Death penalties around the world
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Filipino citizen Mary Jane Veloso was among 9 people who are set to face the death penalty in Indonesia on Wednesday, April 29. Veloso was sentenced to death in 2010 for attempting to smuggle in heroin in the country.
The death penalty was outlawed in the Philippines and replaced with life imprisonment and reclusion perpetua (detention of indefinite length, usually for around 30 years) through the passing of Republic Act No. 9346 in 2006.
But in recent months, there have been calls for the revival of capital punishment for heinous crimes.
Filipinos, however, are still vulnerable and sometimes subjected to capital punishment all around the world.
According to Amnesty International, the death penalty still exists in 58 countries as of December 2014.
Rappler takes a look at 20 of these nations and examines the type of death penalties they each observe.
By shooting/firing squad:
The Penal Code of Indonesia states that death-sentenced inmates are to be executed by firing squad, out of public view. The inmate is informed of his or her execution only 72 hours in advance. The inmate can stand or sit, and have his or her eyes covered by a blindfold or a hood. Three of the members of the firing squad are then equipped with rifles loaded with live ammunition, while the other 9 members are loaded with blanks. The squad must then fire from a distance of between 5 and 10 meters. If the inmate still shows signs of life after the shooting, one final shot to the head is administered. (READ: FAST FACTS: Executions in Indonesia)
United Arab Emirates
Although the United Arab Emirates cites stoning as a religiously stipulated punishment under Shari’a law, execution reports suggest that the Emirates only participates in executions by firing squad. The last execution documented in the country was in January 2014, when a Sri Lankan man was executed by firing squad for murdering an Emirati in 2006.
Malaysia’s Criminal Procedure Code states that death sentences must be carried out by hanging. Pregnant women and children, however, may not be sentenced to death. The country tends to hold executions with great secrecy, without prior or posthumous announcements. In January 2015, however, a South African man in Kuala Lumpur was reported to have been sentenced to death for smuggling methamphetamine into Malaysia.
The Criminal Procedure Code of Singapore cites hanging as its sole method of execution. The country’s last execution was held in April 2015, when a Singaporean man was executed for committing murder in 2005.
The Penal Code of Japan cites hanging as the country’s only method of execution. Hanging must take place in an execution site within a penal institution. It may not happen on a weekend or during a public holiday. The date of the execution is kept secret, including to the prisoner and the prisoner’s family. The prisoner is notified of his or her hanging only on the morning of the execution. The country’s last execution was held in June 2014, when a man was hanged for stabbing 3 people to death after breaking into their home.
Iraq’s Penal Code lists hanging as the country’s main method of execution. The Military and Internal Security Forces laws, however, provide for death by firing squad instead of hanging. In March 2015, 6 Iraqis were executed by hanging for terrorist actions.
Syria’s Penal Code cites hanging as its method of execution in the case of ordinary persons, while shooting is known to be the method of execution for military personnel. The country’s last execution was reported to have taken place in August 2013, when thousands of detainees were discovered to have fallen victim to systematic killing and torture.
By lethal injection:
Thailand amended its Criminal Code in 2003, changing its sole method of execution from execution by firing squad to execution by lethal injection. In June 2007, a number of Thais and several foreigners from Burma, Laos, China, Malaysia and Nigeria were reported to have been awaiting lethal injection.
In June 2010, Vietnam’s National Assembly voted to replace shooting with lethal injection in the Vietnam Criminal Procedure Code. The country’s last execution was held in July 2014, when 3 prisoners were executed for crimes including robbery and murder.
The death penalty in the country is entirely dependent on the Shari’ah or Islamic law. According to Amnesty International, beheading or decapitation is normally performed publicly. In a report, Amnesty International said at least 158 people were executed in Saudi Arabia in 2015.
Multiple/Other methods of execution:
According to the Ministry of Justice’s Regulations for Carrying Out Executions, executions must be carried out by gunshot or lethal injection. When a prisoner is to be executed via gunshot, the prisoner lies face down on a mattress on the floor and is shot from behind 3 times at close range after a medical practitioner marks where his heart is. Families are informed of the executions only afterwards, when they are called to collect the prisoner’s body. In April 2010, Taiwan executed 4 inmates convicted of crimes including murder and kidnapping.
Although the Chinese government does not release the number of executions it carries out, a 2014 report from Amnesty International estimated that thousands of criminals are executed and sentenced to death in China every year. The country last executed a former billionaire mining tycoon in February 2015 for murder, gun-running and other “mafia-style” crimes.
Although hanging is listed as India’s preferred method of execution in the Indian Criminal Procedure Code, the country’s 1950 Army Act also lists shooting as an official method of execution in the military court-martial system. Its last execution was held in 2013, when a 2001 parliament attack case convict was hanged.
The North Korea Criminal Code cites execution as the “extinguishing of bodily life,” therefore, the country does not distinguish among specific methods of execution. In January 2015, North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un was reported to have executed an army general for having interests different from his own.
Iran has been known to use several methods of execution including hanging, shooting, beheading and stoning. Despite a 2008 judicial moratorium on public executions, hangings are still often made public. According to an Iran Human Rights’ Annual Report on the Death Penalty, there were reportedly 60 confirmed public executions in 2012. The last documented Iranian execution was held in January 2015, when 17 prisoners were executed for several crimes, including drug trafficking and rape.
The Kuwait Penal Code lists both hanging and shooting by firing squad as the country’s methods of execution. In April 2013, 3 men – a Pakistani, a Saudi, and a stateless Arab – were hanged for acts of murder. In January 2017, 7 people – including a member of a royal family and a Filipino – were hanged.
In other parts of the world:
The Egypt Penal Code states that any person sentenced to capital punishment must be hanged. Its last execution was held in March 2015, when a murder convict was hanged for his involvement in the violence that followed the overthrowing of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
United States of America
Many states use several methods of execution, including lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, hanging and firing squad. But states such as New Mexico and Connecticut have already abolished the death penalty. In 2015, 28 people were executed.
The country's Criminal Code bars public hanging and other inhuman methods of execution. The method of execution, however, can still be determined by the executive body responsible for administration of the prison where the execution will be held. The country’s last execution was held in August 2007, when a major in the Ethiopian army was executed by firing squad for murdering the head of the intelligence and security services in 2001.
The Penal Code of Botswana specifies that prisoners sentenced to death must be hanged by the neck. The Botswana Defense Force Act, however, allows the president to determine the prisoner’s manner of execution. The country’s last execution was held in May 2013, when 4 people were hanged for killing a farmer in Hamra Al-Sheikh. – Rappler.com
SOURCES: Amnesty International, Death Penalty Worldwide
Alexandra Bichara is a Rappler intern.