A recent article by Sandra Babcock, "The Global Debate on the Death Penalty," includes this interesting summary of the "human rights issue" vs. "criminal justice issue" question that we raised in yesterday's post:
The international trend toward abolition reflects a shift in the death penalty paradigm. Whereas the death penalty was once viewed as a matter of domestic penal policy, now it is seen as a human rights issue. There are now three regional human rights treaties concerning the abolition of the death penalty: Protocols 6 and 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by 160 nations (including the United States), restricts the manner in which the death penalty may be imposed and promotes abolition. Many human rights organizations and intergovernmental organizations, such as the European Union, see the death penalty as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time and accordingly have taken an active role in persuading countries to halt executions.
Sandra's article also includes a useful discussion of the role of international law in U.S. death penalty cases. It's well worth reading.