In response to the announcement that Dylann Roof was sentenced to death after being convicted in the killing of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA issued the following statement:
“We have seen over the course of Dylann Roof’s trial and sentencing the horrific suffering he inflicted and the disgusting racial animus that motivated his actions. However, sentencing him to death is not justice. The death penalty is an ineffective punishment that strips all individuals of their human rights, and has itself embodied racism in the criminal justice system. It will not heal the deep racial wounds that continue to wreak violence in our nation.”
For more than two decades, death sentences and executions have steadily declined in the United States because the punishment is costly, ineffective, and unjust. 2015 saw the fewest executions of any year since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976. Today’s sentence is a step in the wrong direction, away from human rights and true justice.
Amnesty International USA opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. As of today, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The U.S. was one of only nine countries in the world that carried out executions each year between 2009 and 2013.