 2009 for importing 42.7 g (1.5 oz) of diamorphine (heroin) and sentenced to death under the states draconian anti-drug laws. The decision to execute someone with an intellectual disability is especially abhorrent. This is the second execution in Singapore in a month with a third scheduled for Friday 29th.

Asia-Pacific Amnesty director Erwin van der Borght said:

The execution of Nagaenthran is a disgraceful act by the Singapore government – ruthlessly carried out despite extensive protests in Singapore and Malaysia and an outcry across the world.

Amnesty International, 27 April 2022

The Singapore government justifies the use of the death penalty because of its alleged deterrent effect on drug related problems. Critics point out there is no evidence to support this claim.

Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. Read our latest death penalty report.

Death Penalty report: March – April


We are pleased to attach our monthly death penalty report for March – April 2022 thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it. Singapore features quite strongly this month. Note that Chiana, which is believed to execute more of its citizens than the rest of the world combined, does not feature as details are a state secret.

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