Killing legally

Executions around the world are nearing record levels, and the United States is among the four countries which account for 97 per cent of the total, a report by Amnesty has found.

Nearly 4000 people were killed during 2004, including around 3400 in China. Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK director, said yesterday, “the death penalty is cruel and unnecessary, does not deter crime, and runs the risk of killing the wrongly convicted. It is time to consign the death penalty to the dustbin of history.”


Total in 2004

1 China 3,400*

2 Iran 159*

3 Vietnam 64*

4 United States 59*

5 Saudi Arabia 33*

6 Pakistan 15*

7 Kuwait 9*

8 Bangladesh 7*

9= Egypt 6*

= Singapore 6*

= Yemen 6*


George W. Bush preaches spreading democracy around the world and yet runs a country that only recently ruled it unconstitutional to execute child offenders. Bhutan, Greece, Samoa, Senegal and Turkey all abolished the death penalty in 2004 and yet America remains classed with Saudi Arabia and Iran in terms of human rights breaches.

How can America talk about freeing oppressed people in the Middle East (both highly questionable and politically unlikely) while abuses continue on the home-front?

Foreign affairs commentator Chalmers Johnson articulates the ways in which the US can regain lost credibility: “…the most important change we could make in American policy would be to dismantle our imperial presidency and restore a balance among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government.”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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