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EU strongly opposes resumption of US federal executions

July 10, 2020 07:14 PM


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The European Union "strongly opposes" the US decision to resume federal executions after 17 years, an EU spokesman said Friday.

The US government decided almost a year ago to resume the practice of federal executions, the last of which was carried out in 2003.  American courts approved the use of pentobarbital for lethal injections in June and officials hvae scheduled four executions in July and August.

"We call on the US administration to reconsider (this decision) and not to proceed with the federal executions scheduled to begin on 13 July," said the spokesman for the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell. "This decision goes against a general trend in the United States and around the world to abolish the death penalty, by law or in practice," the statement continued.

It said that the EU is firmly opposed to the death penalty "at all times and in all circumstances" and that it "will continue to work towards a universal abolition". The practice is "cruel, inhuman and degrading, incompatible with the inalienable right to life, which does not constitute an effective deterrent to criminal behaviour and is irreversible".

Most criminal cases in the United States are heard in state courts, but some are handled by federal prosecutors, such as hate crimes, some particularly serious crimes or those that take place on military installations or Native American reservations.

In the last 45 years, only three people have been executed at the federal level, including Timothy McVeigh in 2001, who was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people in 1995. According to opinion polls, support for the death penalty has declined in recent years and is down to around 54 percent from 80 percent in the early 1990s.

Only a handful of states, mainly in the US south, still carry out executions. Twenty-two people were executed in 2019.



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