US Facing Backlash Over UN Vote on Death Penalty

by | Oct 4, 2017

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 


Last week, the U.S. was in the minority when it voted against a United Nations (U.N.) resolution encouraging countries to move toward abolishing the death penalty. In addition to arguing against the practice on general principle, the U.N.’s Human Rights Council noted the disproportionate manner in which states tend to use it.

The resolution, which passed by a vote of 27 to 13 with seven members abstaining, contends that countries more often use the death penalty in cases against “poor and economically vulnerable persons” and “persons exercising their rights to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, religion, and peaceful assembly and association.”

Other groups specifically mentioned by the Human Rights Council are “religious or ethnic minorities” and “persons with mental or intellectual disabilities.” It further notes that “the application of the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women.”

But the resolution also counted persons practicing “consensual same-sex relations” among those more likely to executed by state sanction, and that inclusion caused the United States’ “no” vote to be met with criticism from the LGBTQ community.

“While the UN Human Rights Council took this crucially important step, the Trump/Pence administration failed to show leadership on the world stage by not championing this critical measure,” said Ty Cobb of Human Rights Campaign. “This administration’s blatant disregard for human rights and LGBTQ lives around the world is beyond disgraceful.”

The backlash was sufficient to force the U.S. to clarify its position on the matter. On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that media coverage had been “misleading” and that the U.S. voted against the resolution because it “clearly has the death penalty, both at the state and the federal level.”

Nauert went on to say the U.S. “unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for conduct such as homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery, and apostasy” because it doesn’t “consider such conduct appropriate for criminalization.”

Stating that “we promote democracy and human rights and those are a part of our values that we share in our hearts as Americans,” Nauert said flatly on Tuesday that the United States supports lawful use of the death penalty:

“We voted against that resolution because of broader concerns about the resolution’s approach to condemning the death penalty in all circumstances; and, it called for the abolition of the death penalty altogether. We had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the positions of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully, as the United States does.”

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