Global executions on the decline, says Amnesty International----Amnesty
International's latest annual report has found fewer executions were carried
around the world out in 2017 than the year prior. The number of people
sentenced to death went down as well.
Last year Amnesty International recorded 923 executions worldwide. Although
that number is still high, it is 4 % less than in 2016, when the human rights
organization registered 100 more.
4 % fewer executions - is it a global trend? Amnesty International capital
punishment expert Oluwatosin Popoola warns there are caveats. The decrease had
to do, above all, with the fact that the three countries that carry out the
most death penalties worldwide executed fewer people in 2017: Iran, Saudi
Arabia and Pakistan. Iran carried out 11 % fewer executions, according to
Amnesty, while Pakistan put 31 % fewer people to death.
Numbers and caveats
The reasons behind the declines in those countries are varied. "In Iran, for
instance, the drop can be traced to judicial reforms for dealing with
drug-related crime," Popoola told DW. He says it is more difficult to explain
the reductions when it comes to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The only thing that
is clear is that "executions [in 2017] have decreased after recent peaks."
Amnesty also recorded a 20 % drop in Egypt.
Still, the organization warns those numbers do not tell the whole story: They
are based on the minimum number, that is, those that could be confirmed beyond
doubt. The true number of people executed last year is believed to be higher.
In all, 23 countries around the world executed individuals in 2017.
Not included: China
The findings also highlights a massive blind spot. Amnesty opens its report by
stating that executions in China, the country that puts the most citizens to
death globally, are not included in its figures. "The true scale of death
penalties carried out remains unknown since data is classified secret," the
report explains. "The number of 993 worldwide executions does not include the
thousands of people likely executed in China."
Excluding China, Amnesty says that 84 % of all executions documented worldwide
were carried out in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.
The exact number of people executed every year in China remains unknown
Popoola says authorities in Iraq "continue to resort to the death penalty as a
tool of retribution in response to public outrage after attacks claimed by
armed groups, including the group calling itself the Islamic State. Mass
executions were carried out on several occasions during the year, with dozens
of men being executed in September."
A number of countries actually resumed executions in 2017: Bahrain, Kuwait, the
United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
Positive developments in sub-Saharan Africa
One bright spot Amnesty points to in its report is sub-Saharan Africa. Guinea,
for instance, abolished the death penalty. And Gambia called a moratorium,
promising that the next step would be abolition. Popoola says the region is
currently a "hub" for the drop in executions.
Globally, countries are carrying out fewer executions. In 2016 more than 3,100
people were put to death, in 2017 that number dropped to 2,600. However,
Amnesty did register almost 22,000 cases of prisoners on death row around the
Death penalty not a deterrent
Amnesty prefaced its report with a quote from United Nations Secretary-General
Antonio Guterres: "The death penalty does little to serve victims or deter
Experts say the death penalty is not a deterrent when it comes to crime
According to Popoola, there is no credible evidence to suggest that capital
punishment is a stronger deterrent than other sentences: "For example in
Canada, the homicide rate in 2016 was almost half that in 1976, when the death
penalty was abolished there."
Abolition 'within reach'
Popoola says efforts must now be concentrated on working towards abolishing the
death penalty in those countries that still practice it, and he has concrete
proposals for doing so. Such countries, he says, "can immediately establish an
official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
They could commute, without delay, all death sentences" and "remove prisoners
from death row," putting them into normal prison settings instead. He adds that
those countries could also "immediately remove from their laws any death
penalty provisions, which are in breach of international human rights law."
Overall, Amnesty says the 2017 statistics provide a ray of hope: "These
important developments confirm that the world has reached a turning point and
that the abolition of this utterly gruesome, inhumane and degrading punishment
is within reach."
(source: Deutsche Welle)
The Death Penalty in 2017: Facts and Figures
Amnesty International recorded at least 993 executions in 23 countries in 2017,
down by 4% from 2016 (1,032 executions) and 39% from 2015 (when the
organization reported 1,634 executions, the highest number since 1989).
Most executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan - in
China remained the world's top executioner - but the true extent of the use of
the death penalty in China is unknown as this data is classified as a state
secret; the global figure of at least 993 excludes the thousands of executions
believed to have been carried out in China.
