Now, the outgoing Bush administration’s plans for celebrating Human Rights Day ’08 can finally be revealed! On December 10, they are going to carry out the first U.S. Military execution in 47 years, when they put Ronald Gray to death by lethal injection. According to CNN and several other media sources, Private Ronald Gray, a former soldier from North Carolina, is set to be executed at a federal prison in Terra Haute, Indiana by Army personnel. His execution was approved by President Bush in July.
While there is a possibility that a federal appeals court could stay the execution, the military expects it to take place as scheduled. The last military execution was performed in 1961, during the Kennedy administration, but was approved previously by President Eisenhower.
In a not un-related story, yesterday the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee voted 105-48 to continue to press for a moratorium on executions worldwide. As the AP dryly notes, “The United States sided with countries such as Iran, China and Syria in opposing the resolution.”
Last year, the UN General Assembly passed a landmark resolution (pdf) urging all nations to declare a moratorium on executions with an eye to complete abolition of the death penalty. As Amnesty International noted, the vote then was 104-54, so the anti-death penalty forces have picked up another vote, and several countries have moved from “no” votes into the “abstain” column. These included Arab nations Bahrain, Jordan, Mauritania and Oman. A final vote of the General Assembly, almost certainly with the same result, should take place next month.
It’s just my opinion, by I think passage of this resolution would be a much more appropriate way to celebrate Human Rights Day ’08, and the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, than what the government of the USA has in mind.