AdvocateKhoj
Login : Advocate | Client
Home Post Your Case My Account Law College Law Library
    

Report No. 262

(i) Regional Trends regarding the Death Penalty

a. The Americas

3.9.4 The American Convention on Human Rights 1969 significantly restricts the application of the death penalty. Article 4 of this convention states that it can only be imposed for serious crimes following a fair trial, it cannot be inflicted for political offences or related common crimes, it cannot be re-established in states that have abolished it, and it cannot be imposed on persons under the age of 18, over 70 or pregnant women.

3.9.5 The Americas also have a specific convention abolishing the death penalty. Under Article 1 of the Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty (ratified by 13 countries), "The States Parties to this Protocol shall not apply the death penalty in their territory to any person subject to their jurisdiction."

3.9.6 Despite some still keeping it in law, most countries in the Americas have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

3.9.7 For example, like many of its South American neighbours,178 Brazil abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes many decades ago, in 1882. The abolition only applies to the death penalty for ordinary crimes, and the death penalty for crimes in extraordinary times of war still remains. The Brazilian Constitution provides that there shall be no punishment by death, except in the case of war (Article 5. XLVII).179

The same Article also provides that there shall be no life imprisonment, making Brazil one of the few countries in the world where both capital punishment and life imprisonment do not exist. In the twentieth century, in the face of political instability and military rule, Brazil reintroduced the death penalty twice: in the years 1939-45 (for politically motivated crimes of violence) and 1969-79 (for political crimes against national security), but no death penalties were imposed on any person during these years.180

178 These include Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Uruguay.

179 An English version of the Brazilian Constitution, as amended in 2010, is available at:
http://www.stf.jus.br/repositorio/cms/portalstfinternacional/portalstfsobrecorte_en_us/anexo/constituicao_ingles_3ed2010.pdf (last viewed on 10.08.2015).

180 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 70-71, (5th ed. 2015).

3.9.8 The United States is a notable exception in the Americas in terms of its approach to the death penalty. In 2014, the United States was the only country in its region to carry out executions. Even within the US, for a period of time following the case of Furman v Georgia, 408 U.S 238 there was a de facto moratorium on the death penalty for about four years, between 1972 and 1976. While the death penalty has since been reinstated, court decisions have narrowed down its scope and introduced safe guards.

For example, in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005) the Supreme Court held it was unconstitutional to impose the death penalty for crimes committed when the individual was below 18 years of age. Further, in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002) the Supreme Court held that executing persons with intellectual disabilities amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, and was thus unconstitutional.

An increasing number of states in the US have been officially or un-officially imposing moratoriums. Nineteen states in the US have abolished it, the most recent among them have been Connecticut in 2012, Maryland in 2013, and Nebraska in 2015.184 In 2014, 35 people were executed in the US, which was the lowest number since 1995.

184 Based on data from the Death Penalty Information Center, available at:
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/states-and-without-death-penalty (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

b. Europe

3.9.9 All European countries, with the exception of Belarus, have either formally abolished the death penalty or maintain moratoriums.185

185 Amnesty International, Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, at page 41.

3.9.10 The 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ('the European Convention') originally stated, "No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law."186 In 1983, Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention concerning the abolition of the death penalty said, "The death penalty shall be abolished.

None shall be condemned to such penalty or executed", except "in respect of acts committed in time of war or of imminent threat of war."187 Finally, in 2002, Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention abolished the death penalty in all circumstances. 44 countries have acceded to this protocol, including all member states of the European Union.

186 Article 2(1), Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, available at:
http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/005.htm
(last viewed on 20.08.2015).

187 Articles 1 and 2, Protocol No. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms concerning the abolition of the death penalty, available at:
http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/EN/Treaties/Html/114.htm
(last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.11 The European Court of Human Rights ('ECHR') has evolved rich jurisprudence for countries that have not yet ratified the two optional protocols. On many occasions, the court has held that extradition to a country that had the death penalty could violate the right to life and prohibition against torture. Bader and Kanbor v. Sweden, Application No. 13284/04; Jabari v. Turkey, Application No. 40035/98. In 2010, the ECHR noted the high number of signatories of the European Convention who had abolished the death penalty.

