In honor of its 50th anniversary, Amnesty International has released a Worldwide Death Penalty Abolition Timeline. The timeline shows that in 2008, 93 percent of all known executions occurred in five countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, the United States and Saudi Arabia. Argentina, Chile and Uzbekistan abolished the death penalty in 2008. The timeline is broken down into various groups: countries that have banned the death penalty for all crimes, countries that have banned the death penalty for ordinary crimes, and countries that retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes and main countries of execution.
Countries that retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes include Afghanistan, Barbados, Botswana, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, Jordan, Libya, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Amnesty International isn’t a Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization for nothing. Abolishing the death penalty, particularly for “ordinary” crimes, is a noble endeavor. Amnesty International reports that the death penalty, both in the U.S. and around the world, is discriminatory and is used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities. Add human error and the high cost of executions, and there is definitely an argument for eliminating it. However, we’re most interested in the following question — what does it say about the United States to be in the company of China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in this area?
Read more about the Death Penalty Timeline at Amnesty International.
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