U.S. Among World's Top Three Executioners

Amnesty International has just released the results of its study of world executions for 2003. The top three: China, the U.S., and Iran. Together with country #4, Vietnam, they account for 84% of all executions.

Amnesty International's figures also showed that 77 countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes by the end of 2003....This year's figures show that as the majority of countries follow an abolitionist path, others choose to remain on the wrong side of the justice divide", Amnesty International said. "Countries retaining the death penalty because of its supposed power as a unique deterrent to crime are flying in the face of scientific studies that fail to establish any such effect."

Amnesty further reports:

Since 1973, 113 prisoners have been released from death row in the USA after evidence emerged of their innocence of the crimes for which they were sentenced to death. Some came close to execution after spending many years under sentence of death. Recurring features in their cases include prosecutorial or police misconduct; use of unreliable witness testimony, physical evidence, or confessions; and inadequate defence representation. Other US prisoners have gone to their deaths despite serious doubts over their guilt.

And opines:

"It is time for all governments to comply with their international obligations. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a flagrant denial of the right to life," Amnesty International said.

The full report is available here.

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