In 2017, executions were only reduced in 4% compared to 2016
Today, in the twenty-first century, the death penalty continues to remain strong and it does not seem that in the near future great strides will be made to eradicate it. Pope Francis publicly expressed - and for the first time - his position against this punishment, saying that "it is against the most basic human dignity."
Leer en español: Pena de muerte: ¿una práctica que no desaparece?
Amnesty International published its annual report in which, once again, China leads the way in terms of executions, adding more deaths than the other 22 countries where they still apply. The official figures of the Asian giant are a mystery, because these data are considered a state secret. Thus, it is hard to venture with concrete numbers. As in previous years, Iran and Saudi Arabia completed this particular podium.
In Europe, where all countries are abolitionist, the case of Belarus continues to be surprising, where in 2017 two people were executed. Its president - for the great majority dictator - Aleksandr Lukashenko, who has been in power for 24 years, has no intention of ending this practice, turning his nation into a unique case of the old continent.
Drug trafficking continues to be the main crime for which the death penalty is carried out, mainly in Asian countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, China, or Singapore. Amnesty International expects a decrease in executions by confirming that some of these countries will adopt a slightly more compromising anti-drug policy, raising the minimum amounts.
Developed countries such as the United States and Japan continue to carry out executions. In the American country, the debate on the death penalty is increasingly intense as well as the voices that demand its abolition. In fact, there are more abolitionist states than those that maintain it.
According to Amnesty International, there were 993 executions in 2017, a little less than in 2016 when 1,032 deaths were registered, and 641 less than in 2015, which was documented by the worrying figure of 1,634 executions, the highest figure since 1989.
This trend encourages abolitionists, who believe that it can be continued by the increasing pressure of more and more organizations and the demonstration that this type of sentence has not managed to reduce crime in those countries where it is applied.
What is Latin America’s position?
Virtually, every country in the region abolished capital punishment decades ago. However, there are cases such as Cuba, which, although it does not apply it in practice, refuses to eliminate it as punishment in its legislation, so government would have full freedom to implement it without giving further explanations.
On the other hand, countries such as Guatemala, Brazil, Peru, or Chile contemplate the death penalty for crimes of extreme gravity, such as those that could seriously endanger the security of the State or those that rule under military laws. "Colombia abolished death as a penal punishment in 1910 and can not reinstate it because it is part of the constitutionality block", highlights the portal specialized in criminal issues Projusticia y Desarrollo.
LatinAmerican Post | José María González Alonso
Translated from “Pena de muerte: ¿una práctica que no desaparece?”