(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) – Following House and Senate hearings on the bill to abolish the death penalty today in Maryland, Amnesty International USA interim executive director, Frank Jannuzi, issued the following comments:
“Marylanders are now on course to eliminate the abhorrent practice of capital punishment. The state will have an opportunity to support victims’ families and focus on public safety solutions that are proven to work. It will be a proud day and a major step forward for human rights in the United States when Maryland becomes the 18th state to abolish the death penalty and put justice and dignity ahead of vengeance.”
Nearly 100 Amnesty activists gathered at the Maryland House and Senate during the hearings, voicing their support for Gov. O'Malley's bill. Both Jannuzi and Howard University student Stanford Fraser, an advocate for Amnesty International, submitted written testimony during the hearings.
In the testimony, Jannuzi noted that according to Amnesty International’s most recent annual worldwide death penalty survey conducted in 2012, the United States stands almost alone among advanced industrialized countries retaining capital punishment.
Since 1990, over 50 countries have abolished the death penalty, including Haiti, Paraguay, Romania, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, and Rwanda. More than two thirds of the world’s countries no longer execute people or use the death penalty. It is a disturbing fact that in 2012, the U.S. remains among the top five countries that carried out the highest number of known judicial executions. The others were China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, whose governments have consistently demonstrated notoriously poor human rights records.
Amnesty International leads a global movement to abolish capital punishment and has been organizing grassroots abolition efforts in Maryland for a decade. Since 1998, it has served as an integral member of the Maryland Citizens Against State Executions coalition.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.