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04/13/2011

Death Penalty Worldwide database and website

Today marks our launch of the Death Penalty Worldwide database and website. We have been working on this project for more than two years, and it has been more work than we ever could have anticipated. Although we are just beginning to analyze the data, a few interesting facts have already emerged.

First and foremost, support for the death penalty around the world is waning, even in those nations that maintain a strong political commitment to state-sponsored executions. In fact, just as we had completed our research for Gabon a few months ago, we received word that the country had abolished the death penalty. There are serious and lively debates about abolition in virtually every retentionist nation. Even in states where abolition is unlikely in the near future, courts and legislators are steadily narrowing the scope of the death penalty’s application. This confirms what other NGOs and the UN Secretary General have previously reported: in all but a tiny handful of nations, support for the death penalty is tepid, at best.

Many nations have adopted unofficial moratoria, periodically commuting death sentences en masse. This is a welcome development, but it sometimes obscures the fact that many of these same nations prosecute indigent individuals under conditions that provide few guarantees of due process. In the vast majority of retentionist states, indigent defendants fail to receive quality legal representation, and many receive no lawyers at all. Lawyers are inexperienced and underfunded. In some countries, it is commonplace for lawyers to meet their clients for the first time on the day of trial. And in too many cases, convictions rest on “confessions” extracted by beatings or torture. There can be no doubt that many hundreds of innocent persons currently languish on death rows around the world in appalling conditions, deprived of any opportunity to meaningfully challenge their convictions and death sentences. We should not turn a blind eye to such injustice simply because a government has refused to carry out executions.

Some of you may wonder why we felt it was necessary to create the database. Although there are many excellent online sources of information relating to death penalty practices around the world – most notably, reports generated by Amnesty International and the database maintained by Hands Off Cain – none of these are devoted to academic and legal analysis of developments in this field. This resource is not intended to supplant those resources, but to supplement them. In the future, we hope to gather sample briefs on issues of international law and make them available to defense counsel seeking to challenge the application of the death penalty. We are keenly aware of the resource constraints facing defense counsel around the world, particularly in the global south, and hope that this website will provide much-needed information regarding legal arguments they can employ in their advocacy.

We hope that this information will inspire and facilitate further research into the application of the death penalty worldwide. We need more country and regional studies regarding the application of the death penalty, particularly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. We need reliable data on the composition of death rows around the world, numbers of individuals sentenced to death, and death row conditions. We also hope that the database will help inform and enlighten the expanding network of individuals, advocates and organizations engaged in the debate over the application of the death penalty worldwide.

-- Sandra Babcock

Comments

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The database is certainly welcome as a further source of information on the death penalty, educating people is definitely the way forward in helping to overcome the ignorance. Thank you Sandra for you and your team's work.

Interesting that someone had the courage to put up a site that is all about the death penalty across the globe. I will definitely be following and reading more.

Wow this is an interesting article. I hope to see more in the future.

While I am against death peanlty in general, I sometimes think that it can still be considered as a penalty in some cases like serial murders or massacre.

I am also against death penalty and I hope every country will consider the effects of this kind of punishment to the people. They should review the moral or the righteousness of this act.

Thank you for providing this invaluable resource! It will be an aid to academics, students and activists worldwide.

International politics is really really complicated.

Great post! Death penalty is a huge topic. Had a long debate about it in High school.

Talks have always been going about should death penalty punishment be abandoned or not. The answers have been both a mixture if “yes” and “No”.

That`s very good and informative article aboutt death penalty. Thank you for writing.

I am against death penalty.

This is a very interesting article i must say, thanks for posting it on here guys.

Excellent explanation about death penalty database.

well written

Wow very interesting stuff

i think you said is good~

Seems like its just a matter of time until they had this after all they have registered sex offenders. Obviously these are terrible crimes and to put peoples names up is a matter of shame and disgrace. Which when you think about it is a good thing if it prevents others from acting the same way rather than seeing such people become the hated celebrities of the press.

Death penalty is a crime on its own. I'm strongly against it!

Dear Sandra Babcock,
I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in launching of the Death Penalty Worldwide database and website! You've worked on it for such a long time and I am glad to have an opportunity to use the information you've gained. I am a student from HRU (Ca) and your article is truly relevant to my study at this moment!

I don't agree with the dealth penalty. I eye for a eye it's not in the bible. Why stoop to that level.

Death penalty is still in effect in China, but I am the supporter.

Any research that can help countries remove the death penalty should be followed. Today's execution of Troy Davis is a good case for why the death penalty should be retired. Although Mr Davis was supposed to have been known to the police and was probably not an angel, he didn't deserve to die based on the case that was presented against him. The death penalty should be abolished. If only one innocent person is convicted surely that is one too many.

Very Good Study. Greets from Germany

The US needs to set the standard and lead on the Death Penalty issue

have previously reported: in all but a tiny handful of nations, support for the death penalty is tepid, at best.

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