The Rest of the World, Through the UN, Keeps Applying Pressure on US With Death Penalty Moratoriums

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 3.38.17 PMThe United Nations General Assembly is set to vote today on a moratorium on capital punishment, and if this vote goes anything like the others, the United States will once again be in the minority voting to continue the practice.

The draft resolution calls for the suspension of executions, with movement towards abolition, and asks that countries restrict their use of capital punishment, while posing that they should share information about the sentencing and executions they perform.

The is the fifth time the U.N. will vote on this resolution that was first adopted by the General Assembly in 2007 and the U.S. has never voted in favor of the moratorium.

“Today’s vote confirms that more and more countries around the world are coming around to the fact that the death penalty is a human rights violation and must end. It is also a clear message to the minority of states that still execute – you are on the wrong side of history,” Chiara Sangiorgio, Death Penalty expert at Amnesty International, said of the 2007 vote seven years ago.

With each vote since 2007, the number of nations favoring the moratorium increases. In November, 114 states voted in favor, 36 voted against and 34 did not vote. Two years, only 111 votes in favor, 41 voted against and 34 abstained from voting.

“Governments around the world should seize the opportunity of today’s vote to renew their dialogue to make this moratorium call a reality—we hope we will see even stronger support come the final vote in December,” said Sangiorgio of last month’s vote.

The newest countries in favor are Eritrea, Fiji, Niger and Suriname, as Bahrain, Myanmar and Uganda changed from opposing the moratorium to abstaining from voting.

The U.S. continually votes no to ending capital punishment, alongside China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabis, which makes sense since the United States was ranked fifth in the list of executing countries in 2013, behind those four other nations.

“The attitude of the United States is rather retrograde, in a way,” said Sangiorgio. “They refuse to acknowledge that the way they have been carrying out the death penalty is against international law and standards.”

The United States continues to contend that its decision to vote down the moratorium is because the decision whether or not to implement the death penalty should rest within each nation. An amendment was proposed by Saudi Arabia at November’s committee meeting to add a clause giving the right to individual countries. The amendment was rejected 55 to 85.

The United States has commonly been on the same side as China on this matter, whose number of execution in 2013 is estimated to be in the thousands, making them one of the most bloodthirsty nations in the world.

In fact, the United States is one of the only countries in the West still holding on to the deadly practice. The European Union won’t even let nation enter the EU unless they ban the death penalty. The last execution in France was in 1977, while the United Kingdom stopped the use of the death penalty in 1969 and Denmark abolished the practice in 1978.

The curious thing about executions in the U.S. is that the vast majority of states don’t even do them anymore. Only 32 states still have the option of the death penalty in place, but only seven states utilized it in 2014, with Texas and Missouri leading the pack with 10 this year. Florida had eight. So in essence, the US is looking really horrible and hypocritical in the eyes of the rest of the world so Texas, Missouri and Florida can continue killing people.

If the 3,035 people on death row in the United States are any indication, the United States won’t be voting “yes” on Thursday.


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