The USA has a poor reputation when it comes to executions. A report* by Amnesty International found the following:
-Most UN member states were execution-free last year;** but the USA continued to execute.
-The USA was the only one of the 35 member states of the Organization of American States that performed an execution in 2016.***
-Japan and the USA were the only countries in the G8 to perform executions last year.****
-The USA is one of the few countries to execute people with intellectual disabilities.†
For the first time since 2006, the USA did not feature among the top five global executioners.‡ Nevertheless, it remains seventh§ in the top ten globally for executions, in a list of countries where violent intimidation is widespread:
To be sure, there were fewer US executions in 2016 than in 2015, but that fall was partly linked to the procurement of lethal injection chemicals and related legal challenges.‖ Recent US Supreme Court rulings in cases from Arkansas may make it easier for execution fanatics to have their way (see, for instance, the case of Ledell Lee, a mentally disabled African American man who was refused DNA testing despite huge doubts about the safety of his conviction).
There is, however, some hope for the future: 2016 brought a 38% decrease in death sentences imposed in the USA.¶ Let us hope that this reflects a real change of heart among the American people. Jeffrey Wogenstahl’s case is but one example of the injustice inherent in the US death penalty. This barbaric practice must be condemned to the past.
“Revenge must never be confused with justice, and the death penalty only serves to compound injustice.” Zeid Ra-ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 9 August 2016#
**See above report, page 8 (page 10 of PDF).
*** See above report, page 8 (page 10 of PDF).
****See above report, page 8 (page 10 of PDF).
†See above report, page 7 (page 9 of PDF).
‡See above report, page 11 (page 13 of PDF).
§See above report, page 28 of PDF.
‖See above report, page 12 (page 14 of PDF).
#See above report, page 3 (page 5 of PDF).