• Press Release

Amnesty International USA Statement on 2015 World Day Against the Death Penalty

October 9, 2015

The 13th annual World Day Against the Death Penalty will take place on Saturday, October 10th. Activists and organizations will hold events around the globe to call for the universal abolition of capital punishment. In recognition of the day, Steven W. Hawkins, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, released the following statement:

“In just the past few weeks, three people have been sent to the death chambers in the United States. One of those executed did not commit the murder she was sentenced to die for, and another showed strong signs of intellectual disability.

“The tally nearly reached four executions in just over a week’s time, but for the bungling of an execution in Oklahoma. The state procured the wrong drug to kill the prisoner, only realizing the mistake at the very last minute. Now the state’s Attorney General is investigating what went wrong.

In fact, just about everything is wrong with the capital punishment system. It’s fundamentally broken and should be ended once and for all.

“Thankfully the death penalty is in decline in the United States and around the world. Last year, executions in the United States were at a 20-year low, and death sentences were at their lowest level since 1976. What’s more, nineteen states plus the District of Columbia have banned capital punishment, and seven other states have not carried out an execution in 10 years.

“It’s really just a handful of states that are still aggressively pursuing executions. Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, in particular, are moving further and further away from national standards of decency. Globally, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, and only 22 carried out executions last year.

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The United States cannot practice it and claim to be a human rights leader on the global stage. Now is the time to end capital punishment for good.”