Whether it means stabbing someone to death in Somalia, or hanging someone in Kuwait, or stoning someone in Iran, or lethal injection in the United States (the only advanced, developed nation in the world to still utilise capital punishment), state approved killing does little to reduce crime; it’s effects and it’s causes.
2006 saw some 1600 executions worldwide but obviously the number is no doubt greater than that, with some countries less forthcoming with stats on the murder of their citizens. Experts in the field of capital punishment believe that the worldwide trend is moving towards abolishing it all together, since 1985 55 nations have done so leaving only 25 remaining.
Louise Arbour, the UN commissioner for Human Rights, has called for a worldwide ban and most continents seems to be following the growing, global distaste for this frankly backwards practice. Europe leads the way, with Africa not far behind, while in the Americas only the United States has executed anyone in the last 3 years. It is only Asia and the Middle East which is seemingly impervious to the arguments against capital punishment with China being the worlds leading killer, officially over 1,000 executed but estimates believe that figure to be closer to 8,000.
After China, the list of highest number of executions in descending order reads: Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and the United States. America stands out like a sore thumb amongst that company, indeed, it is the only Western democracy to still put prisoners to death and since 1973, 120 innocent people have been wrongly killed.
With growing uncertainty in the US about lethal injection being a humane way of disposing of criminals and many states moving towards abolition of the death penalty, it may be that we see the last bastion of exectution slowly move into a more progressive means of dealing with serious offenders.