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Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state-sanctioned practice of deliberately killing a person as a punishment for an actual or supposed
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: "Crime, definitions of", in C ...
, usually following an authorized, rule-governed process to conclude that the person is responsible for violating norms that warrant said punishment. The sentence ordering that an offender is to be punished in such a manner is known as a death sentence, and the act of carrying out the sentence is known as an execution. A prisoner who has been sentenced to death and awaits execution is ''condemned'' and is commonly referred to as being "on death row". 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, such as
murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skills due to a large and complex Huma ...
, mass murder, aggravated cases of
rape Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without their consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, Abusive power and control, ...
(often including
child sexual abuse Child sexual abuse (CSA), 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 Human sexual activity, sexual activitie ...
),
terrorism Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of criminal violence to provoke a state of terror or fear, mostly with the intention to achieve political or religious aims. The term is used in this regard primarily to refer to intentional violen ...
,
aircraft hijacking Aircraft hijacking (also known as airplane hijacking, skyjacking, plane hijacking, plane jacking, air robbery, air piracy, or aircraft piracy, with the last term used within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States) is the Crime, u ...
, war crimes,
crimes against humanity Crimes against humanity are widespread or systemic acts committed by or on behalf of a ''de facto'' authority, usually a State (polity), state, that grossly violate human rights. Unlike war crimes, crimes against humanity do not have to take pla ...
, and
genocide Genocide is the intentional destruction of a people—usually defined as an Ethnic group, ethnic, nationality, national, race (classification of humans), racial, or Religion, religious group—in whole or in part. Raphael Lemkin coined the term ...
, along with crimes against the state such as attempting to overthrow government,
treason Treason is the crime of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance. This typically includes acts such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplo ...
,
espionage Espionage, spying, or intelligence gathering is the act of obtaining Secrecy, secret or Confidentiality, confidential information (Intelligence assessment, intelligence) from non-disclosed sources or divulging of the same without the Consent ...
,
sedition Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that tends toward rebellion against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent toward, or rebellion, insurrection agains ...
, and
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable goods. Those who conduct acts of piracy are called pirates, v ...
, among other crimes. Also, in some cases, acts of recidivism, aggravated robbery, and
kidnapping In criminal law, kidnapping is the unlawful confinement of a person against their will, often including transportation/asportation. The asportation and abduction element is typically but not necessarily conducted by means of force or fear: the p ...
, in addition to
drug trafficking A drug is any chemical substance that causes a change in an organism's physiology or psychology when consumed. Drugs are typically distinguished from food and substances that provide nutritional support. Consumption of drugs can be via insuffla ...
,
drug dealing The illegal drug trade or drug trafficking is a global black market dedicated to the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of drug prohibition, prohibited drugs. Most jurisdictions prohibitionism, prohibit trade, except under license, ...
, and
drug possession The prohibition of drugs through sumptuary law, sumptuary legislation or religious law is a common means of attempting to prevent the Recreational drug use, recreational use of certain intoxicating substances. While some drugs are illegal to p ...
, are capital crimes or enhancements. However, states have also imposed punitive executions, for an expansive range of conduct, for political or religious beliefs and practices, for a status beyond one's control, or without employing any significant due process procedures.
Judicial murder Judicial murder is the intentional and premeditated killing of an innocent person by means of capital punishment; therefore, it is a subset of wrongful execution. The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' describes it as "death inflicted by process of law ...
is the intentional and premeditated killing of an innocent person by means of capital punishment. For example, the executions following the
show trial A show trial is a public trial in which the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt (law), guilt or innocence of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal the presentation of both the accusation and the verdict to the ...
s in Russia during the
Great Purge The Great Purge or the Great Terror (russian: Большой террор), also known as the Year of '37 (russian: 37-й год, translit=Tridtsat sedmoi god, label=none) and the Yezhovshchina ('period of Nikolay Yezhov, Yezhov'), was General ...
of 1937–1938 were an instrument of
political repression Political repression is the act of a state entity controlling a citizenry by force for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing the citizenry's ability to take part in the politics, political life of a societ ...
. Etymologically, the term ''capital'' (lit. "of the head", derived via the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
' from ', "head") refers to execution by beheading, but executions are carried out by many methods, including
hanging Hanging is the suspension of a person by a noose or ligature strangulation, ligature around the neck.Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. Hanging as method of execution is unknown, as method of suicide from 1325. The ''Oxford English Dictionary' ...
,
shooting Shooting is the act or process of discharging a projectile from a ranged weapon A ranged weapon is any weapon that can engage targets beyond hand-to-hand distance, i.e. at distances greater than the physical reach of the user holding the w ...
, lethal injection, stoning, electrocution, and gassing. As of 2022, 55 countries retain capital punishment, 109 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 24 are abolitionist in practice. Although the majority of 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 East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
,
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., ...
,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island country, island country and city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Pen ...
,
Indonesia Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of over List of islands of Indonesia, 17,000 islands, including Sumatr ...
,
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 24 ...
,
Bangladesh Bangladesh (}, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 165 million pe ...
,
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
,
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about , making it the List of Asian countries by area, fifth-largest country in Asia ...
,
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north ...
, and
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a Country, country in East Asia, at the junction of the East China Sea, East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the 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 those held for reasons that are not purely epistemic, in which "practical elements are as prominent as theoretical ones." Formerly applied prim ...
or cultural region.
Amnesty International Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and s ...
declares that the death penalty breaches
human rights Human rights are Morality, moral principles or Social norm, normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyHuman Rights Retrieved 14 August 2014 for ce ...
, stating "the right to life and the right to live free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." These rights are protected under the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six pr ...
, adopted by the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be ...
in 1948. In the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...
(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 founded in the wake of World War II to uphold European Convention on Human Rights, human rights, democracy and the Law in Europe, rule of law in Europe. ...
, which has 46 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 th ...
. However, this only affects those member states which have signed and ratified it, and they do not include
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
and
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
. 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 (UN), serving as the main deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ of the UN. Curr ...
has adopted, throughout the years from 2007 to 2020, eight non-binding resolutions calling for a global moratorium on executions, with a view to eventual abolition.


