In China, the death penalty could be given for corruption and other serious offences. In countries where capital punishment has been banned, the punishment is usually considered as a human rights issue and opponents of capital punishment argue that capital punishment does not deter criminals and the poor or minority are sometimes wrongfully convicted.
In certain countries that retain capital punishment, delay between the actual verdict given and the execution carried out could go for many years as the convicted person would be allowed to go through many tribunals although excessive delay can also lead to basic human rights violation3. Most prisoners appeal against the death sentence due to the survival instinct although such a struggle may itself be a basic human rights violation that would prohibit cruelty in any form4. The death row phenomenon as this is called could pressurise states to modify their procedures or even abandon capital punishment.
Supporters of capital punishment argue that such form of punishment would deter crime and would be an appropriate punishment for murder. As Murray notes, a major justification for capital punishment is the perceived public support although the complexity of the death penalty may not be generally understood by most people5. Murray aimed to examine the stability of the attitudes on the fair application of the death penalty and what are the public opinions regarding the fairness and administration of capital punishment. The complexity of these attitudes was analysed with a telephone survey and the results indicated instability in attitudes regarding the application of capital punishment although many seem to think that the application of the death penalty is not fair in many cases. Murray concluded his study by suggesting that, 'the justification for capital punishment may rest on oversimplified conceptions of attitudes toward the death penalty and its application'6.
There have been recent debates on whether capital punishment should be restored in the EU as also in the United Kingdom following concerns and debates that banning death penalty and capital punishment could actually encourage criminals.
The Guardian reports that there have been recent criticisms and condemnation of the Polish president Lech Kaczynski, a conservative who called for a reintroduction of the death penalty in Europe. According to the Guardian, Europe is concerned by what they consider as Poland's tilt towards the right7.
In certain countries which are democratic yet retains the death penalty, the capital punishment seems to have wide public support although abolition of execution in some European countries has been a natural shift from authoritarianism to democracy. In the United Kingdom there is no capital punishment for any crimes whatsoever and there has been a complete abolition of the death penalty since 1964. In the United States on the other hand, capital punishment is still legal.
In this case it would be essential to understand whether certain arguments for restoring the capital punishment would be valid and possibly show better reasons than arguments based