Capital punishment is the legal killing of a person in which a person can be put to death by the state as punishment for a heinous crime. The judicial decree that someone is punished in this manner is a death sentence while the actual killing of the person is an execution. Crimes that can attract the death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offenses. Capital punishment has, in the past, been practiced by most societies, as a punishment for criminals, and political or religious dissidents. Usually, the carrying out of the death sentence was often accompanied by torture, and executions were most often public.
Presently many countries actively practice capital punishment, Amnesty International considers most countries abolitionist; overall, the organization considers 140 countries to be abolitionist in law or practice. About 90% of all executions in the world take place in Asia. Nearly all countries in the world prohibit the execution of individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes; since 2009, only Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan have carried out such executions of this kind are prohibited under international law. Capital punishment is a matter of active controversy in various countries and states, and positions can vary within a single political ideology or cultural region.
The United Nations General Assembly has adopted, in 2007, 2008 and 2010, non-binding resolutions calling for a global moratorium on executions, with a view to eventual abolition. Although many nations have abolished capital punishment, over 60% of the world’s population live in countries where executions take place, such as the People’s Republic of China, India, the United and Indonesia, the four most-populous countries in the world, which continue to apply the death penalty. The use of formal execution extends to the beginning of recorded history. Most historical records and various primitive tribal practices indicate that the death penalty was a part of their justice system.
A blood feud or vendetta occurs when arbitration between families or tribes fails or an arbitration system is non-existent. This form of justice was common before the emergence of an arbitration system based on state or organized religion. It may result from crime, land disputes or a code of honor. “Acts of retaliation underscore the ability of the social collective to defend itself and demonstrate to enemies that injury to property, rights, or the person will not go unpunished. However, in practice, it is often difficult to distinguish between a war of vendetta and one of conquest.
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