- first first
- Venezuela ()
The first country to permanently abolish the use of the death penalty for all crimes was Venezuela, which struck the sentence from law in 1863 during the presidency of Juan Crisóstomo Falcón.
The death penalty is specifically forbidden in the current Constitution of the Republic of Venezuela (ratified in 1961), though there have been reports of extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations having taken place in the country during the unrest that following President Nicolás Maduro's disputed 2019 election.
The first country to enact a de facto ban on the use of the death penalty (in which the laws are still on the books, but not used) was the tiny European country of San Marino. The San Marinese approved the abolition of the death penalty in 1865, but the last recorded execution in the country took place in 1468.
The few other sovereign states abolished the death penalty before the 19th century – including Japan in 724 CE, China in 747 CE, and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1786 – but in each case capital punishment was either reinstated within a few years, or the country was absorbed into another state that did have the death penalty.