Citing the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a United Nations panel recommended that the United States impose a moratorium on executions. The report, issued on July 28 by the U.N. Human Rights Committee, stated the panel was “concerned by studies according to which the death penalty may be imposed disproportionately on ethnic minorities as well as on low-income groups, a problem which does not seem to be fully acknowledged.”

The panel, made up of 18 independent experts who review the practices of 156 countries who have ratified the covenant, urged the U.S. to limit the number of crimes that carry a penalty of death to the most serious crimes. It also requested that the federal government assess the extent that death sentences are handed down disproportionately on minorities and poor people.

The U.S. mission issued a statement in response to the report, but did not specifically mention the committee’s proposals relating to capital punishment.

Criticism by the panel brings no penalties beyond international scrutiny. The U.S. ratified the treaty in 1992 with a number of reservations, including provisions on the death penalty.

(Washington Post, July 28, 2006). See also International.