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NGOs urge U.S. to place a moratorium on the death penalty... [View All]

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-08-06 12:07 PM
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NGOs urge U.S. to place a moratorium on the death penalty...
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NGOs to Push U.S. on Moratorium
by Alison Langley

FRANKFURT - When the Human Rights Committee called on the United States last month to place a moratorium on the death penalty because it is imposed disproportionately on minorities and the poor, the Bush administration curtly ignored the recommendation.

Human rights organisations, however, have not; they are promising instead to keep up pressure.

...the US disproportionately metes out the death penalty to ethnic minorities and people with low-economic resources. Additionally, the U.S. was increasing, rather than decreasing the number of offences for which a defendant could be executed.

"This helps us point out that the U.S. is increasingly isolated," David Elliot, chief communications officer of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty told IPS in a telephone interview from Washington, DC. "It is very important for Americans to understand we are one of very few industrialised countries that still have the death penalty."

The demand for an immediate moratorium on capital punishment came during a review of U.S. compliance with a human rights treaty known as the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The review, which ended in July in Geneva, is a routine procedure that is supposed to occur every four years. This time it was more than seven years late due to the U.S. State Department's delay in submitting its own official report, the ICCPR said.

The committee recommendations on the death penalty were overshadowed by other aspects of the report, which included strong criticism over the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, torture of prisoners, Bush administration policies of rendition and charges of spying on domestic citizens. The treaty monitoring committee also expressed concern over racial disparities and the treatment of gays in the U.S.

In fact, the largest number of U.S.-based non-governmental organisations in recent memory - more than 150 -- formed a coalition to force the Bush Administration to re- assess its compliance with the human rights treaty, which was signed and ratified by the U.S. in 1992.

Together, the coalition representing groups as disparate as victims of Hurricane Katrina to gays to lawyers fighting for death row inmates and Guantanamo Bay prisoners said it would continue to press the U.S. to comply with the work of the committee.

"We will be using (the committee report) to get the U.S. to commit to change," Rob Freer, the Amnesty International officer in charge of death penalty abolition said in a telephone interview from London. ...

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