Utah’s decision to turn to the firing squad if it is unable to secure drugs for lethal injection is the latest attempt by a US state to keep alive a punishment that should have long ago been consigned to the history books, said Amnesty International today.
“Whether by shooting, lethal injection, hanging, asphyxiation or electrocution, the death penalty is a cruel, brutalizing and outdated punishment that is a symptom of violence, not a solution to it. The Utah legislature should be expending its energies on abolishing the death penalty, not trying to fix the unfixable,” said Rob Freer, USA researcher Amnesty International.
On Monday 23 March, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a law allowing the use of firing squads when the drugs needed to administer the lethal injection was not available.
This move clearly goes against the global and national trend towards abolition of the death penalty. Since 2007 six US states have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and the governors of Oregon, Washington and, in 2015, Pennsylvania have established moratoriums on executions in their states.
The USA is the only country in the Americas currently executing prisoners and is one of the only nine countries in the world to have carried out executions every year between 2009 and 2013. The other countries were Bangladesh, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.
On April 1 Amnesty International will publish its annual Death Penalty Report. The report covers the key trends in the use of the death penalty in the past year, and looks at how executions and death sentences have increased and decreased in all countries.