Amnesty: US ranks 5th on global execution scale

Mar 26, 2012, 11:01 PM

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – The United States was the only Western democracy that executed prisoners last year, even as an increasing number of U.S. states are moving to abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International announced Monday.

America’s 43 executions in 2011 ranked it fifth in the world in capital punishment, the rights group said in its annual review of worldwide death penalty trends. U.S. executions were down from 46 a year earlier.

“If you look at the company we’re in globally, it’s not the company we want to be in: China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq,” Suzanne Nossell, executive director of Amnesty International USA, told The Associated Press.

The United States seems deeply divided on the issue.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was cheered at a Republican presidential candidates’ debate last September when he defended his signature on 234 execution warrants over more than 10 years as being the “ultimate justice.”

Just weeks later, young people rallied in person and online to protest the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia for the 1991 murder of a police officer. In the intervening years, key witnesses for the prosecution had recanted or changed their stories.

“I think the debate on the issue may be nearing a tipping point in this country,” Nossell said. “I think we’re seeing momentum at the state level, in the direction of waning support for the death penalty.”

Illinois banned the death penalty last year, and Oregon adopted a moratorium on executions.

Maryland and Connecticut are close to banning executions, Amnesty said. And more than 800,000 Californians signed petitions to put a referendum on the state ballot in November that would abolish the death penalty.

However, 34 U.S. states have the death penalty.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks U.S. trends, told the AP that last year 78 prisoners received death sentences, down from an average of more than 300 annually a few years ago. “Executions peaked in 1999 at 98,” he added. “By all measures, the death penalty is on the defensive.”

Dieter attributed much of the decline to the introduction of DNA testing, which has exposed some mistaken convictions. With stronger defense tactics and appeals processes getting longer, U.S. states also found it more and more expensive to pursue death penalty cases, he said.

The United States was the only member of the G-8 group of developed nations to use the death penalty last year. Japan, which also retains capital punishment, recorded no executions for the first time in 19 years, Amnesty reported.

“Our government has made a very strong point of trying to reassert its position as a standard-bearer on human rights globally,” Nossell said. “When other countries look at the United States, the use of the death penalty really stands out a lot in the mind of Europeans and others around the world. We’re in such incongruous company.”

Mexico strongly protested the July execution in the U.S. of one of its citizens, Humberto Leal, for rape and murder on the grounds that he had not been advised of his rights to receive legal advice and assistance from his consulate. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations is supposed to guarantee the right of any citizen to consular help.

Leal was one of 51 Mexican men who have been sentenced to death in the United States after being denied consular assistance, Amnesty said. The International Court of Justice had ordered a full review of all these cases after Texas executed another Mexican man in 2008.

The U.S. federal stance on capital punishment was complicated by the Defense Department’s announcement that it would seek the death penalty for six foreign nationals detained at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for trial by military commission. Amnesty contends that military commissions are discriminatory because they do not give foreign citizens the same right to appeal as U.S. courts.

___

Online:

http://www.amnestyusa.org/deathpenalty2011

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - The fire-damaged Wellspring Health Access clinic is cordoned by tape on May 25, 2022, in in ...
Associated Press

Feds: Woman charged in Wyoming clinic fire opposes abortion

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A woman accused of setting fire last year to a Wyoming abortion clinic that was under construction told investigators that she opposes abortion and was experiencing anxiety and nightmares over the facility opening, authorities say in court documents. According to the court filing, 22-year-old Lorna Roxanne Green, of Casper, told Matthew […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

FBI: 1 person fatally shot during multiday hostage rescue

HOUSTON (AP) — One person was fatally shot during a hostage rescue on Thursday in Houston, according to the FBI. FBI agents had been part of a multiday law enforcement operation to rescue a group of hostages, the agency’s Houston office said in a statement. “All the hostages have been safely rescued, no FBI agents […]
10 hours ago
People walk in front the courthouse past cameras and equipment set up by the media ahead of former ...
Associated Press

AP source: Trump grand jury hearing other matters Thursday

NEW YORK (AP) — The Manhattan grand jury investigating Donald Trump over hush money payments planned to hear testimony on other matters Thursday, seemingly further delaying a vote on whether or not to indict the former president, according to a person familiar with the matter. There was no immediate explanation for why the grand jury, […]
10 hours ago
Leroy Chapman Jr., the new editor of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, is shown in this undated pho...
Associated Press

1st Black editor named to lead Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday named Leroy Chapman Jr. as its new editor-in-chief, making him the first Black editor to lead the newspaper in its 155-year history. Chapman, 52, has worked in journalism for nearly three decades and has spent the past 12 years at the Journal-Constitution, serving as its managing editor since 2021. Publisher […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

NYPD officer rappels down building to stop man from jumping

NEW YORK (AP) — A police officer rappelled down a Manhattan skyscraper to stop a man who was facing financial fraud charges from jumping out of a 31st-floor window. The daring arrest happened after federal agents went to the man’s apartment near Carnegie Hall Wednesday morning to take him into custody. Rather than give himself […]
10 hours ago
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg arrives at his office, Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New Yor...
Associated Press

Manhattan DA rejects GOP demand for info on Trump case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Manhattan district attorney investigating Donald Trump rebuffed House Republicans’ request Thursday for documents and testimony about the case, dismissing it as an “unprecedented inquiry” with no legitimate basis. In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the general counsel for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg slammed the congressional request as “an […]
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Amnesty: US ranks 5th on global execution scale