US Government condemned for reinstating federal death penalty
The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has reinstated the federal death penalty, 16 years after it was last applied, and has immediately scheduled the execution of five federal death row inmates.
Litigation surrounding the drugs used for lethal injections has prevented the Government from carrying out executions, but the Trump Administration has taken steps to eliminate barriers to the practice.
“Congress has expressly authorised the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Attorney-General William Barr said in a statement.
“The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
However, the US Government has been criticised by senior Democrats and the United Nations, both of which favour steps to abolish the practice.
“The Federal Government should be leading the effort to end this brutal and often cruel punishment, not advocating for its return,” said Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein.
“It’s time we evolve and put this terrible practice behind us.”
The UN opposes the continued use of the death penalty, which has been abolished in more than 100 countries, including all European countries except Belarus and Russia, as well as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
“All the countries that continue to impose the death penalty on the population are flying in the face of what the UN believes is the principled position to end this sort of penalty once and for all,” said Farhan Haq, a spokesperson on behalf UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
There are currently 62 federal inmates on death row. Two executions will be carried out this year, with three more scheduled for 2020.
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