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Capital Punishment: An International Update

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 35 Issue: 3 Dated: Fall 2010 Pages: 31-34
Gary Hill
Date Published
4 pages
In compliance with resolution 1745 of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, this report by the United Nations secretary-general, submitted in 2010, reports on countries' policy and use of capital punishment for the years 2003-2008.
This report shows a trend toward the abolition of capital punishment among the countries of the world as well as the restriction of the use of capital punishment in most countries that have retained it. Of the 26 countries or territories that were listed in the 1994-98 study as having executed 20 or more people, only 11 have remained on the list for the period 2004-2008. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on December 18, 2007, calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty by Member States. The European Union abolished the death penalty in all 27 member states. The Treaty of Lisbon of December 1, 2009, prohibits extradition to a country where capital punishment might be imposed. As a legally binding mandate, 81 countries have abolished capital punishment by ratifying or acceding to an international treaty. The international criminal tribunals established by the United Nations for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Lebanon all exclude the death penalty; and the International Criminal Court may not impose the death penalty. The largest number of recorded executions in the latest years had been carried out in China, followed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the United States, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Vietnam. Within the international community, there are nine basic "safeguards" used when critiquing the criteria for capital punishment in countries that retain it. Each of these safeguards is explained in this report. 1 table on the rate of executions among nations