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

We are making tremendous progress – today, 23 states in the U.S. and two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty. Join us.

Amnesty In Action


For over 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 108 – 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.


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.


Number of countries that executed people in 2020 (including the U.S.).


Total number of executions in the U.S. in 2020


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

Case Study


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

July 2, 2021 • Press Release

The Moratorium on Federal Executions Highlights Need to Abolish the Death Penalty, Once and For All

Responding to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland imposing a moratorium on federal executions while the Justice Department reviews its policies and procedures on capital punishment, Kristina Roth, the Senior Advocate for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA, said:

April 20, 2021 • Report

Death penalty 2020: Despite Covid-19, some countries ruthlessly pursued death sentences and executions

The unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic were not enough to deter 18 countries from carrying out executions in 2020, Amnesty International said today in its annual global review of …

March 24, 2021 • Press Release

Amnesty International USA Applauds Virginia for Abolishing the Death Penalty

Reacting to news that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has signed a bill to abolish the death penalty in the Commonwealth, Kristina Roth, Senior Advocate for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA, released the following statement:

February 9, 2021 • Post

Coalition Letter to President Biden

You can download the letter here

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.

April 20, 2020 • Report

Death penalty 2019: Global executions fell by 5%, hitting a 10-year low

Saudi Arabia executed a record number of people in 2019, despite an overall decline in executions worldwide, Amnesty International said in its 2019 global review of the death penalty published …

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 …

URGENT: Children seeking asylum in the U.S. are being denied their human rights based on their nationality — help ensure that all girls and boys fleeing violence can seek safety.