A Critique on Death Penalty
Subject: Social Science | Topics:


Death penalty is considered as capital punishment. Section 54 of the Penal Code, 1860, deals with communication of sentence of death. This is the most severe form of corporal punishment as it requires law enforcement officers to kill the offender. In this regard, this research work has been conducted. The objective of the study are to discuss the provision and methods of Execution of death penalty, to analyze the effect of death penalty in the protection of human rights and to discuss the agreements of People regarding Death Penalty. In this regard, different types of punishment, Methods of Executing death Penalty and capital punishment in Bangladesh have been discussed. Besides, arguments on Capital Punishment and protection of Human rights have been discussed. Some problems have been found out. Death Penalty lowers the value of human life and brutalizes society. It is an impediment to the reformation of the convicted person. Besides, death penalty is devices the sacredness of human life. It is highly recommended that the convicted person should be given an opportunity reform themselves. Death Sentence should be abolished as a capital punishment. Life time rigorous imprisonment should be executed as an alter neat of death sentence. So nobody should ever be killed, even by the state as it is against human rights.


Where there is a crime, there should be a punishment. Because of one should be escaped from law. The purpose of punishment to make the society safer for its people. In fact punishing the offenders is a primary function of all civil stales. The way and purpose of punishment may be of different types. But where the matter of the offence is very severe, obviously punishment should be very severe. But that not is death sentence. Death sentence has been used an on effective weapon of retributive Justice for centuries. The Justification advanced is that it is lawful to forfeit the life of a person who takes a way another’s life. But it is wrong for the stake to kill in order to show that it is wrong to kill, because, the stale than commits the same crime. In almost all stales that perform executive, the death penalty is limit led to cheeses involving aggravated murder. In Bangladesh we also exercise death penalty as carted punishment. But this is too much inhumane and barbaric and can never be accessed in a civilized society. We can never permit taking a war one’s life and claim us a civilized one. In this regard our decision will hold and we discus about death penalty as much as possible. 


The objectives of the study are as follows:

1. To discuss the basic ideas on punishment.

2. To know about the provisions of Capital Punishment in our Country.

3. To illustrate Methods of executing death penalty.

4. To discuss the arguments of people regarding Death Penalty.

5. To analyze the effects of Death Penalty in the protection of human rights.


Every research involves a method by which the desired result

can be achieved. For completing this research work both primary and secondary methods have been followed. Data have been collected through Penal Code, 1860, newspapers, websites, discussion with resource person, basic documents etc.


Definition of Punishment.

The punishment to which offenders are liable under the provisions of this Code are_

First, _ Death;

Secondly, _ Imprisonment for life;

Thirdly, _ [Replaced by Act XVII of 1949.]

Fourthly, _ Imprisonment, which is two descriptions, namely;

(1)  Rigorous, that is, with hard labor;

(2)  Simple;

Fifthly, _ Forfeiture of property;

Sixthly, _ Fine.

(PENAL CODE, 1860)

Different types of Punishment.

There are five kinds of punishment. These are,

(1)  Death;

(2)  Imprisonment for life;

(3)  Imprisonment;

(4)  Forfeiture;

(5)  Fine.

(1)  Death:

Death punishment is awarded for murder in rarest of the rare cases. It may be awarded as punishment for the following offences:-

(1)  Waging war against the Government of Bangladesh.

(2)  Abetting mutiny actually committed.

(3)  Murder.

(4)  Dacoits accompanied with murder.

(2)  Imprisonment for life;

Imprisonment for life is now substituted for transportation. “Imprisonment for life” in the Code means “rigorous imprisonment for life” and not “simple imprisonment for life”.

(3)  Imprisonment;

Imprisonment is two kinds

        a. Rigorous: In the case of rigorous imprisonment the offender is put to hard labor such as grinding corn, digging earth, drawing water, cutting fire-wood, bowing wool, etc.

       b. Simple: In the case of simple imprisonment the offender is confided

to jail and is not put to any kind of work. Imposition of hard labor on prisoners undergoing rigorous imprisonment has been held to be legal.

(4)  Forfeiture:

The punishment of absolute forfeiture of all property of the offender is now abolished. Sections 61 and 62 of the Penal Code dealing with such forfeiture are repealed by Act XVI of 1921.

(5)  Fine:

Fine is the only punishment in the following cases:

  1. The person for whose benefit a riot has been committed not having duly endeavored to prevent it.
  2. The agent or manager of such person under like circumstances.
  3. Illegal payments in connection with an election.
  4. False statement in connection with an election.
  5. Failure to keep election accounts.

