Death penalty: A road paved with torture

03/10/2022
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World Coalition against the Death Penalty

On 10 October 2022, people around the world will mobilise to raise awareness of the death penalty and torture. As the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) work toward the universal abolition of the death penalty in all countries, for all crimes, this year’s 20th annual World Day Against the Death Penalty is dedicated to reflecting on the relationship between the use of the death penalty and torture or other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment.

Death penalty: A road paved with torture

The types of torture and other ill-treatment experienced during the long death penalty road are varied and numerous:
- physical or psychological torture has been applied in many cases during questioning to force confessions to capital crimes;
- death row phenomenon contributes to the long-term psychological decline of a person’s health;
- harsh death row living conditions contribute to physical deterioration;
- mental anguish of anticipating execution;
- methods of execution that cause exceptional pain, and the suffering experienced by family members and those with a close relationship with the executed person.

Discrimination based on sex, gender, poverty, age, sexual orientation, religious and ethnic minority status and others can compound cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of individuals sentenced to death.

Read the factsheet :

Download the documentation about the World Day against the Death Penalty 2022:
- the factsheet
- the detailed factsheet
- the poster
- the testimonies

The death penalty in practice

- 110 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes
- 8 countries have abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes
- 27 countries are abolitionist in practice
- 55 countries are retentionist
- 18 countries carried out executions in 2021
- In 2021, the top 5 executioners were China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Whilst the number of executions has increased in 2021, the level is still historically low, being the second lowest registered by Amnesty since 2010 at least.

Download the facts and figures 2022

10 things you can do to end the death penalty

1. Organize a demonstration. This option must be considered with the utmost care given the Covid-19 pandemic – please use common sense and follow local guidelines if you decide to hold a public demonstration.
2. Organise a visit in prison to raise awareness on the conditions of detention of prisoners.
3. Build partnerships with minority groups’ rights organizations (women, LGBTQIA+, religious minorities, ethnic minorities, etc) to raise awareness about how discrimination are an aggravating factor of the psychological and physical torture.
4. Participate in a TV show or community radio program.
5. Write a letter to death row inmates or to their families to show support and fight isolation
6. Attend events advocating for the abolition of the death penalty (check out the website of the World Coalition against the Death Penalty for information about planned events)
7. Donate to a group working to end the death penalty
8 Follow the social media campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: #nodeathpenalty
9. Mobilise the media to raise awareness on torture experienced by those who are sentenced to death both locally and worldwide.
10. Participate in the global movement Cities Against the Death Penalty/Cities for Life on 30 November 2022.

For more details and ideas, download the mobilisation kit

Important note on the Covid-19 Pandemic

Since the beginning of 2020, the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has influenced how the abolitionist community is able to advocate and defend the abolition of capital punishment. Thousands of those sentenced to death, along with their families and support networks, are left vulnerable as prison and judiciary systems around the world grapple with the implications of the Covid-19 crisis.

It is now more important than ever to stay active and vigilant for abolition of the death penalty! With any activity you undertake this year, please make sure it is compatible with your local and/or national government’s regulations regarding public health and safety. Use good sense in planning activities with the aim of reducing transmission rates. This is particularly important as policies and regulations have been changing to adapt to the Covid-19 threat and may continue to change until 10 October.

More about the death penalty: read our report about the situations in Central African Republic, in Thailand, in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia.

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