Death Penalty

Death Penalty

The administration of the death penalty in the United States has been a failed experiment that stands in stark violation of the right to life unequivocally provided by Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the U.S. in 1948.

The drafters of the UDHR contemplated eventual abolition of the death penalty, but it wasn’t until 1991 that the international community, in a complementary treaty to the UDHR, adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights calling for total abolition of capital punishment. 

The ACLU urges the United States to extend the basic human right to life guaranteed by the UDHR to all members of our society and to ratify its companion treaties, especially the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which aims at the abolition of the death penalty. At a minimum, the U.S. should begin by imposing a national moratorium on use of the death penalty in keeping with the 2007 U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium. Ultimately, the United States’ compliance with international human rights norms will require nothing less than a complete abolition of the death penalty.

Additional Resources

ACLU Suggested List of Issues to U.N. Country Report Task Force on U.S. Compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (2012 resource): The ACLU submitted a report to the Human Rights Committee as part of a larger civil society effort to inform the international human rights community about the situation of human rights in the United States.

ACLU Capital Punishment Project:The ACLU Capital Punishment Project is fighting for the end of the death penalty by supporting moratorium and repeal movements through public education and advocacy. We are engaged in systemic reform of the death penalty process, and case-specific litigation highlighting some of its fundamental flaws.

Death Penalty Innocence: The death penalty is the ultimate denial of civil liberties. To date, 139 inmates were found to be innocent and released from death row. The ACLU Capital Punishment Project is fighting for the end of the death penalty by supporting moratorium and repeal movements through public education and advocacy. We are engaged in systemic reform of the death penalty process, and case-specific litigation highlighting some of its fundamental flaws.

CIVIL LIBERTIES MINUTE PODCAST: Death Sentence for the Innocent: What happens to prosecutors who convict a man they know is innocent, and have him sentenced to death?

ACLU Blogs about Capital Punishment

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