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.
There are many and varied types of execution used around the world today, including:
• Lethal injection
• Shooting in the back of the head and by firing squad
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
THE GLOBAL VIEW
Death sentences and executions 2007-2016
This map shows the general locations of boundaries and jurisdictions and should not be interpreted as Amnesty’s view on disputed territories.
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More information on our work against the Death Penalty