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The Abolishment of Death Penalty


The death penalty, also referred to as capital punishment, entails the execution of perpetrators of crime as opposed to handing them jail terms. Continued debate in support or opposition of this kind of punishment has influenced numerous changes concerning the way it is looked at. This paper particularly discusses the abolishment of the death penalty in the United Kingdom, which is one of the key countries that have instituted significant changes towards the sentence.

The United Kingdom Situation

The UK put an end to the death penalty in 1965, specifically for murder crimes, following intense pressure and discussions from abolitionists, who faulted the country’s continued application of the sentence. However, the abolition occurred in stages as it was initially implemented for five years in England, Scotland, as well as Wales. Nevertheless, it later took effect permanently after the initial five years. As Stearman points out, nonetheless, the death penalty has been retained in the UK although its applicability is only for a few crimes considered to be serious, such as treason.

The UK government is still implementing plans and strategies that are aimed at abolishing the capital punishment entirely. In its strategy paper covering the period between 2010 and 2015, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office states that its efforts are mainly guided by the need to promote human rights along with democracy, which remain priority areas for the UK. The country has established different channels through which it intends to push its ideology across the world, including use of bilateral initiatives, the United Nations, as well as the European United.

A universal treaty aiming at abolishing the capital punishment, of which the UK is a signatory, has been creating additional pressure through its numerous resolutions (Neumayer, 2008). For instance, the treaty calls upon all member states to involve more ambitious as well as comprehensive measures rather than mere implementation of abolition. It also requires that the member states allow for independent international supervision to ensure proper compliance. Thus, the UK is expected to continuously advocate for changes and a possible total abolition of the death penalty by all countries in the world.


The UK has been practicing the death penalty up until 1965, when the sentence was abolished. Several activities led to the abolition of the death sentence, including pressure by human rights groups and other stakeholders. The UK government has since taken the initiative of abolishing the practice, and has been devising plans to influence even other countries against condoning it. As a signatory to a global treaty against the death penalty, the UK has more responsibilities of ensuring that it abolishes the sentence altogether.