Excluding China, 84% of all reported executions took place in just 4 countries
- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.
During 2017, 23 countries are known to have carried out executions - the same
Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) resumed executions
in 2017. Amnesty International did not record executions in 5 countries -
Botswana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Sudan and Taiwan - that carried out executions in
Executions noticeably fell in Belarus (by 50%, from at least 4 to at least 2),
Egypt (by 20%) Iran (by 11%), Pakistan (31%) and Saudi Arabia (5%). Executions
doubled or almost doubled in Palestine (State of) from 3 in 2016 to 6 in 2017;
Singapore from 4 to 8; and Somalia from 14 to 24.
In 2017, 2 countries - Guinea and Mongolia - abolished the death penalty in law
for all crimes. Guatemala became abolitionist for ordinary crimes only. Gambia
signed an international treaty committing the country not to carry out
executions and to move to abolish the death penalty in law.
At the end of 2017, 106 countries (a majority of the world's states) had
abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes and 142 countries (more than
2/3) had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
Amnesty International recorded commutations or pardons of death sentences in 21
countries: Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait,
Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco/Western Sahara, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New
Guinea, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tunisia, UAE, USA and Zimbabwe.
55 exonerations of prisoners under sentence of death were recorded in 6
countries: China, Maldives, Nigeria, Taiwan, USA and Zambia.
Amnesty International recorded at least 2,591 death sentences in 53 countries
in 2017, a significant decrease from the record-high of 3,117 recorded in 2016.
At least 21,919 people were known to be on death row at the end of 2017.
The following methods of execution were used across the world in 2017:
beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting. Public executions were
carried out in Iran (at least 31).
Reports from 2017 indicated that at least five people were executed in Iran who
were under 18 at the time of the crime for which they were sentenced to death.
In many countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the
proceedings did not meet international fair trial standards. This included the
extraction of "confessions" through torture or other ill-treatment, including
in Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
For the 9th consecutive year, the USA remained the only country to carry out
executions in the region.
The number of executions (23) and death sentences (41) in the USA slightly
increased compared to 2016, but remained within historically low trends of
recent years. For the 2nd year in a row, and the 2nd time since 2006, the USA
did not feature among the top 5 global executioners, with its position in the
global ranking dropping from 7th to 8th.
The number of US states carrying out executions increased from 5 in 2016 to 8,
with Arkansas, Ohio and Virginia resuming executions after a hiatus. 4 states -
Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri and Nebraska - as well as US federal courts,
imposed death sentences in 2017, after a hiatus, bringing the number of US
states imposing death sentences to 15 (2 more than in 2016). Kansas, North
Carolina and Oregon, which imposed death sentences in 2016, did not do so in
Only 3 countries in the region imposed death sentences - Guyana, Trinidad and
Tobago and the USA.
Guatemala became the 142nd country to have abolished the death penalty in law
At least 93 executions in nine countries were known to have been carried out
throughout the region in 2017 - down from at least 130 in 11 countries in 2016.
The decrease was linked to a decline in Pakistan, where executions reduced by
31%. These figures do not include the thousands of executions that Amnesty
International believed were carried out in China.
Singapore doubled its number of executions (from 4 to 8) compared to 2016. All
its executions were for drug-related offences.
At least 1,037 new death sentences were imposed, a slight decrease from 2016.
This number is down to a variation in figures for a number of countries, and
because of information provided to Amnesty International by authorities.
Figures for death sentences in India, Indonesia Pakistan and Thailand, among
other countries, were lower compared to 2016.
Increases were recorded in countries including Bangladesh (from at least 245 to
at least 273), Singapore (from at least 7 to 15) and Sri Lanka (from at least
79 to 218).
18 countries across the region were known to have imposed death sentences, the
same number as in 2016. Brunei Darussalam imposed a new death sentence after it
did not impose any in 2016; Papua New Guinea did not impose any death sentences
in 2017, after it did so in the previous year.
Across Asia Pacific, the death penalty was extensively used for offences that
did not meet the threshold of the "most serious crimes", going against
Europe and Central Asia
In Europe and Central Asia, Belarus was the only country to execute people. The
country carried out at least 2 executions in 2017; at least 4 new death
sentences were imposed.
1 man remained under sentence of death in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan continued to observe
moratoriums on executions.
