On 10 October 2010, the 8th World Day Against the Death Penalty is dedicated to the USA which executed 52 people and handed down 106 death sentences in 2009.
The USA is one of the few federalist countries which give the states the power to legislate on the issue of the death penalty. At present there are 15 abolitionist states and 35 retentionist states in the USA, although among retentionist states, 10 have not carried out any executions for at least 10 years.
In recent years, abolitionist measures have be spreading throughout the nation, which is clearly divided on the issue. According to Amnesty International, death sentences in the USA reached a high in 1994 but have dropped over 60 percent in the past decade. In 2009, New Mexico became the 15th state to legislatively abolish the death penalty.
It is hoped that this world day will strengthen the trend towards abolition in the USA and also the trend towards universal abolition. It is an opportunity to publicly oppose the use of this inhuman, cruel and degrading punishment and to support those in the USA who are fighting for its abolition.
Today, 139 countries from all regions of the world have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice and ‘only’ 25 countries carried out executions in 2008. According to Amnesty International, 93% of registered executions took place in five countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States. (Note : Malaysia statistics are unknown, therefore its not registered into AI calculation) And Malaysia and Singapore are the only 2 Commonwealth countries that still practice the capital punishment.
World Day Against the Death Penalty was established in 2003 by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
It is an annual event which draws global attention to failures of justice, including rushed trials, blatant discrimination and situations where wrongfully condemned people, mentally disabled people and juveniles face capital punishment.
To know more about the death penalty…
… all over the world: read the Facts and figures about the death penalty in 2009
… in the USA: read the USA Factsheet
…Council of Europe : read European Day against the death penalty