Global business leaders, led by Virgin founder Richard Branson, launched a campaign declaring their opposition to the death penalty on Thursday.
The Business Leaders Against the Death Penalty campaign also includes Celtel founder Mo Ibrahim, Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington and Kering CEO François-Henri Pinault.
Branson announced the campaign’s official launch on Thursday at the South by Southwest Festival, which is virtual this year.
“The death penalty is broken beyond repair and plainly fails to deliver justice by every reasonable measure. It is marred by cruelty, waste, ineffectiveness, discrimination and an unacceptable risk of error. By speaking out at this crucial moment, business leaders have an opportunity to help end this inhumane and flawed practice,” Branson said.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, also signed onto the campaign.
“Business leaders need to do more than just say Black Lives Matter. They need to walk the talk and be instrumental in tearing down all the symbols of structural racism in our society. The death penalty has a long history with oppression, and it needs to end. Now,” they said in a joint statement.
The Responsible Business Initiative for Justice is coordinating the campaign, working closely with Virgin Management and Virgin Unite, and is inviting business leaders from around the world to join.
The declaration for the campaign, which has been signed by 21 business leaders, condemns the death penalty as “inhumane” and “irreconcilable with human dignity.”
It notes that over 170 United Nations member states have abolished the death penalty, as well as nearly 50 percent of U.S. states.
State lawmakers in Virginia voted to end the death penalty in February, which makes it the 23rd state to end capital punishment.
[email protected] (Alex Gangitano)