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Is the death penalty is still appropriate?

Little by little, countries are ditching the death penalty. On September 19 a bill nude, a Sudanese man was executed in Saudi Arabia for the crime of sorcery. On September 21 Tory Davis, a black man convicted of shooting an off duty white policeman was executed in the American state of Georgia. Protests that the evidence against him was flawed proved fruitless.

Despite these cases, the death penalty, on the statute book since the days of the Romans, is disappearing in much of the world. More than two thirds of countries have done away with it either in law and practice. In August the West African country called Ben and committed itself to abolishing capital punishment permanently. The number of countries to carry out judicial killings fell from 41 in 1995 to 23,010, according to Amnesty International, a pressure group. China, or I'm, North Korea and Yemen accounted for most of the executions. Votes against the death penalty at the UN Gen assembly have passed with big and growing majority since 2007. Capital punishment has virtually gone in Europe with only Belarus still using it most recently in 2010. This year China whittled down its list of crimes punishable by death.

Yet for all the apparent momentum, capital punishment remains entrenched in the Middle East and North Africa, and in parts of Asia, most notably China. A non-government organisation called penal reform International thinks the Arab spring could be new spur to abolition, though she worries that executing political enemies may prove attractive in the short run.

The other big exception is America where two thirds of states still have the death penalty. A leading Republican candidate the presidency, Rick Perry, is governor of Texas which is a state that uses of most in the USA. The state has carried out a record 235 executions in his nearly 11 years as governor. Mr Perry says he loses no sleep over it, and many voters still the same.

But the abolitionist trend seems inexhaustible. In March Illinois became the fourth state in four years to scrap the death penalty. Maryland, Connecticut and California may follow suit. Squeezed state budgets are eroding enthusiasm. The cost of fighting protracted legal battles and maintaining separate facilities those condemned to death looks increasingly unaffordable when schools and libraries are being closed. California alone has more than 700 people on death row.

The founder of the equal Justice initiative, a pressure group that espouses abolition, ascribes increasing unhappiness of the death penalty to long-term growth and sensitivity to human rights. A growing number mind of the death penalty in America falls disproportionately on blacks and poor people. The chance of innocent folk may be executed council more, with many, then that deterrent effect of capital punishment which is itself? Academic studies. Gruesome details about the mechanisms of executions also spoke public disquiet.

Pressure to get into international clubs has also propelled abolition. The Council of Europe, the Strasbourg-based talking shop requires members to accede to the European Convention on human rights which has made the death penalty are barred from membership. That, plus other things such as election rigging, has left Belarus's application rigor mortis.

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