Capital Punishment in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh we exercise death penalty as capital punishment to execute the murderer or a convict of vital crime from ancient time. From which time we exercise it didn’t know. Though the sentences of death penalty pass frequently from the courts but the executions of those sentences are not frequent as well. Every year very few convicts are executed in Bangladesh. Some times the Government of the country releases the convict by showing political issue.

In Bangladesh penal provisions have been mad in Penal Code* 1860.The following eight types of offences is punishable with death:

Murder    :   Sec-302

Murder by life convict: Sec-303

Abatement of suicide of child or insane person: Sec-305

Attempt to murder by life convict causing hurt: Sec-307

Dacoit with murder: Sec-396

Giving or fabricating false evidence with to procure conviction of capital offence: Sec-194

Waging or attempting to wage war against Bangladesh: Sec-121

Abatement of mutiny: Sec-131

Other Laws in Bangladesh which Deal with Capital Punishment

Section 19A of the Arms Act, 1878, deals with capital punishment. Section 25 B of the Special Powers Act permits death penalty. Provisions of the Section, 7-9 of the Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain, 2003 permits capital punishment for the criminals under this Act. Besides these some provisions of some other laws deal with capital punishment in Bangladesh. Acid Santras Ain is one of the most important Acts in this category.

Famous Cases of Death Penalty 

Ershed AH Sikder vs. State


The case of the prosecution is brief, is that over the Khulna ferny great affairs condemned prisoner Ershed Ali sikder called Monir to come to a meeting scheduled to be held at Ghat No-4 adjacent to Ice Factory of condemned prisoner Ershed Ali Sikder. Monir along with his companions haled, Mohammad All proceeded towards the ghat. When Monir disclosed his identify, he was allowed to precede to wands the Ice factory. Then Ershed Ali Sikder and his companies attracted Monir. Ershed Ali Sikder with is cut rifle blow on the head of Monir who fell down on the innocent. He then ordered to finish him. Monir was seriously grievous injuries on his person. When lie confirm that Monir is dead than he assailed Khaled with Shabul hammer, parson etc. Condemned prisoner Enshed Ali Sikder danced on Khaled’s chest. Khaled was taken to KhulnaSadarHospital where the succumbed to his in Junes.


The Additional session Judge, 1st court of Khulna on consideration of the evidence and materials on record the facts and circumstance of the case convicted and sentenced Ershed Ali Sikder death penalty. The learned court also sentenced two others to death sentence two others to imprisonment for life and other accused 7 years rigorous imprisonment and to a fine take 5000/- and for default to out of 1 years rigorous as punishment. The petitioner is Earshed Ali Sikder. Then leave to Appeal in the High Court Division. But the high court division on correct consideration of the evidence of prosecution witness and all other materials on record reject the leave to Appeal.


Salma Begum, daughter of Pachu Sharif, given in marriage with sole accused Rafiqul Islam Mollah. Pachu Sharif received information that his daughter had died in the house of his son-in-law in the night. He went there and saw the dead body of his daughter lying on the floor of the verandah of the dwelling house of the accused. He then went to Gopalgonj Police station and made statement to the above effect. The charge officer of Thana went to the place of occurrence and prepared inquest on the dead body of victim of Salma Begum and sent the same to morgue for pos-mortem examination. On receipt of the post-mortem report, the aforesaid charge officer entrusted SI Md. Mojibur Rahman with investigation. The investigation officers investigate in to the cash and submitted Charge-Sheet against Md. Rafiqul Islam Mollah husband of victim Salma Begum.


The Additional session Judge of Gopalgonj on consideration of the evidence and maleness on record and the facts and circumstance of the case convicted and sentence Rafiqual Islam Mollah under section 302 of the penal code death penalty. Now the question remains, whether the learned Additional Sessions Judge was legally justified in inflicting the sentence of death instead of sentence of imprisonment for life on the accused. The fact of the case does not show that the accused used any heavy or sharp cutting or lethal weapon or even acted with cruelty in committing murder of the victim. There is also nothing on record that the murder was preplanned and cold blooded. In such view of the matter we hold that it will meet the ends of justice if the sentence of death inflicted upon the condemned accused is reduced to imprisonment for life.

In the result, the death reference is rejected and the accused appellant is sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life for the offence under section 302 of the Penal Code.

In this chapter we will discuss about the scope of capital punishment and the various modes of execution of a sentence of capital punishment in various countries and in perspective of Bangladesh.

