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Rescind Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Death Penalty Sentence

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Rescind Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Death Penalty Sentence


With this petition, we the People urge the U.S. Government to rescind Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death penalty sentence in the interest of adhering to international human rights standards.

Individuals nationwide have expressed overwhelming disapproval for the recent verdict reached in this case. The statements below represent just a small sample of the outrage this decision has amassed*:

"We condemn the bombings that took place in Boston two years ago, and we mourn the loss of life and grave injuries they caused. The death penalty, however, is not justice. It will only compound the violence, and it will not deter others from committing similar crimes in the future.

It is outrageous that the federal government imposes this cruel and inhuman punishment, particularly when the people of Massachusetts have abolished it in their state. As death sentences decline worldwide, no government can claim to be a leader in human rights when it sentences its prisoners to death." (Amnesty International USA)

"The ACLU of Massachusetts has been disappointed from the start that the federal government sought the death penalty in Massachusetts, which has rejected capital punishment..this verdict is an outlier, and does not change the fact that Americans increasingly reject capital punishment." (American Civil Liberties Union)

" reduce the law to a simplistic eye-for-an-eye logic — Tsarnaev killed and so he must be killed — is to reduce civilization and society to a barbarous state..Murder is wrong whether done by the individual or the collective..This is the purpose of criminal law: To punish, and to rehabilitate, not to torture and murder." (Salon)

"As far as national security is concerned, the federal death penalty has been meaningless. It did nothing to deter Oklahoma City, the 9/11 attacks, or ideologically motivated lone wolves." (The Nation)

"To execute Tsarnaev would be to adopt the mentality of terrorists, who seek to sway the actions of others through violence. This country is—or at least should be—better than that.” (LA Times)

"The US should not execute the so-called Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, because the death penalty is at odds with the primacy of human dignity and the right to life. The abolition of the death penalty is long overdue in the US.” (Human Rights Watch)

More than a matter of public debate, the controversial decision has “reached the highest levels of government,” where many have denounced the practicality of the death penalty itself (New Yorker). In a recent 40-page dissent regarding the use of lethal injection drugs, Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg outlined the arbitrary, skewed, and potentially cruel and unusual nature of capital punishment and, with statistical and factual support from past cases, established its lack of deterrence—all factors that apply and have been exhibited throughout the duration of Mr. Tsarnaev’s case.

“…rather than try to patch up the death penalty’s legal wounds one at a time, I would ask for a full briefing on a more basic question: whether the death penalty violates the Constitution. The studies bear out my own view, reached after considering thousands of death penalty cases and last-minute petitions over the course of more than 20 years. I see discrepancies for which I can find no rational explanations..The question raised by these examples…as well as by the research to which I have referred, is the same question Justice Stewart, Justice Powell, and others raised over the course of several decades.”U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

Included below are excerpts from several more public figures who have spoken out against capital punishment in the context of this case:

"I nonetheless remain opposed to the death penalty as a matter of principle and as a matter of policy. The death penalty is ineffective as a deterrent...the nations responsible for the vast majority of public executions include North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, China, and the United States. Our country does not belong in that company."Martin O’Malley, 2016 Presidential Candidate

“The judicial process plays a fundamental role in Boston’s healing. As such, it requires careful consideration and patience in the face of deeply felt emotion…the Boston Bar Association (BBA) respectfully asks the Department of Justice to seek a life sentence without parole instead of the death penalty. We believe that this can more swiftly close this chapter in our city’s history and return the focus to healing.”Julia Huston, President of the Boston Bar Association

“If we let those who kill turn us into murderers, evil triumphs and we are all worse off.”Renny Cushing, New Hampshire State Representative

In urging decision-makers to take the death penalty off the table, we emphasize that any sentence imposed in this case must be in keeping with the basic human rights afforded to everyone under US and international human rights laws. The United States has a responsibility to uphold their commitment made to the doctrines of the American Declaration of Human Rights and Duties of Man and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among others. As such, we the People will continue our efforts to ensure these commitments are met.

Depriving Mr. Tsarnaev of his essential rights as a human being in response to his own disregard for human life is a senseless and counterproductive way of addressing the issues at hand.

With that, we ask that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence be rescinded with respect to domestic and international human rights laws.



*All quotes extracted from previously-published sources. Credit in parentheses and hyperlinks. 

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