In Europe, only Belarus still has the death penalty.

In Switzerland, capital punishment was abandoned in 1942. Before that, the method of execution was the guillotine, and before 1867 decapitated with the sword. In line with the “new firmness” or “refreshing shift to the right” as the proponents call it, a group of people in Switzerland is now allowed to start campaining for 100.000 signatures, which again is needed to start a referendum for re-introduction of the death penalty; a lot of legislation in Switzerland is made using the referendum proces.

I have written quite often about this theme here, so I won’t do that again. My personal opinion is that it is not a sign of sophistication. Oh well.

Added 08/28: So it seems a hot item again. In Japan the current Justice minister is fighting an uphill battle against a 86% majority in favor of retaining the ‘unavoidable’ death penalty. And an interesting strategy she choose: inform, show.

Japan, along with the U.S., is one of only two Group of Eight rich countries that retain capital punishment. It currently has 107 inmates on death row.

There are 107 people on death row.

Seven people were executed in 2009.

Inmates are kept in solitary confinement in seven detention centres.

Death row inmates are notified on the morning of the execution day, usually about an hour before the execution.

Execution is by hanging. Medical experts have said that a person who is hanged immediately loses consciousness and their heart stops in about 15 minutes.

While the law says an execution must take place within six months after the sentence is finalised by the court system, in practice it usually takes several years.