We know that, together, we can end the death penalty everywhere.

We are making tremendous progress – today, 22 states in the U.S. and two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty. Join us.

Amnesty In Action

ChangE IS POSSIBLE

For 40 years, Amnesty International has been campaigning to abolish the death penalty around the world. When Amnesty started its work in 1977, only 16 countries had totally abolished the death penalty. Today, that number has risen to 106 – more than half the world’s countries. We campaign to stop executions of specific individuals in the U.S. and around the world. Take action in urgent cases today.

why we must act now

Human rights violations

All people have the right to live, and we all have the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. These are human rights that people have, regardless of whether they have been convicted of crimes. The death penalty violates these basic rights.

STANDING UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT

The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception – regardless of who is accused, the nature or circumstances of the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution. Amnesty International believes than the death penalty should be abolished, once and for all.

The death penalty is too flawed to fix.

  • It is irreversible and mistakes happen. The risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated. Since 1973, for example, more than 160 prisoners sent to death row in the U.S. have later been exonerated or released from death row on grounds of innocence. Others have been executed despite serious doubts about their guilt.
  • It does not stop crime. Countries who execute commonly cite the death penalty as a way to deter people from committing crime. This claim is false: there is no evidence that the death penalty uniquely deters crime or improves public safety.
  • It is often used within unjust legal systems. In many cases recorded by Amnesty International, people were executed after being convicted in unfair trials, without legal representation. In some countries, death sentences are mandatory punishments for certain offenses, meaning that judges are not able to consider the particular circumstances. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The death penalty is no way to impart justice.
  • It is discriminatory. The death penalty is applied disproportionally against people of color and poor people, in a racially biased way.
  • It is used as a political tool. The authorities in some countries, like Iran and Sudan, use the death penalty to punish political opponents.
Statistics

20

Number of countries that executed people in 2019 (including the U.S.).

20

Total number of executions in the U.S. in 2019

22

Number of states in the U.S. that have abolished the death penalty.

11

number of states in the US with a death penalty that have not carries out an execution in at least 10 years.

Case Study

RODNEY REED

Amnesty International has campaigned on Rodney Reed’s behalf since 2015. Amnesty International members worldwide had written to Texas Governor Greg Abbott to grant clemency to Rodney Reed and stop his and any further executions.  Amnesty International USA raised concerns about Rodney Reed’s case prior to his scheduled execution date on November 20, highlighting that forensic experts had disputed the time of death as stated at trial, questioned the timeline implicating Reed, and pointed to the fact that Texas courts have repeatedly denied requests for DNA testing of key evidence.

On November 15, 2019 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Rodney Reed and ordered the trial court to consider new evidence in his case. Rodney Reed has been on death row since 1998.

 

Rodney Reed smiling
Photo of Rodney Reed

 

News, Posts, Blogs

May 18, 2020 • Press Release

Missouri plans to execute Walter Barton, as he maintains his innocence

The planned execution of Walter Barton demonstrates why the death penalty is far too flawed to ever fix. Barton maintains his innocence after it took five trials which lasted over a decade to convict and sentence him. He faces execution despite the existence of expert opinion and evidence, never heard by a trial jury, which counters key elements that led to his conviction. This is not justice, it is cruelty.

March 23, 2020 • Press Release

Media advisory: AIUSA to Provide Workshops on Aspects of COVID-19 and Human Rights

As COVID-19 has reached pandemic levels around the world, Amnesty International USA is piloting workshops to media on the aspects of COVID-19 and human rights. While the focus has rightfully …

March 23, 2020 • Press Release

Colorado’s Abolition of Death Penalty Brings Country One Step Closer Towards Eliminating this Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Punishment

Reacting to news that the Colorado Governor has signed a bill to repeal the death penalty, Kristina Roth, Senior Program Officer at Amnesty International USA, stated: “Colorado becomes the 22nd …

December 23, 2019 • Press Release

Khashoggi verdict in Saudi Arabia a whitewash

Responding to a Saudi Arabian court’s sentencing of five people to death and three others to prison for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research …

November 15, 2019 • Press Release

Amnesty International Calls on Governor Abbott to Grant Clemency to Rodney Reed

Amnesty International members around the world are making a plea for Texas Governor Greg Abbott to grant clemency to Rodney Reed and stop his and any further executions. For several …

November 7, 2019 • Press Release

In SCOTUS Hernández Hearing: Justice is Not a Privilege, It is a Right

As the Supreme Court of the United States prepares to hear arguments on November 12 in the case of Hernandez v. Mesa, which concerns the killing of fifteen-year-old Sergio Hernández, by Jesus Mesa, Jr., …

July 25, 2019 • Press Release

Amnesty International Response to US Government Decision to Resume Federal Executions

The Trump administration’s decision to restart federal executions after a 16-year hiatus is outrageous. It is the latest indication of this administration’s disdain for human rights.

July 22, 2019 • Press Release

President’s Call to Revive Death Penalty in the Philippines Will Only Worsen Climate of Impunity

President Duterte’s call to revive the death penalty during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) will only worsen the country’s climate of impunity amid the government’s deadly anti-drugs campaign, Amnesty International said today.

June 17, 2019 • Press Release

Saudi Arabia: Decision to spare teenager’s life must be followed by abolition of death penalty for all juveniles

Responding to the news that Murtaja Qureiris, the young man from Saudi Arabia arrested at the age of 13, will not face execution and has been sentenced to 12 years in prison instead, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said the following:

April 11, 2019 • Press Release

Sudan: Military authorities must break with al-Bashir’s assault on human rights

Responding to the ousting of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir in a military coup following months of street protests, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said:

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