The state murder of Dwayne was brutal, shocking and devastating for his
family. Both types of killing have a brutalizing effect on society. Both
No solution to crime
Some governments argue that the death penalty is necessary in societies
scarred by violent crime. The ultimate punishment is needed, they say,
to deter others from committing similar crimes, and to address the
feelings of victims of crime and their relatives by offering
Such governments are simply abdicating their responsibilities. They
should concentrate on eradicating crime by improving policing and
addressing the causes of crime. The quick fix "solution" of the death
penalty does no more to deter crime than other punishments while doing
much to increase the climate of vio-lence. Governments could offer
victims of crime and their families financial and other forms of support
so their shattered lives can be rebuilt. Instead, some governments bow
to popular pressure and focus on retribution, stoking up a climate of
vengeance and brutality. Governments could introduce reforms to
eradicate poverty, slums and despair. Instead, some governments rely on
ill-equipped criminal justice systems to deal with the consequences of
despair in the only way they can - by meting out ever harsher
Recent experience in Kenya has shown that the death penalty does not
help to deter crime and can be used to cover up government reluctance to
tackle police corruption and poverty. Kiraitu Murungi, a member of
parliament, stated in 1994 during a debate on the death penalty that,
"We have more violent robberies in the 1990s than in 1975 when we
introduced capital punishment for violent robbery. If anything, robbery
has increased despite our having capital punishment on our books." By
1998 more than 1,400 people had been sentenced to death for a range of
crimes by a Kenyan justice system notorious for its widespread
corruption. Many people in Kenya, including Peter Kimanthi, a police
spokesman, have admitted that poverty and unemployment cause crime. Yet
rather than tackling problems in the police and justice system or
addressing social deprivation, the Kenyan authorities continue to rely
on mandatory death sentences for serious crimes, including robbery,
often imposed after grossly unfair trials.
Society should not condone the premeditated killing of defenceless
people, whatever they have done. If it does, it condemns us all to live
in a world where brutality is officially sanctioned, where murderers set
the moral tone and where state officials are authorized to shoot, hang,
poison or electrocute women and men in cold blood.
The cruelty of executions
The death penalty is not an abstract concept. It involves inflicting
severe trauma and injury on a human body to the point where life is
extinguished. It means the overpowering of basic human instincts - the
will to survive and the desire to help fellow human beings who are in
pain. It is a repulsive act which no one should be asked to perform or
witness, and which no one should have the power to authorize.
All execution methods are gruesome, and all methods of execution can go
The idea that lethal injection is somehow a "humane" way of killing is
nonsense. The condemned still have to suffer the terror of waiting for
their preordained moment of death, and the method of killing is not
always the clinical and painless process claimed by its proponents. Many
such executions have resulted in prolonged deaths, including Guatemala's
first execution by lethal injection in February 1998. Manuel Martínez
Coronado, an impoverished peasant farmer of indigenous descent, took 18
minutes to die, despite assurances by the authorities that the execution
would be painless and "over in 30 seconds". After the execution had
begun, there was a power cut, so the lethal injection machine switched
off and the chemicals stopped flowing. Witnesses in the observation room
also reported that the executioners had trouble finding a vein into
which to insert the needle. Human Rights Procurator Julio Arango said:
"I think we all have the obligation to tell what happened: his arms were
bleeding heavily." The execution was broadcast live: audiences could
hear Manuel Martínez Coronado's three children and their mother
sobbing in the observation room as the execution took place.
This execution was an attempt by the authorities to sanitize the method
of inducing death. The previous executions, Guatemala's first for 13
years, were carried out in 1996 by firing squad. One of the prisoners
was not killed by the first volley of bullets. He may even have heard
the order for another shot to be fired at his head to kill him. Public
outrage in Guatemala and abroad forced the authorities to end the use of
firing squads. A more appropriate response would have been to end the
use of capital punishment altogether.
In the USA, several states still use the electric chair. One of the most
recent such executions took place in Florida in 1997. Pedro Medino, a
Cuban refugee with a history of mental illness, was strapped to a chair
that was built in 1924. The chair malfunctioned and the black leather
face mask shielding Pedro's terrified face burst into orange and blue
flames, filling the death chamber with dense smoke. The power was kept
on until he died.
