This article provides an introduction to the death penalty, including a definition and worldwide figures.
Capital punishment is the practice of executing someone as punishment for a specific crime after a proper legal trial. It can only be used by a state, so when non-state organisations speak of having 'executed' a person they have actually committed a murder. It is usually only used as a punishment for particularly serious types of murder, but in some countries treason, types of fraud, adultery and rape are capital crimes. The phrase 'capital punishment' comes from the Latin word for the head.
A 'corporal' punishment, such as flogging, takes its name from the Latin word for the body. Capital punishment is used in many countries around the world. According to Amnesty International as at May , countries have abolished the death penalty either in law on in practice.
Capital punishment | World | The Guardian
In , there was a growing reluctance among those countries that do retain the death penalty to use it in practice. In , only 25 out of 59 countries that retain the death penalty carried out executions. China executes the most people per year overall, with an estimated figure of 1, in Details of which countries are abolitionist and which are retentionist can be found on the Amnesty website. In China, at least 1, people were executed and at least 7, people were known to have been sentenced to death in Has been used at various points in history in many countries.
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- List of methods of capital punishment.
One of the most famous forms is execution by guillotine. Now used only in Saudi Arabia with a sword.
The condemned is pummeled by stones thrown by a group of people with the totality of the injuries suffered leading to eventual death. Roping or nailing to a wooden cross or similar apparatus such as a tree and allowing to perish. Stings from scorpions and bites by snakes, spiders, etc.
Trampling by horses example: Al-Musta'sim , the last Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad. A Mongolian method of execution that avoided the spilling of blood on the ground  example: Blowing from a gun. Cutting the skin of the victim by the spine, breaking the ribs so they resembled blood-stained wings, and pulling the lungs out through the wounds in the victim's back.
Used by the Vikings. This penalty was carried out using a large cauldron filled with water, oil, tar, tallow, or even molten lead. Also known as the Catherine wheel, after a saint who was allegedly sentenced to be executed by this method.
Traditional punishment for Vestal virgins who had broken their vows. Most infamous as a method of execution for heretics and witches. A slower method of applying single pieces of burning wood was used by Native Americans in torturing their captives to death. Often employed as a preliminary stage to the actual execution, e. Being drawn and quartered sometimes resulted in dismemberment. Execution by drowning , as a method of execution, is attested very early in history, for a large variety of cultures, and as the method of execution for many types of offences.
English method of executing those found guilty of high treason. The victim is thrown off a height or into a hollow example: Used most commonly in Spain and in former Spanish colonies e. The act of gibbeting refers to the use of a gallows-type structure from which the victim was usually placed within a cage which is then hung in a public location and the victim left to die to deter other existing or potential criminals. The confinement of a person by walling off any exits; since they were usually kept alive through an opening, this was more a form of imprisonment for life than of capital punishment example: The penetration of a human by an object such as a stake, pole, spear, or hook, often by complete or partial perforation of the torso.
Documented used during the Roman empire.
Arguments for and against capital punishment
The condemned is stuffed into a sack together with a number of animals and thrown into a body of water. Poisoning by drinking an infusion of hemlock was used as a method of execution in ancient Greece. A type of machine with an axe head for a weight that slices closer to the victim's torso over time.