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Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The
sentence Sentence(s) or The Sentence may refer to: Common uses * Sentence (law), the punishment a judge gives to a defendant found guilty of a crime * Sentence (linguistics), a grammatical unit of language * Sentence (mathematical logic), a formula not cont ...
ordering that someone is punished with the death penalty is called a death sentence, and the act of carrying out such a sentence is known as an execution. A prisoner awaiting their execution is ''condemned'' and is "on
death row Death row, also known as condemned row, is a place in a prison that houses inmates awaiting Capital punishment, execution after being convicted of a capital crime and sentenced to death. The term is also used figuratively to describe the state of a ...
". Crimes that are punishable by death are known as ''capital crimes'', ''capital offences'' or ''capital felonies'', and vary depending on the jurisdiction, but commonly include serious
crimes against the person In criminal law, the term offence against the person or crime against the person usually refers to a crime which is committed by direct physical harm or force being applied to another person. They are usually analysed by division into the follow ...
such as
murder Murder is the of another without or valid , especially the unlawful killing of another human with . ("The killing of another person without justification or excuse, especially the crime of killing a person with malice aforethought or with ...

murder
,
mass murder #REDIRECT Mass murder Mass murder is the act of murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs ...
, aggravated cases of
rape Rape is a type of sexual assault Sexual assault is an act in which one intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. ...

rape
,
child rape Child sexual abuse, also called child molestation, is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include engaging in sexual activities with a child (whether by as ...
,
child sexual abuse Child sexual abuse, also called child molestation, is a form of child abuse Child abuse or child maltreatment is , , and/or maltreatment or of a child or children, especially by a parent or a caregiver. Child abuse may include any act o ...
,
terrorism Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of intentional violence to achieve political aims. The term is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the ...
,
war crime A war crime is a violation of the laws of war The law of war is the component of international law that regulates the conditions for initiating war (''jus ad bellum'') and the conduct of warring parties (''jus in bello''). Laws of war d ...
s,
crimes against humanity Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are purposefully committed as part of a widespread or systematic policy, directed against civilians, in times of war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A g ...
, and
genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish t ...
, along with crimes against the state such as attempting to overthrow government,
treason Treason is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Cr ...
,
espionage Espionage or spying is the act of obtaining secret Secrecy is the practice of hiding information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both it ...

espionage
,
sedition Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech Speech is human vocal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions between self and ot ...

sedition
,
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery Robbery is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted ...

piracy
, and
aircraft hijacking Aircraft hijacking (also known as airplane hijacking, skyjacking, plane hijacking, plane jacking, air robbery, air piracy, or aircraft piracy, with the latter term being used within the special aircraft of the United States), is the seizure ...
. Also, in some cases, acts of
recidivism Recidivism (; from ''recidive'' and ''ism'', from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as ...
,
aggravated robbery Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force, threat of force, or by putting the victim in fear. According to common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently depr ...
, and
kidnapping In criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
, in addition to
drug trafficking Uncoated tablets, consisting of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along with a minor amount of inert fillers and binders. Aspirin is a pharmaceutical drug A medication (also called medicament, medicine, pharmaceutical drug, medicinal drug ...
,
drug dealing File:Aspirine macro shot.jpg, Uncoated aspirin Tablet (pharmacy), tablets, consisting of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along with a minor amount of inert fillers and binders. Aspirin is a pharmaceutical drug often used to treat pain, fever, an ...
, and
drug possession The prohibition of drugs through sumptuary legislation or religious law Religious law includes ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and ...
, are capital crimes or enhancements. Etymologically, the term ''capital'' (lit. "of the head", derived via the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
' from ', "head") describes execution by
beheading Beheaded may refer to: * The intentional separation of the head from the body as a form of decapitation. * Beheading of St. John the Baptist, is a holy day observed by various Christian churches which follow liturgical traditions ;Music * Beheaded ...

beheading
, but executions are carried out by many methods including
hanging Hanging is the suspension of a person by a noose A noose is a loop at the end of a rope in which the knot tightens under load and can be loosened without untying the knot. The knot can be used to secure a rope to a post, pole, or animal but ...

hanging
,
shooting Shooting is the act or process of discharging a projectile A projectile is a missile propelled by the exertion of a which is allowed to move free under the influence of and . Although any objects in motion through space are projectiles, t ...
,
lethal injection Lethal injection is the practice of injecting one or more drugs into a person (typically a barbiturate, paralytic, and potassium solution) for the express purpose of causing rapid death (1906) Death is the permanent, Irreversible pro ...
,
stoning Stoning, or lapidation, is a method of capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (polity), state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence (law), sentence ordering ...
,
electrocution Electrocution is death or severe injury by Electrical injury, electric shock, electric current passing through the body. The word is derived from "electro" and "execution", but it is also used for accidental death. The term "electrocution" was co ...

electrocution
and
gassingGassing can mean: * Emitting gas * Gassing (battery), destructive gas generation in batteries * Gassing (textile process), passing newly spun yarn through a flame to remove the loose fibre ends * Harming or killing with gas, see Poison gas * Gassing ...
.
Forty-eight countries retain capital punishment 48 (forty-eight) is the natural number following 47 (number), 47 and preceding 49 (number), 49. It is one third of a gross (unit), gross, or four dozens. In mathematics Forty-eight is the double factorial of 6 (number), 6, a highly composite nu ...
, 108 countries have completely abolished it ''
de jure In law and government, ''de jure'' ( ; , "by law") describes practices that are legally recognized, regardless of whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, ("in fact") describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legally ...
'' for all crimes, seven have abolished it for ordinary crimes (while maintaining it for special circumstances such as war crimes), and 28 are abolitionist in practice. Although most nations have abolished capital punishment, over 60% of the world's population live in countries where the death penalty is retained, such as
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...
,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...
,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...
,
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...
,
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...
,
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...
,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...
, as well as in
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...
and
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...
. Capital punishment is controversial in several countries and states, and positions can vary within a single
political ideology An ideology () is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group of persons, especially as held for reasons that are not purely epistemic, in which "practical elements are as prominent as theoretical ones." Formerly applied prim ...
or cultural region. In the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
(EU), Article 2 of the
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR) enshrines certain civil and political rights, political, economic, social and cultural rights, social, and economic rights for European Union (EU) Citizenship of the European Union, ...
prohibits the use of capital punishment. The
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international aff ...

Council of Europe
, which has 47 member states, has sought to abolish the use of the death penalty by its members absolutely, through Protocol 13 of the
European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR; formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by t ...
. However, this only affects those member states which have signed and ratified it, and they do not include
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...
, and
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikası ), is a country in the Transcaucasia, Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is boun ...
. The
United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations The United Nations System consists of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) ...
has adopted, throughout the years from 2007 to 2018, seven non-binding resolutions calling for a global moratorium on executions, with a view to eventual abolition.


History

Execution of
criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...

criminal
s and
dissident A dissident is a person who actively challenges an established Political system, political or Organized religion, religious system, doctrine, belief, policy, or institution. In a religious context, the word has been used since the 18th century, and ...
s has been used by nearly all societies since the beginning of civilizations on Earth. Until the nineteenth century, without developed prison systems, there was frequently no workable alternative to ensure deterrence and incapacitation of criminals. In
pre-modern Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeol ...
times the executions themselves often involved torture with cruel and painful methods, such as the
breaking wheel The breaking wheel or execution wheel, also known as the Catherine wheel or simply the Wheel, was a torture method used for public execution A public execution is a form of capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death ...
, keelhauling,
sawing A saw is a tool consisting of a tough blade, Wire saw, wire, or Chain saw, chain with a hard toothed edge. It is used to cut through material, very often wood though sometimes metal or stone. The cut is made by placing the toothed edge against t ...
,
hanging, drawing, and quartering
hanging, drawing, and quartering
,
burning at the stake Death by burning (also known as immolation) is an execution method involving combustion Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel (the reductant) and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxyg ...
,
flaying 225px, The Last Judgment'' - St Bartholomew holding the knife of his martyrdom and his flayed skin; it is conjectured that Michelangelo included a self-portrait depicting himself as St Bartholomew after he had been flayed alive. Flaying, also kn ...
,
slow slicing ''Lingchi'' (), translated variously as the slow process, the lingering death, or slow slicing, and also known as death by a thousand cuts, was a form of torture and execution Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the ...
, boiling alive,
impalement Impalement, as a method of torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or thre ...
,
mazzatello ''Mazzatello'' (abbreviated ''mazza'') was a method of capital punishment used by the Papal States from the late 18th century to 1870 involving the infliction of head trauma.Megivern, James J. 1997. ''The Death Penalty''. Paulist Press. . p. 155.Abb ...
, blowing from a gun,
schwedentrunk The ''Schwedentrunk'' (, ''Swedish drink'') is a method of torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with th ...
, and scaphism. Other methods which appear only in legend include the
blood eagle The blood eagle was a method of ritually executing a chosen member as detailed in late skaldic poetry , in chains, composing poetry after he was captured by King Óláfr Haraldsson (illustration by Christian Krohg for an 1899 edition of ''Heims ...
and brazen bull. The use of formal execution extends to the beginning of recorded history. Most historical records and various primitive tribal practices indicate that the death penalty was a part of their justice system. Communal punishments for wrongdoing generally included
blood money Blood money may refer to: * Blood money (restitution), money paid to the family of a murder victim Films * Blood Money (1917 film), ''Blood Money'' (1917 film), a film starring Harry Carey * Blood Money (1921 film), ''Blood Money'' (1921 film) ...
compensation by the wrongdoer,
corporal punishment A corporal punishment or a physical punishment is a punishment which is intended to cause physical pain to a person. When it is inflicted on Minor (law), minors, especially in home and school settings, its methods may include spanking or Padd ...
,
shunning Shunning can be the act of social rejection, or emotional distance. In a religious context, shunning is a formal decision by a denomination or a congregation to cease interaction with an individual or a group, and follows a particular set of rule ...
,
banishment To be in exile means to be forced away from one's home (i.e. village A village is a clustered human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scien ...