Methods of Executing Death Penalty

The ancient and modern methods of execution are discussed here under this topic:

Ancient methods

An appraisal of the administration of criminal justice of ancient times reveals that death penalty was commonly used in cases of heinous crimes. However, there was great divergence as to the mode of its execution. The common mode of inflicting death sentence on the offender were fructification, drowning burning, boiling. Behead throwing before wild beasts, flaying or skinning off alive, hurling the offender from rock, stoning, straining, and amputating. Shooting by gun or strives him to death. These draconic and barbarous methods of punishing criminals to death were justified on the ground that they were the quickest and easiest modes of punishment and at the same time carried with them an element of deterrence and retribution. They have, however, fallen into disuse with the advance of time and modern humanitarian approach to penology.

Modern methods

There are eight main methods of execution in current use worldwide:

i. Beheading

Only two countries execute people by chopping their head off: Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

ii. Electric chair

(US only) Nobody knows how quickly a person dies from the electric shock, or what they experience. The ACLU describes two cases where prisoners apparently lived for 4 to 10 minutes before finally expiring.

iii. Firing squad

The prisoner is bound and shot through the heart by multiple marksmen. Death appears to be quick, assuming the killers don’t miss. In the U.S., only Utah used this method. It was abandoned in favor of lethal injection on 2004-MAR-15, except for four convicted killers on death row who had previously chosen death by firing squad. This is used in Belarus, China, Somalia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and others.

iv. Guillotine

A famous French invention not used in North America. It severs the neck. Death comes very quickly.

v. Hanging

If properly conducted, this is a humane method. The neck is broken and death comes quickly. However, if the free-fall distance is inadequate, the prisoner ends up slowly being strangled to death. If it is too great, the rope will tear his/her head off. This method is used in Egypt, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore and others.

vi. Lethal injection

Lethal drugs are injected into the prisoner while he lays strapped down to a table. Typically, sodium pectoral is injected to make the prisoner unconscious. Then pancuronium bromide is injected. It terminates breathing and paralyzes the individual finally; potassium chloride is injected to stop the heart. If properly conducted, the prisoner fades quickly into unconsciousness. If the dosage of drugs is too low, the person may linger for many minutes, experiencing paralysis. Executions in the U.S. are gradually shifting to this method. This technique has been challenged recently by those who feel that the prisoner may not be rendered unconscious by the drugs. Some suggest that this method can be extremely painful. After a botched execution of Angel Nieves Diaz in Florida during 2006-DEC, Florida and nine other states have placed a hold on executions. This method is used in China, Guatemala, Philippines, Thailand, and the U.S.

vii. Poison gas

Cyanide capsules are dropped into acid producing Hydrogen Cyanide, a deadly gas. This takes many minutes of agony before a person dies.

viii. Stoning

The prisoner is often buried up to her or his neck and pelted with rocks until they eventually die. The rocks are chosen so that they are large enough to cause significant injury to the victim, but are not so large that a single rock will kill the prisoner. Used in North Afghanistan and Iran, as a penalty for murder, adultery, blasphemy, and other crimes.

Speech of Qualified Medical Professionals about Execution of Capital Punishment

The American Medical Association ethical guidelines state that “a physician should not be a participant in a legally authorized execution” and provides a list of actions that are prohibited. The American Nursing Association states that “participation in executions is… contrary to the fundamental goals and ethical traditions of the profession.” Also lethal injection-the intravenous administration of a tranquilizer, a muscle relaxant, and cardiologic agent for the purpose of judicial execution-is the standard method of capital punishment in the United States. Since 2001, lethal injection has been used in 189 of 191 (99%) executions and is the chief method of execution in 37 of the 38 states that have the death penalty, as well as for the federal government and military. The American Medical Association’s (AMA) opinion on capital punishment is found in section E-2.06 of its Code of Medical Ethics. The AMA states that “A physician, as a member of a profession dedicated to preserving life when there is hope of doing so, should not be a participant in a legally authorized execution.” Participation is defined to include “monitoring vital signs on site or remotely (including monitoring electrocardiograms); attending or observing an execution as a physician; and rendering of technical advice regarding execution.” Because pronouncing death requires a physician to monitor an inmate’s vital signs, either via electrocardiogram or stethoscope, it is, therefore, forbidden by the code. Certifying death, which does not require monitoring but does require the physician to sign a death certificate, is allowed in the AMA guidelines. Opinion 2.06 also makes specific reference to lethal injection, and forbids the following: “selecting injection sites; starting intravenous lines as a port for a lethal injection device; prescribing, preparing, administering, or supervising injection drugs or their doses or types; inspecting, testing, or maintaining lethal injection devices; and consulting with or supervising lethal injection personnel. 