It said "These figures, together with consistent State practice in observing the moratorium on capital punishment, are strongly indicative that Article 2 has been amended so as to prohibit the death penalty in all circumstances." It held that "the words 'inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment' in Article 3 could include the death penalty." Al-Saadoon and Mufdhi v the United Kingdom, 61498/08 [2010] ECHR 282, at para 120.

3.9.12 Like the rest of Europe, France abolished the death penalty despite public opinion to the contrary. The death penalty in France was abolished on 9 October 1981, after a vote in the National Assembly decided in favour of abolition.190 It marked the end of two centuries of debate in the National Assembly on the issue, the first motion having been presented as far back as in 1791.191 The abolition was incorporated into the French Constitution in 2007, Article 66-1 of which reads that "no one shall be sentenced to death". 192

Public opinion supported the death penalty for many years after it was abolished (a 2006 poll showed that 52% of the population were against it).193 Robert Badinter, the minister for Justice in France in 1981, who led the legislative amendment, has suggested that "it usually takes about 10 to 15 years following abolition for the public to stop thinking of it as useful and to realise that it makes no difference to the level of homicide", which prediction has found support in many countries.194

190 France and Death Penalty, Abolition in France, available at
http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/french-foreign-policy/human-rights/deathpenalty/france-and-death-penalty/
(last viewed on 20.08.2015).

191 Law of 9th October 1981: Abolition of the Death Penalty in France, available at
http://www.france.fr/en/institutions-and-values/law-9th-october-1981-abolition-deathpenalty-france.html
(last viewed on 20.08.2015).

192 France and Death Penalty, Abolition in France, available at
http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/french-foreign-policy/human-rights/deathpenalty/france-and-death-penalty/
(last viewed on 20.08.2015).

193 Evan J. Mandery, Capital Punishment: A Balanced Examination, at page 640 (1st ed. 2005).

194 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 464, (5th ed. 2015).

3.9.13 The history of capital punishment in the United Kingdom is also relevant to the Indian context. The abolitionist-leaning Labour government that was elected in post-war Britain considered the issue of capital punishment at least six times before setting it aside when tabling its Criminal Justice Bill in 1947, deciding that abolishing the death penalty was not its key priority; and by the 1950s, however, a series of poorly handled cases and executions had led to the creation of a strong public movement in favour of abolition.195

The last execution in the United Kingdom took place in 1964.196 In 1965, the House of Commons in Great Britain voted to impose a moratorium on and suspend the death penalty for murder for a period of 5 years by law.197

195 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 51-56, (5th ed. 2015).

196 British Military & Criminal History: 1900 to 1999, Last executions in the UK, available at
http://www.stephen-stratford.co.uk/last_ones.htm
(last viewed on 20.08.2015).

197 See section 4 of the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, as originally enacted, available at
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1965/71/pdfs/ukpga_19650071_en.pdf
(last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.14 The death penalty for murder was formally abolished in 1969, when the UK Parliament decided that the 1965 Act should not expire,198 despite recent opinion polls showing that about 80% of the population was in favour of retaining the penalty.199 (Northern Ireland passed a similar law in 1973.200) After the death penalty for murder was abolished, the House of Commons held a vote during each parliament (until 1997) to restore the penalty, but the motion was never passed.201 The death penalty was finally removed for all crimes in the UK only in 1999, further to the UK's ratifications of and obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.202

198 Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, as amended, available at
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1965/71 (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

199 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 55, (5th ed. 2015).