History

Execution of criminals 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 The term premodern refers to the period in human history immediately preceding the modern era, as well as the conceptual framework in the humanities and social sciences relating to the artistic, literary and philosophical practices which preceded t ...
times the executions themselves often involved
torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering on a person for reasons such as punishment, extracting a confession, interrogational torture, interrogation for information, or intimidating third parties. definitions of tortur ...
with cruel and painful methods, such as the breaking wheel, 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 ...
, hanging, drawing, and quartering, burning at the stake, flaying, slow slicing, boiling alive, impalement, mazzatello, blowing from a gun, schwedentrunk, and scaphism. Other methods which appear only in legend include the blood eagle and brazen bull. The use of formal execution extends to the beginning of
recorded history Recorded history or written history describes the historical events that have been recorded in a written form or other documented communication which are subsequently evaluated by historians using the historical method. For broader World hist ...
. 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 compensation by the wrongdoer, corporal punishment, shunning,
banishment Exile is primarily penal expulsion from one's native country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state (polity), state, nation, or other polity, political entity. It may be a sovereign state or make up one part of a la ...
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 feuds, and tribal warfare. A blood feud 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,
terrorism Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of criminal violence to provoke a state of terror or fear, mostly with the intention to achieve political or religious aims. The term is used in this regard primarily to refer to intentional violen ...
, war crimes, espionage,
treason Treason is the crime of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance. This typically includes acts such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplo ...
, or as part of military justice. In some countries sexual crimes, such as 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 another person, it is called adultery. Nonetheless, John Ca ...
,
adultery Adultery (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around pr ...
,
incest Incest ( ) is human sexual activity between family members or close kinship, relatives. This typically includes sexual activity between people in consanguinity (blood relations), and sometimes those related by Affinity (law), affinity (marriage ...
, sodomy, 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 ...
, 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 , 'a defection or revolt') is the formal disaffiliation from, abandonment of, or renunciation of a religion by a person. It can also be defined within the broader context of embracing an opinion that ...
(formal renunciation of the
state religion A state religion (also called religious state or official religion) is a religion or creed officially endorsed by a sovereign state. A state with an official religion (also known as confessional state), while not secular state, secular, is not n ...
), blasphemy, moharebeh, hirabah, Fasad, Mofsed-e-filarz and
witchcraft Witchcraft traditionally means the use of Magic (supernatural), magic or supernatural powers to harm others. A practitioner is a witch. In Middle Ages, medieval and early modern Europe, where the term originated, accused witches were usually ...
. In many countries that use the death penalty, drug trafficking and often
drug possession The prohibition of drugs through sumptuary law, sumptuary legislation or religious law is a common means of attempting to prevent the Recreational drug use, recreational use of certain intoxicating substances. While some drugs are illegal to p ...
is also a capital offence. In China,
human trafficking Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage, or the extracti ...
and serious cases of corruption and
financial crime Financial crime is crime committed against property, involving the unlawful conversion of the ownership of property (belonging to one person) to one's own personal use and benefit. Financial crimes may involve fraud ( cheque fraud, credit ca ...
s are punished by the death penalty. In militaries around the world courts-martial have imposed death sentences for offences such as cowardice,
desertion Desertion is the abandonment of a military duty or Military base, post without permission (a Pass (military), pass, Shore leave, liberty or Leave (U.S. military), leave) and is done with the intention of not returning. This contrasts with u ...
,
insubordination Insubordination is the act of willfully obedience (human behavior), disobeying a lawful order of one's superior. It is generally a punishable offense in hierarchical organizations such as the armed forces, which depend on people lower in the Comm ...
, 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 ...
.


Ancient history

Elaborations of tribal arbitration of feuds 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 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 peoples, North Germanic ethnolinguistic group of the Early Middle Ages, during which they spoke the Old Norse language. The language belongs to the North Germanic languages, North Germanic br ...
'' 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 to settle accusations in the absence of witnesses or a confession in which two parties in dispute fought in single combat; the winner of the ...
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 Code duello, rules. During the 17th and 18th centuries (and earlier), duels were mostly single combats fought with swords (the r ...
. 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 classes" 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 language, Akkadian, p ...
which set the different punishment and compensation, according to the different class or group of victims and perpetrators. The Torah/Old Testament lays down the death penalty for murder,
kidnapping In criminal law, kidnapping is the unlawful confinement of a person against their will, often including transportation/asportation. The asportation and abduction element is typically but not necessarily conducted by means of force or fear: the p ...
, practicing magic, violation of the
Sabbath In Abrahamic religions, the Sabbath () or Shabbat (from Hebrew ) is a day set aside for rest and worship. According to the Book of Exodus, the Sabbath is a day of rest on the seventh day, Ten Commandments, commanded by God to be kept as a Holida ...
, blasphemy, and a wide range of sexual crimes, although evidence suggests that actual executions were exceedingly rare, if they occurred at all. A further example comes from
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, classical antiquity ( AD 600), th ...
, where the
Athenian Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is a coastal city in the Mediterranean and is both the capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Greece, largest city of Greece. With a population close to ...
legal system replacing customary
oral law An oral law is a code of conduct in use in a given culture, religion or community application, by which a body of rules of human behaviour is transmitted by oral tradition and effectively respected, or the single rule that is orally transmitted. M ...
was first written down by Draco in about 621 BC: the death penalty was applied for a particularly wide range of crimes, though
Solon Solon ( grc-gre, wikt:Σόλων, Σόλων;  BC) was an History of Athens, Athenian statesman, constitutional lawmaker and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in A ...
later repealed Draco's code and published new laws, retaining capital punishment only for intentional
homicide Homicide occurs when a human, person Death, kills another person. A homicide requires only a Volition (psychology), volitional act or omission that causes the death of another, and thus a homicide may result from accidental, reckless, or negli ...
, and only with victim's family permission. The word draconian derives from Draco's laws. The Romans 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 Greek philosopher A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and ...
(whose thought is reported by
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
) 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, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
, for his part, saw the death penalty as a means of purification, because crimes are a "defilement". Thus in the 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 occurs when a human, person Death, kills another person. A homicide requires only a Volition (psychology), volitional act or omission that causes the death of another, and thus a homicide may result from accidental, reckless, or negli ...
is not natural and is not fully consented by the criminal. Homicide is thus a disease of the
soul In many religious and philosophical traditions, there is a belief that a soul is "the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being". Etymology The Modern English noun '':wikt:soul, soul'' is derived from Old English ''sāwol, sāwel''. The ea ...
, 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 and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
, for whom free will is proper to man, the citizen is responsible for his acts. If there was a crime, a 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 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 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 In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 ...
, 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 Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering on a person for reasons such as punishment, extracting a confession, interrogational torture, interrogation for information, or intimidating third parties. definitions of tortur ...
, or even prison, and as a last resort, death. A historic debate, followed by a vote, took place in the
Roman Senate The Roman Senate ( la, Senātus Rōmānus) was a governing and advisory assembly in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the Rome, city of Rome (traditionally found ...
to decide the fate of
Catiline Lucius Sergius Catilina ( 108 BC – January 62 BC), known in English as Catiline (), was a Roman Republic, Roman politician and soldier. He is best known for instigating the Catilinarian conspiracy, a failed attempt to violently seize ...
's allies when he tried to take power in December −63. Then
Roman consul A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic ( to 27 BC), and ancient Romans considered the consulship the second-highest level of the ''cursus honorum'' (an ascending sequence of public offices to which politic ...
, argued in favor of the killing of conspirators without judgment by decision of the Senate ( Senatus consultum ultimum) and was supported by the majority of senators; among the minority voices opposed to the execution, most notable was that of
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; ; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey in Caes ...
. The custom was quite different for foreigners who were considered inferior to
Roman citizen Citizenship in ancient Rome (Latin language, Latin: ''civitas'') was a privileged political and legal status afforded to free individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance. Citizenship in Ancient Rome was complex and based upon many d ...
s, and especially for slaves, who were considered transferrable property.


