Death penalty debate re-ignites

JOHANNESBURG - Amnesty International says use of the death penalty is on the decline and by the end of last year, 142 countries had abolished it.

However, there were still 993 executions recorded in 2017, in 23 countries which practise capital punishment, with China still believed to be the world's biggest executioner.

In South Africa, the IFP wants a discussion on the death penalty.

India recently passed a bill allowing for the death sentence for anyone convicted of raping a child. 

The move comes after nationwide protests over the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl.

READ: Is Zimbabwe ready to abolish the death penalty?

Countries carrying out the penalty last year used methods ranging from decapitation to hanging, and lethal injection.

The United States has been divided on the issue of the death penalty for decades.

According to the latest poll, today 54-percent are in favour of sending convicted murderers to Death Row, while 39 percent oppose this.

In Uganda, human rights groups want to scrap the death penalty but President Yoweri Museveni is rejecting the move, saying crime will rise.

A recent report by rights group Amnesty International applauded some Sub-Saharan African countries for abolishing the death penalty.

But with reports of Botswana and Sudan resuming executions this year, Amnesty says there are fears the death sentence may gain popularity across Africa.

READ: Kenyan beauty queen sentenced to death for murder

Back home, the IFP is calling for renewed debate on the death penalty, saying crime is out of control but is it a solution?

The Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders doesn't think so.

"Nicro is very clear that this is a knee-jerk reaction,” said Soraya Solomon from NICRO.

“It's been shown, especially in America where some states have the death penalty - others don't and research was done by very renowned criminologists and they found over a 10-year period those states that had the death penalty the crime rate actually spiked, compared to those states that did not have the death penalty.”

The South African Institute for Violence Prevention says there is no scientific evidence that capital punishment deters violence.

In a tweet, it says the IFP should rather focus on poverty alleviation and reducing inequality because the latter breeds violence.