Document - The Death Penalty Worldwide - Developments in 2006 (With amendments)


TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABOLITION 1

Philippines 1

MORATORIA AND SUSPENSIONS OF EXECUTIONS 2

Kyrgyzstan 2

Russian Federation 2

USA – California 2

USA – Florida 3

USA - New Jersey 3

COMMUTATIONS 3

Guatemala 3

Nigeria 3

United Arab Emirates 3

INNOCENCE 4

Jamaica 4

Tanzania 4

USA - Florida 4

CLEMENCY 4

Ethiopia 4

Pakistan 4

Tanzania 5

Viet Nam 5

REDUCTION IN SCOPE 5

Jordan 5

Liberia 5

Viet Nam 6

ATTEMPTS AT REINTRODUCTION 6

Poland 6

DEATH SENTENCES AND EXECUTIONS 6

RESUMPTION OF EXECUTIONS 7

Bahrain 7

USE AGAINST CHILD OFFENDERS 7

Iran 8

Pakistan 8

CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES 8

Georgia 8

Kyrgyzstan 9

Moldova 9

Montenegro 9

INTERNATIONAL COURTS 9

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) 9

Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) 10

JUDICIAL REVIEWS 10

South Africa 10

United States of America 11

EXTRADITION 12

INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS 12

European Union 12

Human Rights Council 13

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES 13

INTERNATIONAL EVENTS 15

World Day against the Death Penalty 15

Cities for Life 15

OPINION POLLS 15

TABLE 1: ABOLITIONIST COUNTRIES AT YEAR END, 1981-2006 17

TABLE 2: RECORDED WORLDWIDE EXECUTIONS BY YEAR, 1980-2006 19



THE DEATH PENALTY WORLDWIDE DEVELOPMENTS IN 2006


Abbreviations

EU = European Union

European Convention on Human Rights = European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

ICCPR = International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

UN = United Nations


ABOLITION

The world continued to move closer to the universal abolition of capital punishment during 2006. By the end of the year 88 countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes (see Table 1).One country abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 2006 (Philippines) and two countries removed provisions for the death penalty from their country’s constitutions (Georgia and Moldova). One country (Montenegro) became an independent member state of the United Nations (previously Serbia and Montenegro) and subsequently ratified in its own right the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Protocol 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights abolishing the death penalty in all circumstances.

A further 11 countries had abolished the death penalty for all but exceptional crimes, such as wartime offences. At least 29 countries were abolitionist in practice: they had not carried out any executions for the previous 10 years or more and were either believed to have an established practice of not carrying out executions or had made an international commitment not to do so. The death penalty has now been abolished in law or practice by 128 countries.


Sixty-nine other countries and territories retained the death penalty, but not all of them passed death sentences and most did not carry out executions during the year (see below, Death sentences and executions).


Regular updates on abolitionist and retentionist countries are posted on the Amnesty International website at www.amnesty.org/deathpenalty


Philippines

On 7 June the Philippine Congress repealed Republic Act 7659 from December 1993 which had amended the penal code to allow for the death penalty, and approved legislation abolishing the death penalty for all crimes. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed the legislation into law on 24 June, making the Philippines the 25th country in the Asia-Pacific region to end capital punishment in law or practice.


In April, President Arroyo commuted over 1,200 death sentences to life imprisonment in what is thought to be the world’s largest ever mass commutation.


The Philippines had previously abolished the death penalty in 1987, when they became only the second country in the region to do so for all crimes. However, President Fidel Ramos reintroduced the death penalty in late 1993 for 46 separate offences. Executions resumed in 1999 until former President Estrada announced a moratorium in 2000 which President Arroyo maintained throughout her presidency.


MORATORIA AND SUSPENSIONS OF EXECUTIONS


Kyrgyzstan

The moratorium on executions which had been in place since 1998 was extended for another year by decree of President Bakiyev on 30 December 2006. Draft amendments to the Constitution during the year included the permanent and full abolition of the death penalty.


Russian Federation

In November 2006, the State Duma (lower house of parliament) voted to postpone until 2010 the introduction of jury trials in Chechnya, the only remaining Russian Federation region without a jury system. This decision extends the current moratorium on executions which was introduced in 1999 by the Russian Federation Constitutional Court when it banned regular court judges from sentencing people to death until the jury system was introduced everywhere in the Russian Federation.


