How Close Are We To The Full Worldwide Abolition Of The Death Penalty?
The 10th of October marked the 16th World Day Against the Death Penalty.
The use of the death penalty as a sentence has been the source of major political and criminal controversy around the world. The debate of whether it is right for states to execute those who have committed even the most heinous and horrible crimes has progressed significantly in an increasingly liberal era to the extent that support for the death penalty has reached all-time lows in recent years. In addition, 48 countries abolished the death penalty in 1991, but by 2017 this increased to 106 (BBC).
Last year according to Amnesty International, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iraq accounted for 84% of the total number of executions in 2017. According to the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, In 2017 at least 993 people (excluding China) were executed in 23 countries, and at least 2.591 people were sentenced to death in 53 countries in 2017. China is estimated to have killed thousands of people every year, but official numbers on Chinese executions, however, are not published as they are state secrets, so reports often come from victims’ families and local independent media reports which are then included in Amnesty’s figures.
The Death Penalty in the US
The US state of Washington became the 20th state in the US to abolish the death penalty, just a couple of days after the World Day Against the Death Penalty. The Washington Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was applied in an "arbitrary and racially biased manner". This along with the arguments of the precarious convictions of those on death row have led to a rise in people in America calling for a nationwide abolition. Furthermore, in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of botched executions in America. These are the executions in which the killing of a ‘convict’ involves huge amounts of suffering, rather than the painless death the law promises and dictates they should have. The increase of these ‘botched executions’ is a consequence of drug companies around the world such as Westward Pharmaceuticals (US), Kayem Pharmaceuticals (India), and various European companies refusing to sell death-inducing drugs to several US prisons, limiting the rate and effectivity of executions in the U.S.
Thus, overall, it would appear progress is being made across the world to abolish the death penalty once and for all, despite the fact, 56 countries uphold the use of the death penalty. With a steady rise of nations abolishing the death penalty over the past 25 years, the debate against continuing a perpetual cycle of killing, versus, the focus on prison reform, has gained momentum across many countries yet to abolish the death penalty.