The report, Arbitrary, discriminatory, and cruel: An aide-mémoire to 25 years of judicial killing, recalls some 200 illustrative cases of the men and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights put to death since Gary Gilmore was shot by a Utah firing squad on the morning of 17 January 1977 - the first execution after the US Supreme Court lifted the moratorium it had imposed on the death penalty in 1972.

'The USA likes to see itself as a champion of human rights,' Amnesty International said. 'However, its relentless pursuit of the death penalty in an increasingly abolitionist world starkly gives the lie to that claim.'

'In a period that has seen more than 60 countries legislate against the death penalty, the USA has shot, gassed, electrocuted, hanged or poisoned more than 750 prisoners, 600 of them since 1990,' the organisation continued. 'What is more, it has frequently violated internationally-agreed safeguards in getting the individual to the execution chamber.'

Amnesty International - whose report provides cases to illustrate the cruelty, futility and brutalising effect of capital punishment as well as its rejection of the possibility of rehabilitation - urged US politicians to answer the question: 'What measurable benefit to society have these killings achieved?'

The report gives examples of the arbitrary way in which the death penalty is applied in the USA, its politicised nature, and the fact that it is a punishment that diverts attention and resources from constructive responses to violent crime.

The report points to numerous cases of people put to death since 1977, including:

· 18 prisoners executed, in violation of international law, for crimes committed when they were Children's rights;

· scores of individuals with mental retardation or a history of mental illness;

· dozens of African-Americans convicted by all-white juries in a pattern of cases where prosecutors removed prospective black jurors during jury selection;

· more than 25 individuals whose guilt remained in doubt to the end;

· numerous defendants denied their right to adequate defence representation, including those sentenced to death by juries presented with little or none of the available mitigating evidence;

· 17 foreign nationals who were denied their right to consular assistance after arrest.

Read the report: Arbitrary, discriminatory, and cruel: An aide-mémoire to 25 years of judicial killing

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