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Hanging, shooting and stoning

Hanging, shooting and stoning

Crimes punishable by death

Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is a government sanctioned practice whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. The sentence that someone be punished in such a manner is referred to as a death sentence, whereas the act of carrying out the sentence is known as an execution.

PanARMENIAN.Net - Crimes that are punishable by death are known as capital crimes or capital offences, and commonly include offences such as murder, treason, espionage, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. In some countries, the list is longer.

On March 10, 2015, Pakistan reinstated the death penalty for all crimes, extending a previous reinstatement only for terrorism cases. The country has had a moratorium on capital punishment since 2008 but lifted it after the terrorist attack that killed 132 students and 9 members of staff of the Army Public School and Degree College Peshawar in December 2014.

As of July 2016, Pakistan has executed over 400 death row prisoners since the school massacre, thus becoming the world’s fifth executioner after the People's Republic of China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

At least 1,634 people were executed in 25 countries in 2015. This represents a stark increase on the number of executions recorded I 2014 of more than 50%; in 2014 Amnesty International, that protects human rights worldwide, recorded 1,061 executions in 22 countries worldwide.

This is the highest number of executions recorded in more than 25 years (since 1989).

China, where death penalty is mostly enforced for murder, drug trafficking and corruption, remained the world’s top executioner – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as this data is considered a state secret; the figure of 1,634 excludes the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China by lethal injection or shooting.

Meanwhile, Death Penalty Worldwide, a research and advocacy group under Cornell Law School, estimates that there were at least 2,400 executions in China in 2014, or one execution per 562,500 persons.

In April 2016, China raised the graft bar for officials to face the firing squad to 3 million yuan (about $434 thousand), under new judicial guidelines. In the past, officials convicted of accepting bribes totaling 100,000 yuan could have been sentenced to death. Defendants convicted of “especially serious” offences of graft of between 1,5 million yuan and 3 million yuan, including embezzling disaster relief funds, embezzling money for illegal activities or refusing to hand over illicit funds, could also face the death penalty under the new rules.

Crimes punishable by death in Iran include murder, rape, child molestation, sodomy, drug trafficking, armed robbery, kidnapping, terrorism and treason. According to Amnesty International, there were 360 executions in Iran in 2011, 734 (of which 14 women and 13 juveniles) in 2014 and 694 in the first half of 2015.

In March 2016, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, said in a report to the organization's Human Rights Council that at least 966 people were put to death in the country in 2015, roughly double the number executed in 2010 and 10 times as many as were executed in 2005. The report noted that executions in Iran were at the highest level since 1989.

In certain cases, adultery is considered a capital offence. Execution is carried out by stoning a woman to death. If an act of lesbianism is repeated four times, the result is the death sentence (for the first three 'offences', lesbianism (Mosaheqeh) is punishable by lashing.)

In October 2016, Iran's justice minister is looking for an "effective punishment" for criminals instead of execution. Mostafa Pourmohammadi said he thinks the number of capital crimes should be revised. "In fact we want to find the most effective kind of punishment so that we are able to consider replacing execution," Pourmohammadi said. "Of course, maintaining execution as a punishment is still on the agenda, but not in the numbers implemented today."

Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Saudi Arabia, and is based on Shari'ah (or Islamic law). The wide range of crimes which can result in the death penalty and the use of public beheading are condemned internationally. In 2011, the Saudi government reported 26 executions in the country. Amnesty International counted a minimum of 79 in 2013. Foreigners accounted for "almost half" of executions in 2013, mainly on convictions for drug smuggling and murder, although there has not been any report of a Western national being executed in the recent history of Saudi Arabia. In 2015, the number of beheadings reached a two decade high of "at least" 157, and 47 were executed on January 2, 2016.

Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the United States, currently used by 31 states and the federal government. Its existence can be traced to the beginning of the American colonies. There were no executions in the entire country between 1967 and 1977.

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down capital punishment statutes, reducing all death sentences pending at the time to life imprisonment. Subsequently, a majority of states passed new death penalty statutes, and the court affirmed the legality of capital punishment in 1976. Since then, more than 1,400 offenders have been executed, including 20 in 2016.

The United States is the only Western country currently applying the death penalty and was the first to develop lethal injection as a method of execution, which has since been adopted by five other countries.

According to Amnesty International, the death penalty “is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it.”

Lusine Mkrtumova / PanARMENIAN.Net
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