In Afghanistan in 1998 at least five men, convicted of sodomy by Islamic
Shari'a courts, were placed next to walls and then buried under the
rubble as the walls were broken over them. Two of the men did not die
until the next day in hospital. One man survived. In the same country
people can also be executed by being stoned or hanged from cranes, or by
having their throats slit.
These are particularly disturbing examples of executions. But the fact
is that once states believe they have the right to execute prisoners,
they end up endorsing practices which are akin to torture, whatever
method they choose.
Torture is universally condemned and outlawed, including by those who
advocate the death penalty. Yet an execution is an extreme, purposeful,
physical and mental assault on a person already rendered helpless by the
state - the essential elements of torture. If hanging someone by the
arms or legs until they scream out in pain is condemned as torture, how
should we describe hanging someone by the neck until they are dead? If
giving 100 volts of electricity to sensitive parts of the body in order
to extract a confession is condemned as torture, how should we describe
the administration of 2,000 volts in order to inflict death? If carrying
out mock executions is condemned as torture, how should we describe the
mental anguish of people who are given years to contemplate being
poisoned by lethal injection at the hands of the state?
The truth is that the intervention of a legal process to allow such
cruelty does not make it any less painful. The fact that the death
penalty is imposed in the name of justice does not mitigate the
suffering and humiliation.
In some parts of the world there has been a move towards making
executions more public. It is a disturbing trend: it indicates that some
governments are losing the sense of shame about what they are doing, and
that in some countries people are becoming inured to brutality and
International bodies have condemned public executions. In 1996 the
United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee stated that public executions
are "incompatible with human dignity". Yet in various parts of the
world, governments allow - even invite - the public to witness
executions. In Saudi Arabia, executions are routinely carried out in
public. In the case of migrant workers, relatives may not even know that
an execution is happening, yet the general public is there to watch the
final moments of their loved ones.
Elsewhere, public executions are a recent development. In Rwanda, for
instance, 21 men and a woman were executed by firing squad on 24 April
1998 for participating in the genocide of 1994. The executions were
staged in front of large crowds which included scores of children.
An unjust justice
The death penalty is always an unjust method of justice. It is applied
unfairly - death row cells are filled with people from impoverished and
ethnic minority backgrounds, those least able to defend themselves in
court. Millionaires are rarely found among them. The death penalty is
applied arbitrarily, depending on such random factors as the competence
of lawyers, plea bargaining or pardons granted to mark the birthdays of
rulers. Whether someone lives or dies can be a lottery. And the death
penalty always carries the risk of ending the lives of people innocent
of any crime, either because it is used as a political tool to silence
government opponents for good, or because of inevitable miscarriages of
Amnesty International's major campaign against human rights violations
in the USA in 1998 highlighted the way race continues to play a major
part in the application of the death penalty in the country. The race of
the victim and that of the defendant seem to play a significant role in
determining whether or not someone is sentenced to death. The number of
black and white people who are murdered in the USA is almost equal, yet
82 per cent of prisoners executed since 1977 were convicted of the
murder of a white person. Black people make up just 12 per cent of the
country's population, but 42 per cent of those on death row.
Nationwide studies have consistently found that other factors, such as
the severity of the crime and the background of the defendant, cannot
explain such disparities.
In countries where the death penalty is mandatory for murder, such as
Trinidad and Tobago, courts cannot take into account any mitigating
factors, including the particular discrimination and violence faced by
women. In September 1998 the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial,
summary or arbitrary executions appealed to Trinidad and Tobago not to
execute Indravani Pamela Ramjattan, who was sentenced to death for the
murder of her abusive common-law husband in 1995. Indravani Pamela
Ramjattan had suffered years of violent abuse at his hands. Days before
the murder, she ran away. Her husband tracked her down and brought her
back to his home where for days he reportedly beat her viciously and
repeatedly threatened to kill her. Indravani Pamela Ramjattan was
sentenced to death along with two men who came to rescue her. The
Special Rapporteur expressed her concern that the abuse and extreme
violence suffered by Indravani Pamela Ramjattan - including beatings,
threats to shoot her and repeated rapes - had not been considered by the
investigating authorities or the courts to constitute mitigating
circumstances. The Special Rapporteur stated that the death penalty was
too harsh a punishment for crimes committed in such situations.