Arguments in Favor of Capital Punishment

Many persons argued many things in favor of the Capital Punishment. Some of those arguments in favor of the Capital Punishment are discussed here under this heading.

Retributive Arguments Concerning Capital Punishment

The retributive notion of punishment in general is that (a) as a foundational matter of justice, criminals deserve punishment, and (b) punishment should be equal to the harm done. In determining what counts as “punishment equal to harm,” theorists further distinguish between two types of retributive punishment. First, lex talionis retribution involves punishment in kind and is commonly expressed in the expression “an eye for an eye.” Second, lex saiica retribution involves punishment through compensation, and the harm inflicted can be repaired by payment or atonement. Historically, capital punishment is most often associated lex talionis retribution. One of the earliest written statements of capital punishment from the lex talionis or “eye for an eye” perspective is from the 18th century BCE Babylonian Law of Hammurabi: If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death. If it kills the son of the owner, then the son of that builder shall be put to death.

 Critics of classic lex talionis quieted capital punishment point out several problems with this view. First, as a practical matter, lex talionis retribution cannot be uniformly applied to every harm of committed. The second sentence in the above quote from the Law of Hammurabi shows the inherent absurdity of consistent application: “If it [i.e., a collapsed house] kills the son of the owner, then the son of the builder shall be put to death.” Second, as a strict formula of retribution, lex talionis punishment may even be inadequate. For example, if a terrorist or mass murderer kills ten people, then taking his single life is technically not punishment in kind. Third, foundational beliefs in general have the unfortunate consequence of appearing arbitrary. If a belief in lex talionis retribution is foundational. Then, by definition, it cannot be defended by appealing to a prior set of reasons. The arbitrary nature of this is particularly clear when we see that there is an alternative retributive view of punishment which is equally foundational, yet which does not require capital punishment, namely lex silica retribution.

Finally, critics of capital punishment argue that the true basis of retributive justifications of capital punishment is not at all foundational but instead rooted in psychological feelings of vengeance. Even if we grant that vengeance is a natural human emotion, critics argue that it is an impulse which should be tempered, just as we do natural feelings of fear, lust, and greed. Laws about punishment, then, should not be grounded in our extreme feelings, but should instead be based on our more tempered ones. When we moderate our natural feelings of vengeance, there should be little inclination to execute criminals. Immanuel Kant offered an alternative retributive justification of capital punishment which is not rooted in vengeance. Instead, for Kant, capital punishment is based on the idea that every person is a valuable and worthy of respect because of their ability to make rational and free choices. The murder, too, is worthy of respect: we. Thus, show him respect by treating him the same way he declares that people are to be treated. Accordingly, we execute the murderer. A key problem with Kant’s justification of capital punishment is that it tells us what to do with only ideally rational killers, although many killers are not rational.

Deferent Effect of Capital Punishment, Incapacitation of the criminal

The fear of being condemned to death is perhaps the greatest deterrent, which keeps an offender away from criminality. Death penalty in case of murder serves as an effective deterrent to remind the murderer about the severity of law towards this heinous crime and this certainly helps in reducing the incidence of homicide. The old methods of public execution though abandoned today, were directed to make the sentence as frightening as possible. The present trend, however, is to keep the number of offences punishable by death to a minimum and avoid death penalty as far as possible although its retention in the statute book is favored even to this day.

