Death penalty is a government-sanctioned practice whereby a person is put to death by the state as punishment for a crime. The judicial decree that someone be punished in this manner is a death sentence, while the actual process of killing the person is an execution. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The execution methods are beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection, shooting. Currently 58 nations actively practice it, 97 countries have abolished it for ordinary crimes only, and 35 have abolished it de facto. According to the Amnesty International, about 90% of all the executions take place in Asia. There are several reasons why we must abolish the death penalty everywhere, in this article I will introduce some of the main ones: 1. The death penalty violates the right to life recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international treaties. 2. It denies any possibility of rehabilitation. Whatever the method chosen to kill the condemned, the use of the death penalty denies the possibility of rehabilitation, reconciliation and rejects the humanity of the person who has committed a crime. 3. It is irreversible and mistakes can happen, the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated. Since 1973, for example, more than 160 prisoners sent to death row in the USA have later been exonerated or released because they were proven innocent. Others have been executed despite serious doubts about their guilt. The factors that lead to an incorrect death sentence are, for example, erroneous eyewitness identifications, false and coerced confessions, inadequate legal defence, false or misleading forensic evidence. 4. It is not a crime deterrent. Countries who apply the death penalty, commonly cite it as a way to deter people from committing crime. This claim has been repeatedly discredited, and there is no evidence that the death penalty is more effective in reducing crime than life imprisonment. 5. It can be discriminatory and anti-poor. The weight of the death penalty is disproportionally carried by those with less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds or belonging to a racial, ethnic or religious minority. This includes having limited access to legal representation, for example, or being at greater disadvantage in their experience of the criminal justice system. 6. It is used as a political tool. The authorities in some countries, for example Iran and Sudan, use the death penalty to punish political opponents. 7. The death penalty is a premeditated murder of the state. By carrying out a death sentence, the state commits a murder and demonstrates the same readiness as the criminal in the use of physical violence. Consequently it is necessary to abolish the death penalty because depriving a person of life should itself be considered a crime.

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Flavia Russo


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