China

Although many are executed in the
People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
each year in the present day, there was a time in the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; zh, t= ), or Tang Empire, was an Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907 AD, with an Zhou dynasty (690–705), interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dyn ...
(618–907) when the death penalty was abolished. This was in the year 747, enacted by
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (; 8 September 685 – 3 May 762), personal name Li Longji, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 712 to 756 CE. His reign of 44 years was the longest during the Tang dynasty. In the early ...
(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 The An Lushan Rebellion was an uprising against the Tang dynasty of China towards the mid-point of the dynasty (from 755 to 763), with an attempt to replace it with the Yan (An–Shi), Yan dynasty. The rebellion was originally led by An Lushan, a ...
. At this time in the Tang dynasty only the emperor had the authority to sentence criminals to execution. Under 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), 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
medieval In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
and
early modern Europe Early modern Europe, also referred to as the post-medieval period, is the period of European history between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, roughly the late 15th century to the late 18th century. Histori ...
, before the development of modern prison systems, the death penalty was also used as a generalized form of punishment for even minor offences. In early modern Europe, a massive moral panic regarding
witchcraft Witchcraft traditionally means the use of Magic (supernatural), magic or supernatural powers to harm others. A practitioner is a witch. In Middle Ages, medieval and early modern Europe, where the term originated, accused witches were usually ...
swept across Europe and later the European colonies in North America. During this period, there were widespread claims that malevolent Satanic witches were operating as an organized threat to
Christendom Christendom historically refers to the Christian states, Christian-majority countries and the countries in which Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus ...
. As a result, tens of thousands of women were prosecuted for witchcraft and executed through the witch trials of the early modern period (between the 15th and 18th centuries). The death penalty also targeted sexual offences such as sodomy. In the
early history of Islam The history of Islam concerns the political, social, economic, military, and cultural developments of the Muslim world, Islamic civilization. Most historians believe that Islam originated in Mecca and Medina at the start of the 7th century C ...
(7th–11th centuries), there is a number of "purported (but mutually inconsistent) reports" (''athar'') regarding the punishments of sodomy ordered by some of the early caliphs.
Abu Bakr Abu Bakr Abdallah ibn Uthman Abi Quhafa (; – 23 August 634) was the senior Companions of the Prophet, companion and was, through his daughter Aisha, a father-in-law of the Prophets and messengers in Islam, Islamic prophet Muhammad in Isla ...
, the first caliph of the
Rashidun Caliphate The Rashidun Caliphate ( ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلرَّاشِدَةُ, al-Khilāfah ar-Rāšidah) was the first caliphate A caliphate or khilāfah ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an institution or public office under the leadersh ...
, apparently recommended toppling a wall on the culprit, or else burning him alive, while
Ali ibn Abi Talib ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib ( ar, عَلِيّ بْن أَبِي طَالِب; 600 – 661 common era, CE) was the last of four Rashidun, Rightly Guided Caliphs to rule Islam (r. 656 – 661) immediately after the death of Muhammad, and he was ...
is said to have ordered death by stoning for one sodomite and had another thrown head-first from the top of the highest building in the town; according to Ibn Abbas, the latter punishment must be followed by stoning. Other medieval Muslim leaders, such as the Abbasid caliphs in
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد , ) is the capital of Iraq and the list of largest cities in the Arab world, second-largest city in the Arab world after Cairo. It is located on the Tigris near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon and the ...
(most notably al-Mu'tadid), were often cruel in their punishments. In early modern England, the
Buggery Act 1533 The Buggery Act 1533, formally An Acte for the punishment of the vice of Buggerie (25 Hen. 8 c. 6), was an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of England that was passed during the reign of Henry VIII. It was the country's first civil sodo ...
stipulated hanging as punishment for " buggery". James Pratt and John Smith were the last two Englishmen to be executed for sodomy in 1835. In 1636 the laws of
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Catholic Church, Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and should become m ...
governed
Plymouth Colony Plymouth Colony (sometimes Plimouth) was, from 1620 to 1691, the British America, first permanent English colony in New England and the second permanent English colony in North America, after the Jamestown Colony. It was first settled by the pa ...
included a sentence of death for sodomy and buggery. The
Massachusetts Bay Colony The Massachusetts Bay Colony (1630–1691), more formally the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, was an English settlement on the east coast of North America around the Massachusetts Bay, the northernmost of the several colonies later reorganized as the ...
followed in 1641. Throughout the 19th century, U.S. states repealed death sentences from their sodomy laws, with
South Carolina )''Animis opibusque parati'' ( for, , Latin, Prepared in mind and resources, links=no) , anthem = "Carolina (state song), Carolina";"South Carolina On My Mind" , Former = Province of South Carolina , seat = Columbia, South Carolina, Columbia , ...
being the last to do so in 1873. Historians recognize that during the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages (or early medieval period), sometimes controversially referred to as the Dark Ages (historiography), Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They ...
, the Christian populations living in the lands invaded by the Arab Muslim armies between the 7th and 10th centuries suffered
religious discrimination Religious discrimination is treating a person or group differently because of the particular beliefs which they hold about a religion. This includes instances when adherents of different religions, religious denomination, denominations or irrel ...
,
religious persecution Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group of individuals as a response to their religion, religious beliefs or affiliations or their irreligion, lack thereof. The tendency of societies or groups within soc ...
, religious violence, and martyrdom multiple times at the hands of Arab Muslim officials and rulers. As People of the Book, Christians under Muslim rule were subjected to ''
dhimmi ' ( ar, ذمي ', , collectively ''/'' "the people of the covenant") or () is a historical term for Kafir, non-Muslims living in an Islamic state with legal protection. The word literally means "protected person", referring to the state's obl ...
'' status (along with
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""The ...
,
Samaritans Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Šōmrōnīm, lit=; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group who originate from the ancient Israelites. They are native to the Levant and adhere to Samarit ...
,
Gnostics Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Judaism, Jewish and Early Christianity, early Christian sects. These ...
, Mandeans, and Zoroastrians), which was inferior to the status of Muslims. Christians and other religious minorities thus faced
religious discrimination Religious discrimination is treating a person or group differently because of the particular beliefs which they hold about a religion. This includes instances when adherents of different religions, religious denomination, denominations or irrel ...
and
religious persecution Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group of individuals as a response to their religion, religious beliefs or affiliations or their irreligion, lack thereof. The tendency of societies or groups within soc ...
in that they were banned from proselytising (for Christians, it was forbidden to evangelize or spread Christianity) in the lands invaded by the Arab Muslims on pain of death, they were banned from bearing arms, undertaking certain professions, and were obligated to dress differently in order to distinguish themselves from Arabs. Under ''
sharia Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a body of religious law that forms a part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the Five Pillars of Islam, religious precepts of Islam and is based on the Islamic holy books, sacred scriptures o ...
'', Non-Muslims were obligated to pay ''
jizya Jizya ( ar, جِزْيَة / ) is a per capita yearly taxation historically levied in the form of financial charge on dhimmis, that is, permanent Kafir, non-Muslim subjects of a state governed by Sharia, Islamic law. The jizya tax has been unde ...
'' and '' kharaj'' taxes, together with periodic heavy
ransom Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner or item to extortion, extort money or property to secure their release, or the sum of money involved in such a practice. When ransom means "payment", the word comes via Old French ''rançon'' from ...
levied upon Christian communities by Muslim rulers in order to fund military campaigns, all of which contributed a significant proportion of income to the Islamic states while conversely reducing many Christians to poverty, and these financial and social hardships forced many Christians to convert to Islam. Christians unable to pay these taxes were forced to surrender their children to the Muslim rulers as payment who would sell them as slaves to Muslim households where they were forced to convert to Islam. Many Christian martyrs were executed under the Islamic death penalty for defending their Christian faith through dramatic acts of resistance such as refusing to convert to Islam, repudiation of the Islamic religion and subsequent reconversion to Christianity, and blasphemy towards Muslim beliefs. 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 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).


