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How may I kick the bucket?
Execution methods are becoming more humane over time, but can the same be said for the criminals?

Rulers, and the governments after them, have used various methods to punish the condemned – crucifixion, poisoning, burying/burning alive, beheading, throwing them to hungry predators or in front of firing squads and so on. Methods have become more civilized over the years. Yet, there are instances of laws in certain countries that advocate public stoning to death (as practised in Iran), using chemical weapons to annihilate several hundreds (as Saddam Hussein did to Kurds in 1988), or starving the accused to death (principal means of handing out death sentences in North Korea)!

These methods are ghastly indeed, but they are thankfully aberrations! The most common roster of executions reads beheading, hanging, gas chamber, electrocution, lethal injection and shooting in recent history. Saudi Arabia has a dubious distinction of being one of the very few countries that still practise beheading. Between 2007 and 2010, as many as 345 people have been beheaded in that country. Hanging is prevalent in most countries. India, where as per Amnesty International, 33 people were sentenced to death in 2001, 23 in 2002, 77 in 2005, 40 in 2006 and 100 in 2007; belongs to this category. Shooting squads are deployed by a number of countries with 58 cases in 2010 – 18 executions in Libya, 5 in North Korea, 4 in Equatorial Guinea, 1 in US and Bahrain et al. Gas chambers and electric chairs are mostly practiced in US. As per the Death Penalty Information Centre, 157 electrocutions and 11 gas chamber executions were reported since 1976. Lethal injection has been pioneered by US (as the most ‘peaceful’ method of execution) with 1090 deaths since 1976; this method has now been adopted by China, Thailand & Vietnam. Executions are getting humane, though one can’t say the same for criminals.

By:- Mrinmoy Dey

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