Should capitalpunishment be abolished?Capital punishment otherwise known asthe death penalty is the legalized killing of a person as a punishment for acrime. The first known use of capital punishment dates back to the 18thcentury in ancient Babylonia (modern day Iraq). King Hammurabi introduced The Codeof Hammurabi, which contains the first ever established laws for capitalpunishment. Since then capital punishment has gained widespread use acrossseveral parts of the world. Over time questions on the ethics and morality ofcapital punishment have been raised. For instance almost every country inEurope (except Russia and Belarus) has banned the use of capital punishment intheir legislation. Capital punishment is still in use in many under developed countriesbut as well as in developed nations like the USA, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan andSouth Korea.
This raises the question should capital punishment be abolished? Capital punishment has been acontroversial issue throughout time. One country that has garnered attentionfor the use of capital punishment is the United States of America. It is oddfor one of the most developed nations in the world to still use the capitalpunishment more frequently than usual.
In 2016 The United States of Americacarried out 20 executions (Amnesty International). Although this number isrelatively low compared to other countries who also carried out executions it isunusual for a developed nation to use the death penalty so commonly. This maybe because the United States of America believes that capital punishment is a”significant deterrent” for potential criminals.
Although capital punishment isused, it is only used in extreme cases such as murder, treason, terrorism(ProCon). The severity of the crime determines whether the criminal is servedwith capital punishment. As of September 2016 only 49% of Americans supportcapital punishment (Pew Research).Capital punishment had reached a new low inthe United States, the support for death penalty continues to fall. Although itseems like capital punishment would be used less frequently in the future, thecurrent conditions of criminals on death row or criminals who are sentenced todeath are inhumane. Inmates on death row are usually kept in solitary confinementwhich defies human rights. As of now 31 out of 50 states in the USA activelyuse capital punishment as a legal penalty. The government of the United Statesworks differently compared to its other democratic counterparts in the world.
Even if they wanted to they would not be able to impose a nationwide abolitionon capital punishment. Each state has its own legislative power which is notcontrolled by the U.S congress hence it would be the decision of each state onits own to decide whether or not to abolish capital punishment. Yet Article VI of the U.
S. Constitutionstates that “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under theAuthority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”(Deathpenaltyinfo).
Onthe surface it seems like the USA cannot abolish capital punishment it could bepossible if taken to the Supreme Court. But due to the decreasing use of deathpenalty over the years, it seems unlikely that it would be abolished.Almostall of Europe has abolished capital punishment. The European Union is a fiercedefender of human rights and believes that all humans have the right to live nomatter what. In addition the countries in Europe have lower crime rates thanthe countries that do have capital punishment. Scandinavian countriesespecially are more peaceful and less violent compared to countries withcapital punishment.
In fact nearly all countries in the European Union havelower crime rates than the United States of America which shows that the lackof death penalty does not lead to increased crimes.China hadthe highest number of executions in 2016(Amnesty International) .Thousands ofcriminals were executed. The exact number is unknown as china keeps thisinformation classified. Chinese criminals face oppression from the government.
China uses capital punishment for over 55 offences (Theatlantic).The extensiveuse of capital punishment violates human rights. Capital punishment is alsoused in china for crimes such as adultery, corruption which are not consideredmost serious crimes according to international legal standards (AmnestyUSA).The actual figures and facts of sentencing and executions are onlyapproximations .
It is hard to estimate who is sentenced and why they are sentencedwith minimal data. This also reinforces the fact that the increasing use ofcapital punishment does not deter crime in a country.Otherthan china, most countries in Asia do enforce capital punishment. In contrastwith the western part of the world where capital punishment is nearly absent;Asia is still headstrong on their laws on capital punishment.
It shows thenature of two very different parts of the world. In the Eastern part wherealmost all countries follow or at least have capital punishment in theirlegislation compared to the western world were almost all countries do not haveit at all. The useof capital punishment is especially prominent in the Middle Eastern countriessuch as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan. Iran cites drug offences as itsmain offence for carrying out capital punishment. Its form o capital punishmentdoes not spare juveniles and women. Again the increasing use of the deathpenalty does not help the country combat crime. In 2016 Iran executed nearly567 people (Amnesty International). However Iran is making amendments to itslaws to reduce the number of death sentences.
Saudi Arabia carried out 153execution in 2016(Amnesty International).The Saudi legal system is based onSharia law (Islamic Law). Capital punishment can be used for offences rangingfrom homosexuality to religious conversion to murder. Executions are carriedout in the form of beheadings or firing squad. These practices are consideredas cruel and some of the offences are not serious enough to be punished withthe death penalty. Another reason why Saudi Arabia carries out these manyexecutions is to show the power of its regime and how its law is not to betaken lightly.