U.S. issues moratorium on death penalty at federal level

Biden had pledged to pass law to end capital punishment

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has issued a moratorium on federal executions while it reviews policies and procedures, the Department said in a statement. U.S. President Joe Biden had said on his campaign website that he would legislate the end of capital punishment at the federal level and incentivize states to follow suit.

"The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, but is also treated fairly and humanely. That obligation has special force in capital cases.” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement released on Thursday.

Apart from the moral case against the death penalty, the data show that in its application, it is biased against racial minorities especially African Americans .

Under Donald Trump, the federal government carried out 13 executions. This is the highest number of executions under any presidency since the 19th Century, Reuters reported.

The review ordered by Mr Garland will include an assessment of the “risk of pain and suffering” caused by pentobarbital – a lethal injection drug. The Trump administration’s DoJ , under Attorney General Bill Barr, had adopted a single drug, instead of a three drug protocol. The review will also look into a November 2020 expansion of federal execution methods beyond lethal injection and policy changes from last December and January to expedite executions.

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