The death penalty: A full stop not a sentence

7 April 2015, 14:32 UTC | Worldwide
Silhouette of simulated execution © Amnesty International

We are working to abolish the death penalty around the world because we firmly believe that no one – including any government – has the right to take away someone else’s life. 

The death penalty is the planned, judicially approved killing of an individual by a state. We oppose the use of the death penalty in every single case, under any circumstance.
The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights

Sentencing someone to death denies the person two vital human rights guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

  • the right to life (Article 3)
  • the right not to be tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment (Article 5).

The death penalty doesn’t deter crime

People in favour of the death penalty often say that it helps deter the most abhorrent crimes in society – but evidence shows this isn’t the case. A 2012 report by independent researchers at America’s National Research Council of the Academies found that US states that use the death penalty have a similar murder rate to states that don’t use it.

The death penalty is irreversible and mistakes happen

Execution is the ultimate, irreversible punishment. Since 1976, 143 death row prisoners in the US have been cleared of their crimes and set free. Who knows how many people have been executed for a crime they did not commit? 

The death penalty is often used within skewed justice systems

China is the world's most prolific executioner. Based on evidence, we have reason to believe that thousands more people are executed in China than are reported each year. Because China prefers to keep quiet on this issue, we cannot know exactly how many more. In 2012, the countries with the highest rates of execution were China, Iran and Iraq. 

The death penalty can be used as a political tool

You are more likely to be sentenced to death if state authorities see you as a threat.

The death penalty is a full stop, not a sentence

The death penalty cannot be undone. All legal systems make mistakes, and as long as the death penalty exists, innocent people will be executed.

With your help, we can continue to spread the word that the death penalty should be condemned as the ultimate flawed punishment in direct violation of basic human rights.

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