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pena di morte

‘‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’’, Hammurabi’s law continues to be applied 4 thousand years later. There is no technology, innovation, scientific discovery, social or political movement, capable of evolving mankind from its animal instincts, the most infamous of which is the one that claims blood for blood. And so, even today, tens of countries from east to west, keep alive and apply death penalty that has its roots in the absurd conviction that by so doing, they will prevent severe and socially harmful crimes being committed. But often happens exactly the opposite, should it suffice to see what happens in the USA where death penalty is far from discouraging crime that keeps striking carelessly.

The executioner becomes, thus, a tool for repression, a useless demonstration of power of the institutions that should create opportunities and favour civil peace instead, by being the first ones to set the example. A thing that never happens. It is proven by the 2015 report of ‘‘Hands of Cain’’, an abolitionist association that has awarded Pope Francis just a few days ago for his constant commitment against capital punishment.

The only positive fact is the one that witnesses a decline from 54 countries 10 years ago down to 37 that still practice death penalty. Everything else offers no pretexts for smiling: during the last 24 months the documented (note this word) executions have been at least 3.576, that is 65 more than in 2013 when there have been 3.511 of them. The tendency of the first semester of 2015 is gloomy as well: up till now 2.229 people have been executed in 17 countries and territories.

So that, NGO analysts affirm, if this bad trend should continue, it could reach a new, dramatic record. Asia and Middle East are the most affected areas by this phenomenon: Iran and China lead the chart. It is estimated that Beijing has ordered at least 2.400 sentences (roughly the same as in 2013 and 600 less than in 2012), whereas on the Asian continent have been certified about 3.471 executions ( 97% of the  total number), a bit more than in 2013 when no less than 3.415 deaths have been counted. Teheran, in its turn, has reached 800 sentences, occupying thus the second place, followed by Pakistan that after having withdrawn the moratorium on death penalty, in 2015 has had 174 people killed. This year the situation does not change: China has already reached 1.200 executions, whereas Iran counts 657. Particularly heinous is Hassan Rouhani’s regime that, from 2013 till these days has executed almost 2 thousand prisoners. Those numbers confer him a not so honourable primacy: that of murdering the largest number of convicts per capita.

The capital punishment does not concern only adults: in 2014 17 minors, all of them in Iran, have fallen prey to the executioners, whereas during the first months of 2015, the same happened to 4 young men, two in Iran and other two in Pakistan who had not turned 18 yet at the time when the crime was committed.

Is worrying also the recent escalation of death sentences in Saudi Arabia (at least 88 in 2014 and 102 in 2015), Egypt, Jordan, and Indonesia. During the last years, no executions were registered in 5 countries (Botswana, India, Kuwait, Nigeria and South Sudan).

On the contrary, 7 countries in which no executions had been registered in 2013 went back to them in 2014 (Belarus, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Equatorial Guinea, Pakistan, Singapore) and 2 more countries that had not performed executions in 2014 and have gone back to them in 2015 (Bangladesh and Indonesia). Besides, people were probably executed in Syria, Vietnam, and Yemen. In the Americas were registered 33 executions during the last year and 17 during the current on, all of them in the United States.

During the last one year and a half hanging, shooting, and beheading have been the methods used for death penalties in Muslim-majority countries, whereas no executions through stoning turn out to have been performed, left aside the impromptu ones perpetrated by the enraged mob, daughters of a repressive mentality. The fork is the most widespread kind of execution, that is preferred for men but that does not spare also women. In 2015, up to the 30th of June, at least 858 hangings have been performed in 8 Muslim-majority countries: Afghanistan (1), Bangladesh (2), Egypt (at least 12), Jordan (2), Iran (no less than 657, 216 of which announced by the government); Iraq (at least 6); Pakistan (at least 174), Sudan (at least 4). In 2014, 933 hangings have been performed in Muslim-majority countries: Afghanistan (6), Egypt (at least 15), Jordan (11), Iran (at least 800), Iraq (at least 67), Malesia (at least 3), Pakistan (7), Palestina (at least 1), and Sudan (at least 23). Still during the last year, 5 more hangings have been performed in two non-Muslim countries: Japan (3) and Singapore (2). In 2015, up to the 30th of June, have been performed two more hangings: one in Japan and another one in Singapore. Countries that descend to the same level of the criminals they punish under the banner of the State’s vengeance.

Translation provided by Ecaterina Severin

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