United States ― Human Rights Committee ― Death Penalty ― Oct. 2013
An especially disturbing problem with the use of the death penalty in the United States is the issue of wrongful convictions. In the last 40 years, nearly 150 individuals have been exonerated from death row. The report also documents problems with racial bias in determining who receives the death penalty, noting that although black people make up only 13.1 percent of the population, they constitute 42 percent of the death row population.
Another violation of the ICCPR is the cruel and unusual use of lethal injection as the primary method of execution. With many drug manufacturers declining to sell their products to be used in executions, the penal system is forced to use varying and untested drug combinations. This experimentation is leading to increasing numbers of problematic executions, with the procedure sometimes lasting more than 90 minutes.
The U.S. also fails to uphold international law by failing to provide consular notification for foreign nationals of their right to have their consulate notified of their arrest. This requirement is important because foreigners often struggle with language and cultural barriers that can prevent them from obtaining fair legal representation.
Finally, the United States violates the ICCPR by permitting capital punishment for defendants who did not kill, attempt to kill or have any intention to kill. Allowing the death penalty in such contexts directly contradicts the ICCPR requirement that “death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes.”
The Advocates and Reprieve offers several recommendations for the Committee to make to the United States delegation:
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