Enlightenment philosophy

While during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
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
social contract In moral and political philosophy, the social contract is a theory or model that originated during the Age of Enlightenment and usually, although not always, concerns the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual. Soci ...
. 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 state A nation state is a political unit where the state and nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture and/or society. A nation is thus the co ...
s, justice came to be increasingly associated with the concept of
natural and legal rights Some philosophers distinguish two types of rights, natural rights and legal rights. * Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture or government, and so are ''universal'', ''fundamental right ...
. The period saw an increase in standing police forces and permanent penitential institutions. Rational choice theory, a utilitarian approach to
criminology Criminology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) arou ...
which justifies punishment as a form of deterrence as opposed to retribution, can be traced back to
Cesare Beccaria Cesare Bonesana di Beccaria, Marquis of Gualdrasco and Villareggio (; 15 March 173828 November 1794) was an Italian criminologist, jurist, philosopher, economist and politician, who is widely considered one of the greatest thinkers of the Age of ...
, whose influential treatise '' 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 Charles John Huffam Dickens (; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian er ...
and
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist, Critique of political economy, critic of political economy, and socialist revolutionary. His be ...
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 Nazi Germany (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") (officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945) was ...
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, absence without leave,
desertion Desertion is the abandonment of a military duty or Military base, post without permission (a Pass (military), pass, Shore leave, liberty or Leave (U.S. military), leave) and is done with the intention of not returning. This contrasts with u ...
,
insubordination Insubordination is the act of willfully obedience (human behavior), disobeying a lawful order of one's superior. It is generally a punishable offense in hierarchical organizations such as the armed forces, which depend on people lower in the Comm ...
, shirking under enemy fire and disobeying orders were often crimes punishable by death (see 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 oppression. According to
Robert Conquest George Robert Acworth Conquest (15 July 1917 – 3 August 2015) was a British historian and poet. A long-time research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Conquest was most notable for his work on the Soviet Union. His books ...
, the leading expert on Joseph Stalin's purges, more than one million Soviet citizens were executed during the
Great Purge The Great Purge or the Great Terror (russian: Большой террор), also known as the Year of '37 (russian: 37-й год, translit=Tridtsat sedmoi god, label=none) and the Yezhovshchina ('period of Nikolay Yezhov, Yezhov'), was General ...
of 1937–38, almost all by a bullet to the back of the head.
Mao Zedong Mao Zedong pronounced ; also Romanization of Chinese, romanised traditionally as Mao Tse-tung. (26 December 1893 – 9 September 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the List of national founde ...
publicly stated that "800,000" people had been executed in China during the
Cultural Revolution The Cultural Revolution, formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was a sociopolitical movement in the People's Republic of China (PRC) launched by Mao Zedong in 1966, and lasting until Death and state funeral of Mao Zedon ...
(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

By continent, all European states but one have abolished capital punishment; many Oceanian states have abolished it; most states in
the Americas The Americas, which are sometimes collectively called America, are a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. ...
have abolished its use, while a few actively retain it; less than half of countries in Africa retain it; and the majority of countries in Asia retain it. 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 Michigan () is a U.S. state, state in the Great Lakes region, Great Lakes region of the Upper Midwest, upper Midwestern United States. With a population of nearly 10.12 million and an area of nearly , Michigan is the List of U.S. states and ...
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 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 ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 24 ...
which in December 2014 lifted a six-year moratorium on executions after the Peshawar school massacre during which 132 students and 9 members of staff of the Army Public School and Degree College Peshawar were killed by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan terrorists, a group distinct from the Afghan Taliban, who condemned the attack. Since then, Pakistan has executed over 400 convicts. In 2017, two major countries,
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolia, Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a East Thrace, small portion on th ...
and the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...
, 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. On 29 December 2021, after a 20-year moratorium, the Kazakhstan government enacted the 'On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Abolition of the Death Penalty' signed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as part of series of Omnibus reformations of the Kazak legal system 'Listening State' initiative.