Indravani Pamela Ramjattan remained in prison under sentence of death at
the end of the year.
Many governments still use the death penalty to terrorize their
opponents. In 1998, three years after the execution in Nigeria of Ken
Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni for political reasons provoked
widespread condemnation, people still faced political trials for capital
offences. In April former Deputy Head of State General Oladipo Diya and
five others were sentenced to death after secret and grossly unfair
trials. The sentences were commuted later in the year after the Head of
In Iran, Ruhollah Rawhani, a member of the Baha'i religious minority,
was executed in July 1998. He had been arrested with two other men and
convicted of being involved in the conversion of a Muslim woman to the
Baha'i faith, even though she stated that she had been raised as a
Baha'i by her parents. His two co-defendants - Sirus Dhabihi-Muqaddam
and Hedayatollah Kashifi-Najafabadi - remained in danger of execution at
the end of 1998.
Every year tireless campaigns by relatives and friends of those
condemned to death expose miscarriages of justice, some of which succeed
after it is too late to save the life of their loved one. In the United
Kingdom (UK) in 1998 alone, the courts overturned two convictions which
had led to executions in the 1950s, before the death penalty was
abolished. In February the Court of Appeal in London quashed the
conviction of Mahmood Hussein Mattan, a Somali seaman who had been
hanged for murder in Cardiff, Wales, 46 years earlier. The appeal judge
in the case, Lord Justice G.H. Rose, said during his ruling that capital
punishment was not a "prudent culmination for a criminal justice system
which is human and therefore fallible". For more than 40 years relatives
of Derek Bentley, a 19-year-old epileptic with a mental age of 11,
fought to prove that he was innocent of the crime for which he was
hanged in 1952. The campaign, which suffered numerous defeats and
humiliation at the hands of the courts, was led by Derek Bentley's
sister Iris, who died in 1997 still demanding justice for her family
which had been so devastated by the execution. When Derek Bentley's
conviction was finally quashed in July 1998, the only surviving member
of his family was his niece.
Such cases highlight an essential fault of the death penalty - that it
is irrevocable. Mistakes cannot be rectified, death cannot be reversed.
Yet mistakes are inevitable in all systems of justice, however
scrupulous the process and however honest the participants.
A further problem is that around the world it is not just that
inadvertent mistakes are made or that a few corrupt police officers
pervert the course of justice. Often, international standards to ensure
fair trial are routinely flouted in capital cases.
Prisoners facing death sentences are often represented by inexperienced
lawyers, by lawyers appointed for political reasons by the state, or
even by no lawyer at all. Defendants may not understand the charges or
evidence against them, particularly if the proceedings are in a language
they do not know. Sometimes they are denied the right to appeal to a
court of higher jurisdiction or to petition for clemency. Some prisoners
are tried before special courts lacking elementary safeguards. As a
result, many prisoners each year are condemned to death after unfair
trials, some of which are a travesty of justice.
Maqsood Ahmed was executed in February 1998 in Pakistan. He had been
arrested in May 1989 and sentenced to death for shooting a man during a
robbery. The execution went ahead despite the fact that two other men
had confessed to the murder and that the Superintendent of Police had
stated that Maqsood Ahmed was in police custody at the time of the
murder. His lawyer called the execution a "murder of justice".
In October 1998, 24 soldiers were executed in Sierra Leone, a week after
they were convicted of offences related to a military coup in May 1997.
The soldiers were tried by court martial and had no right of appeal
against their convictions and sentences to a higher jurisdiction.
Narrowing the scope of the death
Fortunately, the world is increasingly rejecting the legitimacy of the
death penalty. One indication is the growing consensus that the death
penalty should not apply to certain types of people, such as juvenile
offenders, the elderly and the mentally ill. There is support for these
exemptions even in countries where the public and state officials favour
the use of the death penalty.