banishment
and execution. In tribal societies, compensation and shunning were often considered enough as a form of justice. The response to crimes committed by neighbouring tribes, clans or communities included a formal apology, compensation, blood
feud A feud , referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, clan war, gang war, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight, often between social groups of people, especially family, families or clans. Feuds begin because ...
s, and tribal warfare. A
blood feud A feud , referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, clan war, gang war, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight, often between social group In the social science Social science is the branch Th ...
or vendetta occurs when arbitration between families or tribes fails or an arbitration system is non-existent. This form of justice was common before the emergence of an arbitration system based on state or organized religion. It may result from crime, land disputes or a code of honour. "Acts of retaliation underscore the ability of the social collective to defend itself and demonstrate to enemies (as well as potential allies) that injury to property, rights, or the person will not go unpunished." In most countries that practise capital punishment, it is now reserved for
murder Murder is the of another without or valid , especially the unlawful killing of another human with . ("The killing of another person without justification or excuse, especially the crime of killing a person with malice aforethought or with ...

murder
,
terrorism Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of intentional violence to achieve political aims. The term is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the ...
,
war crimes A war crime is a violation of the laws of war The law of war is the component of international law that regulates the conditions for initiating war (''jus ad bellum'') and the conduct of warring parties (''jus in bello''). Laws of war de ...
,
espionage Espionage or spying is the act of obtaining secret Secrecy is the practice of hiding information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both it ...

espionage
,
treason Treason is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Cr ...
, or as part of military justice. In some countries
sexual crime Sex and the law deals with the regulation by law of human sexual activity Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behaviour is the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality Human sexuality i ...
s, such as
rape Rape is a type of sexual assault Sexual assault is an act in which one intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. ...

rape
,
fornication Fornication is generally consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. When one or more of the partners having consensual sexual intercourse is married to a third person, it is called adultery. Nonetheless, John Calv ...
,
adultery Adultery (from Latin ''adulterium'') is extramarital sex that is considered objectionable on social, religious, moral, or legal grounds. Although the Human sexual activity, sexual activities that constitute adultery vary, as well as the social ...

adultery
,
incest Incest ( ) is between family members or close . This typically includes sexual activity between people in (blood relations), and sometimes those related by ( or ), adoption, or . The is one of the most widespread of all cultural s, both in ...
,
sodomy Sodomy () or buggery (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval ...
, and bestiality carry the death penalty, as do religious crimes such as
Hudud ''Hudud'' (Arabic language, Arabic: ''Ḥudūd'', also transliterated ''hadud'', ''hudood''; plural of ''hadd'', ) is an Arabic language, Arabic word meaning "borders, boundaries, limits". In the religion of Islam it refers to punishments that u ...
,
Zina ''Zināʾ'' () or ''zinah'' ( or ) is an Islamic legal term referring to unlawful sexual intercourse. According to traditional jurisprudence, ''zina'' can include adultery Adultery (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical languag ...

Zina
, and
Qisas ''Qisas'' or ''Qiṣāṣ'' ( ar, قِصَاص, Qiṣāṣ, lit=accountability, following up after, pursuing or prosecuting) is an Islamic term interpreted to mean "retaliation in kind",Mohamed S. El-Awa (1993), Punishment In Islamic Law, Ameri ...
crimes, such as
apostasy Apostasy (; grc-gre, ἀποστασία ''apostasía'', "a defection or revolt") is the formal religious disaffiliation, disaffiliation from, abandonment of, or renunciation of a religion by a person. It can also be defined within the broader ...
(formal renunciation of the
state religion A state religion (also called an established religion or official religion) is a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether ...
),
blasphemy Blasphemy is an insult that shows contempt, disrespect, or lack of reverence concerning a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (male de ...
,
moharebeh Ḥirābah ( ar, حرابة) is an Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transco ...
,
hirabah Ḥirābah ( ar, حرابة) is an Arabic word for “piracy”, or “unlawful warfare”. ''Hirabah'' comes from the triliteral root ''ḥrb'', which means “to become angry and enraged”. The noun ''ḥarb'' (, pl. ''ḥurūb'' ) means “war ...
,
Fasad ''Fasad'' ( ar, فساد /fasād/) is an Arabic word meaning rottenness, corruption, or depravity. In an Islamic context it can refer to ''spreading corruption on Earth'' or ''spreading mischief in a Muslim land'', moral corruption against God, ...

Fasad
,
Mofsed-e-filarzMofsed-e-filarz ( fa, مفسد فی الارض, also Mofsed fel-Arz, Afsad-i fil Arz, or fasad-fel-arz, ar, المفسد في الأرض Al-Mufsid fi al-Arḍ, also fasad fi 'l-ard lit. ''Corrupt on Earth'') is the title of capital crimes (or the pe ...
and
witchcraft In many cultures, witchcraft traditionally means the use of magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from m ...

witchcraft
. In many countries that use the death penalty,
drug trafficking Uncoated tablets, consisting of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along with a minor amount of inert fillers and binders. Aspirin is a pharmaceutical drug A medication (also called medicament, medicine, pharmaceutical drug, medicinal drug ...
and often
drug possession The prohibition of drugs through sumptuary legislation or religious law Religious law includes ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and ...
is also a capital offence. In China,
human trafficking Human trafficking is the trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elem ...
and serious cases of
corruption Corruption is a form of dishonesty Dishonesty is to act without honesty. It is used to describe a lack of probity, cheating, lying, or deliberately withholding information, or being deliberately deceptive or a lack in integrity, knavishness, ...
and
financial crime Financial crime is crime committed against property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to or with something, whether as an attribute or as a component of said thing. In the context of this a ...
s are punished by the death penalty. In militaries around the world
courts-martial A court-martial or court martial (plural ''courts-martial'' or ''courts martial'', as "martial" is a postpositive adjective) is a military court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority ...
have imposed death sentences for offences such as
cowardice Image:Cowardly lion2.jpg, The Cowardly Lion, from ''The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'' Cowardice is a trait wherein excessive fear prevents an individual from taking a risk or facing danger. It is the opposite of courage. As a label, "cowardice" indicat ...
,
desertion Desertion is the abandonment of a military duty or post without permission (a pass, liberty Broadly speaking, liberty is the ability to do as one pleases, or a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant (i.e. privilege). It ...
,
insubordination Insubordination is the act of willfully disobeying an order of one's superior. Insubordination is generally a punishable offense in hierarchical organizations which depend on people lower in the chain of command doing what they are expected to ...
, and
mutiny Mutiny is a revolt among a group of people (typically of a military, of a crew or of a crew of Piracy, pirates) to oppose, change, or overthrow an organization to which they were previously loyal. The term is commonly used for a rebellion among ...

mutiny
.


Ancient history

Elaborations of tribal arbitration of
feud A feud , referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, clan war, gang war, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight, often between social groups of people, especially family, families or clans. Feuds begin because ...
s included peace settlements often done in a religious context and compensation system. Compensation was based on the principle of ''substitution'' which might include material (for example, cattle, slaves, land) compensation, exchange of brides or grooms, or payment of the blood debt. Settlement rules could allow for animal blood to replace human blood, or transfers of property or
blood money Blood money may refer to: * Blood money (restitution), money paid to the family of a murder victim Films * Blood Money (1917 film), ''Blood Money'' (1917 film), a film starring Harry Carey * Blood Money (1921 film), ''Blood Money'' (1921 film) ...
or in some case an offer of a person for execution. The person offered for execution did not have to be an original perpetrator of the crime because the social system was based on tribes and clans, not individuals. Blood feuds could be regulated at meetings, such as the
Norsemen The Norsemen (or Norse people) were a North Germanic The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are ...
'' things''. Systems deriving from blood feuds may survive alongside more advanced legal systems or be given recognition by courts (for example,
trial by combat Trial by combat (also wager of battle, trial by battle or judicial duel) was a method of Germanic law Early Germanic law was the form of law followed by the early Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people livin ...
or blood money). One of the more modern refinements of the blood feud is the
duel A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two people, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activit ...

duel
. In certain parts of the world, nations in the form of ancient republics, monarchies or tribal oligarchies emerged. These nations were often united by common linguistic, religious or family ties. Moreover, expansion of these nations often occurred by conquest of neighbouring tribes or nations. Consequently, various classes of royalty, nobility, various commoners and slaves emerged. Accordingly, the systems of tribal arbitration were submerged into a more unified system of justice which formalized the relation between the different "
social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those soc ...
es" rather than "tribes". The earliest and most famous example is
Code of Hammurabi The Code of Hammurabi is a Babylonian legal text composed 1755–1750 BC. It is the longest, best-organised, and best-preserved legal text from the ancient Near East. It is written in the Old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, purportedly by Ham ...

