US Slammed For Backsliding On Rights After Executing First Federal Inmate In 17 Years

MOSCOW/GENOA (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 14th July, 2020) The administration of US President Donald Trump has turned its back on human rights, as evidenced by Tuesday's execution of the first Federal death-row inmate in almost two decades, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch's US Program told Sputnik.

Daniel Lewis Lee, a 47-year-old triple murder convict, was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital at an Indiana prison shortly after the Supreme Court cleared the way for executions in four federal cases. A federal prisoner was last put to death in 2003.

"The decision to carry out this federal execution and resume others after a nearly two-decade long hiatus is yet another example of the US backsliding on rights under the Trump administration," HRW's Laura Pitter said.

Pitter argued that the death penalty went against nationwide and global efforts to abolish a form of punishment that violates inalienable human rights and is "unique in its cruelty and finality." The activist added that its application in the US was fraught with inadequacies.

"In the US, the death penalty is inevitably plagued with arbitrariness, racial disparities, and error. Since 1973, 165 people have been released from death row after later being found innocent," the activist pointed out.

Mina Ahadi, an Iranian human rights advocate living in Germany, suggested that the Trump administration had brought back the federal capital punishment at the time of the pandemic to silence critics.

"I think that for all governments that use the death penalty, it is an instrument of intimidating the society, and the US is one of these governments," Ahadi told Sputnik in a written statement.

She said that by allowing what she described as "state-authorized murder" the administration wanted to "look tough" and send a message to those who get it into their heads to take to the streets during the crisis that they could end up on death row.

"If you ask me, I think the US government must be put under even greater pressure and we all must fight against the death sentence in the US," the activist, who has campaigned against the death penalty for over 40 years, concluded.

Ahadi recalled that in the US, executions were opposed by human rights organizations.

"Everyone can see that a death sentence does not solve problems but is rather a big problem in itself, because it also punishes the relatives of the killed person, and the mere fact that a government gets to decide who lives and who dies is perverse and inhumane," the activist argued.

Despite human rights activists have condemned the US for carrying out the execution, Attorney General William Barr said that "justice was done today in implementing the sentence for Lee's horrific offenses."