Amnesty urges US to scrap death penalty
Amnesty International urged an end to the use of capital punishment in the United States ahead of World Day Against The Death Penalty on Sunday.
The London-based human rights group said the United States' use of the death penalty was marked by "arbitrariness, discrimination and error".
It added that being tried in the United States for an offence which carried it was "like taking part in a lethal lottery".
More than 1,200 people had been put to death in the United States since 1977, Amnesty said, adding that it was the only country in the Americas to carry out executions in 2009.
Three US states -- Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma -- account for more than half of the executions which take place across the whole country.
"A clear majority of countries have rejected the death penalty. How can the USA claim leadership on human rights yet still commit judicial killings?" said Widney Brown, Amnesty's senior director of international law and policy, in a statement.
"The death penalty is cruel, degrading, ineffective and entirely incompatible with any concept of human dignity. Its use in the USA is marked by arbitrariness, discrimination and error."
Amnesty added that, if the death penalty was scrapped in the United States, it would "be a very important moment in the movement towards eradication of this punishment globally."
Although China carries out more executions than all other countries in the world combined, a total of 18 countries used the death penalty last year, according to Amnesty.
© 2010 AFP