The exclusion of juvenile offenders - those under 18 years old at the
time of the offence - is now so widely accepted in law and practice that
it is approaching the status of a norm of customary international law.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR -
Article 6(5)) and other major human rights instruments prohibit
sentencing juvenile offenders to death. More recently, the same
prohibition was set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,
which has been ratified by all UN member states except Somalia and the
USA. The very few states that do put to death juvenile offenders provoke
Since 1990 Amnesty International has documented 18 executions of
juvenile offenders worldwide, carried out in six countries - Iran,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the USA and Yemen. Nine of these were
carried out in the USA, the only country known to have executed juvenile
offenders in 1998. Two of these cases highlight the particularly
disturbing nature of executions of young offenders (see page12).
International standards also hold that the mentally ill should be
excluded from the death penalty. UN Safeguards approved in 1984 by the
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) guaranteeing protection of the
rights of those facing the death penalty ("ECOSOC Safeguards") state
that executions shall not be carried out on "persons who have become
insane". In 1989 ECOSOC recommended that UN member states should
eliminate the death penalty "for persons suffering from mental
retardation or extremely limited mental competence, whether at the stage
of sentence or execution". Sadly, these exclusions have been ignored in
some countries, including the USA (see page12).
International standards have established that in countries which have
yet to abolish it, the death penalty should be used only for the most
serious crimes. The "ECOSOC Safeguards" state that the scope of these
crimes "should not go beyond intentional crimes with lethal or extremely
grave consequences". In a few countries, however, people face execution
for a wide range of offences which pose no threat to life, including
crimes against property and peaceful political activities. In China, for
example, the death penalty continues to be applied for a wide variety of
violent and non-violent crimes, including tax fraud, counterfeiting,
embezzlement and corruption. In June 1998 Luo Feng, a manager in the
Beijing Xiwang Computer Company, was sentenced to death for
embezzlement, accepting bribes and using company funds to "play the
stock market", despite an apparent lack of coherent evidence.
In Myanmar, six political prisoners - Ko Thein, Naing Aung, Thant Zaw
Swe, Myint Han, Khin Hlaing and Let Yar Htun - were sentenced to death
in 1998. Two of them are members of the non-violent National League for
Democracy, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar's military government claimed that four of the six were members
of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF), an opposition group
established in exile predominantly by former students who fled Myanmar
after the 1988 pro-democracy movement was suppressed by the military.
The six men were among a group of 39 people arrested in connection with
an alleged anti-government "plot". The ABSDF stated that none of the 39
people arrested was given legal repre-sentation during their trial at a
special court inside Insein Prison.
Campaigning against the death
Among those campaigning against the death penalty are some of the very
people that capital punishment is supposed to help - victims of crime
and their relatives. In the face of increasing evi-dence that capital
punishment does not act as a deterrent against crime more effectively
than other forms of punishment, proponents of the death penalty have
increasingly claimed that it is needed to help the process of recovery
of murder victims' families. It is true that some relatives of murder
victims do find consolation in such retribution. But many others do not.
Some relatives have reported that the execution of the murderer makes it
more difficult to come to terms with their loss.
In the USA, for example, a small but growing number of relatives of
murder victims are speaking out against the death penalty, saying that
it offers no solution to their personal tragedies. In 1998 a delegation
from the US group Journey of HopeĽ From Violence to Healing went to
the Philippines to raise awareness of the arguments against the death
penalty at a time when the Philippine government was considering ending
the moratorium on executions. The trip was organized by a coalition of
local non-governmental organizations, including the Free Legal
Assistance Group and Amnesty International's Philippine Section. The
delegation visited prisoners on death row and their families, gave
numerous media interviews, took part in live radio and television
debates, met religious and other officials, and held lively discussions
with anti-crime groups which advocate the death penalty. Many people who
had favoured the death penalty said they felt compelled to change their
minds after coming into contact with the delegation. Unfortunately, at
the end of the year the government announced that executions would
resume in the Philippines in early 1999. More than 800 people were under
sentence of death in the country.
Countless other human rights defenders and other activists also campaign
against the death penalty, by promoting the arguments against the
punishment and by appealing on behalf of people under sentence of death
or in imminent danger of execution, calling for clemency, pardon,
commutation or retrial. Each year such appeals result in the threat of
execution being lifted.
For example, in India it was learned during 1998 that the death
sentences against Gantela Vijayavardhana Rao and Satuluri Chalapathi Rao
had been commuted to life imprisonment by the President of India.