200 Section 1, Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973, available at
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1973/53/section/1 (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

201 Charles Hanson, The death penalty issue, Time, 1 September, 2011, available at:
http://insidetime.org/the-death-penalty-issue/ (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

202 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 56, (5th ed. 2015)

3.9.15 Despite the penalty no longer being a part of UK law, the UK Privy Council has discussed the death penalty in various decisions pertaining to cases in the Caribbean countries, where the death penalty remains standing. The most notable of these was the 1993 case of Pratt & Morgan v. The Attorney-General for Jamaica, [1993] UKPC 1, Privy Council Appeal No. 10 of 1993, available at:
http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKPC/1993/1.html (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

In this case, the UK Privy Council held that that it was unconstitutional in Jamaica to execute a prisoner who had been on death row for 14 years. According to the Privy Council, the Jamaican Constitution prohibits "inhuman or degrading punishment", as a result of which excessive delays cannot occur between sentencing and execution of the punishment. Specifically, it held that a delay of more than five years between sentencing and execution was prima facie evidence of inhuman or degrading punishment. In cases of such excessive delay, it said that the death sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment.

3.9.16 The Pratt & Morgan case had a "ripple effect"204 on similar cases from other Caribbean countries, where the sentence for convicts on death row was commuted to life imprisonment. This has led to a separate and long-enduring debate about the appellate powers of the Privy Council on countries other than the UK.205

204 Therese Mills (2005), Letter: Colonial power over death penalty, BBC, 19 January, 2005, available at:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4185745.stm (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

205 See, for example, Owen Bowcott and Maya Wolfe-Robinson, British court to rule on death sentences for two Trinidad murderers, The Guardian, 4 February, 2014, available at
http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/feb/04/british-court-to-rule-on-deathsentences-for-two-trinidad-murderers (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

c. Africa

3.9.17 As of October 2014, 17 African countries had formally abolished the death penalty, and 25 others had not conducted an execution in over ten years.206 Countries continuing to impose the death penalty include Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, and Somalia. Several African countries (e.g., Angola, Namibia) have abolished the death penalty through the Constitution, while in others, notably South Africa, the courts have taken the lead.

206 Statement by the Chairperson of the Working Group on Death penalty of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on World Day against the Death Penalty, available at:
http://www.achpr.org/press/2014/10/d227/ (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.18 Article 5(3) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child states, "Death sentence shall not be pronounced for crimes committed by children". In 2008, in its 'Resolution calling on State Parties to observe the moratorium on the death penalty', the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights urged "State Parties that still retain the death penalty to observe a moratorium on the execution of death sentences with a view to abolishing the death penalty."207

The 2014 Declaration of the Continental Conference on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa recognized the trend towards abolition,208 and asked countries to support the Additional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa.

207 Resolution calling on State Parties to observe the moratorium on the death penalty, ACHPR/Res.136(XXXXIIII).08, available at
http://old.achpr.org/english/resolutions/resolution136_en.htm (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

208 Para 4, for example, states: "Deeply appreciates the growing number of African States that have abolished the Death Penalty"; Declaration of the Continental Conference on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa, available at
http://www.achpr.org/news/2014/07/d150 (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.19 For example, Kenya retains the death penalty for multiple offences, including murder, armed robbery and treason. The last known execution in Kenya, however, took place in 1987, and the country is regarded as abolitionist de facto. In the case of Mutiso v. Republic (2010), the Court of Appeal at Mombasa struck down the mandatory death penalty for murder, holding that the penalty was in violation of the right to life, and amounts to inhuman treatment; and that keeping a person on death row for more than three years would be unconstitutional.

It also suggested that its reasoning would apply to other offences having a mandatory death sentence.209 However, in the case of Joseph Njuguna Mwaura v Republic (2013), the Court of Appeal at Nairobi upheld the death penalty for armed robbery. It said that the legislature had to decide whether the mandatory death penalty should be retained or not. The conflict between these two decisions is expected to be resolved by the Supreme Court.210

209 See The Death Penalty Project, Kenya, available at:
http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/where-we-operate/africa/kenya/
(last viewed on 20.08.2015).

210 See Death Penalty Worldwide, Kenya, available at:
http://www.deathpenaltyworldwide.org/country-search-post.cfm?country=Kenya (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.20 In South Africa, the death penalty was abolished through a decision of the Constitutional Court, shortly after the end of the apartheid regime.211 In an early ruling in 1995, in State v. Makwanyane, 1995 (6) BCLR 665, the South African Constitutional Court held that the death penalty was unconstitutional. In doing so, the Court said:

The rights to life and dignity are the most important of all human rights, and the source of all other personal rights in Chapter Three. By committing ourselves to a society founded on the recognition of human rights we are required to value these two rights above all others. And this must be demonstrated by the State in everything that it does, including the way it punishes criminals. This is not achieved by objectifying murderers and putting them to death to serve as an example to others in the expectation that they might possibly be deterred thereby.

