Saturday, April 5, 2014

Condemning the death penalty : The Lancet

"Herald of Change?" was the title of my keynote essay for our 2008 symposium on the repeal of the death penalty.  Fortunately the augury had some legs here, but the recent mass death sentence in Egypt is a dreadful sign of things to come there. - gwc
Condemning the death penalty : The Lancet:
On Jan 5, 2008, The Lancet published an Editorial to mark the UN's moratorium of the death penalty. We noted that the US state of New Jersey had recently suspended all executions, several countries seemed likely to follow suit, and hopes were high that the practice would soon be consigned to “the dustbin of history”. Which is why Amnesty International'sreportDeath Sentences and Executions 2013, published on March 27, noting a 14% increase in executions in 2013, is of particular concern.  Overall, the worldwide trend for abolition continues. Rates of executions have decreased steadily in the past decade. No executions occurred in Europe and Central Asia or in 173 UN member states worldwide. In the USA, as evidence accumulates for racial disparities, miscarriages of justice, and the sentencing of several people who had mental illness, four states have stopped the death penalty since 2008, most recently Maryland in 2013.Despite these positive signs, at least 778 people were executed in 2013, 96 more than in 2012, a rise driven mainly by increases in Iran and Iraq. The number of death sentences given out also increased by 10% worldwide. Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria, and Vietnam resumed executions after none were recorded for up to 8 years. China is highly secretive about its use of capital punishment, but Amnesty International estimates that it executes thousands of people every year. And on March 24, an Egyptian court defiantly sentenced 528 people to death—the trial lasted 1 hour, and three-quarters of defendants were not present....

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