Capital punishment is the killing of person as a punishment for a crime. It is also known as death penalty. The sentence ordering the death punishment is known as death sentence and act of carrying out such punishment is known as execution. Crimes that are punishable by death are known as capital crimes, capital offences or capital felonies and vary depending on jurisdiction but includes murder, rape, sexual abuse, terrorism, war crimes, etc.
Fifty four countries have retained capital punishment, 7 have abolished it for ordinary crimes and 27 countries are abolitionist in practice. 60% of the world’s population lives in countries where death penalty is retained, including China, India, United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Japan and Taiwan.
Methods of Execution used by Various Countries
Hanging (Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan)
Shooting (China, Vietnam, Nigeria, North Korea, Indonesia, UAE)
Lethal injection (United States, Thailand, Vietnam)
Beheading (Saudi Arabia)
Electrocution and gas inhalation (some of the U.S. states but only if lethal injection is unavailable or If the prisoner requests)
Inert gas asphyxiation (Mississippi, Alabama)
A public execution is a type of capital punishment which members of general public attend. It excludes small number of witnesses selected to assure executive accountability.
According to Amnesty International, public executions were carried out in Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. Executions which can be classified as public were carried out in U.S. states of Florida and Utah in 1992.
Crimes against humanity
This type of crime is usually punishable by death, that sentences for such crimes were handed down and carried out 1946. For example, genocide.
Singapore and Malaysia made death penalty compulsory for murder but in 2013 Singapore changed its laws and sentenced life imprisonment as the punishment of murder.
35 countries regained death penalty for drug trafficking in 2018. Countries which have retained death penalty are China, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Vietnam.
Other offences which are punishable by death are:
Use of firearms
Political protests (Saudi Arabia)
Rape (China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran)
Economic crimes (China, Iran)
Human trafficking (China)
Controversy and Debate
Supporters of death penalty argued that death penalty is justified and should be mandatory in the world especially with the cases like murder, homicide, and mass killing. Some of them argue that retribution is simply revenge.
Abolitionists believe that capital punishment violates human rights because right to life is the most important right and death penalty violates it without necessity and inflicts a psychological torture. Human rights activists define death penalty as ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.’
It is argued that capital punishment leads to miscarriage of justice through wrongful execution of innocent persons. It also results in unfair execution.
The world’s major faith has different views on capital punishment depending on their religion, sect and adherent. For example, Christian opposes capital punishment whereas Islamic faiths support capital punishment.