History of abolition

In 724 AD 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 Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (; 8 September 685 – 3 May 762), personal name Li Longji, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 712 to 756 CE. His reign of 44 years was the longest during the Tang dynasty. In the early ...
in 747, replacing it with exile or scourging. However, the ban only lasted 12 years. Following his conversion to Christianity in 988, Vladimir the Great abolished the death penalty in
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rusʹ, also known as Kyivan Rusʹ ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , ; Old Norse: ''Garðaríki''), was a state in Eastern Europe, Eastern and Northern Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century.John Channon & Robert Hudson, ''Penguin Hist ...
, along with torture and mutilation; corporal punishment was also seldom used. In England, a public statement of opposition was included in The Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards, written in 1395. Sir
Thomas More Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), veneration, venerated in the Catholic Church as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, judge, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He also served Henry VII ...
's '' 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 Cesare Bonesana di Beccaria, Marquis of Gualdrasco and Villareggio (; 15 March 173828 November 1794) was an Italian criminologist, jurist, philosopher, economist and politician, who is widely considered one of the greatest thinkers of the Age of ...
''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 welfare Welfare, or commonly social welfare, is a type of government support intended to ensure that members of a society can meet basic human needs such as food and shelter. Social security may either be synonymous with welfare, or refer specifical ...
, of
torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering on a person for reasons such as punishment, extracting a confession, interrogational torture, interrogation for information, or intimidating third parties. definitions of tortur ...
and the death penalty. Influenced by the book, Grand Duke Leopold II of Habsburg, the future Emperor of Austria, abolished the death penalty in the then-independent
Grand Duchy of Tuscany The Grand Duchy of Tuscany ( it, Granducato di Toscana; la, Magnus Ducatus Etruriae) was an Italian monarchy that existed, with interruptions, from 1569 to 1859, replacing the Republic of Florence. The grand duchy's capital was Florence. In th ...
, 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 A criminal code (or penal code) is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of a particular jurisdiction's criminal law. Typically a criminal code will contain Crime, offences that are recognised in the jurisdiction, penalties that ...
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 of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance. This typically includes acts such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplo ...
, 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 offences in 1998. Protocol 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights, first entering into force in 2003, prohibits the death penalty in all circumstances for those states that are party to it, including the United Kingdom from 2004. In the
post-classical In Human history, world history, post-classical history refers to the period from about 500 AD to 1500, roughly corresponding to the European Middle Ages. The period is characterized by the expansion of civilizations geographically and develop ...
Republic of Poljica, life was ensured as a basic right in its Poljica Statute of 1440. The short-lived revolutionary
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization when it was run through res publica, public Representation (politics), representation of the Roman peo ...
banned capital punishment in 1849.
Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and many Federal Dependencies of V ...
followed suit and abolished the death penalty in 1863 and
San Marino San Marino (, ), officially the Republic of San Marino ( it, Repubblica di San Marino; ), also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino ( it, Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino, links=no), is the List of countries and dependencies by a ...
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 in Brazil was 1876; from then on all the condemnations were commuted by the Emperor 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 (1938–1953 and 1969–1978), but on those occasions it was restricted to acts of terrorism or subversion considered "internal warfare" and all sentences were commuted and not carried out. Abolition occurred in Canada in 1976 (except for some military offences, with complete abolition in 1998); in France in 1981; and in Australia in 1973 (although the state of
Western Australia Western Australia (commonly abbreviated as WA) is a state of Australia occupying the western percent of the land area of Australia excluding external territories. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Southern Ocean to th ...
retained the penalty until 1984). In South Australia, under the premiership of then-Premier Dunstan, the ''Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935'' (SA) was modified so that the death sentence was changed to life imprisonment in 1976. 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 Intellectual disability (ID), also known as general learning disability in the United Kingdom and formerly mental retardation,Rosa's Law, Pub. L. 111-256124 Stat. 2643(2010). is a generalized neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by signific ...
) 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, 23 states and the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Logan Circle (Washington, D.C.), Logan Circle, Jefferson Memoria ...
ban capital punishment. Many countries have abolished capital punishment either in law or in practice. Since
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, there has been a trend toward abolishing capital punishment. Capital punishment has been completely abolished by 108 countries, a further seven have done so for all offences except under special circumstances and 26 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 nations, including almost all
developed countries A developed country (or industrialized country, high-income country, more economically developed country (MEDC), advanced country) is a sovereign state that has a high quality of life, developed economy and advanced technological infrastruct ...
, 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 , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north ...
,
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a Country, country in East Asia, at the junction of the East China Sea, East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the n ...
,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island country, island country and city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Pen ...
and
South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and sharing a Korean Demilitarized Zone, land border with North Korea. Its western border is formed ...
. Additionally, capital punishment is also carried out in
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
,
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 Islamic states. Since
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, there has been a trend toward abolishing the death penalty. 53 countries retain the death penalty in active use, 111 countries have abolished capital punishment altogether, 7 have done so for all offences except under special circumstances, and 24 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, 18 countries are known to have performed executions in 2020. There are countries which do not publish information on the use of capital punishment, most significantly China and
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia. It constitutes the northern half of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and shares borders with China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Y ...
. According to Amnesty International, around 1,000 prisoners were executed in 2017. Amnesty reported in 2004 and 2009 that Singapore and Iraq respectively had the world's highest per capita execution rate. According to
Al Jazeera Al Jazeera ( ar, الجزيرة, translit-std=DIN, translit=al-jazīrah, , "The Island") is a state-owned Arabic-language international radio and TV broadcaster of Qatar. It is based in Doha and operated by the media conglomerate Al Jaz ...
and UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed,
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
has had the world's highest per capita execution rate. A 2012 EU report from the Directorate-General for External Relations' policy department pointed to Gaza as having the highest per capita execution rate in the
MENA MENA, an acronym in the English language, refers to a grouping of countries situated in and around the Middle East and North Africa. It is also known as WANA, SWANA, or NAWA, which alternatively refers to the Middle East as Western Asia (or a ...
region. The use of the death penalty is becoming increasingly restrained in some retentionist countries including
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a Country, country in East Asia, at the junction of the East China Sea, East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the n ...
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 Caribbean (, ) ( es, El Caribe; french: la Caraïbe; ht, Karayib; nl, De Caraïben) is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean ...
. The only retentionist country in Europe is
Belarus Belarus,, , ; alternatively and formerly known as Byelorussia (from Russian ). officially the Republic of Belarus,; rus, Республика Беларусь, Respublika Belarus. is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by R ...
. During the 1980s, the democratisation of Latin America swelled the ranks of abolitionist countries. This was soon followed by the fall of
Communism Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around ...
in Europe. Many of the countries which restored democracy aspired to enter the EU. The EU and the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation founded in the wake of World War II to uphold European Convention on Human Rights, human rights, democracy and the Law in Europe, rule of law in Europe. ...
both strictly require 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 Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the List of European countries by area, second-largest European country after Russia, which it borders Russia–Ukraine border, to the east and northeast. 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 Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...
declared an end to its moratorium on the death penalty on 20 November 2004, although it has not yet performed any further executions. The
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...
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 27 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 106 inmates with finalized death sentences , after executing Tomohiro Katō, who was charged with killing seven and injured ten in Akihabara massacre in June 2008. The most recent country to abolish the death penalty was
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe. It borders Russia to Kazakhstan–Russia border, the north and ...
on 2 January 2021 after a moratorium dating back 2 decades. According to an
Amnesty International Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and s ...
report released in April 2020,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
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". According to Amnesty International's 2021 report, at least 483 people were executed in 2020 despite the
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identif ...
. The figure excluded the countries that classify death penalty data as state secret. The top five executioners for 2020 were China, Iran, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.


