The UN will soon hold a vote on a resolution that calls for a moratorium on the death penalty, and many human rights groups are hoping that the United States will finally vote in favor. The resolution is voted on bi-annually and the US has always voted against the proposal. Now, Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) has launched a letter-writing campaign in order to urge President Biden to reverse his administration’s previous vote of “No,” in November.
According to a press release from CMN, the US is closer than ever to abolishing its death penalty practices domestically, a shift that mirrors the Biden administration’s efforts to put an end to the practice. In July, 2021, Biden became the first US president to place a federal moratorium on the death penalty. CMN pointed out that voting in favor of the resolution would also serve his proclaimed Catholic faith.
The UN is closer to passing the moratorium than ever. According to the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, which has tracked the UN’s vote on the moratorium since 2008, each vote has shown increased support for the measure. In 2008, 106 countries voted in favor, 46 against and 34 abstained. Since then the movement has flourished, garnering 123 votes in favor, in 2020. In the most recent vote, in November 2022, 126 nations voted in favor of the moratorium.
Since the November vote, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has written a letter to President Biden urging him to join the other 126 nations in favor of the resolution. This letter, signed by about 50 other organizations, stated:
“As The Leadership Conference has made clear, state-sanctioned killing as a form of criminal punishment is, in all cases, both inhumane and in conflict with our country’s most fundamental principles…”
The letter stated, “Since 1973, more than 190 individuals have been sentenced to death and exonerated on innocence grounds, demonstrating the high propensity for error in our criminal-legal system and the unfathomable consequences that may follow.”
The letter went on to note that the only way to prevent innocent individuals from falling victim to state-sanctioned killings is the abolition of the death penalty. Furthermore, the organizations noted that the death penalty, particularly in the US, “continues to perpetuate patterns of racial and economic oppression,” patterns that the Biden administration has vowed to eliminate.
The CMN notes that the Catholic Church is clear in its teachings that today capital punishment is unacceptable. The Holy See has long supported a UN death penalty moratorium resolution, and Pope Francis’ calls for its abolition have crescendoed in recent months. CMN points to a video they produced that features Pope Francis’ comments on the death penalty.
Those who wish to join the letter-writing campaign to President Biden can do so at the Catholic Mobilizing Network.