World Day Against The Death Penalty is observed annually on October 10 and it is a day set aside to raise awareness about the need to get rid of the death penalty from our justice systems. The campaign especially seeks to encourage and reinforce international public opinion and public decision-makers to fight for its abolition. It is supported by numerous NGOs and world governments, including Amnesty International, the European Union, and the United Nations.
History of World Day Against The Death Penalty
The death penalty, referred to as Capital Punishment, is the state-approved killing of a person as punishment for a crime committed by that individual. The execution of criminals and dissidents has been used by nearly all societies since the beginning of civilizations on Earth.
Over the years, human civilizations have made attempts at abolishing the death penalty but found society returning to it after few years. Examples include Japan in 724 A.D., during which the ban by Emperor Shomu only lasted a few years; in 747 A.D. in China, it was banned by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang and replaced with exile or scourging — this also only lasted 12 years.
Amnesty International holds that the death penalty breaches human rights, in particular the right to life and the right to live free from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Both rights are protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the U.N. in 1948.
When Amnesty International started its work in 1977, only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty. Today, that number has risen to 108 — more than half the world’s countries. Each year, a theme is chosen. Their areas of focus have included access to a lawyer, child death sentencing, living conditions on death row, poverty, and justice.
Over time, more and more member states from all regions acknowledge that the death penalty undermines human dignity and that its abolition contributes to the enhancement and progressive development of human rights.
World Day Against The Death Penalty timeline
Grand Duke Leopold of Habsburg promulgates the reform of the penal code that abolished the death penalty.
The Roman Republic deems the death penalty as a violation of the right to life and bans it.
The European Council declares October 10 to be the European Day Against the Death Penalty.
Sierra Leone’s Parliament unanimously passes the Abolition of Death Penalty Act.
World Day Against The Death Penalty FAQs
Don’t victims of violent crime and their families have a right to justice?
Yes, they do. But for them, the death penalty for the perpetrator cannot genuinely relieve their suffering. It just extends that suffering to the family of the condemned person. The aim is to reduce violence, not cause more death.
Isn’t it better to execute someone than to lock them up forever?
The issue here is the offenders have their lives claimed by a system of justice that values retribution over rehabilitation. As long as a prisoner is alive, he or she has hope for rehabilitation or to be exonerated if later found to be innocent.
Why is the death penalty so expensive?
Some of the reasons for the high cost of the death penalty are the longer trials and appeals required when a person’s life is at stake, which directly require more lawyers and experts on both sides of the case and the relative rarity of executions.
How To Participate in World Day Against The Death Penalty
Mobilize the media to raise awareness
Make use of media outlets including radio, television, and the internet to spread the word about the need to abolish the death penalty. Through these media platforms, you can virtually reach people across the world.
Donate to a body or group working to end the death penalty
You could never go wrong with supporting a cause monetarily, as your money could be translated to many useful things to support the cause. Go ahead and give out whatever you can.
Organize a gathering or demonstration
The force of a group of people united for a common cause is very powerful. Organize a platform for this unity, whether physically or online, and put its power to use.
5 Facts About World Coalition Against The Death Penalty That Will Enlighten You
It was founded almost two decades ago
The coalition has been in existence since May 2002.
11-man main leadership
Upon creation, the first steering committee composed of 11 members, in charge of defining the World Coalition’s political strategy, was elected.
It consists of diverse groups
It is an international alliance of NGOs, bar associations, local governments, and trade unions.
It is very large
It is an association of more than 180 member organizations.
It is an official body
It became registered as an association under French law in 2008.
Why World Day Against The Death Penalty is Important
It emphasizes our right to life as humans
This day highlights the need to respect every human’s right to life. There shouldn’t be a ‘legal’ way to take one’s life.
It helps achieve fairer criminal justice systems
The campaign drives justice systems around the world to make necessary adjustments in ensuring a justice system that isn’t partial. This helps protect the innocent from needless suffering and death.
To ensure due legal process is followed
There is due process from the arrest of a crime suspect to their conviction. This day helps strengthen the need to follow it appropriately.
World Day Against The Death Penalty dates