Is it possible to abolish the death penalty in the world?

In 2017, an average of 2.7 people received the death penalty per day in the world.

Is it possible to abolish the death penalty in the world?

On August 1st, Pope Francis approved the modification of the catechism, which declares the death penalty "inadmissible" and pledged to work on the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world. This measure becomes a challenge for countries such as China, Pakistan and the US where executions are carried out. Some experts believe that it could put at risk the way in which the law tries to prevent serious crimes.

Leer en español: ¿Qué tan viable es abolir la pena de muerte en el mundo?

For the Supreme Pontiff, capital punishment "is an offense to the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person." That is why he decided to modify article 2.267 of the Catholic catechism that allowed this type of methods. There, it was stipulated that "the traditional teaching of the church does not exclude, presumed the full verification of the identity and responsibility of the guilty, recourse to the death penalty, if this were the only possible way to effectively defend the unjust aggressor the human lives".


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According to figures from Amnesty International, 58 countries still apply the death penalty for common crimes in the world, and 35 more maintain the death penalty in their legislation, but they have not applied it for decades. Records from the same organization indicate that during 2017 at least 993 people were executed in 23 countries. The number is equivalent to 2.7 executions per day and represents a reduction of 4% with respect to 2016 when 1,032 executions were carried out (2,8).


China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are the nations with the highest number of executions per year. It is estimated that only these five countries are responsible for 90% of the total annual executions. For Amnesty International, China is the country in the world that executes the most death penalty. In the Asian country crimes of theft, drug trafficking and other common crimes are punishable by capital punishment. And, although there are no official numbers since the government hides them, it is considered that thousands are made every year.


A viable decision?


From legal theory, the death penalty is a way to try to prevent serious crimes through the implementation of the law, however, countries that defend this type of punishment have been unable to accurately quantify the number of lives that can be saved after applying the death penalty in an individual.


This lack of concrete evidence has led the church, community and human rights organizations to question the effectiveness of the maximum penalty. Now with the decision of the Supreme Pontiff, the Catholic Church bluntly closes the door that had remained open regarding the death penalty.


According to explanations for  "Zoom" of the channel NTN24, the constitutional lawyer Lorenzo Palomares, the Pope's request could not change much the panorama of the death penalty in the world since in the nations where the highest number of cases is recorded, the Pope Francisco is not considered a religious authority.


In the case of the United States, the State is separated from the church and the Vatican measures do not have the power to modify the justice of the nation. In addition, President Donald Trump approves the maximum punishment and even proposed last March to apply it to drug traffickers, pedophiles and terrorists.


Thirty-two of the 50 US states allow the death penalty, but this only applies to convicts who have killed one or several people in a premeditated manner. And although many states like New York have not applied the maximum penalty for decades, there are 2,700 prisoners nationwide awaiting the death penalty.


Death penalty in Latin America


Despite the fact that executions of maximum penalties in Latin America have not been applied for more than a decade, there are still six countries that include them in their legislation: Cuba, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, El Salvador and Brazil.


Cuba and Guatemala contemplate maximum punishment openly against any crime, while for the other four countries, the death penalty was abolished for common crimes, but is applied in military justice for exceptional crimes committed in a state of war.


According to Amnesty International reports, in 2017 at least 2,591 prisoners were sentenced to death in 53 countries. The figure represents a decrease from the record figure of 3,117 death sentences registered in 2016.


LatinAmerican Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Translated from: ¿Qué tan viable es abolir la pena de muerte en el mundo?

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