And that:

Retribution cannot be accorded the same weight under our Constitution as the rights to life and dignity, which are the most important of all the rights in Chapter Three. It has not been shown that the death sentence would be materially more effective to deter or prevent murder than the alternative sentence of life imprisonment would be. Taking these factors into account, as well as the elements of arbitrariness and the possibility of error in enforcing the death penalty, the clear and convincing case that is required to justify the death sentence as a penalty for murder, has not been made out.

211 See Howard French, South Africa's Supreme Court Abolishes Death Penalty, The New York Times, 7 June, 1995, available at:
http://www.nytimes.com/1995/06/07/world/south-africa-s-supreme-court-abolishesdeath-penalty.html (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.21 At the time of this decision, public opinion in South Africa on the death penalty was very divided, with a lot of support for retaining death penalty. Crime was a huge problem, and during the apartheid regime, there had been extensive use of the death penalty.213 The last execution was just four years before its abolition. In 1997, the South African Parliament reaffirmed the Court's decision through law.214

213 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 89 (5th ed. 2015).

214 Roger Hood and Carolyn Hoyle, Abolishing the Death Penalty Worldwide: The Impact of a "New Dynamic", Crime and Justice, Vol. 38, No. 1 (2009) at page 1-63.

3.9.22 In Nigeria, the death penalty is mainly a state issue, as the country has a federal system, where criminal laws vary across its 36 states. Each state specifies crimes and punishments within its territory, and have laws based on both Shariah and common law systems. A mandatory death penalty is prescribed for a wide range of offences in various Nigerian states.215

215 Country profile: Nigeria, as of 19 June 2014, available at:
http://www.deathpenaltyworldwide.org/country-search-post.cfm?country=Nigeria (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.23 In 2012, the High Court of Lagos State declared that the mandatory death penalty was unconstitutional in James Ajulu & Others v. Attorney General of Lagos, Suit No. ID/76M/2008, October 2012. The Court held that "the prescription of mandatory death penalty for offences such as armed robbery and murder contravenes the right of the applicants to dignity of human person and their right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading punishment under S.34 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999."217

As a result of this ruling, the mandatory imposition of the death penalty is now prohibited in the state of Lagos, and the death penalty is now the maximum, but not the only, penalty possible. This holding is only enforceable in the state of Lagos.

217 Question of the death penalty, Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General, Human Rights Council, Twenty-fourth session, UN General Assembly, A/HRC/24/18, 1 July 2013.

3.9.24 Four prisoners were executed in 2013 in Nigeria, which had otherwise not carried out an execution since 2006.218 As of September 2013, the number of death row inmates stood at 1,233, with many prisoners having remained on death row for over 10 years (according to a report by a UN Special Rapporteur, the average in 2006 was already 20 years).219

218 Country profile: Nigeria, as of 19 June 2014, available at:
http://www.deathpenaltyworldwide.org/country-search-post.cfm?country=Nigeria (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

219 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 204 (5th ed. 2015).

d. Asia and the Pacific

3.9.25 About 40% of the countries in the Asia-Pacific are retentionists, and maintain and use the death penalty. China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia remain amongst the highest executors globally, and the past few years have also seen Pakistan and Indonesia breaking their de facto moratoriums to return to executions.

3.9.26 A 2015 OHCHR publication analyzing trends in the death penalty in Southeast Asia, found that "The Global movement towards abolition of the death penalty has also been reflected in South-East Asia".220 At the time of the report, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam had not abolished the death penalty, while Cambodia, Timor-Leste and the Philippines had done so.

