Connecticut Supreme Court ruled death penalty as unconstitutional

Amnesty International USA
Press Release
August 13, 2015

Amnesty International USA Statement on Connecticut Supreme Court
Death Penalty Decision

Today, the Connecticut Supreme Court struck down exemptions to the state’s 2012 death penalty ban, which had excluded the 11 inmates currently on death row. In response, James Clark, Amnesty International USA’s senior campaigner on the death penalty, released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling that any use of the death penalty in Connecticut is unconstitutional brings the state closer in line with the majority of the country, which is abandoning the death penalty in law and in practice.

“It’s encouraging that the court determined that the death penalty fails to meet ‘contemporary standards of decency’ and serves no ‘legitimate penological purpose.’ Connecticut can now stand fully among the 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have abolished the death penalty.”

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US fails to meet international standards on the use of lethal force by police

Amnesty International USA
Press Release
June 18, 2015

Amnesty International Report Finds That All 50 States Fail to Meet International Standards on the Use of Lethal Force by Police

A new report by Amnesty International USA finds that all 50 states and the District of Columbia fail to comply with international standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers, which require that lethal force should only be used as a last resort when strictly necessary to protect themselves or others against imminent threat of death or serious injury.

Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States calls for reform at the state and federal levels to ensure that laws are brought into line with international law and standards.

“Police have a fundamental obligation to protect human life. Deadly force must be reserved as a method of absolute last resort,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “The fact that absolutely no state laws conform to this standard is deeply disturbing and raises serious human rights concerns.

“Reform is needed and it is needed immediately. Lives are at stake.”

The report is based on a review of the use of force statutes within the United States. Amnesty International reviewed relevant U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the Department of Justice guidelines on the use of deadly force, and available statistical data, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI Uniform Crime Reports.

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Saudi Arabia: Decision to uphold Raif Badawi sentence is a dark day for freedom of expression

Amnesty International
Press Release
June 7, 2015

The decision by the Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia to uphold the sentence of the blogger Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes is a dark day for freedom of expression in the Kingdom, Amnesty International said.

“It is abhorrent that this cruel and unjust sentence has been upheld. Blogging is not a crime and Raif Badawi is being punished merely for daring to exercise his right to freedom of expression,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

“By failing to overturn the sentence Saudi Arabian authorities today have displayed a callous disregard to justice and to the tens of thousands of voices around the world calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Now that his sentence is final and cannot be revoked, his public flogging might start as soon as Friday and he will unjustly serve the remaining of his sentence. The court’s decision casts a further stain on Saudi Arabia’s already bleak human rights record.”

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Nebraska Legislature Overrides Veto of Death Penalty Repeal

Amnesty International USA
Press Release
May 27, 2015

Today the Nebraska legislature voted to override Governor Ricketts’ veto of a measure repealing the death penalty. Nebraska will now become the 19th U.S. state to abolish capital punishment, and the seventh state to repeal the death penalty in the past eight years.

“Nebraska’s legislature has bravely stood up for human rights by upholding this bill,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “As the nation and the world continue to abandon this broken and unjust punishment, it is only a matter of time before the 31 remaining states end the death penalty forever.”

Amnesty International has documented a steady decline in the use of the death penalty in the United States and around the world. In addition to the 19 states plus the District of Columbia that have abolished the death penalty, seven more states have not carried out an execution in 10 years or more. In 2014, only seven states carried out executions.

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Gerry Rivadeneira awarded 2015 Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellowship

Amnesty International USA held its Annual General Meeting in Brooklyn, New York a few weeks ago. During the award luncheon on March 21, it was announced that Gerry Rivadeneira has been selected for the 2015 Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellowship. New York Times journalist, Nicholas Kristof and his daughter Caroline were on hand to make the announcement. In addition, Gerry gave a brief acceptance speech.


Gerry Carolina Rivadeneira was born in Ibarra, Ecuador, and migrated to Miami, Florida at the age of 7. She is a Posse Scholar and a junior at Mount Holyoke College, where she is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Law, Public Policy and Human Rights. She learned about Amnesty International in high school and joined the leadership team in 2012 as the Student Activist Coordinator for Western Massachusetts. In the past she has worked with “Strong Women, Strong Girls” to create cycles of mutual empowerment for women and girls, and with “The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts” to help advances social change philanthropy to create economic and social equality for women.

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