Yet about half of the population as a whole believes that minorities are more likely to be sentenced to death than a white person who has committed a similar crime. Opponents of the death penalty are very likely to view the system as racistly unfair: seven out of ten opponents believe that the conviction is racistly unfair, while about four out of ten supporters say the same thing. Although the death penalty is generally tolerated under international law, neither can the execution of young offenders be said. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires that the death penalty be imposed only «for the most serious crimes» and never against those under the age of 18 at the time of their crime.5 Virtually every country in the world has signed or ratified this important treaty, including the most recent one in China. However, the United States is the only country with an outstanding reservation with respect to the section prohibiting the execution of young offenders. Some countries execute persons under the age of 18 at the time of perquission, others apply the death penalty to people with mental and intellectual disabilities, and several others apply the death penalty to unfair trials, in flagrant violation of international law and international standards. People can spend years on death row without knowing when their time is over or if they are going to see their family one last time. For example, different methods of enforcement have been found to be unacceptable by international law. The UN Human Rights Committee has described the use of the gas chamber as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Similarly, stonings are strongly criticized, especially where the size of stones is limited to prolong the suffering and death of the condemned. The civil and political rights pact stipulates that the death penalty must be limited to «the most serious crimes.» The most serious measure concerns not only the atrocious facts of the crime, but also the guilt of the accused.
Less than 2% of those who commit murders are sentenced to death in the United States. It seems absurd to claim that the mentally reluctant, who are below the bottom 2% in terms of mental function, are somehow guilty of the highest 2%. Time spent on death row is not inherent in the death penalty. It is the product of a number of factors. First, in many cases, incompetent lawyers are attributed to deaths and often make fundamental errors in their representation. These cases can lead to new procedures and significant delays. Another independent factor is the delay in all types of cases that appel appeal judges must consider. Complaints from defence lawyers or prosecutors sometimes take years before a decision is made.
Because of the high commitment in the event of death, both parties generally appeal any negative decision. Only part of the resulting delay is the defendant`s responsibility. In some cases, the state is delayed for several years before even calling in a lawyer with the processing of an appeal on the death penalty. The typical wait in California for the appointment of a lawyer to begin the appeal trial is three to four years. While «limitation to the most serious crimes» is a fixed principle of international law, the concept lacks a general definition and coherence. The UN General Assembly has approved a number of security measures guaranteeing the protection of the rights of other persons of the death penalty, which provide that the «most serious crimes» apply only to international crimes with fatal consequences or other extremely serious consequences. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions also said that the death penalty should be abolished for economic crimes, drug-related crimes, victimless crimes and acts related to moral values such as adultery, prostitution and sexual orientation.