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DEATH PENALTY


Death penalty which is also known as capital punishment is a judicial pronouncement which stipulates that someone who has been convicted of any one of the crimes that demands its judicial invocation is deprived of his or her life legally by the state. The authority for this sort of punishment is vested in the state and executions are carried out by the state.

Crimes that can result in the death penalty upon legal conviction are varied and many and it include crimes that a sovereign state views as serious enough to warrant such punishment. Most governments impose the death penalty for crimes against the state such as treason, treasonable felony, espionage, and murder. In many societies, sexual crimes such as sodomy, incest, bestiality, adultery and rape also carry the death sentence. Many governments apply the death penalty as a deterrent or check against religious dissidents or political opponents. Military authorities also carry out the death penalty through court Martials for offences such as cowardice, mutiny, insubordination, traitors, espionage, desertion and the like. In many countries, drug trafficking, human trafficking and serious cases of corruption carry the death penalty. In many Islamic countries, religious offences such as blasphemy and apostasy (renunciation of the state religion) carries the death penalty.

The executions of death row convicts vary in methods from country to country and from one historical dispensation to another. In the early ages, execution by death penalty includes death by hanging, decapitation, sawing in two, burning at the stake, scourging to death, slashing to bleed to death, beheading, and trampling to death. The modern forms of death penalty include execution by firing squads, gas chamber, electric chair and the use of lethal injections. Many executions are done publicly with a limited number of passive citizens permitted to witness the execution probably as a deterrent to others.

The methods and rates of capital punishment varied over the course of recorded history primarily because the death penalty is surrounded by philosophical, religious and moral/ethical issues which translate to increasing opposition to its use in most countries of the world. In most countries of the world, it is illegal for offenders who are below the age of eighteen at the time of their offence to be punished by the death penalty and since 2009 till date, only a few countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia have carried out such executions.

The United Nations General Assembly has tried severally to get member states to abolish capital punishment but has been opposed by some powerful states who vote against the proposal. Amnesty International and other Human Rights groups have been working hard to see that capital punishment is abolished on a worldwide scale but such efforts have achieved limited success because most governments have the view that a total abolishment of the death penalty will be prejudicial to national interest and security. As of recent times, 103 countries have completely abolished the death penalty, 6 have abolished it for ordinary crimes, and 50 have not used it for at least 10 years or more while 36 countries are actively practicing capital punishment.