Death Penalty which is also called Capital Punishment is regarded as the ultimate type of punishment anybody can ever receive for an offense. It is normally reserved for the most extreme cases of crime like felony, premeditated murder, drug trafficking and occasionally, non-violent drug-related and economic offenses but sometimes, the death penalty has also been used as punishment on individuals for adultery, apostasy, and blasphemy and these are offenses that should not even be considered crimes at all as judged by Amnesty International. Punishment by death penalty has been on the decline with more and more countries abolishing it within the last few decades after being in use in almost every part of the world and Amnesty International has been pushing for its abolishment.
However, there are still a few countries with death penalty sentence where it is still strongly being hung unto despite plea from the international humanitarian organizations. Some countries had not abolished it completely but neither have they used it in the past 10 years. In 2012, there were 21 countries that used the death penalty and 5 of them were African Countries and include: Sudan, Gambia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Botswana. Methods of executions included: beheading, hanging, firing squad and the use of lethal injections. Below is the list of top ten countries with the death penalty based on Amnesty Internationals most recent research; 2 African countries are among the top 10 executioners.
Japan is one of the countries with death penalty where it is absolutely a legalized form of punishment. Federal crimes like murder and treason are the only crimes for which capital punishment is statutory and is ordinarily imposed in cases of multiple murders involving aggravating factors. At a time when the world is heading towards abolishing death penalty, 2 gangsters were hanged in Japan on 26th April, 2013. Katsuji Hamasaki, 64, and Yoshihide Miyagi, 56, were executed after being convicted of the murder of rival gang members. More executions are likely under new Prime Minister Abe, who has expressed strong support for the death penalty and with more than 130 persons on death row in Japan, the numbers are bound to increase.
In Japan, individuals on death row are not placed in prisons and are not classified as prisoners by the justice system in Japan. The extent of rights awarded to such people are insignificant when compared to other Japanese prisoners. Only 2 periods of exercise per week is permitted and non is allowed within their cells; they are left without access to any form of digital entertainment like televisions and may only possess three books. It is worthy of note that between 1946 and 1993, Japanese courts sentenced 766 people to death, 608 of whom were executed.
Gambia was recently seen on the news when 9 prisoners on death row were executed in late 2012 and still leaving more than 35 inmates convicted and sentenced with capital punishment. Though the numbers have come down compared to the figures from 2009 and 2010 when 13 prisoners were executed in each of those years. Following acute criticism of the execution, the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, approved a conditional moratorium on executions of death row prisoners which is largely dependent on changes in crime rate in the country with the provision to revert to capital punishment if there is no drop in crime rate.
Afghanistan is the 8 country with most deaths by death penalty where the capital punishment is still legal and supported. Though the incidence of such punishments has been on the decline and the Afghan government has only carried out the punishment every few years since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, who were known to regularly execute people in public, 14 inmates at Kabul’s Pul-e Charkhi prison were recently hanged on Tuesday (20/11/2012) and Wednesday (21/11/2012) for a variety of crimes, including murder, kidnapping, rape and terrorism.
Due to widespread support of this act in Afghanistan, other inmates are likely meet the same fate in the nearest future. In Afghanistan, before the death penalty is carried out, the president must personally sign the order to have it enforced. There are certain types of crime that attract such capital punishment based on Islamic law and it includes: murder, apostasy, homosexuality, rape, terrorism, drug trafficking, and adultery while under the military law, it can be used in cases of treason and desertion under any of the two allowed methods prescribed under the Afghan law – death by hanging or facing the firing squad.
In 2011 Sudan was the leading executioner of death penalty in Africa. However, in recent times, there have been moves toward abolitionism. In 2010, a minimum of 13 people were executed and 10 more were sentenced to death, at least 7 people were executed and 13 more sentenced to death in 2011, and at least 1 person was sentenced to death in 2012. It is still estimated that as of July 2012, close to 300 people were held under death sentence and most of them were charged in 2006.
Yemen has one of the highest execution rates in the world, still allows public executions and is also one of the four left on Earth that still allows capital punishment for minors. In one of the recent cases, Mohammed was put to death on Saturday, 9th March, 2013 after he shot an intruder at his home in the central Yemeni city of Tiaz in 1999. The man later died of his wounds. Various judges, including the one who made the initial ruling, determined that the killing was self-defense and that Mohammed was underage at the time of the crime.
Capital punishment in the south Arabian country is commonly applied for a wide variety of criminal offences like rape, murder, terrorism and in some cases under the sharia law, Islamic offences like prostitution, adultery, sexual misconduct, and apostasy, and the list of crimes may also include kidnapping, drug trafficking, robbery, homosexuality, and treason. Capital punishment in Yemen is typically carried out by shooting, however, there is still a legal permission for stoning which remains a viable option for charges against adultery even though it has not been used in centuries.