Middle East and North Africa
There was a small reduction in the use of the death penalty in 2017. The number
of executions recorded in the Middle East and North Africa decreased by 1%,
from 856 in 2016 to 847 in 2017.
Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq remained the top 3 executing countries, accounting
for 92% of executions in the region.
Iran executed at least 507 people, accounting for 60% of all confirmed
executions in the region. Saudi Arabia executed 146 people, representing 17% of
all confirmed executions in the region.
At least 264 executions were carried out for drug-related offences (27% of all
recorded executions in 2017).
Amnesty International confirmed that at least 619 death sentences were imposed
in the region in 2017, a reduction on the 764 death sentences recorded in 2016.
Egypt imposed at least 402 death sentences, the most in the region.
Positive steps were taken across Sub-Saharan Africa, with a reduction in the
number of executing countries recorded.
2 countries (Somalia and South Sudan) recorded executions in 2017, compared to
5 countries recorded in 2016.
28 executions were carried out, 24 in Somalia and 4 in South Sudan, a slight
increase compared to at least 22 recorded in 2016.
Death sentences decreased, from at least 1,086 in 2016 to at least 878 in 2017.
Nigeria imposed the highest number of death sentences and had the highest
number of people under death sentence in the region at the end of the year.
Guinea abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia
and Kenya made important strides towards abolition of the death penalty.
(source: Amnesty International)
Middle East tops death penalty list with 'gruesome tally' of executions<P>
Iran carried out more than 1/2 of all recorded executions in 2017, a new report
from Amnesty International revealed on Thursday. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq
are responsible for carrying out 85 % of all reported death sentences
worldwide, the report said.
The figures show that the Middle East and North Africa accounted for 847 of 933
reported death sentences carried out worldwide in 2017.
This was despite an overall decrease of 1 % in executions across the region
against figures from 2016, the report said.
Figures for China, where thousands are thought to be executed every year, were
The report also does not include figures for executions in Libya and Syria,
where militant groups are thought to be responsible for thousands of
Lucy Wake, Amnesty International UK's government and political relations
manager, told MEE: "Aside from China, the bulk of the world’s executions are
taking place in the Middle East, which sets an important challenge for the UK’s
foreign policy towards the region.
"With countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain all
appearing in this gruesome tally of Middle Eastern states executing prisoners -
many after unfair trials - the UK needs to ensure that abolition of the death
penalty is a key part of its Middle East foreign goals.
"As well as condemning executions, we need to see the UK speaking out more
often and more critically when it comes to things like torture and unfair
trials in Saudi Arabia, especially when these abuses are leading to scores of
people being beheaded in public squares every year."
The figures show that Iran executed at least 507 people, accounting for 60 % of
all confirmed executions in the region.
"Basic fair trial guarantees" were absent in the country, and death penalty
cases often relied on "confessions" extracted under torture, the report said.
More than 200 executions took place in Iran for drug trafficking, despite an
amendment to the country's drugs law - which passed last November - to increase
the threshold for mandatory death sentences for drug offences.
A further 59 executions were carried out for drug-related offences across the
region, the report added.
Saudi Arabia executed 146 people in 2017, a modest decrease from the 2016
figure, according to the rights group. 78 of the executions were for murder, 4
for terrorism-related acts and 59 were for drug-related offences.
The group said that many defendants were sentenced to death "after unfair
trials by courts that convicted them without adequately investigating
allegations of coerced 'confessions,' including confessions obtained under
The bulk of the executions were carried out after Mohammed Bin Salman was
appointed crown prince in July, figures from rights group Reprieve suggest.
Bin Salman has presented himself as a reformer, but in a recent interview with
CBS News, during a visit to the US, he said: "We believe in the notion of human
rights, but ultimately Saudi standards are not the same as American standards."
"On average, the Saudi authorities currently execute someone more or less every
2 days," Wake told MEE. "Though rulers like Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin
Salman trumpet supposed 'reforms' - Saudi executioners are as busy now as they
were 2 years ago."
Amnesty said that authorities in Saudi Arabia also “routinely failed to inform
families of their relatives’ imminent execution".
The group pointed to the execution of Yussuf Ali al-Mushaikhass on 11 July -
alongside three other men - in connection with anti-government protests in the
Eastern Province in 2011 and 2012. His family only found out about his death
following a government announcement on television, the group said.
