A NUMBER of countries around the world still have the power to impose the death penalty as a punishment for people found guilty of the most serious crimes.
Here is an in-depth look at where legal executions still take place…
Which countries have the death penalty?
As of 2020, a total of 53 countries still have the death sentence, employing a variety of methods including hanging, shooting, lethal injection, electrocution and beheading.
Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Pakistan and, as an Islamic state, it must follow Islamic laws.
The Pakistan Penal code lists 27 different offences punishable by death.
They include blasphemy, rape, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, assault on the modesty of women and drug-smuggling.
After several amendments from different governments in Pakistan, the Code is now a mixture of Islamic and English law.
Hanging is the only legal method of execution.
In 2019, the United States executed 22 people across seven states.
The method was mainly lethal injection with two by electrocution.
Countries that have the death penalty include:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- North Korea
- Palestinian Territories
- Saudi Arabia
- South Sudan
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United States of America
How many people are executed every year?
Amnesty International recorded 657 executions in 20 countries in 2019, a decrease of 5 per cent compared to 2018 (at least 690).
This is the lowest number of executions that Amnesty International has recorded in at least a decade.
There were at least 2,307 death sentences in 56 countries in 2019, compared to the total of 2,531 reported in 54 countries in 2018.
At least 26,604 people were known to be under sentence of death globally at the end of 2019.
Nearly 90 per cent of these happened in just four countries: Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia – but these figures exclude China and North Korea, where numbers remain a state secret.
Which countries still have public executions?
According to World Atlas, three countries still carry our public executions, although the data is inconclusive.
A public execution is when the public – sometimes family and friends of the person convicted – are allowed to watch them be put to death.
The countries where these still occur are North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Somalia according to research carried out by Amnesty International in 2012.
4) Does any European country have the death penalty?
Belarus is the only European country not to have abolished the death penalty.
Last year, a man who killed two women using a hammer and knives was executed with a bullet to the back of the head in Belarus.
In 2018 four men were executed, and two people in 2017.
More than 200 people are thought to have been killed by the state since 1990.
No advance details are given on when executions are carried out.
Why do death row inmates get a last meal?
According to Business Insider, “nobody really knows” why inmates get a last meal.
But in an essay by Brent Cunningham – it could be to “distinguish the violence of its punishment from the violence it is punishing”.
He writes: “The state, after all, has to distinguish the violence of its punishment from the violence it is punishing, and by allowing a last meal and a final statement.
“A level of dignity and compassion are extended to the condemned that he didn’t show his victims.”
Which country executes the most?
China is thought to execute thousands of people every year – although they do not record their data.
The next-highest for 2019 was Iran who is thought to have put more than 251 people to death in 2019.
And in 2018 it was Pakistan, who executed more than 632 people that year.
When was the last execution in the UK?
The last people to be sentenced to death in the Britain were Peter Anthony Allen and Gwynne Owen Evans – real name John Robson Walby – in 1964.
They had knifed a friend to death for money.
The executions took place simultaneously at 8am on August 13.
Public anger led to the suspension of executions in 1965 and they were abolished in 1969.
Technically, the death penalty could still be imposed for offences including treason, violent piracy or certain military crimes until 1998, but no executions took place.
Why is the death penalty so expensive?
According to The Balance: “The seriousness and complexity of seeking the death penalty increases its cost.”
In America at least, multiple trials, hearings and appeals have to be processed – with a large cost – before a prisoner can be sentenced to death.
For instance, in Kansas, defense costs for death penalty trials averaged $400,000 each – compared with just $100,000 for non-capital trial cases.
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