Death Penalty

  • Issue

The issue in detail

The death penalty breaches two essential human rights: the right to life and the right to live free from torture. Both rights are protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.

The following international laws explicitly ban use of the death penalty, except during times of war:

  • The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights
  • The Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty.

The European Convention on Human Rights (Protocol No. 13) bans use of the death penalty at all times, even during war.

Although international law says that the death penalty can be used for the most serious crimes, like murder, Amnesty believes that the death penalty is never the answer.

Execution methods

There are many and varied types of execution used around the world today, including:

• Beheading
• Electrocution
• Hanging
• Lethal injection
• Shooting in the back of the head and by firing squad


Read our latest annual review of the death penalty worldwide

Key facts


countries had completely abolished the death penalty by the end of 2016


people were executed in 2016 (excluding China) – down 37% on 2015


of people were likely executed in China, but the numbers remain classified

Help stop the death penalty returning to the Philippines. Act now and send an email to all members of the Philippine Senate voting on the bill over the coming weeks. Call on them to put an end to this ultimately inhuman, cruel and degrading punishment.

Stop the return of the death penalty in the Philippines

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