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Death is the ultimate penal sanction, which has made it controversial worldwide. Consequently, social scientists have long gravitated to it as a subject for policy-relevant, empirical research. In most nations, however, moral concerns have since World War II led to the death penalty's abolition as cruel and inhuman, which has mooted empirical research. As late as 1998, there were 1,625 official executions in 37 countries, 83 percent of which occurred in the People's Republic of China (1,067), the Democratic Republic of Congo (100), the United States (68), Iran (66), and Egypt (48).

By 2003, 111 countries had abolished capital punishment. The European Court of Human Rights banned the death penalty in all nations within the Council of Europe, stating it violated the European Convention of Human ...

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