San Diego Law Review


Nkem Adeleye

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Several debates on the legitimacy, constitutionality, and acceptability of the death penalty have arisen throughout the years. The death row phenomenon refers to the psychological effects on prisoners of being on death row for a prolonged period while awaiting an imminent execution under harsh conditions of confinement. Having been declared a violation of a customary norm of international law by several international tribunals and national courts, this Article explores the possibility of the death row phenomenon, as a legal concept, becoming widely accepted and ultimately preventing the execution of another category of offenders. The existence of a lack of judicial consensus arising from different standards set by these courts in the determination of what constitutes delay could be an obstacle to this development. This Article suggests that if pursued diligently, the death row phenomenon could become universally accepted as an unacceptable practice and a standard could be set under international law which would become binding upon national courts.

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