Federal Death Penalty and International Views

The Federal Death Penalty

In addition to the death penalty laws in many states, the federal government has also employed capital punishment for certain federal offenses, such as murder of a government official, kidnapping resulting in death, running of a large-scale drug enterprise, and treason. When the Supreme Court struck down state death penalty statutes in Furman, the federal death penalty statutes suffered from the same constitutional infirmities that the state statutes did. As a result, death sentences under the old federal death penalty statutes have not been upheld.

A new federal death penalty statute was enacted in 1988 for murder in the course of a drug-kingpin conspiracy. The statute was modeled on the post-Gregg statutes that the Supreme Court has approved.

In 1994, President Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that expanded the federal death penalty to some 60 crimes, some of which do not involve murder. There have been three federal executions under these laws: Timothy McVeigh and Juan Garza in June of 2001, and Louis Jones in March 2003.

In response to the Oklahoma City Bombing, President Clinton signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The Act, which affects both state and federal prisoners, restricts review in federal courts by establishing tighter filing deadlines, limiting the opportunity for evidentiary hearings, and ordinarily allowing only a single habeas corpus filing in federal court. Proponents of the death penalty argue that this streamlining will speed up the death penalty process and significantly reduce its cost, although others fear that quicker, more limited federal review may increase the risk of executing innocent defendants. (Bohm, 1999 and Schabas, 1997)

International Views

In April 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Commission passed a resolution supporting a worldwide moratorium on executions. The resolution calls on countries which have not abolished the death penalty to restrict its use, including not imposing it on juvenile offenders and limiting the number of offenses for which it can be imposed.

As of December 2013, 140 countries are abolitionist in law or practice, leaving just 58 countries active in the use of the death penalty. Of the thousands of known executions to take place in 2013, most were carried out by the China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and the USA. (Amnesty International, 2013)

Below are lists of countries with and without the death penalty, compiled and last updated by Amnesty International December 31, 2013:

Retentionist Countries
Countries which retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes

AFGHANISTAN GUINEA QATAR  
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA GUYANA SAINT KITTS & NEVIS
BAHAMAS INDIA SAINT LUCIA
BAHRAIN INDONESIA SAINT VINCENT & GRENADINES
BANGLADESH IRAN SAUDI ARABIA
BARBADOS IRAQ SINGAPORE
BELARUS JAMAICA SOMALIA
BELIZE JAPAN SOUTH SUDAN
BOTSWANA JORDAN SUDAN
CHAD KOREA (North) SYRIA
CHINA KUWAIT TAIWAN
COMOROS LEBANON THAILAND
CONGO (Democratic Republic) LESOTHO TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
CUBA LIBYA UGANDA
DOMINICA MALAYSIA UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
EGYPT NIGERIA UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
EQUATORIAL GUINEA OMAN VIET NAM
ETHIOPIA PAKISTAN YEMEN
GAMBIA PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY ZIMBABWE
GUATEMALA    


Countries that are abolitionist in practice

ALGERIA LAOS PAPUA NEW GUINEA
BENIN LIBERIA RUSSIAN FEDERATION
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM MADAGASCAR SIERRA LEONE
BURKINA FASO MALAWI SRI LANKA
CAMEROON MALDIVES SURINAME
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC MALI SWAZILAND
CONGO (Republic) MAURITANIA TAJIKISTAN
ERITREA MONGOLIA TANZANIA
GHANA MOROCCO TONGA
GRENADA MYANMAR TUNISIA
KENYA NAURU ZAMBIA
KOREA (South) NIGER    


Countries that are abolitionist for "ordinary crimes"

BRAZIL  EL SALVADOR KAZAKHSTAN 
 CHILE FIJI   PERU 
  ISRAEL   


Countries that are abolitionist for all crimes

ALBANIA GERMANY PALAU
ANDORRA GREECE PANAMA
ANGOLA GUINEA-BISSAU PARAGUAY
ARGENTINA HAITI PHILIPPINES
ARMENIA HOLY SEE POLAND
AUSTRALIA HONDURAS PORTUGAL
AUSTRIA HUNGARY ROMANIA
AZERBAIJAN ICELAND RWANDA
BELGIUM IRELAND SAMOA
BHUTAN ITALY SAN MARINO
BOLIVIA KIRIBATI SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA KYRGYSTAN SENEGAL
BULGARIA LATVIA SERBIA
BURUNDI LIECHTENSTEIN SEYCHELLES
CAMBODIA LITHUANIA SLOVAKIA
CANADA LUXEMBOURG SLOVENIA
CAPE VERDE MACEDONIA (former Yugoslav Republic) SOLOMON ISLANDS
COLOMBIA MALTA SOUTH AFRICA
COOK ISLANDS MARSHALL ISLANDS SPAIN
COSTA RICA MAURITIUS SWEDEN
COTE D'IVOIRE MEXICO SWITZERLAND
CROATIA MICRONESIA (Federated States) TIMOR-LESTE
CYPRUS MOLDOVA TOGO
CZECH REPUBLIC MONACO TURKEY
DENMARK MONTENEGRO TURKMENISTAN
DJIBOUTI MOZAMBIQUE TUVALU
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC NAMIBIA UKRAINE
ECUADOR NEPAL UNITED KINGDOM
ESTONIA NETHERLANDS URUGUAY
FINLAND NEW ZEALAND UZBEKISTAN
FRANCE NICARAGUA VANUATU
GABON NIUE VENEZUELA
GEORGIA NORWAY  


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