Posts Tagged ‘USA’


This is an extract from Amnesty’s annual death penalty report for 2020 which, overall, is good news with a decline in the use of the penalty around the world. It excludes China which executes thousands of its citizens but does not publish figures which are a state secret.

Once again the number of known executions has fallen (by 26%) and at 483 is now at its lowest for 10 years.  The number of known death sentences imposed has also fallen. Much of the fall in execution numbers has been driven by significant reductions in Saudi Arabia (down 84%) and Iraq (down over 50%).  However, these falls have been offset by a tripling of executions in Egypt to at least 107.

The five countries that executed the most people are China (1,000s), Iran (at least 246), Egypt (at least 107), Iraq (at least 45) and Saudi Arabia (27). In the USA the picture is mixed with state executions significantly down but this was negated by a surge in federal executions ordered by the outgoing Trump administration.  The USA remains the only country in the Americas to execute people.

The number of known death sentences handed down has also fallen from 2,307 to 1,477 although some of this reduction appears to be due to delays in proceedings in response to the pandemic.

18 countries are known to have carried out executions in 2020, a reduction of 2 since 2019.  Chad and the US state of Colorado abolished the death penalty and Kazakhstan committed to its abolition. On the other hand executions were resumed in India, Qatar, Oman and Taiwan.

Some of the more disturbing trends in 2020 included the following:

  • The Trump administration executed 10 people at the federal level in less than six months
  • China used the death penalty to crack down on offences related to Covid-19 prevention efforts
  • In some countries, including the USA, defence lawyers said that they had been unable to meet clients face to face because of Covid restrictions.

Asia-Pacific countries were notable for imposing death sentences for crimes not involving intentional killing, which is in violation of international law. This included drug offences in China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam, corruption in China and Viet Nam and for blasphemy in Pakistan. In the Maldives five people under the age of 18 at the time of their offences remain under sentence of death.

Nevertheless the trend remains positive. 144 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.  123 countries supported the UN General Assembly’s call for a moratorium on executions.  In the USA the state of Virginia recently became the first southern state to abolish the death penalty and several bills to abolish it at federal level are pending before Congress.

Amnesty continues to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and will continue to campaign until the death penalty is abolished everywhere for good.


Eloquent piece by Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve concerning the death penalty in the USA

Stafford Smith has represented many individuals on death row in the USA so his experience of a dysfunctional and unfair system is considerable. Many more black people are convicted than white people. There is no obligation on the police to make exculpatory evidence available. Prisoners spend decades on death row going through seemingly endless appeals. One case – Kris Maharaj – which we have highlighted on this site, is a case of miscarriage gone badly wrong. Despite copious evidence that he had nothing to do with the murder, he still languishes in prison in Florida. New evidence cannot be introduced at the appeal stage. The level of mistakes is high at around 10% and one of the problems with executions is that they cannot be put right.

Judges may have little criminal experience. Defendants are usually poor and cannot afford experienced or capable lawyers.

This account is of the USA but we should remember that the system is much worse in some other countries of the world: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran for example and that thousands are executed in China where details are a state secret.

Death penalty in USA

Source: Al Jazeera

Reprieve


We attach this month’s death penalty report thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it. Note that apart from a small item, China does not feature despite being the world’s largest executioner of its people. Details are a state secret.


We attach the latest death penalty report thanks to group member Lesley for the work in assembling it.

Report (Word)


The latest monthly death penalty report is attached with thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it.

Report (Word)


President temporarily halts arms sales to Saudi Arabia

It’s only temporary, but it may be a start.  It is being cast as part of the normal review of sales which a new president undertakes upon taking office but let us hope that it becomes permanent.  The scale of destruction in Yemen continues apace so anything which acts to reduce it must be welcomed.

Sources: HRW; The Hill


The US rushed to execute 13 before Jo Biden became president

Shock was widely expressed following the execution of 13 people in the final days of the Trump presidency and just days before president elect Jo Biden takes office on 20th.  President Trump has been the most prolific executioner in more than a century.  There has been a gradual drift away from this use of the penalty in the USA – the only American nation still to have the penalty – and the executions are out of step with trends and attitudes among the US public.  These executions took place in federal prisons. It has been criticised as vindictive.

The Attorney General, William Barr said:

[…] We owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.  US Department of Justice statement when federal executions were resumed after two decades.  July 2019 [accessed 16 January 2021]

 

 


The death penalty report for December to January is now available thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it.

Report- Word

Lisa Montgomery executed on Wednesday 13th


This is an interview on CNN of Helen Prejean who is an active campaigner against the death penalty in the USA.  Helen is a Roman Catholic, born in Baton Rouge Louisiana, and was chair of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty up to 1995.  She is the author of a book, Dead Man Walking.

The interview was made because of President Trump’s programme of carrying out a string of Federal executions in the lame duck period before President elect Joe Biden takes over in January.  The number of these is unprecedented.

CNN interview


This months Death Penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for putting it together.  Two cases in particular are noted and links to those can be found below.  Note that China executes more of its citizens than the rest of the world put together but details are a state secret.

Report: Nov – Dec (Word)

Ali al Nimr

Kris Maharaj

Tree featuring Human Rights Defenders