At least 125 executions were carried out in Iraq, compared to 88 in 2016, all
by authorities in central Iraq.
The death penalty continued to be used as "tool of retribution in response to
public outrage" over attacks by the Islamic State (IS) group, Amnesty
International said. This includes a mass execution carried out on 25 September,
11 days after an IS suicide attack in Nasiriyah, which killed at least 84
Egypt executed 35 people last year, and with 402 people sentenced to death
compared to at least 237 in 2016, it handed down the majority of death
sentences in the region.
The report also expressed the group's concern that Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and
the United Arab Emirates all resumed executions in 2017.
On 25 January 2017, Kuwait executed 7 people - the 1st death penalty carried
out since 2013. Similarly in Bahrain, 3 men were killed in the 1st executions
there since 2010. Amnesty said that the trials of Ali Abdulshaheed al-Sankis,
Sami Mirza Mshaima and Abbas Jamil Taher Mhammad al-Samea failed to meet
The men were executed by firing squad, and Amnesty said their lawyers did not
have access to all of the evidence against them.
Sayed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and
Democracy (BIRD), told MEE: "The extra-judicial execution of three men last
year was a heinous crime, a disproportionate punishment, which relied on
torture. The execution was signed by King Hamad, and the blood-stained clothes
of the executed men were handed to their families, an action usually taken by
members of a mafia, not a state."
He added that Bahrain had handed down 15 death sentences in 2017 alone, which
was "the highest number in a single year since the modern courts were
established in Bahrain in 1923".
In the Gaza Strip, authorities carried out executions of 6 men - 3 for
"collaboration with Israeli authorities".
They were carried out without the Palestinian president's approval in violation
of Palestinian Basic Law (constitution).
(source: Middle East Eye)
Amnesty International: Malaysia taking baby steps to abolishing death penalty
Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM) has lauded the government's move to amend
the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 to give judges discretion over the previously
mandatory death penalty.
At the launch of its Global Report: Death Sentences and Executions 2017, AIM
executive director Gwen Lee said the move, though small, was still positive and
that the government was progressing towards eliminating capital punishment.
However, she questioned the impact the amendment will have on reducing
executions in the country.
"Those convicted of transporting, sending or delivering a prohibited substance
who were also found to have cooperated with law enforcement in disrupting drug
trafficking activities have an alternative sentence of life imprisonment and no
less than 15 strokes of the whip.
"While this might seem like a positive move, it is unclear what impact these
changes will have on reducing the number of people executed as the alternative
punishment still amounts to torture.
"It creates an impossible choice for people who have been wrongly accused of
crimes - admit to a crime they did not commit or maintain their innocence at
the risk of death," Lee said.
She then told reporters after the launch that the 1st case after the amendment
had taken place still put 3 men on death row.
"Based on a news article on April 4, the High Court Judge sentenced three men
to the mandatory death penalty.
"The lawyers tried to use the new amendment but according to the judge there
was no proof that the men actually helped bust a drug trafficking ring, thus
they were not eligible for life imprisonment," she said.
Lee also presented that last year Malaysia had carried out at least 4
executions - 3 for murder and 1 for discharge of firearm - although she
believed there could be more as data on the death penalty is not made public.
She also disclosed that 38 new mandatory death sentences were imposed for 21
drug related offences, 16 murders and 1 discharge of firearms. 4 of those
sentenced were women and 12 were foreign nationals.
As of February, data compiled from the Prisons Department showed that 1,122
convicts are on death row. Malaysia was also 1 of the 11 countries that had
consecutively executed convicts over the past 5 years.
Lee also brought to attention the case of Hoo Yew Wah who was arrested in March
2005 when he was 20 years old for being in possession 188.5 grams of
methamphetamines and was automatically presumed and later convicted of
Hoo was convicted based on a statement he made at the time of arrest without a
lawyer present. All his appeals had been rejected by the courts and his
petition for pardon to the Sultan of Johor, where the offence took place, is
The launch was also attended by members of the diplomatic corp including the
Mexican Ambassador to Malaysia, Carlos Felix Corona and the Spanish Ambassador
to Malaysia Carlos Dominguez Diaz.
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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