Every few year since 2007, the United Nations General Assembly votes on a resolution to impose a global moratorium on the death penalty. Like all General Assembly resolutions, it has no force of law per se, but it is an important symbolic gesture of global opinion.

Yesterday’s vote, which took place in the Third Committee of the General Assembly passed by 107 votes in favor, 38 against with 36 abstentions.  This represents a much wider margin of victory over the first vote in 2007, which was 104 votes in favor, 54 against and 29 abstentions.  Amnesty reports: “Bhutan, Kiribati, Maldives, Mongolia and Togo changed their vote to back the moratorium. In a further sign of support, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Solomon Islands and Thailand moved from opposition to abstention.”

The trend is very clearly toward a wider and wider recognition that the death penalty is abhorrent to human rights.   According to Amnesty International when the UN was founded in 1945 only eight states had abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Today, 136 out of the 192 UN member states have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

So it is disappointing –though not all together unsurprising — to see the United States joining forces with such bastions of human rights as Egypt and Myanmar to vote against the moratorium.  And if you have any doubts about whether or not the death penalty should be so enthusiastically applied here in the USA, do some research into the case of Cameron Todd Willingham.

  • Mike2020

    Heartless wickedness without limit surrounded the truly tragic case of Cameron Todd Willingham, a manifestly innocent man cynically executed to bolster the political credentials of far-right Republican politicians in Texas.

    Perhaps the worst of this was the behavior of the Governor, Rick Perry.
    (Remember Perry, the far-right nut who claims to be a patriot, but during the last Presidential election openly advocated the secession of Texas from the United States, if people like him did not like the result of the election?). Faced with overwhelming evidence of Willingham’s innocence, what did Perry (who also claims to be a Christian !!) do? Grant a pardon? call for stay of execution pending a further investigation? You can guess, can’t you, without having to read the excellent report in the “New Yorker” that is linked to here: Perry chose to have Willingham killed, to burnish Perry’s credentials with the blowhards, the know-nothings, the racists and the rednecks.

  • River Forest Mom

    Another important source of anti-death penalty information is Sister Helen Prejean’s “Dead Men Walking”. River Forest Mom

  • Skeptical Juror

    On average, excluding Texas, states exonerate 14% of their death row inmates before they kill them. Texas exonerates only 2%. Assuming that Texas simply executed those 12% rather than exonerated them, that indicates Texas has wrongfully executed around 54 innocent people.

    At http://www.skepticaljuror.com I’m reviewing all Texas executions to see if I can identify anywhere near 54 wrongful executions in Texas. I’m not counting low IQs, youth, or “only an accomplice” as wrongful executions. I’m looking for actual innocence. I don’t think I’ll identify 54, but I now expect I’ll identify 3 to 4 dozen.

    Latest case I reviewed was Frances Elaine Newton. I scored her as having a 91% chance of actual innocence. With respect to Cameron Todd Willingham, see my book The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Cameron Todd Willingham for a thorough telling of events leading up to his execution.

  • http://twitter.com/Lullaby85 Francesca Padovese

    What about all the other Country who has the death penalty, like China for example?
    I’ve read others articles in this site and what I see is only a lot of anti americanism.