17 years ago, the Human Rights Act became law in the UK and we think that's worth celebrating!

To mark the occasion, over 17 days we are 'unwrapping' the Human Rights Act - with information & stories, we'll be sharing how the Act works and how it makes a difference. Many of the stories include examples taken from BIHR's work with people, community groups and public services.

Article 1 Protocol 13: Abolition of the death penalty

The Human Rights Act abolishes the death penalty. 

The Human Rights Act formally abolished the death penalty, and protects the right of everyone to not be condemned to the death penalty or be executed. 

The abolition of the death penalty applies at all times, even during times of war or when the threat of war is imminent. 

Sentencing a person to death is considered to be a violation of the right to life and the right to freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, which are both also protected under the Human Rights Act. 

The Human Rights Act also means that the UK can't extradite people (that is, deport people to stand trial in another country), if there is a real risk that they could be sentenced to death or executed. 

In practice: Abolition of the death penalty

The last execution in the UK took place over fifty years ago, in August 1964. The following year, Parliament passed a law suspending the death penalty across the UK. It was only with the Human Rights Act coming into force seventeen years ago that the death penalty was properly banned under UK law. 

The UK government remains committed to opposing the death penalty, with the government releasing this statement in October 2017:

On World Day Against the Death Penalty, we reaffirm the UK’s strong opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances.

It is over 50 years since the UK government abolished the death penalty. We believe its use undermines human dignity, that there is no conclusive evidence of its deterrent value, and that any miscarriage of justice leading to its imposition is irreparable.