How do different countries administer the death penalty

International - "Many countries recognize that the death penalty is out of date"

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There has been a global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty for years. Nonetheless, the number of executions in 2015 rose compared to the previous year because a few “hardliners” are holding on to the death penalty more than ever, says the campaign manager at Amnesty Switzerland.

In 2015, more people were executed than in 25 years. The sad leader is likely to be China, although no official figures are available from there.

SRF News: What does Amnesty International base its estimates of the number of executions in China on?

Patrick Walder: We have different sources like family members, lawyers and the media. Therefore, we can say with great certainty that there were thousands of executions in China last year - and thousands of new convictions as well. That is more than in the rest of the world combined. But China regards the death penalty as a state secret. There is no official information on this. It is very difficult to get exact numbers. That is why we have been publishing these estimates for several years.

There is probably a movement against the death penalty in China too. Doesn't it do anything?

There are definitely positive things to report from China. There have been some reform efforts at the judicial level. The number of crimes that can be punished by the death penalty has been restricted. But there are still 46 of them. This also includes more harmless crimes, such as corruption.

The threat of the death penalty is not a deterrent to suicide bombers.

Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia top the list according to the execution statistics. You executed significantly more people last year than in previous years. What are the reasons for that?

We cannot provide any evidence for the reasons. But it is actually clear that Pakistan is using the death penalty in the fight against terrorism. We see this as a populist measure to show that you are doing something. One tries to restore peace and order in the country. But that doesn't work with the death penalty. It only makes new martyrs. The threat of the death penalty is also not a deterrent for terrorists planning suicide bombings.

In Saudi Arabia and Iran, the death penalty is certainly also a weapon of repression to intimidate the population and the opposition. Many Shiites who are part of the religious minority were executed in Saudi Arabia. So it's less about calm and order than about intimidation.

But there are also positive things to report in your statistics. There are countries that want to forego the death penalty in the future, such as the Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Suriname and the Fiji Islands. What made these countries rethink?

I believe it is the realization that the death penalty no longer fits our society, is unjust and cruel and has nothing to do with modern justice. There has been a worldwide trend towards the abolition of the death penalty for years. There are a total of 140 states that have deleted them from the law or no longer apply them.

For years there have been fewer and fewer states that have implemented the death penalty.

What kind of forecast do you make - what will the statistics for 2016 look like?

There will be positive and negative news again. I think the trend towards the abolition of the death penalty will continue. We already know today that there are individual countries that have prepared laws to abolish them. But on the other hand, there are also around 25 hardline states that are sticking to the death penalty and are likely to execute even more people.

The interview was conducted by Susanne Schmugge.

Patrick Walder

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Walder is the campaign manager for Amnesty International Switzerland.

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  • Comment from ruta habegger (somewhere)
    M.Roe: With what right does any country represent the death penalty? Funny how you seem to make a difference !!
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Jacqueline Zwahlen (Jacqueline Zwahlen)
    The US ranks fifth in the execution of the death penalty. Several countries executed or sentenced the mentally disabled to death - including the United States, Japan, Indonesia and Pakistan.
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from M. Roe (M. Roe)
    When there are hundreds of death penalties carried out in China, India, Arab countries, etc., it is bad for us. But life in these countries is very different from ours, + we should finally realize that we cannot change these countries. That only results in unnecessary wars + hundreds of thousands of people are killed. But if the US pronounces individual death sentences for heinous acts, I am fully in favor. It should not be that we "entertain" such perpetrators for years.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from marlene Zelger (Marlene Zelger)
      So you cuddle up by apologetically viewing the death penalty as legitimate in the countries mentioned because these countries just tick culturally differently?
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. answer from Ursula Schüpbach (Artio)
      "But if the US pronounces individual death sentences for heinous acts, I am fully in favor. It should not be that we" entertain "such perpetrators for years." I am against the death penalty in general. No matter what e.g. Obama or others think about it.
      Agree agree to the comment
    3. answer from Jacqueline Zwahlen (Jacqueline Zwahlen)
      Have a look on the net to see how many people in the USA have been shown to have been innocently executed.
      Agree agree to the comment
    4. Show answers

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