220 office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Regional office for South-East Asia "Moving Away from the Death Penalty: Lessons in South-East Asia", at page 19, available at:
http://bangkok.ohchr.org/files/Moving%20away%20from%20the%20Death%20Penalty-English%20for%20Website.pdf (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.27 Indonesia, for example, is a retentionist country that uses the death penalty for several crimes, including drug-related offences. Earlier in 2015, Indonesia executed eight people by firing squad, including foreign nationals, for drug-related offences. Indonesian president Joko Widodo has defended the death penalty, saying "We want to send a strong message to drug smugglers that Indonesia is firm and serious in tackling the drug problem, and one of the consequences is execution if the court sentences them to death"221 Indonesia had a brief unofficial moratorium on executions between 2008 and 2012, but has since resumed executions.222

221 Talk to Al Jazeera, Joko Widodo: "A strong message to drug smugglers", Al Jazeera, 7 Mar, 2015, available at
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2015/03/joko-widodo-strongmessage-drug-smugglers-150305131413414.html (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

222 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 104 (5th ed. 2015).

3.9.28 China is one of the largest executing countries in the world. There is very limited information of even how many executions take place in China, as they are all carried out in secret. However, estimates suggest that 90% of the world's executions occur in Asia, and most of them occur in China,223 and that China executes more people than all other countries combined.224 In 2010, 68 crimes were punishable by the death penalty in China.

A 2011 amendment reduced this number to 55. Hong Kong and Macau, both Special Administrative Regions of China, have abolished the death penalty. Similarly, Japan also retains the death penalty,225 and conducts executions in secret. Families are usually notified after it has taken place.226

223 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 98 (5th ed. 2015).

224 Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Chinese Government Considers Reducing Number of Crimes Punishable by Death, February 23, 2011, available at
http://www.cecc.gov/publications/commission-analysis/chinese-governmentconsiders-reducing-number-of-crimes-punishable (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

225
http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/09/death-penalty-japan (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

226 Amnesty International, Japan: Authorities Deceiving the Public by Resuming Executions, 25 June, 2015, available at
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/06/japan-authorities-deceiving-thepublic-by-resuming-executions/ (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.29 The Philippines was one of the first countries in Asia to abolish capital punishment. Its 1987 Constitution, promulgated after President Marcos was overthrown,227 stated:

Article III, Section 19(1): Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua [emphasis supplied].228

227 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 100 (5th ed. 2015).

228 The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, available at:
http://www.gov.ph/constitutions/1987-constitution/

3.9.30 By 1994, the mood in some quarters of the nation had changed, and Republic Act No. 7659, also called 'An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on Certain Heinous Crimes', was passed. The preamble of this law said that "the Congress, in the justice, public order and the rule of law, and the need to rationalize and harmonize the penal sanctions for heinous crimes, finds compelling reasons to impose the death penalty for said crimes."229 This act reintroduced the death penalty for a range of offences including for murder, treason, and certain forms of rape. Death sentences were imposed, and executions were resumed.

229 A copy of the act is available here:
http://www.lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra1993/ra_7659_1993.html (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.31 The Philippines saw intense public debate on the death penalty in this period. In 2000 President Estrada announced a moratorium on executions, which President Arroyo continued.230 In April 2006, President Arroyo decided to commute all death sentences and block executions.231 Later that year, a Bill abolishing the death penalty completely was passed.232 In 2007, the Philippines ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

230 See Amnesty International, Philippines abolish death penalty, 7 July, 2006, available at:
http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/2412/
(last viewed on 20.08.2015).

231 Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, at page 101 (5th ed. 2015).

232 See Sarah Toms, Philippines stops death penalty, BBC News, 24 June, 2006, available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/5112696.stm
(last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.32 Saudi Arabia also retains the death penalty, using it against foreign nationals and persons convicted for offences that do not meet the international law threshold of "most serious crimes". Recently there has been an increase in the rate and number of executions, with over 102 persons being executed in 2015 alone.233

233 BBC News: Middle East, Saudi Arabia executes 175 people in a yea.- Amnesty, available at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34050853 (last viewed on 20.08.2015); Adam Withnall, Saudi Arabia executes 'a person every two days' as rate of be headings soars under King Salman, The Independent, 28 August, 2015, available at
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-executionsamnesty-international-beheadings-death-sentences-rate-under-king-salman-10470456.html
(last viewed on 20.08.2015)

3.9.33 Since its formation in 1948, Israel has been abolitionist for ordinary crimes. The death penalty has only been imposed and implemented once, in 1962, when Adolph Eichmann was executed. Currently, the following crimes can carry a death sentence: genocide; murder of persecuted persons committed during the Nazi regime; acts of treason under the military law and under the penal law committed in time of hostilities and the illegal use and carrying of arms.

