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

ChangE IS POSSIBLE

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.

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

18

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

17

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

23

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

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

October 25, 2021 • Press Release

Oklahoma Seeks to Revive Machinery of Death Despite Unanswered Legal Questions

Today, an Oklahoma District Court held a hearing on the preliminary injunction to halt upcoming executions scheduled from October 2021-February 2022 for four people on the state’s death row.

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 …

February 9, 2021 • Post

Coalition Letter to President Biden

You can download the letter here

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 …

April 9, 2019 • Report

Death penalty 2018: Dramatic fall in global executions

Global executions fell by almost one-third last year to the lowest figure in at least a decade, Amnesty International said in its 2018 global review of the death penalty published …

February 20, 2019 • Report

Opposition leader and more than a hundred supporters face the death penalty in Cameroon

Opposition leader Maurice Kamto will today be summoned by a military court on charges which carry the death penalty, as the Cameroonian authorities intensify their post-election crackdown on critics. Kamto, …

August 23, 2018 • Report

Florida’s diehard pursuit of the death penalty is a blot on the Sunshine State

Florida’s approach to the death penalty is deepening its outlier status on this human rights issue and has now added an extra layer of arbitrariness to its already discriminatory and …

April 11, 2018 • Report

Research Shows a Global Trend Towards Abolition of the Death Penalty, But More Work Remains

In its annual assessment of the death penalty, Amnesty International’s research points to a further global decrease in 2017, down from the high peaks recorded for total executions in 2015 …

August 21, 2017 • Report

USA: Florida set to conduct its first execution in a year and a half

Ahead of a planned resumption of executions in Florida on 24 August, 18 months after the last one, Amnesty International is issuing a paper on recent developments relating to the death penalty in the US state.

April 7, 2017 • Report

Death Sentences and Executions 2016

For the first time since 2006, and only the second time since 1991, the United States is not among the world's five biggest executioners, Amnesty International said in its 2016 global review of the death penalty published today.