The U.S. yesterday dismissed international calls to abolish the death penalty as friends and foes alike delivered their recommendations on how Washington can improve its human rights record, the Associated Press reports. U.S. State Department legal adviser Harold Koh said capital punishment was permitted under international law, brushing aside long-standing appeals by European countries and others to suspend or abolish the death penalty, which critics say is inhumane and unfairly applied.
“While we respect those who make these recommendations, we note that they reflect continuing policy differences, not a genuine difference about what international law requires,” Koh told the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council. The call to abolish the death penalty was repeated through the list of 228 recommendations by other nations that formed part of the first comprehensive review of Washington’s human rights record before the council. Other nations urged the U.S. to reduce overcrowding in prisons, ratify international treaties on the rights of women and children, and take further steps to prevent racial profiling.