The Execution of John Muhammad

UPDATE:  Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has denied John Muhammad’s request for clemency.

This evening Texas and Virginia, the two most prolific executing states in the USA, are both slated to carry out lethal injections.  Texas has scheduled an execution for Yosvanis Valle – a Cuban national – while Virginia is preparing to put to death John Allen Muhammad, known by most simply as the “DC sniper”.  The crimes for which John Muhammad is known inflicted serious trauma not just on the victims  and their families but on the entire Washington DC area.

But we at Amnesty International oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception.  Like torture, the deliberate killing of prisoners is a fundamental violation of human rights.  No human being, no matter how unsympathetic or how heinous the crimes for which he has been convicted, should ever be subjected to the kind of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment that both torture and executions represent.  There are lines that we as a society should simply not cross, or lines that we should not cede to our governments the power to cross.  And there have to be better ways to respond to traumatic crimes than with violations of basic human rights.