Essay, Research Paper: Death Penalty

Legal Issues

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The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and
violates the right to life. · Execution is irrevocable and can be inflicted on
the innocent. · The death penalty has never been shown to deter crime more
effectively than other punishments. · Execution is an act of violence and
violence tends to provoke violence. The imposition and infliction of the death
penalty is brutalizing to all who are involved in the process. · The death
penalty is frequently used as an instrument of repression against opposition,
racial, ethnic, religious and underprivileged groups. During 1996 at least 4,272
prisoners are known to have been executed in 39 countries and 7,107 people were
sentenced to death in 76 countries. These figures include only cases kown to
Amnesty International (AI);; the true figures are certainly higher. As in
previous years, a small number of countries accounted for the vast majority of
executions recorded. AI received reports of 3,500 executions in China, 167
executions in Ukraine, 140 executions in the Russian Federation and 110
executions in Iran. These four countries alone accounted for 92 per cent of all
executions recorded by AI worldwide in 1996. Over 25 countries and territories
have abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes or for all crimes since
1989. They include Andorra, Angola, Belgium, Cambodia, Croatia, Czech Republic,
Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Mauritius, Moldova,
Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Paraguay, Romania, Sao Tomé, South
Africa, Spain, Switzerland. The number of countries joining international
treaties against the death penalty continues to grow. · The Second Optional
Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at
the abolition of the death penalty has been ratified by 29 states. Four other
states have signed the protocol, indicating their intention to become parties to
it at a later date. · Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms concerning the abolition of
the death penalty has been ratified by 24 states and signed by six others. ·
The Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death
Penalty has been ratified by four states and signed by three others. Use of the
Death Penalty Against Juveniles · International human rights treaties prohibit
anyone under 18 years old at the time of the crime being sentenced to death.
Nevertheless. five countries since 1990 are known to have executed prisoners who
were under 18 years old at the time of the crime: Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,
USA and Yemen. The majority of known executions of juvenile offenders has been
in the USA (six since 1990). The Death Penalty in the USA (see the country
report on USA: Developments on the Death Penalty in 1996) · 45 prisoners were
executed in the USA in 1996 bringing to 358 the total number executed since the
use of the death penalty was resumed in 1977. · More than 3,000 prisoners were
under sentence of death at the end of 1996. · 38 of the 50 US states provide
for the death penalty in law; it is also provided under US federal military and
civilian law. · Methods of execution in the USA are: lethal injection, electric
chair, hanging, firing squad, gas chamber.
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