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. In 2020, 43% of Italians expressed support for the death penalty. In Taiwan, polls and research have consistently shown strong support for the death penalty at 80%. This includes a survey conducted by the National Development Council of Taiwan in 2016, showing that 88% of Taiwanese people disagree with abolishing the death penalty. Its continuation of the practice drew criticism from local rights groups. 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 Mexicans ( es, mexicanos) are the citizens of the United Mexican States. The most spoken language by Mexicans is Spanish language, Spanish, but some may also speak languages from 68 different Languages of Mexico, Indigenous linguistic groups ...
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 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 The age of majority is the threshold of legal adulthood as recognized or declared in law. It is the moment when minor (law), minors cease to be considered such and assume legal control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thus terminatin ...
is 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 Bangladesh (}, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 165 million pe ...
,
Democratic Republic of Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo (french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC), colloquially "La RDC" ), informally Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly and also colloquially Zaire, is a country in ...
,
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
,
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...
, Japan,
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
,
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 24 ...
,
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about , making it the List of Asian countries by area, fifth-largest country in Asia ...
,
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān, officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It shares borders with the Central African Republic ...
, the United States, and
Yemen Yemen (; ar, ٱلْيَمَن, al-Yaman), officially the Republic of Yemen,, ) is a country in Western Asia. It is situated on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, and borders Saudi Arabia to the Saudi Arabia–Yemen border, north and ...
. 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 from 1642 in
Colonial America The colonial history of the United States covers the history of European colonization of North America from the early 17th century until the incorporation of the Thirteen Colonies into the United States after the American Revolutionary War, ...
until the present day in the United States, an estimated 365 juvenile offenders were executed by various colonial authorities and (after the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution that occurred in British America between 1765 and 1791. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies formed independent states that defeated the British in the American Revolut ...
) the federal government. The U.S. 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 Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a Germans, German state on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It formed the German Empire under Prussian rule when it united the German states in 1871. It was ''de facto'' dissolved ...
, children under the age of 14 were exempted from the death penalty in 1794. Capital punishment was cancelled by the
Electorate of Bavaria The Electorate of Bavaria (german: Kurfürstentum Bayern) was an independent hereditary Prince-elector, electorate of the Holy Roman Empire from 1623 to 1806, when it was succeeded by the Kingdom of Bavaria. The Wittelsbach dynasty which ruled ...
in 1751 for children under the age of 11 and by the
Kingdom of Bavaria The Kingdom of Bavaria (german: Königreich Bayern; ; spelled ''Baiern'' until 1825) was a German state that succeeded the former Electorate of Bavaria in 1805 and continued to exist until 1918. With the unification of Germany into the German E ...
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 The North German Confederation (german: Norddeutscher Bund) was initially a Germans, German military alliance established in August 1866 under the leadership of the Kingdom of Prussia, which was transformed in the subsequent year into a Confede ...
in 1871, which was continued by the
German Empire The German Empire (),Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditary ...
in 1872. In
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") (officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945) was ...
, 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 West Germany is the colloquial term used to indicate the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG; german: Bundesrepublik Deutschland , BRD) between its formation on 23 May 1949 and the German reunification through the accession of East Germany on 3 O ...
, also generally, in 1949 and by
East Germany East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a country that existed from its creation on 7 October 1949 until German reunification, its dissolution on 3 October 1990. In t ...
in 1952. In the Hereditary Lands,
Austrian Silesia Austrian Silesia, (historically also ''Oesterreichisch-Schlesien, Oesterreichisch Schlesien, österreichisch Schlesien''); cs, Rakouské Slezsko; pl, Śląsk Austriacki officially the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia, (historically ''Herzogth ...
,
Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czechy) is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech Republic. Bohemia can also refer to a wider area consisting of the historical Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by the List o ...
and
Moravia Moravia ( , also , ; cs, Morava ; german: link=yes, Mähren ; pl, Morawy ; szl, Morawa; la, Moravia) is a historical region in the east of the Czech Republic and one of three historical Czech lands, with Bohemia and Czech Silesia. The me ...
within the
Habsburg monarchy The Habsburg monarchy (german: Habsburgermonarchie, ), also known as the Danubian monarchy (german: Donaumonarchie, ), or Habsburg Empire (german: Habsburgerreich, ), was the collection of empires, kingdoms, duchies, counties and other polities ...
, 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 The Austrian Empire (german: link=no, Kaiserthum Oesterreich, modern spelling , ) was a Central Europe, Central-Eastern Europe, Eastern European multinational state, multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of ...
. In the
Helvetic Republic The Helvetic Republic (, , ) was a sister republic of French First Republic, France that existed between 1798 and 1803, during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was created following the French invasion of Switzerland, French invasion and the c ...
, 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 The canton of Bern or Berne (german: Kanton Bern; rm, Chantun Berna; french: canton de Berne; it, Canton Berna) is one of the Canton of Switzerland, 26 cantons forming the Switzerland, Swiss Confederation. Its capital city, Bern, is also the '' ...
, all juveniles were exempted from the death penalty at least in 1866. In Fribourg, capital punishment was generally, including for juveniles, abolished by 1849. In Ticino, it was abolished for youth and young adults under the age of 20 in 1816. In 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 tenure as president of Iran from 2013 until 2021, 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
ratified Ratification is a principal (commercial law), principal's approval of an act of its law of agency, agent that lacked the authority to bind the principal legally. Ratification defines the international act in which a state indicates its consent to ...
by all signatories with the exception of the United States (despite the
US Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all U.S. Federal tribunals in the United States, federal court cases, and over Stat ...
decisions abolishing the practice). The 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 Jus may refer to: Law * Jus (law), the Latin word for law or right * Jurisprudence of Catholic canon law#Jus, Jus (canon law), a rule within the Roman Catholic Church People * Juš Kozak (1892–1964), Slovenian writer * Juš Milčinski, Slove ...
of
customary international law Customary international law is an aspect of international law involving the principle of custom. Along with Sources of international law#General principles of law, general principles of law and Treaty, treaties, custom is considered by the Internat ...
. A majority of countries are also party to the U.N.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty that commits nations to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom ...
(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 The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty that commits nations to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom ...