Code of Hammurabi
which set the different punishment and compensation, according to the different class/group of victims and perpetrators. The
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
(Jewish Law), also known as the
Pentateuch The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebre ...
(the first five books of the Christian
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts (or "books") which a particular Jewish or Christian religious community regards as aut ...
), lays down the death penalty for murder,
kidnapping In criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
, practicing
magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from miscapitalization {{R unprintworthy ..., a contemporary magical practic ...
, violation of the
Sabbath In Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic people, Semitic-originated religions that claim descent from the Judaism of the ancient Isra ...

Sabbath
,
blasphemy Blasphemy is an insult that shows contempt, disrespect, or lack of reverence concerning a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (male de ...
, and a wide range of sexual crimes, although evidence suggests that actual executions were rare. A further example comes from
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
, where the
Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens The Acropoli ...

Athenian
legal system replacing
customary A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted wikt:standard, standards, norm (philosophy), norms, social norms, or wikt:criterion, criteria, often taking the form of a custom. In a social context, a convention may retain the ...
oral law An oral law is a code of conduct A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the norms Norm, the Norm or NORM may refer to: In academic disciplines * Norm (geology), an estimate of the idealised mineral content of a rock * Norm (philosophy ...
was first written down by
Draco DRACO (double-stranded RNA Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning t ...
in about 621 BC: the death penalty was applied for a particularly wide range of crimes, though
Solon Solon ( grc-gre, Σόλων Solon ( grc-gre, wikt:Σόλων, Σόλων ''Sólōn'' ;  BC) was an Archaic Greece#Athens, Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, e ...

Solon
later repealed Draco's code and published new laws, retaining capital punishment only for intentional
homicide Homicide is an act of a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

homicide
, and only with victim's family permission. The word
draconian Draconian is an adjective meaning "of great severity", that derives from Draco, an Athenian law scribe under whom small offenses had heavy punishments ( Draconian laws). Draconian may also refer to: * Draconian (band), a death/doom metal band fr ...
derives from Draco's laws. The
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
also used the death penalty for a wide range of offences.


Ancient Greece

Protagoras Protagoras (; el, Πρωταγόρας; )Guthrie, p. 262–263. was a pre-Socratic Pre-Socratic philosophy is ancient Greek philosophy Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC, at a time when the inhabitants of ancient Greece wer ...
(whose thought is reported by
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
) criticizes the principle of revenge, because once the damage is done it cannot be canceled by any action. So, if the death penalty is to be imposed by society, it is only to protect the latter against the criminal or for a dissuasive purpose. "The only right that Protagoras knows is therefore human right, which, established and sanctioned by a sovereign collectivity, identifies itself with positive or the law in force of the city. In fact, it finds its guarantee in the death penalty which threatens all those who do not respect it."
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
, for his part, saw the death penalty as a means of purification, because crimes are a "defilement". Thus in the
Laws Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...

Laws
, he considered necessary the execution of the animal or the destruction of the object which caused the death of a Man by accident. For the murderers, he considered that the act of
homicide Homicide is an act of a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

homicide
is not natural and is not fully consented by the criminal. Homicide is thus a disease of the
soul In many religious, philosophical, and myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as ...

soul
, which must be reeducated as much as possible, and, as a last resort, sentence to death if no rehabilitation is possible. According to
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
, for whom free will is proper to man, the citizen is responsible for his acts. If there was a crime, a
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
must define the penalty allowing the crime to be annulled by compensating it. This is how pecuniary compensation appeared for criminals the least recalcitrant and whose
rehabilitation Rehabilitation or Rehab may refer to: Health * Rehabilitation (neuropsychology), therapy to regain or improve neurocognitive function that has been lost or diminished * Rehabilitation (wildlife), treatment of injured wildlife so they can be returne ...
is deemed possible. But for others, the death penalty is necessary according to Aristotle. This philosophy aims on the one hand to protect society and on the other hand to compensate in order to cancel the consequences of the crime committed. It inspired Western criminal law until the 17th century, a time when the first reflections on the abolition of the death penalty appeared.


Ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, the application of the death penalty against Roman citizens was unusual and considered exceptional. They preferred alternative sentences ranging, depending on the crime and the criminal, from private or public reprimand to exile, including the confiscation of his property, or torture, or even prison, and as a last resort, dead. A historic debate, followed by a vote, took place in the Roman Senate to decide the fate of Catiline's allies when he tried to take power in December -63.then Roman consul, argued in favor of the killing of conspirators without judgment by decision of the Senate (Senatus consultum ultimum)and was followed by the majority of senators; among the minority voices opposed to the execution, we mainly count that of Julius Caesar. It was quite different for Alien (law), foreigners who were considered inferior to Roman citizenship and especially for slaves, who were considered as movable property.


China

Although many are executed in the Capital punishment in China, People's Republic of China each year in the present day, there was a time in the Tang dynasty (618–907) when the death penalty was abolished.Benn, p. 8. This was in the year 747, enacted by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (r. 712–756). When abolishing the death penalty Xuanzong ordered his officials to refer to the nearest regulation by analogy when sentencing those found guilty of crimes for which the prescribed punishment was execution. Thus depending on the severity of the crime a punishment of severe scourging with the thick rod or of exile to the remote Lingnan region might take the place of capital punishment. However, the death penalty was restored only 12 years later in 759 in response to the An Lushan Rebellion. At this time in the Tang dynasty only the emperor had the authority to sentence criminals to execution. Under Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, Xuanzong capital punishment was relatively infrequent, with only 24 executions in the year 730 and 58 executions in the year 736. The two most common forms of execution in the Tang dynasty were strangulation and decapitation, which were the prescribed methods of execution for 144 and 89 offences respectively. Strangulation was the prescribed sentence for lodging an accusation against one's parents or grandparents with a magistrate, scheming to kidnap a person and sell them into slavery, and opening a coffin while desecrating a tomb. Decapitation was the method of execution prescribed for more serious crimes such as treason and sedition. Despite the great discomfort involved, most of the Tang Chinese preferred strangulation to decapitation, as a result of the traditional Tang Chinese belief that the body is a gift from the parents and that it is, therefore, disrespectful to one's ancestors to die without returning one's body to the grave intact. Some further forms of capital punishment were practised in the Tang dynasty, of which the first two that follow at least were extralegal. The first of these was scourging to death with the thick rod which was common throughout the Tang dynasty especially in cases of gross corruption. The second was truncation, in which the convicted person was cut in two at the waist with a fodder knife and then left to bleed to death.Benn, p. 210 A further form of execution called Ling Chi (
slow slicing ''Lingchi'' (), translated variously as the slow process, the lingering death, or slow slicing, and also known as death by a thousand cuts, was a form of torture and execution Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the ...
), or death by/of a thousand cuts, was used from the close of the Tang dynasty (around 900) to its abolition in 1905. When a minister of the fifth grade or above received a death sentence the emperor might grant him a special dispensation allowing him to commit suicide in lieu of execution. Even when this privilege was not granted, the law required that the condemned minister be provided with food and ale by his keepers and transported to the execution ground in a cart rather than having to walk there. Nearly all executions under the Tang dynasty took place in public as a warning to the population. The heads of the executed were displayed on poles or spears. When local authorities decapitated a convicted criminal, the head was boxed and sent to the capital as proof of identity and that the execution had taken place.


Middle Ages

In Middle Age, medieval and early modern Europe, before the development of modern prison systems, the death penalty was also used as a generalized form of punishment for even minor offences. During the reign of Henry VIII of England, as many as 72,000 people are estimated to have been executed. In early modern Europe, a massive moral panic regarding
witchcraft In many cultures, witchcraft traditionally means the use of magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from m ...

witchcraft
swept across Europe and later the European colonies in North America. During this period, there were widespread claims that malevolent Satanism, Satanic witchcraft, witches were operating as an organized threat to Christendom. As a result, tens of thousands of women were prosecuted for witchcraft and executed through the witch trials in the early modern period, witch trials of the early modern period (between the 15th and 18th centuries). The death penalty also targeted sexual offences such as
sodomy Sodomy () or buggery (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval ...
. In England, the Buggery Act 1533 stipulated hanging as punishment for "buggery". James Pratt and John Smith were the last two Englishmen to be executed for sodomy in 1835. Despite the wide use of the death penalty, calls for reform were not unknown. The 12th century Jewish legal scholar, Moses Maimonides, wrote, "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent man to death." He argued that executing an accused criminal on anything less than absolute certainty would lead to a slippery slope of decreasing Legal burden of proof, burdens of proof, until we would be convicting merely "according to the judge's caprice". Maimonides's concern was maintaining popular respect for law, and he saw errors of commission as much more threatening than errors of omission.Moses Maimonides, ''The Commandments, Neg. Comm. 290'', at 269–71 (Charles B. Chavel trans., 1967). The Abbasid Caliphs in Baghdad, such as Al-Mu'tadid, were often cruel in their punishments.