Capital punishment permanently removes the worst criminals from society and should prove much cheaper and safer for the rest of us than long term or permanent incarceration. It is self evident that dead criminals can not commit any further crimes. There are a number of incontrovertible arguments against the death penalty. The most important one is the virtual certainty that genuinely innocent people will be executed and that there is no possible way of compensating them for this miscarriage of justice. There is also another significant danger here. The person convicted of the murder may have actually killed the victim and may even admit having done so but does not agree that the killing was murder. Often the only people who know what really happened are the accused and the deceased. It then comes down to the skill of the prosecution and defense lawyers as to whether there will be a conviction for murder or for manslaughter. It is thus highly probable that people are convicted of murder when they should really have only been convicted of manslaughter. A second reason, that is often overlooked, is the hell the innocent family and friends of criminals must also go through in the time leading up to and during the execution and which will often cause them serious trauma for years afterwards. It is often very difficult for people to come to terms with the fact that their loved one could be guilty of a serious crime and no doubt even more difficult to crone to terms with their death in this form. However strongly you may support capital punishment two wrongs do not make one right. One cannot and should not deny the suffering of the victim’s family in a murder case but the suffering of the murderer’s family is surely equally valid. There must always be the concern that the state can administer the death penalty justly, most countries have a very poor record on this. In America a prisoner can be on death row for many years on average eleven years 2004 figure awaiting the outcome of numerous appeals and -their chances of escaping execution are better if they are wealthy and/or white rather than poor and/or black irrespective of the actual crimes they have committed which may have been largely forgotten by the time the final decision is taken. Although racism is claimed in the administration of the death penalty in America, statistics show that white prisoners are more liable to be sentenced to death on conviction for first degree murder and are also less likely to have their sentences commuted than black defendants. It must be remembered that criminals are real people too. Who have life and with it the capacity to feel pain, fear and the loss of their loved ones and all the other emotions that the rest of us are capable of feeling. It is easier to put this thought on one side when discussing the most awful multiple murderers but less so when discussing, say. An eighteen year old girl convicted of drug trafficking. (Singapore hanged two girls for this crime in 1995 who were both only eighteen at the time of their offences and China shot an 18 year old girl for the same offence in 1998.)There is no such thing as a humane method of putting a person to death irrespective of what the State may claim (see later). Every form of execution causes the prisoner suffering, some methods perhaps cause less than others, but be in no doubt that being executed is a terrifying and gruesome ordeal for the criminal. What is also often overlooked is the extreme mental torture that the criminal suffers in the time leading up to the execution. How would you feel knowing that you were going to die tomorrow morning at 8.00 a.m.? There may be a brutalizing effect upon society by carrying out executions – this was apparent in this country during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when people turned out to enjoy the spectacle. They still do today in those countries where executions are carried out in public. It is hard to prove this one way or the other – people slop and look at car crashes but it doesn’t make them go and have an accident to see what it is like. I mink there is a natural voyeurism in most people. The death penalty is the bluntest of “blunt instruments” it removes the individual’s humanity and with it any chance of rehabilitation and their giving something back to society. In the case of the worst criminals this may be acceptable but is more questionable in the case of less awful crimes. There within prison or after escaping or being released from it.

Other Arguments for Capital Punishment

The Bible

The Bible requires the death penalty for a wide variety of crimes, including sex before marriage, adultery, homosexual behavior, doing work on Saturday and murder. It even calls for some criminals e.g. prostitutes who are the daughters of priests to be tortured to death is being burned alive. Most Christians, with the exception of those in the Reconstructions movement, feel that many of these grounds for the death penalties no long apply to Christian societies. U.S. However, Bible passages are still used to promote the retention of capital punishment for murderers; some advocate that homosexuals also are executed.


Many people feel that killing convicted murderers will satisfy their need for justice and vengeance. They feel that certain crimes are so heinous that executing the criminal is the only reasonable response.


Once a convicted murder is executed and buried, there are no further maintenance costs to the state. This appears to be invalid; the cost to the state paying for multiple appeals is greater than the cost of imprisoning an inmate.

Public safety

Once a convicted murderer is executed, there is no chance that be will break out of jail and kill or injure someone.

Arguments against Capital Punishment Effect on society 

Effect on Society

Some feel that permitting premeditated murder is totally unacceptable, even if done by the state. Capital punishment lowers the value of human life as seen by the general population and brutalizes society. It is based on a need for revenge. It “violates our belief in the human capacity for change…. It powerfully reinforces the idea that killing can be a proper way of responding to those who have wronged us. We do not believe that reinforcement of that idea can lead to healthier and safer communities.”

Lack of Deterrence

The death penalty has not been shown to be effective in the reduction of the homicide rate. There are some indications that executions actually increase the murder rate.

Value of human life

Human life has intrinsic value, even if a person has murdered another individual. The death penalty denies the sacredness of human life. Live is so precious that nobody should ever be killed, even by the state.


The costs to the state of funding appeals by convicted murderers would more than pay for their permanent incarceration.

Chance of Error

Many convicted murderers are later found innocent, and have been pardoned. It is impossible to pardon a corpse. In 1987, a study was published by the Stanford Law Review. They found some evidence that suggested that at least 350 people between 1900 and 1985 in America might have been innocent of the crime for which they were convicted, and could have been sentenced to death. 139 “were sentenced to death and as many as 23 were executed.”

The family of the executed

Is victimized and punished by having their loved one murdered by the state. Yet the family is usually innocent of any crime.

Lack of jury convictions

Some jury members are reluctant to convict in murder trials because of the possibility of executing an innocent person. Thus, many killers go free and are never punished.


Killing a murderer does not bring his victim back to life. It achieves nothing but the death of still another person.