Further, Israeli law requires that the death penalty can only be imposed with judicial consensus, not judicial majority. In 2015, there were attempts to introduce a Bill that would make it easier to impose the death penalty on terrorists, by requiring only a majority and not consensus amongst judges in such cases. The Bill was rejected in its first reading.234

234 See The Times of Israel, "Knesset rejects bill on death penalty for terrorists", 15 July 2015,available at:
http://www.timesofisrael.com/knesset-rejects-bill-on-death-penaltyfor-terrorists/ (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

1. South Asia

3.9.34 In South Asia, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh retain the death penalty. In December 2014, Pakistan lifted its moratorium on executions, in response to a terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar. Since then, around 200 people have been executed, and around 8000 people on death row remain at risk of execution.235

235 See BBC News: Asia, Pakistan executes Shafqat Hussain despite appeals, BBC News, 4 August, 2015, available at
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33767835 (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.35 Maldives and Sri Lanka maintain the penalty in law, but are abolitionist in practice. The last Sri Lankan execution was in 1976; and in the Maldives in the 1950s. Capital punishment was introduced in Sri Lanka during colonial times. Sri Lanka still retains it in law, and sentences people to death. Death row is a controversial phenomenon in Sri Lanka. In 2014 alone, Sri Lankan courts sentenced over 61 people to death, including juveniles.236

Sri Lanka also retains the death penalty for drug-related crimes, which do not meet the threshold of "most serious crimes" in international law. But Sri Lanka has not carried out an execution since 1976, and is considered abolitionist in practice. Death sentences are converted to terms of imprisonment. It is noteworthy that Sri Lanka's moratorium has remained in place despite insurgency and civil war between the 1980s and late 2000s.

236 Amnesty International, Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015

3.9.36 Bhutan and Nepal have abolished the death penalty. Bhutan abolished it in 2004, and it is also prohibited in its 2008 Constitution. The last execution in Nepal was in 1979. Nepal officially abolished the death penalty in 1990, with its government saying "the punishment was considered inconsistent with its new multi-party political system."237 Since then, Nepal has seen a 10 year-long civil war, lasting from 1996 to 2006. Both sides of the civil war committing a range of human rights abuses, and accountability remains a central concern in Nepal today.

237 LA Times, "Nepal's New Leaders Abolish Death Penalty", 10 July 1990, available at:
http://articles.latimes.com/1990-07-30/news/mn-790_1_death-sentence

3.9.37 This violence and conflict ended with the signing of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord between the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Despite the scale of the violence and atrocities, clause 7.2.1 of the Accord clearly said that, "Both sides respect and protect the fundamental right to life of any individual. No individual shall be deprived of this fundamental right and no law that provides capital punishment shall be enacted."238 Article 12 of Nepal's Interim Constitution, which came into force after the Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed, states:239

Every person shall have the right to live with dignity, and no law shall be made which provides for capital punishment.

238 Unofficial Translation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement concluded between the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), 21 November 2006, available at:
http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/file/resources/collections/peace_agreements/ne pal_cpa_20061121_en.pdf (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

239 See Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, available at
http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Nepal_Interim_Constitution2007.pdf (last viewed on 20.08.2015).

3.9.38 The prohibition against capital punishment has also been retained in Nepal's current draft constitution, which is being debated in the Constituent Assembly.



Death Penalty Back




Client Area | Advocate Area | Blogs | About Us | User Agreement | Privacy Policy | Advertise | Media Coverage | Contact Us | Site Map
powered and driven by neosys