Monday, November 12, 2007

A Death Penalty-Free World?

At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) 62nd session in October 2007, a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions was introduced as a step towards the abolition of the death penalty. Endorsement by the UNGA of a global moratorium on executions would be a significant milestone towards achieving the goal of a death penalty-free world.

A total of 133 UN member states, from all regions in the world, have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Only 25 countries carried out executions in 2006, 91percent of them in just six countries -- China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and the USA (note that the U.S. is listed along with other countries having very poor human rights records). Europe is a death penalty-free zone, with the exception of Belarus.

Executions have been carried out by the following methods since 2000:
- Beheading (in Saudi Arabia)
- Electrocution (in USA)
- Hanging (in Egypt, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore and other countries)
- Lethal injection (in China, Guatemala, Thailand, USA)
- Shooting (in Belarus, China, Somalia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam and other countries)
- Stoning (in Afghanistan, Iran)

One of the primary reasons for support of the death penalty is that it purportedly deters crime more effectively than other forms of punishment. Recent crime figures from countries that have abolished the death penalty, however, fail to show that abolition has harmful effects. In Canada, for example, the homicide rate per 100,000 population fell from a peak of 3.09 in 1975, the year before the abolition of the death penalty for murder, to 2.41 in 1980, and since then it has declined further. In 2006, 30 years after abolition, the homicide rate was 1.85 per 100,000 population, 40 per cent lower than in 1975 and the second lowest rate in three decades.

The death penalty is inhuman, violates the right to life, is irrevocable and can be inflicted on the innocent. Emperical evidence does not prove that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments. For these reasons, please consider signing this petition calling for a world-wide moratorium on executions (over 5 million people have already signed -- you might need to change the language in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage):

- David
(Data taken from Amnesty International)

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