USA – California

On 15 December, US District Judge Jeremy Fogel issued an opinion that suspended executions in California, citing the "pervasive lack of professionalism" in the implementation of California’s lethal injection protocols, a "deeply disturbing" fact "given that the State is taking a human life." Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger directed his administration to correct the deficiencies in these protocols to ensure that California’s death penalty procedure is constitutional.


USA – Florida

On 15 December, the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, halted executions and appointed a panel to evaluate whether death by lethal injection breaches Florida’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. No more death warrants will be signed until the panel reports its findings in March 2007.


USA - New Jersey

In January, Governor Richard J. Codey signed legislation suspending executions in New Jersey. The bill created a 13-member commission to study all aspects of capital punishment in the state. In its final report in January 2007, the commission recommended abolition of the death penalty.



COMMUTATIONS


Guatemala

Following judgments by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2005, nine prisoners had their death sentences commuted in 2006 to 50-year prison terms.


Nigeria

On 1 October the Federal Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo, announced that 107 death-row inmates would have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment as part of the country’s Independence Day celebrations. Around 500 prisoners remain under sentence of death.


United Arab Emirates

An appeal court in June commuted Shahin ‘Abdul Rahman’s death sentence by stoning to imprisonment for a year followed by deportation to his own country of Bangladesh. A married man, he had been sentenced to death for adultery by an Islamic court in Fujairah.


INNOCENCE


Jamaica

Carl McHargh was released from death row in June after being acquitted on appeal. He had been arrested in 1999 for the murder of two men and convicted and sentenced to death in 2004.


Tanzania

Hassan Mohamed Mtepeka was released from death row in 2006. He had been sentenced to death in 2004 for the rape and murder of his step-daughter. The Appeal Court found that his conviction overwhelmingly rested on circumstantial evidence which "did not irresistibly point to his guilt".


USA - Florida

John Ballard, who was sentenced to death in 2003 for two murders committed in 1999, had his conviction overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. In its ruling in February, the Court held that the evidence against Ballard was legally insufficient to support the conviction, and ordered the trial court to enter a judgment of acquittal. John Ballard is the 22nd person to be exonerated in the state of Florida, which leads the nation in exonerations, and the 123rd person to be released from death row on grounds of innocence in the USA since 1973.


CLEMENCY


Ethiopia

Ten death sentences for ordinary crimes were commuted to life imprisonment by presidential clemency on the occasion of the Ethiopian New Year on 11 September 2006.


Pakistan

In November 2006, President Pervez Musharraf used his powers under the constitution to commute the death sentence of Mirza Tahir Hussein who had already served the equivalent of a life sentence in Pakistan. Mirza Tahir Hussein, a dual United Kingdom (UK) and Pakistan citizen, was convicted of murder in 1989 but had his conviction overturned on two occasions, once shortly after his initial conviction in 1989 and again in 1996 when he was acquitted of all charges against him. A week after his acquittal, his case was referred to the Federal Shari’a Court to consider charges from thue original case, including robbery involving murder, which fall under Islamic offences against property law. The entire case was reopened and in 1998 the Federal Shari’a Court sentenced Mirza Tahir Hussain to death, despite the judgement being split with two judges in favour and one against this decision.


Tanzania

In August President Kikwete commuted all death sentences on mainland Tanzania to life imprisonment. The total number of commutations was not officially disclosed but was estimated to be about 400. Many of the prisoners had been under sentence of death for several years. At the end of the year no one was under sentence of death either on the mainland or in Zanzibar.


Viet Nam

President Tran Duc Luong commuted the death sentences of two Australians convicted of drug trafficking, Nguyen Van Chinh and Mai Cong Thanh, following petitioning by the Australian government.


REDUCTION IN SCOPE


Jordan


sb0 The government announced it had approved draft legislation which will reduce the number of crimes which carry the death sentence including drug-related offences, possession of illegal firearms and explosives. There are currently16crimes punishable by death.


King ‘Abdallah II bin al-Hussein of Jordan stated in an interview in December 2005 that Jordan hoped to modify their penal code and "could soon become the first country in the Middle East without capital punishment". But Saleh Armouti, President of the Jordanian Bar Association, was quoted by IRIN news agency stating the Bar’s opposition to the reduction: "This is absolutely unacceptable. Dubious human rights groups should not interfere in our legal system."


Liberia

A law adopted in December 2005, which imposed the death penalty for gang rape, was subsequently changed to life imprisonment in keeping with the country’s abolitionist status.


