10 July 2022 :
Biden must take action on promise to end federal death penalty
Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Furman v. Georgia ruling, which temporarily outlawed executions in the USA, Amnesty International reminds President Biden and the federal authorities of the urgent need to meet his promise to work for permanent eradication of the death penalty. Justin Mazzola, Deputy Director, Research, at Amnesty International USA, said:
“When the Trump administration resumed federal executions in July 2020 after a 17-year hiatus, it provided a stark reminder of the horror show that is capital justice in the United States. 13 federal executions went forward despite compelling legal claims, including those of racial discrimination, arbitrariness, inadequate legal representation, mental and intellectual disabilities, and prosecutorial misconduct. As memories of that shameful episode fade, it seems that the political will for abolition is dissipating also.
“For the first time since Furman, the United States now has a President who came to office on an abolitionist promise to work to end the death penalty at the federal and state levels. Aside from a temporary freeze on federal executions, however, there has been little visible progress on President Biden’s pledge in the past 18 months. The Biden administration has continued to defend the death sentences of those on federal death row, and the death penalty remains on the table in a number of pending federal trials.
“The USA has carried out more than 1,500 executions since Furman, even as it has labelled itself as a global human rights champion. Yet international human rights law requires abolition of the death penalty within a reasonable timeframe. Biden must immediately make up for lost time by commuting the death sentences of all those on federal death row. The world is waiting for the United States to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half century – total abolition of the death penalty – and the time is now.”