Amnesty International had joined local non-governmental organizations in
appealing on the men's behalf since they were sentenced to death in
September 1995 for murder committed in 1993. In Pakistan, Roop Lal, who
had been held in a death cell in solitary confinement for 25 years in
Sahiwal Central Jail, had his death sentence commuted to life
imprisonment. In Belarus the Supreme Court upheld F. Verega's appeal and
commuted the death sentence imposed on him in June 1997 for murder to 15
years' imprisonment. In the United Arab Emirates it was reported that
the Dubai Supreme Court had referred the cases of Rabi' Ghassan Taraf
and Ryan Dominic Mahoney back to the appeals court for a retrial. The
two men had been convicted of drugs-related charges and sentenced to
death in November 1997.
The efforts of campaigners have not only saved lives. They have also
contributed to a moral and political climate in many countries which has
resulted in the permanent abolition of the death penalty.
The march towards worldwide
Every year more countries abolish the death penalty. Recently, the pace
of abolition has been especially remarkable.
In 1899, on the eve of the 20th century, only three states had
permanently abolished the death penalty for all crimes - Costa Rica, San
Marino and Venezuela. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was
adopted in 1948, the number stood at eight. By the end of 1978 it had
risen to 19. During the past 20 years the number has almost tripled. In
1998 the trend continued, with Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia and
Lithuania abolishing the death penalty for all crimes. In addition, the
Russian Minister of Justice stated that the Russian Federation would
abolish the death penalty by April 1999.
By the end of 1998, 67 countries had abolished the death penalty for all
offences and 14 for all but exceptional offences, such as wartime
crimes. At least 24 countries which retained the death penalty in law
were considered abolitionist in practice, in that they had not executed
anyone for at least 10 years or had made an international commitment not
to carry out executions. Some countries reduced the scope of the death
penalty. For example, in Tajikistan the number of crimes carrying a
possible death sentence was reduced in 1998 from 44 to 15.
International treaties to abolish the death penalty altogether continue
to attract new states parties. During 1998, Belgium, Costa Rica,
Liechtenstein and Nepal became parties to the Second Optional Protocol
to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, bringing the
number of states parties to 35. Belgium, Estonia and Greece ratified
Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights)
concerning the abolition of the death penalty, bringing the number of
states parties to 30. Costa Rica and Ecuador ratified the Protocol to
the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty,
bringing the number of states parties to six. A number of other
countries had signed one or another of the protocols, indicating their
intention to become parties at a later date.
In April the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution 1998/8
calling on all states that maintain the punishment "to establish a
moratorium on executions, with a view to completely abolishing the death
penalty". The resolution was co-sponsored by 66 states, a marked
increase over the 47 states which co-sponsored a similar resolution at
the Commission on Human Rights in 1997. In response, 51 other states
circulated a statement at the UN Economic and Social Council
dissociating themselves from the resolution.
While over 90 countries can still be said to retain and use the death
penalty, the number of countries which actually execute prisoners in any
one year is much smaller. During 1998, at least 1,625 prisoners were
executed in 37 countries and 3,899 people were sentenced to death in 78
countries. These figures include only cases known to Amnesty
International; the true figures are certainly higher. As in previous
years, a small number of countries accounted for the great majority of
A few countries took steps to expand the scope of the death penalty or
to speed up or resume executions. In January 1998 Jamaica's withdrawal
from the (first) Optional Protocol to the ICCPR came into effect. This
unprecedented step, which the Jamaican government took in order to speed
up executions, has deprived anyone who believes that their human rights
guaranteed under the ICCPR have been violated by the Jamaican
authorities of the right to petition the UN Human Rights Committee. In
August Trinidad and Tobago's withdrawal from the (first) Optional
Protocol to the ICCPR came into effect along with its reaccession to it
with a reservation that attempts to prevent anyone under sentence of
death from petitioning the UN Human Rights Committee. In November the
parliament in Guyana voted to take a similar course of action.
In the Bahamas Trevor Fisher and Richard Woods were executed while their
petitions to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) were
still pending. The IACHR had told the Bahamian government that it would
issue its conclusions on the petitions within two weeks and asked the
government to suspend the two men's death sentences at least until it
had issued its decisions. The European Union made a similar request.