, 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 The Associated Press (AP) is an American Nonprofit organization, non-profit news agency headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1846, it operates as a cooperative, unincorporated association. It produces news reports that are distributed to ...
, 17 September 2008. Retrieved 22 September 2008.
The past executions of 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 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 ''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 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, Aisha Ibrahim Dhuhulow was buried up to her neck at a football stadium, then stoned to death in front of more than 1,000 people. Somalia's established
Transitional Federal Government The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) ( so, Dowladda Federaalka Kumeelgaarka, ar, الحكومة الاتحادية الانتقالية) was internationally recognized as a provisional government of the Somalia, Republic of Somalia from 14 ...
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 UNICEF (), originally called the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund in full, now officially United Nations Children's Fund, is an agency of the United Nations responsible for providing Humanitarianism, humanitarian and Devel ...
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 Hanging is the suspension of a person by a noose or ligature strangulation, ligature around the neck.Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. Hanging as method of execution is unknown, as method of suicide from 1325. The ''Oxford English Dictionary' ...
(
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia. Referred to as the Heart of Asia, it is bordere ...
,
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
,
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...
,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north ...
,
South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and sharing a Korean Demilitarized Zone, land border with North Korea. Its western border is formed ...
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitutional monarchy consists of States and federal territories of Malaysia, thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two r ...
,
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
,
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān, officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It shares borders with the Central African Republic ...
,
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 24 ...
,
Palestinian National Authority The Palestinian National Authority (PA or PNA; ar, السلطة الوطنية الفلسطينية '), commonly known as the Palestinian Authority and officially the State of Palestine,
,
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
,
Yemen Yemen (; ar, ٱلْيَمَن, al-Yaman), officially the Republic of Yemen,, ) is a country in Western Asia. It is situated on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, and borders Saudi Arabia to the Saudi Arabia–Yemen border, north and ...
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
,
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 Myanmar, ; UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, Joh ...
,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island country, island country and city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Pen ...
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...
,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
, UAE, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Liberia) *
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(the
People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
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Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a Country, country in East Asia, at the junction of the East China Sea, East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the n ...
,
Vietnam Vietnam or Viet Nam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,., group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia, at the eastern edge of mainland Southeast Asia, with an area of and population of 96 million, making it ...
,
Belarus Belarus,, , ; alternatively and formerly known as Byelorussia (from Russian ). officially the Republic of Belarus,; rus, Республика Беларусь, Respublika Belarus. is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by R ...
, Ethiopia, Nigeria,
Somalia Somalia, , Osmanya script: 𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘𐒕𐒖; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of SomaliaThe ''Federal Republic of Somalia'' is the country's name per Article 1 of thProvisional Constitut ...
,
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia. It constitutes the northern half of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and shares borders with China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Y ...
,
Indonesia Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of over List of islands of Indonesia, 17,000 islands, including Sumatr ...
, UAE,
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about , making it the List of Asian countries by area, fifth-largest country in Asia ...
, Bahrain,
Qatar Qatar (, ; ar, قطر, Qaṭar ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar,) is a country in Western Asia. It occupies the Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East; it sha ...
,
Yemen Yemen (; ar, ٱلْيَمَن, al-Yaman), officially the Republic of Yemen,, ) is a country in Western Asia. It is situated on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, and borders Saudi Arabia to the Saudi Arabia–Yemen border, north and ...
, and in the US states of
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and
Utah Utah ( , ) is a state in the Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain states, Mountain West su ...
). * 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., ...
,
Guatemala Guatemala ( ; ), officially the Republic of Guatemala ( es, República de Guatemala, links=no), is a country in Central America. It is bordered to the north and west by Mexico Mexico (Spanish language, Spanish: México), officially th ...
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, the
People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
,
Vietnam Vietnam or Viet Nam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,., group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia, at the eastern edge of mainland Southeast Asia, with an area of and population of 96 million, making it ...
) * Beheading (
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about , making it the List of Asian countries by area, fifth-largest country in Asia ...
) * Stoning (
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
,
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān, officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It shares borders with the Central African Republic ...
) * Electrocution and 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,
Oklahoma Oklahoma (; Choctaw language, Choctaw: ; chr, ᎣᎧᎳᎰᎹ, ''Okalahoma'' ) is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, bordered by Texas on the south and west, Kansas on the nor ...
, 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 Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and s ...
, in 2012, "public executions were known to have been carried out in
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
,
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia. It constitutes the northern half of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and shares borders with China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Y ...
,
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about , making it the List of Asian countries by area, fifth-largest country in Asia ...
and
Somalia Somalia, , Osmanya script: 𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘𐒕𐒖; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of SomaliaThe ''Federal Republic of Somalia'' is the country's name per Article 1 of thProvisional Constitut ...
". There have been reports of public executions carried out by state and non-state actors in Hamas-controlled 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 intentional destruction of a people—usually defined as an Ethnic group, ethnic, nationality, national, race (classification of humans), racial, or Religion, religious group—in whole or in part. Raphael Lemkin coined the term ...
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 The Nuremberg trials were held by the Allies of World War II, Allies against representatives of the defeated Nazi Germany, for plotting and carrying out invasions of other countries, and other crimes, in World War II. Between 1939 and 1945 ...
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 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. In 2019 Malaysia considered abolishing the death penalty, but instead abolished mandatory death sentences; any death sentence is now passed at the judge's discretion. In June 2022, Malaysian law minister Wan Junaidi pledged to abolish capital punishment and replace it with other punishments at the discretion of the court.