Viet Nam

A proposal to reduce the number of crimes punishable by death by nine to 20 was sent in February by the Ministry of Public Security to the Central Judicial Reform Commission. The offences to be dropped from incurring the death penalty would be mainly economic ones such as fraud, embezzlement, bribery and counterfeiting. Dang Anh, a Deputy Director of the Ministry of Security’s judicial department, said that "the reduction will be in tune with the general tendency around the world which Viet Nam should follow". Viet Nam had already reduced the number of crimes punishable by death in 1999, from 44 to 29.


ATTEMPTS AT REINTRODUCTION


Poland

The Polish President, Lech Kaczynski made a speech which was broadcast on the radio in July calling for the restoration of the death penalty in Poland and throughout Europe. In August, the League of Polish Families, a minority party in Poland’s governing coalition, announced a Europe-wide campaign to restore the death penalty and for a referendum on its reintroduction in Poland.


A European Commission spokesman responded to the statements on behalf of the European Union on 3 August stating that "the death penalty is not compatible with European values." In an open letter to President Kaczynski, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe wrote that "… the death penalty has no place in the criminal justice system of any modern, civilised country".


DEATH SENTENCES AND EXECUTIONS

During 2006, at least 1,591 people were executed in 25 countries. At least 3,861 people were sentenced to death in 55 countries. These were only minimum figures; the true figures were certainly higher.


As in previous years, the vast majority of executions worldwide were carried out in a small handful of countries. In 2006, 91 per cent of all known executions took place in six countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and the USA. Kuwait had the highest number of executions per capita of population, followed by Iran.


Based on public reports available, Amnesty International estimated that at least 1,010 people were executed in China during the year, although these figures are only the tip of the iceberg. Credible sources suggest that between 7,500 to 8,000 people were executed in 2006. The official statistics remain a state secret, making monitoring and analysis problematic.


Iran executed 177 people, Pakistan 82 and Iraq and Sudan each at least 65. There were 53 executions in 12 states in the USA.

The worldwide figure for those currently condemned to death and awaiting execution is difficult to assess. The estimated number at the end of 2006 was between 19,185 and 24,646 based on information from human rights groups, media reports and the limited official figures available.


(See Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2006, April 2007, AI Index: ACT 50/004/2007. See below, Table 2, for historical comparisons.)



RESUMPTION OF EXECUTIONS


Bahrain

On 21 November King Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa of Bahrain approved the death sentences of three people accused of murder. Jasmine Anwar Hussainand Mohammed Hilaluddin, both from Bangladesh, had been convicted of murderin November 2004. Mohammad Hanif Atta Mohammad, a national of Pakistan, was convicted in a separate incident in 2003. All three were convicted of killing Bahraini nationals. The sentences were upheld on appeal by the Court of Cassation in December 2005 and carried out by firing squad on 11 December 2006.


The death penalty is rarely used in Bahrain. Since 1977 only one execution has been carried out. Issa Ahmad Qambar, a Bahraini, was executed by firing squad in March 1996. He had been found guilty of the premeditated murder of a police officer.



USE AGAINST CHILD OFFENDERS

The use of the death penalty against child offenders – people under 18 years old at the time of the crime – is forbidden under international treaties including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).


In 2006, at least five executions of child offenders have been recorded. These include:


Iran

  1. Majid Segound was 17 years old at the time of his execution in May.

  2. Sattar, whose full name is unknown, was executed in September. He was sentenced to death in January 2005, when aged 17, for a murder committed several months earlier.

  3. Morteza M, whose full surname is unknown, was 18 at the time of his execution. He had been sentenced to death for the murder of his friend which had taken place two years earlier.

  4. In late December, 22 year-old Naser Batmani was hanged in Sanandaj Prison for a murder committed when he was under 18 years old.


Iran is a state party to both the ICCPR and the CRC. When ratifying the CRC in 1994, the government stated that it "reserves the right not to apply any provisions or articles of the Convention that are incompatible with Islamic Laws and the international legislation in effect". The Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors implementation of the CRC, expressed its concern that the "broad and imprecise nature of the State party’s general reservation potentially negates many of the Convention’s provisions and raises concern as to its compatibility with the object and purpose of the Convention". Amnesty International believes the reservation is incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention and should not be admissible under international law.


Pakistan

Mutabar Khan was executed in Peshawar Central Prison on 13 June. He was reportedly aged 16 when he was arrested in 1996. On 4 June, the family of the man he is said to have killed agreed to pardon him in return for compensation but they later retracted the pardon.



CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES


Georgia

On 27 December 2006 President Mikheil Saakashvili signed a constitutional amendment regarding the complete abolition of the death penalty. Georgia had already abolished the death penalty in 1997 but the Constitution still stated that "until its complete abolition the death penalty can be envisaged by organic law for especially serious crimes against life. Only the Supreme Court has the right to impose this punishment". This reservation has now been deleted and replaced with the wording "The death penalty has been abolished".


Kyrgyzstan

On 9 November, Kyrgyzstan's President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed a new constitution in which provisions for the death penalty have been removed. It now remains for the criminal code and criminal procedural code to be revised to exclude the death penalty in line with the new constitution, and for existing death sentences to be commuted to terms of imprisonment.


Moldova

On 29 June the Moldovan parliament voted unanimously to delete from the constitution Clause 3 of Article 24 which provided for the death penalty in exceptional cases, thus abolishing the death penalty in law. This was approved by the President on 10 July.


Montenegro

Following a referendum held on 21 May, when 55.4% of voters were in favour of independence from Serbia, Montenegro formally declared its independence on 3 June. It was recognized as a United Nations member state on 28 June and on 23 October ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR which prohibits the use of the death penalty.


INTERNATIONAL COURTS


The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC)


The JCPC, based in London, the highest court of appeal for most of the countries in the English-speaking Caribbean, ruled on 8 March that the mandatory death sentence is in violation of the Bahamian constitution.


The landmark judgement, which gives judges the discretion to consider mitigating circumstances in individual cases, brings the Bahamas into line with evolving international standards. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has stated that "the mandatory death penalty which precludes the possibility of a lesser sentence being imposed, regardless of the circumstances, is inconsistent with the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".


The ruling was delivered in connection with the appeal cases of Forest Bowe Jr and Trono Davis who have been on death row in Foxhill prison in the Bahamas for six and eight years respectively following convictions for murder.


Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)

The CCJ, based in Trinidad, was established in February 2001 to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) as the region’s highest court of appeal and was inaugurated in April 2005. So far, only Barbados and Guyana have adjusted their constitutions to replace the JCPC with the CCJ.


On 8 November, the CCJ delivered its first ruling, stating that the Barbadian authorities’ decision to issue execution warrants for two men convicted of murder shortly after they had initiated proceedings before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) was a contravention of the right to the protection of the law.


Lennox Boyce and Jeffrey Joseph were sentenced to death in 2001 for a murder committed in April 1999. On 15 September 2004, only a few days after the two men had filed appeals against their sentences to the IACHR, the Barbados Privy Council issued execution warrants for the two men. The executions were stayed by the Barbados Court of Appeal.


The Barbadian government appealed this decision to the CCJ, the country’s highest court of appeal since its inauguration in April 2005. In its ruling the CCJ said that "the Court held that convicted persons may have a legitimate expectation that the State should await for a reasonable time reports from international bodies".


JUDICIAL REVIEWS


South Africa

The Constitutional Court ruled on 30 November that the orders made under its 1995 judgement S v Makwanyane,in which the death penalty was found to be unconstitutional, had now been fully complied with by the government.


At the time of the judgement in 1995 it was estimated that between 300 and 400 people were on death row in South Africa. In May 2005 the Constitutional Court issued a supervisory order on the government to complete the substitution of the last remaining 62 death sentences with alternative sentences without further delay. This process was finally completed in July 2006.


United States of America

On 26 April, the US Supreme Courtheard oral arguments in the case of Clarence Hill, a Florida death row inmate, regarding a procedural issue: whether a death row inmate can bring a challenge to the constitutionality of lethal injection as a civil rights lawsuit, rather than as part of a normal appeals process. On 12 June the Court unanimously ruled in Hill v. McDonoughthat the prisoner could file a civil rights challenge to the lethal injection protocol but it also noted that filing such a challenge "does not entitle the complainant to an automatic stay of execution."


A new execution date was set, and after the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit refused to stay the execution, the US Supreme Court declined to intervene, by five votes to four. Clarence Hill was put to death by lethal injection as scheduled on 20 September.


On 26 June, the US Supreme Court held in Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregonthat foreign nationals who were not advised of their rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations are not entitled to the suppression of their statements to the police as a remedy for the treaty violation. The Court also ruled that state courts may apply procedural barriers to prevent the consideration of Vienna Convention claims that were not raised by the defendant at trial or in the earliest stages of appeal, contradicting an earlier decision by the International Court of Justice.


