11 June 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
McVEIGH EXECUTION: ADOPTING THE MORALITY OF THE MURDERER
Amnesty International today expressed regret that the imminent execution of Timothy McVeigh would end a 38-year defacto
moratorium on the federal death penalty and accused the US of adopting the morality of the murderer by state-sanctioned
McVeigh is scheduled to die by lethal injection at midnight tonight NZ time for the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P Murrah
Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
"Amnesty International condemned the 1995 bombing, which led to the death of 168 people and had a devastating impact on
hundreds more, but the death penalty, based upon a policy of violence and vengeance, is no answer, said Amnesty's NZ
director, Ced Simpson.
"There is no evidence that the death penalty acts as a deterrent; indeed there is some evidence that the death penalty
may actually increase violence in society."
McVeigh justified his action by blaming the US federal government for the deaths of over 70 people at the Branch
Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas, in 1993. Some have expressed concern that he is attempting, though what he has
called "state-assisted suicide", to turn himself into a martyr figure, and that his execution may lead to acts of
retaliatory violence by individuals who share his political beliefs.
"The McVeigh case illustrates how the practice of capital punishment allows murderers to set society's moral tone."
The 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City hastened the enactment of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, in
which the federal government sought to limit federal judicial review of state court decisions and speed up executions,
increasing the risk of the execution of the wrongfully convicted or wrongly sentenced defendants.
"The death penalty violates the prohibition on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment regardless of the length of time a
prisoner spends on death row, the execution method used, or whether the inmate is guilty or innocent of the crime for
which the government intends to kill them," Mr Simpson said.
Amnesty International has found that many of the more than 700 executions carried out at state level in the USA since
1977 violated international human rights safeguards, including the execution of child offenders, the mentally impaired,
individuals whose guilt remained in doubt, foreign nationals denied their consular rights, and scores of people denied
the quality of defence representation demanded under international legal standards.
For further information, including interview, contact:
Ced Simpson BH 0-4-499 3348 AH 0-4-938 0716 mobile 021 371 205