Enlightenment philosophy

While during the Middle Ages the expiatory aspect of the death penalty was taken into account, this is no longer the case under the Lumières. These define the place of man within society no longer according to a divine rule, but as a contract established at birth between the citizen and the society, it is the Contractualism, social contract. From that moment on, capital punishment should be seen as useful to society through its dissuasive effect, but also as a means of protection of the latter vis-à-vis criminals.


Modern era

In the last several centuries, with the emergence of modern nation states, justice came to be increasingly associated with the concept of natural and legal rights. The period saw an increase in standing police forces and permanent penitential institutions. Rational choice theory (criminology), Rational choice theory, a utilitarian approach to criminology which justifies punishment as a form of deterrence as opposed to retribution, can be traced back to Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria, Cesare Beccaria, whose influential treatise ''Dei delitti e delle pene, On Crimes and Punishments'' (1764) was the first detailed analysis of capital punishment to demand the abolition of the death penalty. In England Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), the founder of modern utilitarianism, called for the abolition of the death penalty. Beccaria, and later Charles Dickens and Karl Marx noted the incidence of increased violent criminality at the times and places of executions. Official recognition of this phenomenon led to executions being carried out inside prisons, away from public view. In England in the 18th century, when there was no police force, Parliament drastically increased the number of capital offences to more than 200. These were mainly property offences, for example cutting down a cherry tree in an orchard. In 1820, there were 160, including crimes such as shoplifting, petty theft or stealing cattle. The severity of the so-called Bloody Code was often tempered by juries who refused to convict, or judges, in the case of petty theft, who arbitrarily set the value stolen at below the statutory level for a capital crime.


20th century

In Nazi Germany#Law, Nazi Germany there were three types of capital punishment; hanging, decapitation and death by shooting. Also, modern military organisations employed capital punishment as a means of maintaining military discipline. In the past,
cowardice Image:Cowardly lion2.jpg, The Cowardly Lion, from ''The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'' Cowardice is a trait wherein excessive fear prevents an individual from taking a risk or facing danger. It is the opposite of courage. As a label, "cowardice" indicat ...
, absence without leave,
desertion Desertion is the abandonment of a military duty or post without permission (a pass, liberty Broadly speaking, liberty is the ability to do as one pleases, or a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant (i.e. privilege). It ...
,
insubordination Insubordination is the act of willfully disobeying an order of one's superior. Insubordination is generally a punishable offense in hierarchical organizations which depend on people lower in the chain of command doing what they are expected to ...
, shirking under enemy fire and disobeying orders were often crimes punishable by death (see Decimation (Roman army), decimation and running the gauntlet). One method of execution, since firearms came into common use, has also been firing squad, although some countries use execution with a single shot to the head or neck. Various authoritarian states—for example those with Fascist or Communist governments—employed the death penalty as a potent means of political repression, political oppression. According to Robert Conquest, the leading expert on Joseph Stalin#Famine and the Great Terror: 1932–1939, Joseph Stalin's purges, more than one million Soviet Union#Stalin era, Soviet citizens were executed during the Great Purge of 1937–38, almost all by a bullet to the back of the head. Mao Zedong publicly stated that "800,000" people had been executed in China during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). Partly as a response to such excesses, civil rights organizations started to place increasing emphasis on the concept of human rights and an abolition of the death penalty.


Contemporary era

Among countries around the world, all European (except Capital punishment in Belarus, Belarus) and many Oceanian states (including Capital punishment in Australia, Australia and Capital punishment in New Zealand, New Zealand), and Capital punishment in Canada, Canada have abolished capital punishment. In Latin America, most states have completely abolished the use of capital punishment, while some countries such as Capital punishment in Brazil, Brazil and Capital punishment in Guatemala, Guatemala allow for it only in exceptional situations, such as treason committed during wartime. The
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
(the federal government and 29 of the states), some Caribbean countries and the majority of countries in Asia (for example,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...
and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
) retain capital punishment. In Africa, less than half of countries retain it, for example Capital punishment in Botswana, Botswana and Zambia. South Africa Capital punishment in South Africa, abolished the death penalty in 1995. Abolition was often adopted due to political change, as when countries shifted from authoritarianism to democracy, or when it became an entry condition for the EU. The United States is a notable exception: some states have had bans on capital punishment for decades, the earliest being Michigan where it was abolished in 1846, while other states still actively use it today. The death penalty in the United States remains a contentious issue which is Capital punishment debate in the United States, hotly debated. In retentionist countries, the debate is sometimes revived when a miscarriage of justice has occurred though this tends to cause legislative efforts to improve the judicial process rather than to abolish the death penalty. In abolitionist countries, the debate is sometimes revived by particularly brutal murders though few countries have brought it back after abolishing it. However, a spike in serious, violent crimes, such as murders or terrorist attacks, has prompted some countries to effectively end the moratorium on the death penalty. One notable example is
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...
which in December 2014 lifted a six-year moratorium on executions after the 2014 Peshawar school massacre, Peshawar school massacre during which 132 students and 9 members of staff of the Army Public School and Degree College Peshawar were killed by Taliban terrorists. Since then, Pakistan has executed over 400 convicts. In 2017 two major countries, Capital punishment in Turkey, Turkey and the Capital punishment in the Philippines, Philippines, saw their executives making moves to reinstate the death penalty. In the same year, passage of the law in the Philippines failed to obtain the Senate's approval.


History of abolition

In 724 in Japan, the death penalty was banned during the reign of Emperor Shōmu but the abolition only lasted a few years. In 818, Emperor Saga abolished the death penalty under the influence of Shinto and it lasted until 1156. In China, the death penalty was banned by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang in AD 747, 747, replacing it with exile or scourging. However, the ban only lasted 12 years. In England, a public statement of opposition was included in The Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards, written in 1395. Sir Thomas More's ''Utopia (book), Utopia'', published in 1516, debated the benefits of the death penalty in dialogue form, coming to no firm conclusion. More was himself executed for treason in 1535. More recent opposition to the death penalty stemmed from the book of the Italian Cesare Beccaria ''Dei Delitti e Delle Pene'' ("On Crimes and Punishments"), published in 1764. In this book, Beccaria aimed to demonstrate not only the injustice, but even the futility from the point of view of social policy, social welfare, of torture and the death penalty. Influenced by the book, Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, Grand Duke Leopold II of Habsburg, the future Emperor of Austria, abolished the death penalty in the then-independent Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the first permanent abolition in modern times. On 30 November 1786, after having ''de facto'' blocked executions (the last was in 1769), Leopold promulgated the reform of the penal code that abolished the death penalty and ordered the destruction of all the instruments for capital execution in his land. In 2000, Tuscany's regional authorities instituted an annual holiday on 30 November to commemorate the event. The event is commemorated on this day by 300 cities around the world celebrating Cities for Life Day. In the United Kingdom, it was abolished for murder (leaving only
treason Treason is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Cr ...
, piracy with violence, arson in royal dockyards and a number of wartime military offences as capital crimes) for a five-year experiment in 1965 and permanently in 1969, the last execution having taken place in 1964. It was abolished for all peacetime offences in 1998. In the Post-classical history, post classical Republic of Poljica life was ensured as a basic right in its Poljica Statute of 1440. The Roman Republic (19th century), Roman Republic banned capital punishment in 1849. Venezuela followed suit and abolished the death penalty in 1863 and Use of capital punishment by nation, San Marino did so in 1865. The last execution in San Marino had taken place in 1468. In Portugal, after legislative proposals in 1852 and 1863, the death penalty was abolished in 1867. The last execution of the death penalty in Brazil was 1876, from there all the condemnations were commuted by the Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, Pedro II until its abolition for civil offences and military offences in peacetime in 1891. The penalty for crimes committed in peacetime was then reinstated and abolished again twice (1938–53 and 1969–78), but on those occasions it was restricted to acts of terrorism or subversion considered "internal warfare" and all sentence were commuted and were not carried out. Abolition occurred in Capital punishment in Canada#History, Canada in 1976 (except for some military offences, with complete abolition in 1998), in Capital punishment in France#Abolition, France in 1981, and in Capital punishment in Australia#Commonwealth, Australia in 1973 (although the state of Capital punishment in Australia#Western Australia, Western Australia retained the penalty until 1984). In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly affirmed in a formal resolution that throughout the world, it is desirable to "progressively restrict the number of offences for which the death penalty might be imposed, with a view to the desirability of abolishing this punishment". In the United States, Michigan was the first state to ban the death penalty, on 18 May 1846. The death penalty was declared unconstitutional between 1972 and 1976 based on the ''Furman v. Georgia'' case, but the 1976 ''Gregg v. Georgia'' case once again permitted the death penalty under certain circumstances. Further limitations were placed on the death penalty in ''Atkins v. Virginia'' (2002; death penalty unconstitutional for people with an intellectual disability) and ''Roper v. Simmons'' (2005; death penalty unconstitutional if defendant was under age 18 at the time the crime was committed). In the United States, 21 states and the District of Columbia ban capital punishment. Many countries have abolished capital punishment either in law or in practice. Since World War II there has been a trend toward abolishing capital punishment. Capital punishment has been completely abolished by 102 countries, a further six have done so for all offences except under special circumstances and 32 more have abolished it in practice because they have not used it for at least 10 years and are believed to have a policy or established practice against carrying out executions.


