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Rights groups: death penalty in US states violates human rights

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) [advocacy websites] on Monday released summary findings [press release] concluding that the use of the death penalty in California and Louisiana violates human rights. The report [text, PDF] concludes that the way the death penalty is used in California and Louisiana is arbitrary and discriminatory and that conditions on death row constitute torture. Although the CCR and FIDH found that the use of the death penalty in and of itself constitutes an inherent violation of humans' fundamental right to life, general recommendations were suggested to ensure that the death penalty be carried out in a non-discriminatory manner and that conditions on death row minimize human suffering.

According to a study [JURIST report] released by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] in April, although use of the death penalty has decreased worldwide since 2003, the US was one of the five countries employing the death penalty most frequently in 2012. In spite of this, many states have moved to abolish the death penalty in recent years. In May Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley [official website] signed into law [JURIST report] a bill to repeal the death penalty. Maryland is the eighteenth state to repeal the death penalty and the sixth do to so in the previous five years. Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois [JURIST reports] have all recently eliminated the death penalty, while 32 states retain its use, according to the Death Penalty Information Center [advocacy website]. However, California voters declined to repeal the death penalty [JURIST report] on the most recent ballot, with 47 percent of voters supporting the repeal last November.

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