Drug trafficking

In 2018, at least 35 countries retained the death penalty for drug trafficking,
drug dealing The illegal drug trade or drug trafficking is a global black market dedicated to the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of drug prohibition, prohibited drugs. Most jurisdictions prohibitionism, prohibit trade, except under license, ...
,
drug possession The prohibition of drugs through sumptuary law, sumptuary legislation or religious law is a common means of attempting to prevent the Recreational drug use, recreational use of certain intoxicating substances. While some drugs are illegal to p ...
and related offences. People are regularly sentenced to death and executed for drug-related offences in China, 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 and Malaysia, though since 2013, Singapore ruled that those who were certified to have 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 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. A famous example of drug-related execution pertains to members of the Bali Nine.


Other offences

Other crimes that are punishable by death in some countries include: *Terrorism *Treason (a capital crime in most countries that retain capital punishment) *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) *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 ...
offences such as Apostasy in Islam, apostasy (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan etc.) *Islam and blasphemy, Blasphemy (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, certain states in 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 (Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Ethiopia, the US state of Georgia etc.)


Controversy and debate

Death penalty opponents regard the death penalty as inhumane and criticize it for its irreversibility. They argue also that capital punishment lacks deterrent effect, or has a brutalization effect, discriminates against minorities and the poor, and that it encourages a "culture of violence". There are many organizations worldwide, such as
Amnesty International Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and s ...
, and country-specific, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), that have abolition of the death penalty as its main 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 occurs when a human, person Death, kills another person. A homicide requires only a Volition (psychology), volitional act or omission that causes the death of another, and thus a homicide may result from accidental, reckless, or negli ...
, 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 occurs when a human, person Death, kills another person. A homicide requires only a Volition (psychology), volitional act or omission that causes the death of another, and thus a homicide may result from accidental, reckless, or negli ...
and mass killing such as
terrorism Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of criminal violence to provoke a state of terror or fear, mostly with the intention to achieve political or religious aims. The term is used in this regard primarily to refer to intentional violen ...
, massacre and
genocide Genocide is the intentional destruction of a people—usually defined as an Ethnic group, ethnic, nationality, national, race (classification of humans), racial, or Religion, religious group—in whole or in part. Raphael Lemkin coined the term ...
. 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 unusual 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 Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and s ...
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: In one of the most recent cases relating to the death penalty in Singapore, activists like Jolovan Wham, Kirsten Han and Kokila Annamalai and even the international groups like the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be ...
and
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...
argued for Malaysian drug trafficker Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, who has been on death row at Singapore's Changi Prison since 2010, should not be executed due to an alleged intellectual disability, as they argued that Nagaenthran has low IQ of 69 and a psychiatrist has assessed him to be mentally impaired to an extent that he should not be held liable to his crime and execution. They also cited international law where a country should be prohibiting the execution of mentally and intellectually impaired people in order to push for Singapore to commute Nagaenthran's death penalty to life imprisonment based on protection of human rights. However, the Singapore government and both Singapore's High Court of Singapore, High Court and Court of Appeal of Singapore, Court of Appeal maintained their firm stance that despite his certified low IQ, it is confirmed that Nagaenthran is not mentally or intellectually disabled based on the joint opinion of three government psychiatrists as he is able to fully understand the magnitude of his actions and has no problem in his daily functioning of life. Despite the international outcry, Nagaenthran was executed on 27 April 2022.


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 hanging, drawing, and quartering in the early 19th century.
Hanging Hanging is the suspension of a person by a noose or ligature strangulation, ligature around the neck.Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. Hanging as method of execution is unknown, as method of suicide from 1325. The ''Oxford English Dictionary' ...
by turning the victim off a ladder or by kicking a stool or a bucket, which causes death by strangulation, 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 Iran, 1789–1925, 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. A small number of countries, for example Iran and Saudi Arabia, still employ slow hanging methods, decapitation, and stoning. 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 "List of botched executions, 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 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. 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 Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and s ...
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 Dunn v. Ray, 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 Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and s ...
stated that the executions were being carried out on confessions of "terrorism crimes" that were obtained through torture. On 30 March 2022, despite the appeals by the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be ...
and rights activists, 68-year-old Malay Singaporean Abdul Kahar Othman was hanged at Singapore's Changi Prison for illegally trafficking diamorphine, which marked the first execution in Singapore since 2019 as a result of an informal moratorium caused by the
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identif ...
. Earlier, there were appeals made to advocate for Abdul Kahar's death penalty be commuted to life imprisonment on humanitarian grounds, as Abdul Kahar came from a poor family and has struggled with drug addiction. He was also revealed to have been spending most of his life going in and out of prison, including a ten-year sentence of preventive detention from 1995 to 2005, and has not been given much time for rehabilitation, which made the activists and groups arguing that Abdul Kahar should be given a chance for rehabilitation instead of subjecting him to execution. Both the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...
(EU) and
Amnesty International Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and s ...
criticised Singapore for finalizing and carrying out Abdul Kahar's execution, and about 400 Singaporeans protested against the government's use of the death penalty merely days after Abdul Kahar's death sentence was authorised. Still, over 80% of the public supported the use of the death penalty in Singapore.


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 th ...
. 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 The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty that commits nations to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom ...
. 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 EU and the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation founded in the wake of World War II to uphold European Convention on Human Rights, human rights, democracy and the Law in Europe, rule of law in Europe. ...
. The EU and the Council of Europe are willing to accept a moratorium as an interim measure. Thus, while Capital punishment in Russia, Russia 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) and
Belarus Belarus,, , ; alternatively and formerly known as Byelorussia (from Russian ). officially the Republic of Belarus,; rus, Республика Беларусь, Respublika Belarus. is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by R ...
(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 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 90 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 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
Belarus Belarus,, , ; alternatively and formerly known as Byelorussia (from Russian ). officially the Republic of Belarus,; rus, Республика Беларусь, Respublika Belarus. is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by R ...
, 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 supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...
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 Christian denomination, Catholicism, has traditionally supported capital punishment as a necessary evil, but in modern times opposes capital punishment in all cases. Pope John Paul II made a public address in St. Louis, Missouri in 1999 reminding the members of the Catholic Church to be unconditionally pro-life and uphold the dignity of all persons, even if in the eyes of the government they forfeited those rights by their own conduct. Early theologians of the Church, such as Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas, seem to uphold the use of capital punishment only to the extent that it is not used in malice or frustration, but in the interest of dissuading imitators of the evil conducted to warrant punishment originally. As time goes on, the authority of the church has continued to develop, with only slight variation, a more universal rule that suggests the rare use of capital punishment, specifically the death penalty, is so rare as to be generally non-viable. The grounds for this trend lie most often in the existing trend of capital punishment propagating revenge more than true justice. Both the Baháʼí Faith, Baháʼí and Islamic faiths support capital punishment.


See also

* Death in custody * Execution chamber * Executioner * Judicial dissolution aka "The Corporate Death Penalty" * ''The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints'' (book) * Shame culture * Guilt–shame–fear spectrum of cultures * Last meal * Capital punishment in Judaism


Notes and references


Notes


Explanatory notes


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
." () 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 (poet), Jared Carter.
Lead prosecutor apologizes for role in sending man to death row
Shreveport Times, 2015 *


Religious views



The Dalai Lama
Buddhism & Capital Punishment
from The Engaged Zen Society

* [http://www.priestsforlife.org/deathpenalty Lists several Catholic links] Priests for Life
The Death Penalty: Why the Church Speaks a Countercultural Message
by Kenneth R. Overberg, S.J., from AmericanCatholic.org
Wrestling with the Death Penalty
by Andy Prince, from ''Youth Update'' on 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