Contemporary use


By country

Most countries, including almost all First World nations, have abolished capital punishment either in law or in practice; notable exceptions are the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...
and
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...
. Additionally, capital punishment is also carried out in Capital punishment in the People's Republic of China, China,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
, and most Religion and capital punishment#Islam, Islamic states. Since World War II, there has been a trend toward abolishing the death penalty. 48 countries retain the death penalty in active use, 108 countries have abolished capital punishment altogether, 7 have done so for all offences except under special circumstances, and 28 more have abolished it in practice because they have not used it for at least 10 years and are believed to have a policy or established practice against carrying out executions. According to Amnesty International, 20 countries are known to have performed executions in 2019.There are countries which do not publish information on the use of capital punishment, most significantly China and Capital punishment in North Korea, North Korea. According to Amnesty International, around 1,000 prisoners were executed in 2017. The use of the death penalty is becoming increasingly restrained in some retentionist countries including Taiwan and Singapore. Indonesia carried out no executions between November 2008 and March 2013. Singapore, Japan and the United States are the only developed countries that are classified by Amnesty International as 'retentionist' (South Korea is classified as 'abolitionist in practice'). Nearly all retentionist countries are situated in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. The only retentionist country in Europe is Capital punishment in Belarus, Belarus. The death penalty was overwhelmingly practised in poor and authoritarian states, which often employed the death penalty as a tool of political oppression. During the 1980s, the democratisation of Latin America swelled the ranks of abolitionist countries. This was soon followed by the fall of Communism in Europe. Many of the countries which restored democracy aspired to enter the European Union, EU. The EU and the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international aff ...

Council of Europe
both strictly require List of European Union member states, member states not to practise the death penalty (see Capital punishment in Europe). Public support for the death penalty in the EU varies. The last execution in a member state of the present-day Council of Europe took place in 1997 in Ukraine. In contrast, the rapid industrialisation in Asia has seen an increase in the number of developed countries which are also retentionist. In these countries, the death penalty retains strong public support, and the matter receives little attention from the government or the media; in China there is a small but significant and growing movement to abolish the death penalty altogether. This trend has been followed by some African and Middle Eastern countries where support for the death penalty remains high. Some countries have resumed practising the death penalty after having previously suspended the practice for long periods. The United States suspended executions in 1972 but resumed them in 1976; there was no execution in India between 1995 and 2004; and Sri Lanka declared an end to its Moratorium (law), moratorium on the death penalty on 20 November 2004, although it has not yet performed any further executions. The Philippines re-introduced the death penalty in 1993 after abolishing it in 1987, but again abolished it in 2006. The United States and Japan are the only developed countries to have recently carried out executions. The U.S. federal government, the U.S. military, and 28 states have a valid death penalty statute, and over 1,400 executions have been carried in the United States since it reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Japan has 112 inmates with finalized death sentences , after executing Wei Wei, a former student from China who was charged with robbing and killing a Japanese family of four, including children aged 8 and 11, in 2003. The most recent country to abolish the death penalty was Kazakhstan on 2 January 2021 after a moratorium dating back 2 decades. According to an Amnesty International report released in April 2020, Egypt ranked regionally third and globally fifth among the countries that carried out most executions in 2019. The country increasingly became ignorant of international human rights concerns and criticism. In March 2021, Egypt executed 11 prisoners in a jail, who were convicted in cases of "murder, theft, and shooting".


Modern-day public opinion

The public opinion on the death penalty varies considerably by country and by the crime in question. Countries where a majority of people are against execution include Norway, where only 25% are in favour. Most French, Finns, and Italians also oppose the death penalty. A 2020 Gallup poll shows that 55% of Americans support the death penalty for an individual convicted of murder, down from 60% in 2016, 64% in 2010, 65% in 2006, and 68% in 2001. The support and sentencing of capital punishment has been growing in India in the 2010s due to anger over several recent brutal cases of rape, even though actual executions are comparatively rare. While support for the death penalty for murder is still high in China, executions have dropped precipitously, with 3,000 executed in 2012 versus 12,000 in 2002. A poll in South Africa, where capital punishment is abolished, found that 76% of millennial South Africans support re-introduction of the death penalty due to increasing incidents of rape and murder. A 2017 poll found younger Mexicans are more likely to support capital punishment than older ones. 57% of Brazilians support the death penalty. The age group that shows the greatest support for execution of those condemned is the 25 to 34-year-old category, in which 61% say they are in favor.


Juvenile offenders

The death penalty for Adolescence, juvenile offenders (criminals aged under 18 years at the time of their crime although the legal or accepted definition of ''juvenile offender'' may vary from one jurisdiction to another) has become increasingly rare. Considering the Age of Majority is still not 18 in some countries or has not been clearly defined in law, since 1990 ten countries have executed offenders who were considered juveniles at the time of their crimes: The People's Republic of China (PRC), Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United States, and Yemen. China, Pakistan, the United States, Yemen and Saudi Arabia have since raised the minimum age to 18. Amnesty International has recorded 61 verified executions since then, in several countries, of both juveniles and adults who had been convicted of committing their offences as juveniles. The PRC does not allow for the execution of those under 18, but child executions have reportedly taken place. One of the youngest children ever to be executed was the infant son of Perotine Massey on or around 18 July 1556. His mother was one of the Guernsey Martyrs who was executed for heresy, and his father had previously fled the island. At less than one day old, he was ordered to be burned by Bailiff Hellier Gosselin, with the advice of priests nearby who said the boy should burn due to having inherited moral stain from his mother, who had given birth during her execution. Starting in 1642 within the then British American colonies until present day, an estimated 365 juvenile offenders were executed by the British Colonial authorities and subsequently by State authorities and the federal government of the United States. The United States Supreme Court abolished capital punishment for offenders under the age of 16 in ''Thompson v. Oklahoma'' (1988), and for all juveniles in ''Roper v. Simmons'' (2005). In Prussia, children under the age of 14 were exempted from the death penalty in 1794. Capital punishment was cancelled by the Electorate of Bavaria in 1751 for children under the age of 11 and by the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1813 for children and youth under 16 years. In Prussia, the exemption was extended to youth under the age of 16 in 1851. For the first time, all juveniles were excluded for the death penalty by the North German Confederation in 1871, which was continued by the German Empire in 1872. In Nazi Germany, capital punishment was reinstated for juveniles between 16 and 17 years in 1939. This was broadened to children and youth from age 12 to 17 in 1943. The death penalty for juveniles was abolished by West Germany, also generally, in 1949 and by East Germany in 1952. In the Hereditary Lands, Austrian Silesia, Bohemia and Moravia within the Habsburg Monarchy, capital punishment for children under the age of 11 was no longer foreseen by 1770. The death penalty was, also for juveniles, nearly abolished in 1787 except for emergency or military law, which is unclear in regard of those. It was reintroduced for juveniles above 14 years by 1803, and was raised by general criminal law to 20 years in 1852 and this exemption and the alike one of military law in 1855, which may have been up to 14 years in wartime, were also introduced into all of the Austrian Empire. In the Helvetic Republic, the death penalty for children and youth under the age of 16 was abolished in 1799 yet the country was already dissolved in 1803 whereas the law could remain in force if it was not replaced on cantonal level. In the canton of Bern, all juveniles were exempted from the death penalty at least in 1866. In Canton of Fribourg, Fribourg, capital punishment was generally, including for juveniles, abolished by 1849. In Canton of Ticino, Ticino, it was abolished for youth and young adults under the age of 20 in 1816. In Canton of Zurich, Zurich, the exclusion from the death penalty was extended for juveniles and young adults up to 19 years of age by 1835. In 1942, the death penalty was almost deleted in criminal law, as well for juveniles, but since 1928 persisted in military law during wartime for youth above 14 years. If no earlier change was made in the given subject, by 1979 juveniles could no longer be subject to the death penalty in military law during wartime. Between 2005 and May 2008, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen were reported to have executed child offenders, the largest number occurring in Iran. During Hassan Rouhani's current tenure as president of Iran since 2013, at least 3,602 death sentences have been carried out. This includes the executions of 34 juvenile offenders. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which forbids capital punishment for juveniles under article 37(a), has been signed by all countries and subsequently ratification, ratified by all signatories with the exceptions of Somalia and the United States (despite the Supreme Court of the United States, US Supreme Court decisions abolishing the practice). The United Nations Human Rights Council, UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights maintains that the death penalty for juveniles has become contrary to a jus cogens of customary international law. A majority of countries are also party to the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (whose Article 6.5 also states that "Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age..."). Iran, despite its ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, was the world's largest executioner of juvenile offenders, for which it has been the subject of broad international condemnation; the country's record is the focus of the Stop Child Executions Campaign. But on 10 February 2012, Iran's parliament changed controversial laws relating to the execution of juveniles. In the new legislation the age of 18 (solar year) would be applied to accused of both genders and juvenile offenders must be sentenced pursuant to a separate law specifically dealing with juveniles. Based on the Islamic law which now seems to have been revised, girls at the age of 9 and boys at 15 of lunar year (11 days shorter than a solar year) are deemed fully responsible for their crimes. Iran accounted for two-thirds of the global total of such executions, and currently has approximately 140 people considered as juveniles awaiting execution for crimes committed (up from 71 in 2007).Iranian activists fight child executions
Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press, 17 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
The past executions of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, Mahmoud Asgari, Ayaz Marhoni and Makwan Moloudzadeh became the focus of Iran's child capital punishment policy and the judicial system that hands down such sentences. Saudi Arabia also executes criminals who were minors at the time of the offence. In 2013, Saudi Arabia was the center of an international controversy after it executed Execution of Rizana Nafeek, Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan domestic worker, who was believed to have been 17 years old at the time of the crime. Saudi Arabia banned execution for minors, except for terrorism cases, in April 2020. Japan has not executed juvenile criminals after August 1997, when they executed Norio Nagayama, a spree killer who had been convicted of shooting four people dead in the late 1960s. Nagayama's case created the eponymously named Norio Nagayama, ''Nagayama'' ''standards'', which take into account factors such as the number of victims, brutality and social impact of the crimes. The standards have been used in determining whether to apply the death sentence in murder cases. Teruhiko Seki, convicted of murdering four family members including a 4-year-old daughter and raping a 15-year-old daughter of a family in 1992, became the second inmate to be hanged for a crime committed as a minor in the first such execution in 20 years after Nagayama on 19 December 2017. Takayuki Fukuda, Takayuki Otsuki, who was convicted of raping and strangling a 23-year-old woman and subsequently strangling her 11-month-old daughter to death on 14 April 1999, when he was 18, is another inmate sentenced to death, and his request for retrial has been rejected by the Supreme Court of Japan. There is evidence that child executions are taking place in the parts of Somalia controlled by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). In October 2008, a girl, Stoning of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, Aisha Ibrahim Dhuhulow was buried up to her neck at a Soccer-specific stadium, football stadium, then stoning, stoned to death in front of more than 1,000 people. Somalia's established Transitional Federal Government announced in November 2009 (reiterated in 2013)"Somalia to Ratify UN Child Rights Treaty"
, allAfrica.com, 20 November 2013.
that it plans to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This move was lauded by UNICEF as a welcome attempt to secure children's rights in the country.


