The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights, Markus Löning, issued the following statement today (7 November) on the outcome of the referendum on the abolition of the death penalty in California:
“I very much deplore the fact that California has voted against abolishing the death penalty, thus missing an opportunity to come down on the side of more humanity, as 17 US states have already done. To my mind, capital punishment is inhumane and always unjustified. Together with our European partners, we are therefore campaigning for its worldwide abolition.
While congratulating him on his victory, I would like to ask two things of President Obama: Please come out in favour of doing away with the death penalty in all states of the union, and close down Guantanamo. This would go a long way to protecting human rights in the US and raising our worldwide credibility in human rights policy.”
On the day of the presidential election, Californians were also asked to vote on the abolition of capital punishment. Proposition 34 envisaged commuting death sentences into life imprisonment without parole.
There are currently 725 death row inmates in California, 19 of them women. This figure amounts to 22% of all people sentenced to death in the US.