On 29 June, the US Supreme Court delivered its judgment in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, thereby halting the US administration’s plans to try a selected number of foreign nationals detained in the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay before military commissions. The Supreme Court concluded that the commissions as constituted under a Military Order signed by President Bush in November 2001 were unlawful, as they had not been expressly authorized by Congress, and violated international law and US military law. On 27 and 28 September, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which, among other things, would allow the President to establish military commissions with the power to sentence "alien unlawful enemy combatants" to death.


EXTRADITION


Chinaratified an extradition treaty with Spain, which had been signed by President Hu Jintao in Madrid in November 2005, that includes "an unprecedented pledge not to execute repatriated criminals" according to aXinhua News Agency report dated 29 April. The report highlights Chinese concerns about recovering billions of US dollars embezzled by corrupt officials who fled abroad to avoid prosecution. Economic crimes such as fraud and bribery are punishable by death in China and many foreign countries have been unwilling to extradite Chinese nationals who might be executed if they were returned to China.


In a judgment on 5 May, the Supreme Court ofPuerto Ricoruled that Puerto Rican Juan Martinez Cruz can be extradited to the US state of Pennsylvania to stand trial for murder. This ruling reverses an earlier decision on 17 October 2005 by the Court of Appeals against the extradition of Juan Martinez Cruz to Pennsylvania which retains the death penalty for murder, unlike Puerto Rico which abolished capital punishment in 1929.


INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS


European Union

On 19 December, the Finnish Ambassador to the United Nations, Kirsti Lintonen, delivered a statement on behalf of 85 states noting that "Over the last decade, the Commission of Human Rights has adopted in all consecutive sessions a Resolution on the ‘question of the death penalty’, expressing deep concern at the continuing use of the death penalty around the world and calling upon States that still maintain the death penalty to abolish it completely and, in the meantime, to establish a moratorium on executions."


The statement also declared that "the signatories of this statement commit themselves to work towards the abolition of the death penalty and, where the death penalty still exists, call for its use to be progressively restricted, insist that it be carried out according to minimum standards (ECOSOC resolution of 1984) and, in the meantime, call for the establishment of a moratorium on executions."


Human Rights Council

The United Nations General Assembly on 9 May 2006elected 47 member states to serve on the new Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which replaces the Commission on Human Rights. All 191 UN-member countries took part in the vote which Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated reflected "the widely shared commitment to...make a fresh start in [the] vital work of upholding the highest standards of human rights".


The UNHRC was formed on 15 March 2006when the General Assembly adopted Resolution 60/251 by a vote of 170 countries in favour, four against and three abstentions. The UNHRC will meet in Geneva at least three times a year.


During its first year the UNHRC was requested to undertake a number of tasks with a view to making it an effective human rights body. In particular, it reviewed the system of special procedures (independent human rights experts), its agenda and working methods, and the creation of a new procedure, the Universal Periodic Review, which will consider the human rights record of all UN member states.


There were no significant developments on issues related to abolition of the death penalty in 2006.


INTERNATIONAL TREATIES


The community of nations has adopted four international treaties providing for the abolition of the death penalty. One is of worldwide scope; the other three are regional.


TheSecond Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penaltyand theProtocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penaltyprovide for the total abolition of the death penalty but allow states parties to retain it in wartime if they make a reservation to that effect at the time of ratifying or acceding to these protocols.


Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights) concerning the abolition of the death penaltyprovides for the abolition of the death penalty in peacetime.


Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights) concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstancesprovides for the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances, including time of war or of imminent threat of war. Any state party to the ICCPR, the American Convention on Human Rights or the European Convention on Human Rights can become a party to the respective protocols.


The Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR was ratified by Andorra, Moldova, Montenegro and Turkey in 2006 bringing the total number of ratifications to 60. Eight other countries have signed the protocol, including Argentina which signed it in December 2006.


Montenegro had been part of the state of Serbia and Montenegro but following a referendum held on 21 May, when 55.4% of voters were in favour of independence from Serbia, Montenegro formally declared its independence on 3 June and ratified the Second Optional Protocol on 23 October.


There were no new ratifications of the Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penaltyduring 2006. One country, Argentina, signed the Protocol. At year end eight countries had ratified the Protocol and two others had signed it.


There were no new signatures or ratifications of Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rightsin 2006. At year end 45 countries had ratified the Protocol and one other had signed it.


Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands andTurkeyratified Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rightsin 2006 (and Montenegro’s ratification from 2004 when it was part of Serbia and Montenegro came into effect as a separate state in June), bringing the total number of ratifications to 38. Six other countries have signed the protocol.


