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Capital Punishment in the United Kingdom

When were public executions and non public executions stopped in the UK, what led to this decision and how was it made?

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With the passage of the Human Rights Act in November 1998, the United Kingdom joined the ranks of "fully abolitionist" countries . The UK Government had introduced a late amendment to the Human Rights Bill in October 1998 that removed the death penalty as a possible punishment for military offences under the Armed Forces Acts.

The death penalty had been available for five military wartime offences: Serious Misconduct in Action; Communicating with the Enemy; Aiding the Enemy or Furnishing Supplies; Obstructing Operations or Giving False Air Signals; Mutiny, Incitement to Mutiny or Failure to Suppress a Mutiny. The last execution under military law was in 1942. In July 1998, Armed Forces Minister Dr John Reid MP had announced that the Government would repeal the death penalty for military offences - and that this had the support of the military top brass.

The UK Government made an international commitment to the permanent abolition of the death penalty on 20 May 1999, when it ratified Protocol 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights. Protocol 6 is an international human rights treaty which commits a government to the permanent abolition of the death penalty. It has been ratified by all other European Union member states.

On 10th December 1999, International Human Rights Day, the UK Government ratified the other international treaty which bans the death penalty, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and completed the journey to total abolition.

This historic transformation marks the end of a long campaign to get ...

Solution Summary

This solution summarizes the history of Capital Punishment (in the form of both public and private executions) in Britain and the events leading up to its ultimate abolishment.