Methods

The following methods of execution have been used by various countries: * Hanging (Capital punishment in Afghanistan, Afghanistan,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...
, Capital punishment in Iraq, Iraq,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...
, Capital punishment in Malaysia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Sudan,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...
, Palestinian National Authority, Capital punishment in Israel, Israel, Capital punishment in Yemen, Yemen,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...
,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
, Myanmar, Capital punishment in Singapore, Singapore, Capital punishment in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka, Capital punishment in Syria, Syria, UAE, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Liberia) * Execution by shooting, Shooting (the Capital punishment in the People's Republic of China, People's Republic of China, Capital punishment in the Republic of China, Republic of China, Capital punishment in Vietnam, Vietnam, Capital punishment in Belarus, Belarus, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Capital punishment in Somalia, Somalia, Capital punishment in North Korea, North Korea,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...
, Capital punishment in the United Arab Emirates, UAE,
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...
, Bahrain, Capital punishment in Qatar, Qatar, Capital punishment in Yemen, Yemen, and in the US states of Capital punishment in Oklahoma, Oklahoma and Capital punishment in Utah, Utah). * Lethal injection (
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
, Capital punishment in Guatemala, Guatemala, Capital punishment in Thailand, Thailand, the Capital punishment in the People's Republic of China, People's Republic of China, Capital punishment in Vietnam, Vietnam) * Decapitation, Beheading (
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...
) * Stoning (
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...
, Capital punishment in Sudan, Sudan) * Electric chair, Electrocution and Gas chamber, gas inhalation (some U.S. states, but only if the prisoner requests it or if lethal injection is unavailable) *Inert gas asphyxiation (Some U.S states, Capital punishment in Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama)


Public execution

A public execution is a form of capital punishment which "members of the general public may voluntarily attend". This definition excludes the presence of a small number of witnesses randomly selected to assure executive accountability. While today the great majority of the world considers public executions to be distasteful and most countries have outlawed the practice, throughout much of history executions were performed publicly as a means for the state to demonstrate "its power before those who fell under its jurisdiction be they criminals, enemies, or political opponents". Additionally, it afforded the public a chance to witness "what was considered a great spectacle". Social historians note that beginning in the 20th century in the U.S. and western Europe death in general became increasingly shielded from public view, occurring more and more behind the closed doors of the hospital. Executions were likewise moved behind the walls of the penitentiary. The last formal public executions occurred in 1868 in Britain, in 1936 in the U.S. and in 1939 in France. According to Amnesty International, in 2012, "public executions were known to have been carried out in Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Somalia". There have been reports of public executions carried out by state and non-state actors in Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. Executions which can be classified as public were also carried out in the U.S. states of Florida and Utah .


Capital crime


Crimes against humanity

Crimes against humanity such as
genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish t ...
are usually punishable by death in countries retaining capital punishment. Death sentences for such crimes were handed down and carried out during the Nuremberg Trials in 1946 and the Tokyo Trials in 1948, but the current International Criminal Court does not use capital punishment. The maximum penalty available to the International Criminal Court is life imprisonment.


Murder

Intentional homicide is punishable by death in most countries retaining capital punishment, but generally provided it involves an aggravating factor required by statute or judicial precedents. Some countries like Singapore and Malaysia made the death penalty Mandatory sentencing, mandatory for murder, though Singapore later changed its Death penalty in Singapore, laws since 2013 to reserve the mandatory death sentence for intentional murder while providing an alternative sentence of life imprisonment with/without caning in Singapore, caning for murder with no intention to cause death, which allowed some convicted murderers on
death row Death row, also known as condemned row, is a place in a prison that houses inmates awaiting Capital punishment, execution after being convicted of a capital crime and sentenced to death. The term is also used figuratively to describe the state of a ...
in Singapore (including Kho Jabing) to apply for the reduction of their death sentences after the courts in Singapore confirmed that they committed murder without the intention to kill and thus eligible for re-sentencing under the new death penalty laws in Singapore.


Drug trafficking

In 2018, at least 35 countries retained the death penalty for
drug trafficking Uncoated tablets, consisting of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along with a minor amount of inert fillers and binders. Aspirin is a pharmaceutical drug A medication (also called medicament, medicine, pharmaceutical drug, medicinal drug ...
,
drug dealing File:Aspirine macro shot.jpg, Uncoated aspirin Tablet (pharmacy), tablets, consisting of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along with a minor amount of inert fillers and binders. Aspirin is a pharmaceutical drug often used to treat pain, fever, an ...
,
drug possession The prohibition of drugs through sumptuary legislation or religious law Religious law includes ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and ...
and related offences. People are regularly sentenced to and executed for drug-related offences in China (both PRC and ROC), Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Vietnam. Other countries may retain the death penalty for symbolic purposes. The death penalty is mandated for drug trafficking in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan, though since 2013, Singapore ruled that those who were certified to be suffering from diminished responsibility (e.g. Major depressive disorder) or acting as drug couriers and had assisted the authorities in tackling drug-related activities, will be sentenced to life imprisonment instead of the death, with the offender liable to at least 15 strokes of the cane if he was not sentenced to death and was simultaneously sentenced to caning as well. Notable drug couriers include Yong Vui Kong, whose death sentence was replaced with a life sentence and 15 strokes of the cane in November 2013.


Other offences

Other crimes that are punishable by death in some countries include: *Use of firearms *Terrorism *Treason *Espionage *Crimes against the state, such as attempting to overthrow government (most countries with the death penalty) *Political protests (Saudi Arabia) *Rape (China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Brunei, etc.) *Economic crimes (China, Iran) *Human trafficking (China) *Political corruption, Corruption (China, Iran) *Kidnapping (China, Bangladesh, the US states of Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia and Idaho, etc.) *Separatism (China) *Zina, Unlawful sexual behaviour (Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Qatar, Brunei, Nigeria, etc.) *Religious
Hudud ''Hudud'' (Arabic language, Arabic: ''Ḥudūd'', also transliterated ''hadud'', ''hudood''; plural of ''hadd'', ) is an Arabic language, Arabic word meaning "borders, boundaries, limits". In the religion of Islam it refers to punishments that u ...
offences such as Apostasy in Islam, apostasy (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, etc.) *Islam and blasphemy, Blasphemy (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria) *Hirabah, Moharebeh (Iran) *Drinking alcohol (drug), alcohol (Iran) *Witchcraft and Magic (paranormal), sorcery (Saudi Arabia) *Arson (Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, etc.) *Hirabah/brigandage/armed robbery, armed and/or
aggravated robbery Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force, threat of force, or by putting the victim in fear. According to common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently depr ...
(Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Ethiopia, the US state of Georgia etc.)


Controversy and debate

Capital punishment is controversial. Death penalty opponents regard the death penalty as inhumane and criticize it for its irreversibility. They argue also that capital punishment lacks deterrent effect, discriminates against minorities and the poor, and that it encourages a "culture of violence". There are many organizations worldwide, such as Amnesty International, and country-specific, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), that have abolition of the death penalty as a fundamental purpose. Advocates of the death penalty argue that it deters crime, is a good tool for police and prosecutors in plea bargaining, makes sure that convicted criminals do not offend again, and that it ensures justice for crimes such as
homicide Homicide is an act of a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

homicide
, where other penalties will not inflict the desired retribution demanded by the crime itself. Capital punishment for non-lethal crimes is usually considerably more controversial, and abolished in many of the countries that retain it.