(Up-to-date lists of states parties and other signatories of international treaties on the death penalty are available on the Amnesty International website at www.amnesty.org/deathpenalty. For a printed list, see Amnesty International, Ratifications of international treaties to abolish the death penalty (1 January 2007), April 2007, AI Index: ACT 50/003/2007.)


INTERNATIONAL EVENTS


World Day against the Death Penalty

The fourth annual World Day against the Death Penalty took place on 10 October. The theme for 2006 was "The death penalty as a failure of justice".Five cases were selected to represent this failure: an innocent man executed in China, a victim of discrimination in Saudi Arabia, a child offender in Iran, a mentally disabled prisoner in the USA and a woman deprived of a fair trial and due process of law in Nigeria.


Hundreds of events were staged in 40 countries around the world in protest against the death penalty, and an online petition remains open for signature on http:/ www.worldcoalition.org


Cities for Life

The fifth Cities for Life event, initiated by the lay religious Community of Sant’Egidio based in Rome, was commemorated on 30 November in more than 500 cities around the world. To show opposition to the death penalty, buildings were illuminated in 34 capitals and 598 cities in 51 countries including Antananarivo in Madagascar, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, San Juan in Puerto Rico and Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


OPINION POLLS

The annual Gallup poll of America’s "Moral Values and Beliefs", which has been carried out every year since 1936, was conducted from 5 to 11 May. According to the poll results, support for the death penalty for a murder conviction was at 65% while 28% of Americans were against it. The highest figure in support of the death penalty occurred in 1994 with 80%; the lowest was in 1966 when it was at 42%.


According to the poll, a significant number of Americans, 60%, believe that the death penalty is applied fairly in the USA, while at the same time 63% believe that a person has been executed under the death penalty in the past five years who was, in fact, innocent of the crime he or she was charged with. Furthermore, 64% do not feel that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to the commitment of murder or that it lowers the murder rate.


123prisoners have been released in the USA since 1973 after evidence emerged of their innocence of the crimes for which they were sentenced to death and strong evidence of racial bias in the use of capital punishment.(1)


TABLE 1: ABOLITIONIST COUNTRIES AT YEAR END, 1981-2006


YearNo. countries abolitionist for all crimesNo. countries abolitionist in law or practice



1981

27

63




1982

28

63




1983

28

64




1984

28

64




1985

29

64




1986

31

66




1987

35

69




1988

35

80




1989

39

84




1990

46

88




1991

46

83




1992

50

84




1993

53

90




1994

54

96




1995

59

102




1996

60

101




1997

64

103




1998

70

106




1999

73

109




2000

75

109




2001

76ll112


2002

78

112




2003

79

118




2004

84

120




2005

86

122




2006

88

128





TABLE 2: RECORDED WORLDWIDE EXECUTIONS BY YEAR, 1980-2006

(NA = figures not available)


Year

No. countries carrying out executions

No. executions recorded

No. countries with over 100 executions % of all recorded executions in countries with over 100 executions





1980

29

1229

NA

NA






1981

34

3278

NA

NA






1982

42

1609

NA

NA






1983

39

1399

NA

NA






1984

40

1513

4

78%






1985

44

1125

3

66%






1986

39

743

3

56%






1987

39

769

3

59%






1988

35

1903

3

83%






1989

34

2229

3

85%






1990

26

2029

4

84%






1991

32

2086

2

89%






1992

35

1708

2

82%






1993

32

1831

1

77%

ertalt



1994

37

2331

387%





1995

41

3276

3

85%






1996

39

4272

4

92%






1997

40

2607

3

82%






1998

37

2258

2

72%






1999

31

1813

4

80%






2000

28

1457

2

77%






2001

31

3048

2

86%






2002

31

1526

2

77%






2003

28

1146

2

73%






2004

25

3797

2

94%






2005

22

2148

1

82%






2006

25

1591*

2

75%







*Amnesty International believes that the estimated figure for China of 1,010 executions in 2006, which is based on public reports available, represents only the tip of an iceberg. Credible sources suggest that between 7,500 to 8,000 people were executed there in 2006. The official statistics remain a state secret, making monitoring and analysis problematic.


********

(1) AI has frequently documented violation of the rights of those facing capital punishment in the USA. For example see USA: An appeal to President George W. Bush to admit that the USA’s 30-year experiment with the death penalty has failed, AI index AMR 51/100/2006, published July 2006 (available at http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR511002006?open&of=ENG-USA) and numerous other AI documents on the USA.

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