Kitchen TV: The issue of the death penalty in the US

Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center
Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center

The issue of the death penalty in the United States is of particular interest for the Belarusian human rights defenders, since the US is often cited as an argument for the retention of the death penalty in Belarus. As long as this democratic and prosperous country has the death penalty, the punishment should also be used in Belarus. Today, there are two OSCE countries that have the death penalty, Belarus and the United States.

Meanwhile, few people in Belarus know about the current situation in the United States. They will be surprised to learn that most states do not apply the death penalty, having either abolished or declared a moratorium on it, or having not been using this type of punishment for more than 10 years (a de facto moratorium). Also, our citizens know very little about the abolitionist movement in the US.

The US federal legal system is of interest to researchers, because it allows you to assess the effect of the death penalty on violent crime rates in states that have the death penalty as compared to states that don’t have it. This experience confirms the researchers’ findings that crime rates do not depend on the death penalty.

The new issue of the human rights video project "Kitchen TV" features Robert Dunham, executive director of the US-based Death Penalty Information Center. In his interview with deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich he told about the approach to understanding the issue of the death penalty in the United States.

If you look at the United States as a really big country, you may think that if it has the death penalty, it's used everywhere. In fact, 85 % of the Americans live in counties where the death penalty is not applied. And 2 % of all the counties account for more than half of all the death sentences. Therefore, its use is very narrow. And it is being used less and less,” says Robert Dunham.

Belarusian human rights activists believe that the state cannot kill people, as the death penalty is contrary to the principles of humanism, morality and human values, the principles of all religions that are practiced in Belarus.

The campaign “Human Rights Defenders Against the Death Penalty in Belarus” has been active since 2009, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. That is why the campaigners have consistently advocated for a fair and reasonable punishment for criminals, which serves the purposes of justice and a decent society where the right to life is an absolute value.

Belarusian human rights activists are calling to join the petition against the death penalty, which was signed by such famous personalities as the Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, Father Aliaksandr Nadsan, Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi, British playwright Tom Stoppard, world-famous singer Sting, Eurovision winner Loreen and Mylène Farmer, as well as many well-known Belarusian artists.

According to

Book «Capital punishment in Belarus»


Death verdics in Belarus since 1990