The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Robyn Shepherd, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; 

European Union Calls For Global Abolition Of The Death Penalty

ACLU Joins Call To End U.S. Executions To Mark World Day Against The Death Penalty


part of a global campaign to end the death penalty, ambassadors of the
nations of the European Union (EU) gathered at the Swedish Embassy
today to call on all nations to abolish the death penalty. The event
was held to mark the World Day Against the Death Penalty, observed on
Saturday, October 10.

The American Civil Liberties Union
urges the Obama administration and all 35 U.S. death penalty states to
heed the call of the EU and put a halt to the death penalty in the U.S.
criminal justice system. Earlier this month, the ACLU delivered a
statement on the flaws of the capital punishment system in the U.S. at
the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation of Europe (OSCE) in Warsaw, Poland. Since
1977, over 1,125 people in the U.S. have been executed. 52 people have
been executed since October of 2008. As of January 2009, the number of
people awaiting execution across the country was approximately 3,300.

The following can be attributed to Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program:

"The European Union today has thrown
down the gauntlet to all nations to end capital punishment once and for
all. The U.S. should heed domestic and international calls to bring an
end to the death penalty. It is time to admit that the use of the death
penalty in the U.S. has been a failed experiment with a very high cost
in human suffering and inestimable damage to the country's standing and
image in the world as a beacon for human rights and democratic values."

The following can be attributed to John Holdridge, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project:

"The need to end this barbaric
practice is underscored by the fact that five men were released from
death row in 2009 and that new evidence has come forward that a man
executed in Texas in 2004 could not have set the lethal fire for which
he was condemned to die, meaning that an innocent man almost certainly
has been put to death at the hands of the state.

"There are too many incurable
problems with the death penalty. It remains arbitrary. There is racial
and geographic bias in the decisions to try cases. It continues to be
the penalty of the poor. The only way for the U.S. to prevent executing
other innocent people is to end the practice of capital punishment."

A statement by the Swedish presidency of the European Union is available at:

The ACLU's statement to the OSCE is available at:

More information about the ACLU Capital Punishment Project is available at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666