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Report No. 187

(d) Guillotine

The guillotine became a popular form of execution in France in the year 1789, when Dr. Joseph Guillotine proposed that all criminals be executed by the same method and that torture should be kept to a minimum. Decapitation was thought to be the least painful and most humane method of execution at that time. Guillotine suggested that a decapitation machine be built. Subsequently, the decapitation machine came to be named after him.

The machine was first tested on sheep and calves, and then on human corpses. Finally, after many improvements and trials, the blade was perfected, and the first execution by guillotine took place in the year 1792. It was widely used 12during the French Revolution, where many of the executions were held publicly outside the prison of Versailles. King Charles I was also executed in the same way in England. The last public execution by guillotine was held in France, in June 1939.

The last use of the guillotine came in 1977 in France, and the device has not officially been used since then. Though the guillotine is less painful, it is not acceptable today as it is primitive and involves the mutilation of the condemned person. After France was admitted to the European Union, death sentence itself has since been abolished in France.



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