The mentally ill, poor, males and racial minorities are over-represented among those executed. One pilot study of over 2 dozen convicted criminals on death row found that all had been so seriously abused during childhood that they probably all suffered from brain damage. Women convicted of murder are almost never executed; that is a penalty that is almost entirely reserved for men. A 1986 study in Georgia showed that persons who killed “whites were four times more likely to be sentenced to death than convicted killers of non-whites.” The Texas Civil Rights Project issued a report in 2000-SHP which was critical of the justice system in Texas. They made the following criticisms which could probably apply to most of the states in the U.S. which still execute prisoners:

The defense lawyers are often incompetent. Judges sometimes appoint friends or political associates. Other times, no competent lawyer is willing to accept the case because of the poor compensation paid.

District attorney is given “unrestricted discretion” in deciding whether to seek the death penalty. Poor people and members of minority groups are more likely to be targeted because of prejudice and bigotry.

Jurors, who may support the death penalty, but have reservation about its use, are eliminated from jury duty. Jurors are often not given the option of a life-without-parole sentence in murder cases. The appeal process has “burdensome, if not impossible, procedures.” The process seems designed to speed cases along rather than grant justice. The rules appear to be in flux: the highest appeals court in the state reversed about one out of every three capital sentences prior to 1995. Since 1995, this has reduced to less than 3%. . The operation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles in Texas is severely flawed. They do not meet as a group to study evidence and discuss a case. Individual members are sent stacks of documents, and make their decisions via telephone or fax. 


In the aftermath of World War II, the Un/Ted Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Yrhis 1948 doctrine proclaimed a “right to life” in an absolute fashion, any limitations being only implicit. Knowing that international abolition of the death penalty was not yet a realistic goal in the years following the Universal Declaration, the United Nations shifted its focus to limiting the scope of the death penalty to protect juveniles, pregnant women, and the elderly. During the 1950s and 1960s subsequent international human rights treaties were drafted, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the American Convention on Human Rights. Despite this exception, many nations throughout Western Europe stopped using capital punishment, even if they did not, technically, abolish it. As a result, this de facto abolition became the norm in Western Europe by the 1980s. (Schabas, 1997)In April 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Commission passed the Resolution Supporting Worldwide Moratorium on Executions. The resolution calls on countries which have not abolished the death penalty to restrict its use of the death penalty, including not imposing it on juvenile offenders and limiting the number of offenses for which it can be imposed. Ten countries are including the United States, China and Pakistan. Rwanda and Sudan voted against the resolution. (New York Times. 4/29/99). Each year since 1997, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has passed a resolution calling on countries that have not abolished the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions. In April 2004, the resolution was passed by 76 UN member states. (Amnesty International, 2004). In the United States numbers of death sentences are steadily declining from 300 in 1998 to 143 in 2003.

Obviously this should not exist as such, because some 800,000 people die each year in Britain alone. Perhaps then it should be re-designated as the “right not to have one’s life arbitrarily terminated by the state”. Even this more realistic definition does not really apply in Britain and is probably not entirely possible. The death penalty ended EST. In 1964 and since then nobody in Britain has been executed by the state. However the state does still kill a few of its citizens each year. The police shoot a small number of people and a few more die due to being restrained whilst resisting arrest. In none of these cases has there been what the Americans call “Due Process” .Some 900 people are murdered every year – does the government do enough to prevent this? We also allow abortion, effectively on demand, and some   180,000 lives are terminated annually through this means. Then there is the withholding of health care due to the decisions of officials that normally go unchallenged. The most high profile case of this recently was 11 year old Jamie Bowen who suffered from leukemia and whose health authority declined to pay for further treatment. Her father took them to court and the case entered the public arena. Jamie was a very courageous and articulate young lady who won massive public support for her case.   Had she been an unattractive old woman would anybody have cared? I have heard the arguments on both sides in her case and do not know who was right and who was wrong but I do know that we do not guarantee the citizens of this country the right to life particularly where it is going to cost a lot of money.

Presently, more than half of the countries in the international community have abolished the death penalty completely, de facto, or for ordinary crimes. However, over 78 countries retain the death penalty, including China, Iran, the United States, and Vietnam all of which rank among the highest for international executions in 2003. (Amnesty International, 2004).

 Constitutional Prohibition of Capital Punishment in Various Countries

The Republic of Ireland became one of the first countries in the world to constitutionally band the Capital punishment as death penalty by popular referendum in 2001 with the approval of the Twenty-first Amendment to the Irish constitution.

