1997-FEB:American Bar Association: The
Associationasked that states and
the Federal government stop executions until the system could be changed to ensure
fairness and due process. They are concerned that under present conditions, there is
significant risk of executing innocent persons.
1997-JUL:Death Penalty Information Center: The
Center noted that from
1973 to that time, 69 inmates on death row had been released after having been declared
innocent. Legislation which reduces inmates' appeal opportunities will result in swifter
executions. This will increase the chances of the state killing innocent people.
1997-SEP: UN Human Rights Commission: Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye is a Senegalese lawyer and former
official with Amnesty International. (One of AI's goals is the abolition of the death
penalty). He is now working for the UN Human Rights Commission. In that capacity,
he visited the United States to review the use of the death penalty in that country. He
found that it is applied in an unfair, arbitrary and discriminatory manner.
1997-SEP:International Helsinki Federation: Thisis an
international organization which monitors human rights abuses in the United States, Canada
and Europe. They noted in their 1998 report on the U.S. that:
"While many countries, in line with international human rights standards, were
planning to abolish the death penalty, US states carried out executions at a record pace
in 1997." In the first 9 months of 1997, 54 men had been executed in the United
States - half of them in Texas.
Iowa, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia were considering the reintroduction of
the death penalty.
Only Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Yemen execute people
for crimes committed as a minor (under the age of 18).
1998-APR-3: UN Human Rights Commission: The
commission in Geneva,
Switzerland passed a resolution that urges member states to place a general moratorium on
executions in their countries, and move towards a world-wide abolition of the death
penalty. The vote was 26 to 13. Among those countries which voted against the resolution
were China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the United States. Mr. Ndiaye
issued a report on APR-3 which described his findings while in the United States. He
wrote: "The use of the death penalty in violation of international standards will
not help to resolve social problems and build a more harmonious society but, on the
contrary, will contribute to exacerbated tensions between races and classes." He
the high ratio of whites to blacks in the judicial system,
execution of people who were juveniles at the time of the crime,
execution of mentally retarded individuals,
lawyers being asked to contribute funds to judges' election campaigns,
lack adequate funding to programs which provide lawyers to the poor,
the low rate of prosecutions of police killings on Los Angeles and New York city,
the lack of adequate human-rights training in police academies.
Bill Richardson, US Ambassador to the UN predicted that this report would "collect
a lot of dust."
1998-APR-22: TX Execution: Joseph Cannon was executed in Texas. He had been found
guilty of committing murder while a child at the age of 17. He had suffered from brain
1998-MAY-18: TX Execution: Robert Anthony Carter was also executed in Texas. He had
been found guilty of committing murder while a child at the age of 17; he also suffered
from brain damage.
1998-SEP: China: This country executed about 3,000 people in 1997 - more than
the rest of the world combined. The numbers of executions have dropped in recent months.
1998-OCT-14: VA Execution: Dwight Allen Wright was executed in Virginia. He had been
found guilty of committing murder while a child at the age of 17; he also suffered from
1999-FEB-4: OK Execution: Sean Sellers died by lethal injection. He was convicted of
having committed three murders while a child at the age of 16. Medical experts found that
he suffered from a serious mental illness at the time of the crime. Lois Whitman,
executive director of the Children's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch
commented: "Again, the United States has put itself outside the bounds of
accepted international standards by executing an individual for crimes committed before
the age of eighteen. We are deeply disappointed that neither Governor Keating nor the
Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Paroles were willing to grant clemency to Sean Sellers.
Their failure to do so puts our nation in the company of countries like Iran, Nigeria and
Pakistan in defying a global consensus against such executions." 1
1999-APR-23: Russia: The last person to be executed in Russia was in 1996.
There are currently 300 convicts on death row. President Boris Yeltsin has asked that all
of their cases be reviewed by the end of 1999-MAY. Convicts will then have their death
sentences commuted. They will either receive life sentences or 25 year prison terms.
1999-JUN-16: U.S. Execution: Douglas Thomas is scheduled to be executed for a crime
committed when he was a child, 17 years of age. Human Rights Watch and others
have called on the governor of Virginia to grant clemency. Since 1990, only 6 countries
have executed juvenile offenders: Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the
United States. Of these, the U.S. has executed 9 juvenile offenders during the 1990's;
this is more than any other country.
1999-AUG-29:United Nations Sub-commission on Human Rights:
This group voted in favor of the abolition of the death penalty for people who were 18
years old or younger at the time of the crime. The resolution passed 14 to
5, with 5 abstentions. The resolution denounces six countries which have
executed a total of 19 persons in this decade, who were children at the time
of their crime: Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, United States, and
Yemen. The Sub-commission also asked all countries which still use capital
punishment to have a moratorium on executions during the year 2000.
1999-DEC-19: Bermuda: Following pressure from Britain and after an
eight-hour debate, Bermuda's lower house voted to abolish capital
punishment. The last execution was in 1977.