Capital punishment | 01.10.2018

16th World Day against the Death Penalty: Living Conditions on Death Row

On October 10, 2018, the World Coalition against the Death Penalty and abolitionist actors all around the world, including the UIA, celebrate the 16th World Day Against the Death Penalty. This year, the World Day aims at raising awareness of the living conditions death row inmates face.

From solitary confinement in the United States, to the overcrowded prisons in several countries in Africa and Asia, the living conditions for those sentenced to death dehumanize and take away the dignity of individuals. Despite the fact that death row prisoners are entitled to the same rights and treatment conditions that all other prisoners (cf. “Mandela Rules) [1] , reports indicate that persons sentenced to death are exposed to particularly harsh and, even inhuman, prison conditions.

Death row prisoners are too often victims of human rights violations, and very few of these violations are denounced: Death row cells remain in the shadows and are only known by witnesses who have experienced them, or by those who have visited prisons and borne witness.

Due to prolonged delay under uncertain and difficult death row conditions, life on death row can lead to severe mental trauma and physical deterioration. Symptoms are widely known, including “death row syndrome”, which is characterised by unbearable daily anguish. 

Finally, when addressing death sentences and time spent on death row, the impact of conditions of detention on families, relatives, lawyers of persons sentenced to death, and even on prison staff cannot be disregarded. 

UIA reaffirms today its unreserved opposition to the use of capital punishment under all circumstances. It supports the World Coalition’s appeal that reminds that « Striving for the complete abolition of the death penalty also means we cannot ignore the daily treatment imposed by retentionist countries on prisoners sentenced to death ».

Learn more about the 16th World Day Against the Death Penalty and how you can act now!

Visit the World Coalition’s Website , to learn more and to view relevant documents, including a leaflet and a detailed factsheet on living conditions on death row.


[1] Unites Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, (Nelson Mandela Rules)