The Federal Republic of Germany prohibited death penalty in its Basic Law in 1949. Costa Rica abolished death penalty in 1877 and its 1949 constitution states: human life is inviolable.” and “No one may be subjected to cruel or degrading treatment or to life imprisonment, or to the penalty of confiscation.” Presumably, death penalty is also prohibited by this statement.

Even Czechoslovakia (now divided into CzechRepublic and Slovakia) abolished death penalty in 1990 after the Velvet Revolution, and prohibited its use in the constitution in 1991 (by adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms). See 1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia. This is the constitution of the CzechRepublic.

To sum up, Ireland is nowhere near the first country to ban death penalty in the constitution. Amnesty International lists constitutional prohibitions of the death penalty; as of 1999, 38 countries have done so. (If my count is correct, 42 countries do today according to Use of death penalty worldwide.) – Mike Resift 28 June, 2005; 13:53 (UTC).

The Adaptability of the Capital Punishment in Various Religions


Since its origins, Christianity presented ambiguity about death penalty. Substantially excluded in Mt 5,44 (“love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”), in LC 6, 35-37 (“…don’t judge and you won’t be judged; don’t condemn and you won’t be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven”) and in GV 8, 1-11 (in the adulteress’s episode), that punishment becomes admissible in the Paul’s epistle to the Romans about the submission to authority and a similar ambiguity can be seen in apologists’ and Church fathers1 texts, from Tertullian (De Idolatria) and Lactations (Divine Institutions), against death penalty, to Augustan, who admits in some circumstances the “Sword right”.

In biblical law, death penalty is commentated, among other crimes, for premeditated murder (Es 21, 12; LV 24, 7). Kidnapping and selling a person (Es 21, 16; DT 24. 7). Witchcraft (Es 22, 17), violation of sabbatical rest (Es 35, 2), human sacrifice (LV 20, 2). Abuse and strokes to one’s parents (ES 21, 15; LV 20, 9), adultery and incest (LV 20, 1 0-12; DT 22, 22), idolatry (DT 17, 2-5; 19, 17-18).

Nowadays, Catholic Church has a precise attitude: fighting against death penalty, in every case. Pope has more than once made appeals to avoid imminent executions: the case of Joseph O’Dell, sentenced to death in 1997, which caused outcry and reactions by all the world’s governments, is an example of that.

However, death penalty is theoretically still in force in the Vatican City, only in case of attempt on Pope’s life, wellbeing or freedom or in case of attempt on a foreign head of state, when the law of this country provides for this penalty (Vatican law 7th June. 1929. Nr. 11, paragraph 4). In Vatican last executions date back to Pius IX’s papacy (1846-78).2


In Islamic law death penalty and its application into criminal and political field have had a long and contradictory history, mostly because of the overlapping of religious society and political society and because of the variety of historical periods. The Koran, basic point of reference, summarizes Prophet Mohammed’s religious and social action. Also the ‘URF (local consuetudinary law) and the Shari’ a (system of the juridical-religious laws fixed on the foundations of the Koran, of the real prophetical traditions – Hadith -, of the commentary consent Islam’ -, of the reasoning conducted likewise the Koran’s laws and of the tradition). The Koran provides the retaliation law for the murderers, the death penalty for the adulterous women (which must be shut at home without food or lapidated).

Still nowadays, Jaw of Islamic countries (like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Iran) follows the Shari’ a, a very hard law which provides death penalty in many cases and which is strictly applied. Inequalities among Muslims and non-Muslims in law application and variety of punishments can be explained not with racism, but with the religious principle that bases the hierarchy of juridical people on the Shari’ a. The highest grade of responsibility before the law is for the Muslim man sound of mind and legally married: his life is protected with precedence by the legal system. Then comes the free Muslim woman legally named. The Muslim slave-man, the Muslim slave-woman and the infidels.

Judges, depending to their opinion, can choose whether applying the Shari’ a or privileging punishments like imprisonment or penalty; rural people, instead, apply, for sexual crimes which involve the honors of a family, the ‘URF. Authorities are harder when they have to remove the old right of revenge which brings useless bloodshed.”


In religious Jewish communities, the ones derived from the Diaspora, there isn’t a hierarchic structure that imposes moral choices to anyone; all ethnic groups have a head rabbi and the Jerusalem rabbi has maximum authority (however, he is a primus inter pares), but each rabbi is independent and his judgments are a point of reference for the community.