Retribution

Supporters of the death penalty argued that death penalty is morally justified when applied in murder especially with aggravating elements such as for murder of police officers, child murder, torture murder, multiple
homicide Homicide is an act of a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

homicide
and mass killing such as
terrorism Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of intentional violence to achieve political aims. The term is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the ...
, massacre and
genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish t ...
. This argument is strongly defended by New York Law School's Professor Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead, Robert Blecker, who says that the punishment must be painful in proportion to the crime. Eighteenth-century philosopher Immanuel Kant defended a more extreme position, according to which every murderer deserves to die on the grounds that loss of life is incomparable to any penalty that allows them to remain alive, including life imprisonment. Some abolitionists argue that retribution is simply revenge and cannot be condoned. Others while accepting retribution as an element of criminal justice nonetheless argue that life without parole is a sufficient substitute. It is also argued that the punishing of a killing with another death is a relatively unique punishment for a violent act, because in general violent crimes are not punished by subjecting the perpetrator to a similar act (e.g. rapists are, typically, not punished by judicial corporal punishment, corporal punishment, although it may be inflicted in Singapore, for example).


Human rights

Abolitionists believe capital punishment is the worst violation of human rights, because the right to life is the most important, and capital punishment violates it without necessity and inflicts to the condemned a psychological torture. Human rights activists oppose the death penalty, calling it "cruel and unusual punishment, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment". Amnesty International considers it to be "the ultimate irreversible denial of Human Rights". Albert Camus wrote in a 1956 book called ''Reflections on the Guillotine, Resistance, Rebellion & Death'': In the classic doctrine of natural rights as expounded by for instance John Locke, Locke and William Blackstone, Blackstone, on the other hand, it is an important idea that the right to life can be forfeited, as most other rights can be given due process is observed, such as the right to property and the habeas corpus, right to freedom, remand (detention), including provisionally, in anticipation of an actual verdict.Joel Feinberg
Voluntary Euthanasia and the Inalienable Right to Life
Tanner Lectures on Human Values, The Tanner Lecture on Human Values, 1 April 1977.
As John Stuart Mill explained in a speech given in Parliament against an amendment to abolish capital punishment for murder in 1868:


Non-painful execution

Trends in most of the world have long been to move to private and less painful executions. France developed the guillotine for this reason in the final years of the 18th century, while Britain banned in the early 19th century. Hanging by turning the victim off a ladder or by kicking a stool or a bucket, which causes death by suffocation, was replaced by Hanging#Standard drop, long drop "hanging" where the subject is dropped a longer distance to Cervical dislocation, dislocate the neck and sever the spinal cord. Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar, Qajar dynasty#Qajar Shahs of Persia, 1794–1925, Shah of Persia (1896–1907) introduced throat-cutting and blowing from a gun (close-range cannon fire) as quick and relatively painless alternatives to more torturous methods of executions used at that time. In the United States, electrocution and gas chamber, gas inhalation were introduced as more humane alternatives to hanging, but have been almost entirely superseded by
lethal injection Lethal injection is the practice of injecting one or more drugs into a person (typically a barbiturate, paralytic, and potassium solution) for the express purpose of causing rapid death (1906) Death is the permanent, Irreversible pro ...
. A small number of countries still employ slow hanging methods, decapitation, and
stoning Stoning, or lapidation, is a method of capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (polity), state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence (law), sentence ordering ...
. A study of executions carried out in the United States between 1977 and 2001 indicated that at least 34 of the 749 executions, or 4.5%, involved "unanticipated problems or delays that caused, at least arguably, unnecessary agony for the prisoner or that reflect gross incompetence of the executioner". The rate of these "botched executions" remained steady over the period of the study. A separate study published in ''The Lancet'' in 2005 found that in 43% of cases of lethal injection, the blood level of hypnotics was insufficient to guarantee unconsciousness. However, the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 (''Baze v. Rees'') and again in 2015 (''Glossip v. Gross'') that lethal injection does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. In ''Bucklew v. Precythe'', the majority verdict - written by Judge Neil Gorsuch - further affirmed this principle, stating that while the ban on cruel and unusual punishment affirmatively bans penalties that ''deliberately inflict'' pain and degradation, it does in no sense limit the possible infliction of pain in the execution of a capital verdict.


Wrongful execution

It is frequently argued that capital punishment leads to miscarriage of justice through the wrongful execution of innocent persons. Many people have been proclaimed innocent victims of the death penalty. Some have claimed that as many as 39 executions have been carried out in the face of compelling evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt in the US from 1992 through 2004. Newly available DNA evidence prevented the pending execution of more than 15
death row Death row, also known as condemned row, is a place in a prison that houses inmates awaiting Capital punishment, execution after being convicted of a capital crime and sentenced to death. The term is also used figuratively to describe the state of a ...
inmates during the same period in the US, but DNA evidence is only available in a fraction of capital cases. , 159 prisoners on death row have been exonerated by DNA or other evidence, which is seen as an indication that innocent prisoners have almost certainly been executed. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty claims that between 1976 and 2015, 1,414 prisoners in the United States have been executed while 156 sentenced to death have had their death sentences vacated, indicating that more than one in ten death row inmates were wrongly sentenced. It is impossible to assess how many have been wrongly executed, since courts do not generally investigate the innocence of a dead defendant, and defense attorneys tend to concentrate their efforts on clients whose lives can still be saved; however, there is strong evidence of innocence in many cases. Improper procedure may also result in unfair executions. For example, Amnesty International argues that in Singapore "the Misuse of Drugs Act (Singapore), Misuse of Drugs Act contains a series of presumptions which shift the burden of proof from the prosecution to the accused. This conflicts with the universally guaranteed right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty". Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act presumes one is guilty of possession of drugs if, as examples, one is found to be present or escaping from a location "proved or presumed to be used for the purpose of smoking or administering a controlled drug", if one is in possession of a key to a premises where drugs are present, if one is in the company of another person found to be in possession of illegal drugs, or if one tests positive after being given a mandatory drug test, urine drug screening. Urine drug screenings can be given at the discretion of police, without requiring a search warrant. The onus is on the accused in all of the above situations to prove that they were not in possession of or consumed illegal drugs.


Volunteers

Some prisoners have volunteered or attempted to expedite capital punishment, often by waiving all appeals. Prisoners have made requests or committed further crimes in prison as well. In the United States, execution volunteers constitute approximately 11% of prisoners on death row. Volunteers often bypass legal procedures which are designed to designate the death penalty for the "worst of the worst" offenders. Opponents of execution volunteering cited the prevalence of mental illness among volunteers comparing it to suicide. Execution volunteers have received considerably less attention and effort at legal reform than those who were exonerated after execution.


Racial, ethnic and social class bias

Opponents of the death penalty argue that this punishment is being used more often against perpetrators from racial and ethnic minorities and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, than against those criminals who come from a privileged background; and that the background of the victim also influences the outcome. Researchers have shown that white Americans are more likely to support the death penalty when told that it is mostly applied to black Americans, and that more stereotypically black-looking or darkskinned defendants are more likely to be sentenced to death if the case involves a white victim. However, a study published in 2018 failed to replicate the findings of earlier studies that had concluded that white Americans are more likely to support the death penalty if informed that it is largely applied to black Americans; according to the authors, their findings "may result from changes since 2001 in the effects of racial stimuli on white attitudes about the death penalty or their willingness to express those attitudes in a survey context." In Alabama in 2019, a death row inmate named Domineque Ray was denied his imam in the room during his execution, instead only offered a Christian chaplain. After filing a complaint, a federal court of appeals ruled 5–4 against Ray's request. The majority cited the "last-minute" nature of the request, and the dissent stated that the treatment went against the core principle of denominational neutrality. In July 2019, two Shiite men, Ali Hakim al-Arab, 25, and Ahmad al-Malali, 24, were executed in Bahrain, despite the protests from the United Nations and rights group. Amnesty International stated that the executions were being carried out on confessions of "terrorism crimes" that were obtained through torture.


International views

The United Nations introduced UN moratorium on the death penalty, a resolution during the General Assembly's 62nd sessions in 2007 calling for a universal ban. The approval of a draft resolution by the Assembly's third committee, which deals with human rights issues, voted 99 to 52, with 33 abstentions, in favour of the resolution on 15 November 2007 and was put to a vote in the Assembly on 18 December. Again in 2008, a large majority of states from all regions adopted, on 20 November in the UN General Assembly (Third Committee), a second resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty; 105 countries voted in favour of the draft resolution, 48 voted against and 31 abstained. A range of amendments proposed by a small minority of pro-death penalty countries were overwhelmingly defeated. It had in 2007 passed a non-binding resolution (by 104 to 54, with 29 abstentions) by asking its member states for "a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty". A number of regional conventions prohibit the death penalty, most notably, the Sixth Protocol (abolition in time of peace) and the 13th Protocol (abolition in all circumstances) to the
European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR; formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by t ...
. The same is also stated under the Second Protocol in the American Convention on Human Rights, which, however, has not been ratified by all countries in the Americas, most notably Canada and the United States. Most relevant operative international treaties do not require its prohibition for cases of serious crime, most notably, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This instead has, in common with several other treaties, an optional protocol prohibiting capital punishment and promoting its wider abolition. Several international organizations have made the abolition of the death penalty (during the time of peace) a requirement of membership, most notably the European Union, EU and the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international aff ...

