Capital Punishment from a Global Perspective: Justice or Human Rights Violation?

by Austin Baker
Criminology and Criminal Justice
Faculty advisor: Dr. Neal McNabb

According to Amnesty International, at least 2,390 people were executed and at least 8,864 were sentenced to die worldwide in 2008.  Ninety-three percent of these executions were carried out in five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United States.  Despite these numbers, in recent years there has been a strong movement towards the global abolition of capital punishment, and the United Nations voted 104 to 54 for a moratorium on all executions on December 18, 2007.  Since 1996, over 30 countries have put an end to capital punishment, bringing the total count to 139 countries that have abolished the death penalty – more than two-thirds of the countries in the world.  The United States and Japan remain the lone holdouts among technologically advanced industrialized countries that continue to use capital punishment as part of the strategy to deal with criminal offenders, which occasionally causes tension with allies and problems in the legal system (especially in regards to extradition). 

This poster examines the death penalty from a global perspective, focusing on how capital punishment is viewed by different nations.  Politics, economic systems, religion, public opinion, and culture all play crucial roles influencing a country’s decision whether or not to use the death penalty.  Comparisons will be drawn between retentionist and abolitionist countries in an effort to examine the ways that capital punishment can be viewed differently.  Special attention will be given to Amnesty International and their global efforts to abolish the death penalty.