For orthodox Jews, Mosaic law of “a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot”, codified in the 617 precepts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, according to which death penalty is a lawful punishment is still valid. The crimes which it punishes are murder, adultery, incest, homosexual intercourse, blasphemy, idolatry, violation of Saturday, divorce (only for women); methods to execute the sentence are stoning, stake, hanging to wood, stroke with sword, strangling and administering white-hot lead drops in sentence’s throat. Actually nowadays these rules are inapplicable in tote or for some crimes and in the traditional form of stoning, as they contrast with the law of the countries where Jews communities are; like in Israel, which is a lay State whose civilian law is independent from religion, though there is death penalty for military crimes and genocide. So, a Jews doesn’t find reasons against death penalty in his religion, but only in his conscience.

Abolitionist and Receptionist Countries

More than half the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The numbers are as follows:

Abolitionist for all crimes: 88

Abolitionist for ordinary” crimes only: 11

Abolitionist in practice: 29

Total abolitionist in law or practice: 128

Receptionist: 69

Following are lists of countries in the four categories: abolitionist for all crimes, abolitionist for ordinary crimes only, abolitionist in practice and Receptionist. At the end is a list of countries which have abolished the death penalty since 1 976. It shows that in the past decade, an average of over three countries a year have abolished the death penalty in law or, having done so for ordinary offences, have gone on to abolish it for all offences.

Abolitionist for all Crimes

Countries whose laws do not provide for the death penalty for any crime Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Australia, Austria Azerbaijan, Belgium. Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Capeverde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote Divorce, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic. Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic. Ecuador. Estonia, Finland, France. Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guiana, BissauHaiti. Honduras, Hungary. Iceland, Ireland. Italy, Kiribati. Liberia. Liechtenstein, Lithuania. Luxembourg, Macedonia (former YugoslavRepublic), Malta, Marshall Islands. Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States), Moldova, Monaco. Montenegro. The Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue, Norway and Palau. Panama, Paraguay. The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Samoa and San Marino. The Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, and SlovakRepublic. Slovenia. The Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-lasted, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu. Vatican City State, Venezuela.

Abolitionist for Ordinary Crimes Only

Countries whose laws provide for the death penalty only for exceptional crimes such as crimes under military law or crimes committed in exceptional circumstances Albania. The Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cook Island, El Salvador. Fiji, Israel. Latvia, Peru.

Abolitionist in Practice

Countries which retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes such as murder but can be considered abolitionist in practice in that they have not executed anyone during the past 10 years and are believed to have a policy or established practice of not carrying out executions. The list also includes countries which have made an international commitment not to use the death penalty25Algeria, Benin. Brunei Darussalam. Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Congo (Republic), Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada. Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives. Mali, Mauritania. Morocco, Myanmar, Nauru, Niger, Papua New Guinea. Russian Federation, Sri Lanka. Suriname. Swaziland, Togo. Tonga, Tunisia


Countries and territories which retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes Afghanistan, Antigua And Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh. Barbados, Belarus. Belize. The Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala. Guinea, Guyana, India, Indonesia. Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea (North), Korea (South), Kuwait. Laos. Lebanon, Lesotho. Libya, Malaysia, Mongolia. Nigeria. The Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Christopher&Nevis, Saint Lucia. The Saint Vincent&Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia. Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago.


     The summery of findings is:

  1. Death Penalty degrades the value of human life and brutalizes society.
  2. Sometimes it is found that the man who has been convicted and sentenced to death has been innocent of the said crime.
  3. Death Penalty is an impediment to the reformation of the convicted person according to reformative theory.
  4. Death Penalty denies the sacredness of human life.


          God gives the life and He alone can take it. Man has no right to take away the life of any other person even though he is a murderer.  For this I strongly confused against the death penalty as capital punishment. With the death penalty there is the unavoidable fact that some innocent will be executed and that there is no possible way of compensating them for this miscarriage of justice. The death plenty is inhumane and barbaric and can never be accepted in a civilized society. We can never permit taking away one’s life and claim us a civilized one. It is wrong for the state to kill in order to show that it is wrong to kill. Because, the state that commits the same crime. As a capital punishment death sentence is not acceptable for two reasons. One objects of defined punishment over interrupted resulting from law and disorder of law. So from my views death sentence should be abolished as a capital punishment. Life long imprisonment with rigorous is executed as an alternate of death sentence for this objectives we should improve the infrastructure of custody system.


     The recommendations the studies are as follows:

  1. Life is so precious that nobody should ever be killed, even by the state as it is against human rights.
  2. The convicted persons should be given an opportunity to reform themselves according to reformative theory.
  3. The execution of Death Penalty to innocent persons should not be repeated. For this, human rights commission should be aware of this.
  4. Death sentence should be abolished as a capital punishment. Life long rigorous imprisonment should be executed as an alternative of death sentence. For this, we should improve the infrastructure of custody system.

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