Council of Europe
. The EU and the Council of Europe are willing to accept a Moratorium (law), moratorium as an interim measure. Thus, while
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...
is a member of the Council of Europe, and the death penalty remains codified in its law, it has not made use of it since becoming a member of the council – Russia has not executed anyone since 1996. With the exception of Russia (abolitionist in practice), Capital punishment in Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan (abolitionist for ordinary crimes only), and Capital punishment in Belarus, Belarus (retentionist), all European countries are classified as abolitionist. Capital punishment in Latvia, Latvia abolished ''de jure'' the death penalty for war crimes in 2012, becoming the last EU member to do so. The Protocol no.13 calls for the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances (including for war crimes). The majority of European countries have signed and ratified it. Some European countries have not done this, but all of them except Belarus and Kazakhstan have now abolished the death penalty in all circumstances (''de jure'', and Russia ''de facto''). Capital punishment in Poland, Poland is the most recent country to ratify the protocol, on 28 August 2013. Protocol no.6 which prohibits the death penalty during peacetime has been ratified by all members of the European Council, except Russia (which has signed, but not ratified). There are also other international abolitionist instruments, such as the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has 81 parties; and the Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty (for the Americas; ratified by 13 states). In Turkey, over 500 people were sentenced to death after the 1980 Turkish coup d'état. About 50 of them were executed, the last one 25 October 1984. Then there was a ''de facto'' moratorium on the death penalty in Turkey. As a move Accession of Turkey to the European Union, towards EU membership, Turkey made some legal changes. The death penalty was removed from peacetime law by Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the National Assembly in August 2002, and in May 2004 Turkey amended Constitution of Turkey, its constitution in order to remove capital punishment in all circumstances. It ratified Protocol no. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights in February 2006. As a result, Europe is a continent free of the death penalty in practice, all states but Russia, which has entered a moratorium, having ratified the Sixth Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, with the sole exception of Capital punishment in Belarus, Belarus, which is not a member of the Council of Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been lobbying for Council of Europe observer states who practise the death penalty, the U.S. and Japan, to abolish it or lose their observer status. In addition to banning capital punishment for EU member states, the EU has also banned detainee transfers in cases where the receiving party may seek the death penalty. Sub-Saharan African countries that have recently abolished the death penalty include Burundi, which abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 2009, and Gabon which did the same in 2010. On 5 July 2012, Benin became part of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which prohibits the use of the death penalty. The newly created South Sudan is among the 111 UN member states that supported the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly that called for the removal of the death penalty, therefore affirming its opposition to the practice. South Sudan, however, has not yet abolished the death penalty and stated that it must first amend its Constitution, and until that happens it will continue to use the death penalty. Among non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are noted for their opposition to capital punishment. A number of such NGOs, as well as trade unions, local councils, and bar associations, formed a World Coalition Against the Death Penalty in 2002. An open letter led by Danish Member of the European Parliament, Karen Melchior was sent to the European Commission ahead of the 26 January 2021 meeting of the Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani with the members of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
for the signing of a Cooperation Agreement. A total of 16 MEPs undersigned the letter expressing their grave concern towards the extended abuse of human rights in Bahrain following the arbitrary arrest and detention of activists and critics of the government. The attendees of the meeting were requested to demand from their Bahraini counterparts to take into consideration the concerns raised by the MEPs, particularly for the release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al-Muqdad, the two European-Bahraini dual citizens on death row.


Religious views

The world's major faiths have differing views depending on the religion, denomination, sect and/or the individual adherent. As an example, the world's largest Christianity, Christian denomination, Catholicism, opposes capital punishment in all cases. Both the Baha'i and Islamic faiths support capital punishment.


See also

* Death in custody * Execution chamber * Executioner * Judicial dissolution aka "The Corporate Death Penalty" * Mandatory death sentence * World Coalition Against the Death Penalty * UN moratorium on the death penalty * ''The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints'' (book) * List of methods of capital punishment * Revenge#Revenge dynamics, Revenge dynamics * Shame culture * Guilt-Shame-Fear spectrum of cultures * Last meal * List of wrongful convictions in the United States * Capital punishment in Judaism


References

Bibliography * * Marian J. Borg and Michael L. Radelet. (2004). On botched executions. In: Peter Hodgkinson and William A. Schabas (eds.) Capital Punishment. pp. 143–68. [Online]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available from: Cambridge Books Online . * Gail A. Van Norman. (2010). Physician participation in executions. In: Gail A. Van Norman et al. (eds.) Clinical Ethics in Anesthesiology. pp. 285–91. [Online]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available from: Cambridge Books Online .


Further reading

* * Curry, Tim.
Cutting the Hangman's Noose: African Initiatives to Abolish the Death Penalty
"
Archive
American University Washington College of Law. * Davis, David Brion. "The movement to abolish capital punishment in America, 1787-1861." ''American Historical Review'' 63.1 (1957): 23–46
online
* * Hammel, A. ''Ending the Death Penalty: The European Experience in Global Perspective'' (2014). * * * * * * O'Brien, Doireann. "Investigating the Origin of Europe and America's Diverging Positions on the Issue of Capital Punishment." ''Social and Political Review'' (2018): 98+
online
* Jed S. Rakoff, Rakoff, Jed S., "The Last of His Kind" (review of John Paul Stevens, ''The Making of a Justice: Reflections on My First 94 Years'', Little, Brown, 549 pp.), ''The New York Review of Books'', vol. LXVI, no. 14 (26 September 2019), pp. 20, 22, 24. John Paul Stevens, "a throwback to the postwar liberal Republican [U.S. Supreme Court] appointees", questioned the validity of "the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which holds that you cannot sue any state or federal government agency, or any of its officers or employees, for any wrong they may have committed against you, unless the state or federal government consents to being sued" (p. 20); the propriety of "the increasing resistance of the U.S. Supreme Court to most meaningful forms of gun control" (p. 22); and "the constitutionality of the death penalty... because of incontrovertible evidence that innocent people have been sentenced to death." (pp. 22, 24.) * Sarat, Austin and Juergen Martschukat, eds. ''Is the Death Penalty Dying?: European and American Perspectives'' (2011) * for middle school students * * Steiker, Carol S. "Capital punishment and American exceptionalism." ''Oregon Law Review''. 81 (2002): 97
online


External links



* [http://www.iep.utm.edu/cap-puni/ Capital Punishment] article in the ''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy''.
1000+ Death Penalty links all in one place

Updates on the death penalty generally and capital punishment law specifically


* [http://www.deathpenaltyworldwide.org/index.cfm Death Penalty Worldwide:] Academic research database on the laws, practice, and statistics of capital punishment for every death penalty country in the world.
Answers.com entry on capital punishment

"How to Kill a Human Being"
Horizon (BBC TV series), BBC Horizon TV programme documentary, 2008
U.S. and 50 State death penalty/capital punishment law and other relevant links
Megalaw * Two audio documentaries covering execution in the United States
Witness to an ExecutionThe Execution Tapes

Wrongfully Convicted Citizens:
capital punishment of wrongfully convicted citizens in the US, 2017


In favour






Keep life without parole and death penalty intact

Why the death penalty is needed

Pro Death Penalty.com



119 Pro DP Links

The Death Penalty is Constitutional


by Charles Lane (journalist), Charles Lane in ''The Washington Post''
Clark County, Indiana, Prosecutor's Page on capital punishment

In Favor of Capital Punishment
– Famous Quotes supporting Capital Punishment
Studies spur new death penalty debate


Opposing


World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

Death Watch International
International anti-death penalty campaign group
Campaign to End the Death Penalty

Anti-Death Penalty Information
includes a monthly watchlist of upcoming executions and death penalty statistics for the United States.
The Death Penalty Information Center
Statistical information and studies
Amnesty International – Abolish the death penalty Campaign
Human Rights organisation

Information on anti-death penalty policies
IPS Inter Press Service
International news on capital punishment
Death Penalty Focus
American group dedicated to abolishing the death penalty
Reprieve.org
United States-based volunteer program for foreign lawyers, students, and others to work at death penalty defense offices
American Civil Liberties Union
Demanding a Moratorium on the Death Penalty
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

NSW Council for Civil Liberties
an Australian organisation opposed to the Death Penalty in the Asian region
Winning a war on terror: eliminating the death penalty

Electric Chair at Sing Sing
a 1900 photograph by William M. Vander Weyde, accompanied by a poem by Jared Carter.
Lead prosecutor apologizes for role in sending man to death row
Shreveport Times, 2015


Religious views



– Message supporting the moratorium on the death penalty

from The Engaged Zen Society

* [http://www.priestsforlife.org/deathpenalty Priests for Life] – Lists several Catholic links
The Death Penalty: Why the Church Speaks a Countercultural Message
by Kenneth R. Overberg, S.J., fro
AmericanCatholic.org

Wrestling with the Death Penalty
by Andy Prince, from ''Youth Update'' o
AmericanCatholic.org
*
Catholics Against Capital Punishment
offers a Catholic perspective and provides resources and links
Kashif Shahzada 2010
Why The Death Penalty Is un-Islamic? {{DEFAULTSORT:Capital Punishment Capital punishment, Ethically disputed judicial practices Penology Social policy