However, the government ignored the requests and the two men were hanged
in October. More than 190 people were on death row at the end of the
year in the 13 English-speaking Caribbean countries and territories
which retain the death penalty.
In Yemen, a presidential decree calling for the death penalty to be
imposed on "anyone who leads a band of kidnappers or bandits or who
loots public or private property" and their "partners in crime" was
published in August and came into immediate effect. Execution in Yemen
is by firing squad. In Gaza the Palestinian Authority carried out its
first executions in 1998: two brothers were executed in August by firing
squad after a military court sentenced them to death for murder
committed two days previously following a summary and unjust trial.
In Japan, three men were executed about three weeks after the UN Human
Rights Committee called on Japan to take measures towards abolishing the
death penalty. This was the second time in five years that Japan had
responded in this way to the UN Human Rights Committee's recommendations
in light of Japan's periodic report. In Taiwan, the trend of an
increasing number of executions continued: in 1998 at least 32 people
were known to have been executed. Egypt and the DRC also saw an
increasing number of executions during the year.
Despite such developments, growing international opposition to the death
penalty was symbolized in 1998 with the adoption in July of the Statute
of the International Criminal Court. After much debate, it was decided
to exclude the death penalty as punishment for what are arguably the
most heinous crimes of all - genocide, other crimes against humanity and
war crimes. The clear implication is that if the death penalty should
not be used for the worst possible crimes, then it should not be used
for lesser crimes. In other words, it should never be used.
Worldwide abolition now
Amnesty International, along with other abolitionist organizations, is
calling for a permanent end to all executions in the year 2000. We
believe this is both justified and achievable.
Our confidence is based on two trends that are reflected in this annual
survey of human rights worldwide. The first is the inexorable momentum
towards worldwide abolition of the death penalty, reflected in the UN
Commission on Human Rights' call for a moratorium. The second is the
growing number of people around the world who are campaigning for human
More than 12 million people around the world have promised to do
everything in their power to uphold the rights spelled out in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), including the right to
life, showing the overwhelming support for fundamental human rights.
Amnesty International's campaign to celebrate the 50 years of the UDHR
has gained the support of ordinary people in all regions as well as of
many government officials, police officers and others in positions of
An end to executions is an essential part of the struggle for human
rights and it can be realized. Every state has the power not to carry
out executions. The argument that the death penalty is needed to deter
crime has been discredited by the consistent lack of scientific evidence
that it acts as a deterrent more effectively than other punishments.
Moreover, the death penalty negates the internationally accepted goal of
rehabilitating offenders. In short, there is no penological
justification for the death penalty which outweighs the human rights
grounds for abolishing it.
It can take courage to call for abolition of the death penalty.
Politicians may face enormous pressure from members of the public who
are clamouring for action on crime. Human rights activists may face
abuse for seeming to ignore the suffering of victims of crime. But the
prize is worth fighting for. The death penalty not only violates
fundamental human rights, it also carries the official message that
killing is an appropriate response to killing. It brutalizes, it
contributes to desensitizing the public to violence and it can engender
an increasing toleration of other human rights abuses.
Public acceptance of abolition can be won. The way people think and
behave changes over time, often after long battles and heated debates.
Injustices that were the norm in earlier centuries are outlawed today.
Injustices that were reluctantly accepted as inevitable by our forebears
have been fought against by their descendants and overcome. Museums
display thumbscrews and racks, guillotines and garrottes - instruments
of torture and death once commonly in use but now serving as reminders
of a cruel and distant past. Our aim is to relegate electric chairs,
nooses, the guns of firing squads and lethal injections to museums,
where future generations will wonder how any society could ever have
sanctioned their use.
It is not by chance that for the past two decades an average of two
countries a year have abolished the death penalty. Such reforms have
come about because human rights defenders, lawyers, members of
parliament and a vast range of grassroots activists have worked to stop
executions. Sooner or later the world's governments will accept that
executing people in cold blood violates fundamental human rights and
serves no legitimate penal purpose. So why wait? What better way to
herald a new age for humanity than for all governments to abandon the
death penalty for ever?