• Press Release

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

July 2, 2021

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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:

“The moratorium on federal executions is a welcome first step, but more must be done immediately to stop the use of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, including commuting all federal sentences. President Biden has the constitutional authority to commute all federal death sentences and must do so to help move the US closer to meeting its human rights obligations. A moratorium may provide respite for those on federal death row now but can be easily undone by a future administration with a different perspective on the ultimate punishment.

“Just days after the 49th anniversary of Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that led to a nation-wide moratorium on executions, the death penalty is still arbitrary, racially biased, and riddled with errors. The death penalty is beyond repair and must be abolished. Regardless of who is accused, the nature or circumstances of the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution, the death penalty violates everyone’s right to be free from cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. Its usage is irreversible and the risk of executing an innocent person by mistake can never be eliminated.

“It’s well past time for the United States federal government to abolish the death penalty once and for all, following the leadership already exhibited by 23 states in the USA and the majority of countries around the world.”

Amnesty International believes the the death penalty should be abolished around the world.

Read Amnesty International’s annual report on the death penalty.