The Strategist

Number of Executions in the World Reached a Record Level in a Quarter Century

04/06/2016 - 16:14

According to human rights organization Amnesty International, at least 1634 people were executed in the world during 2015. This is 54% more than the year before, and is the highest figure for the last 25 years. Leaders by the number of executions were Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. China, which Amnesty International’s report calls the "chief executioner", is not included in there because of a lack of accurate data.

Mehdi Hasan Khan via wikimedia
Mehdi Hasan Khan via wikimedia
Amnesty International has published an annual report "Death Sentences and Executions" summarizing the results of 2015. The organization notes a sharp increase in the number of executions worldwide, which, according to its Secretary-General Salil Shetty, is a "deeply disturbing" fact. "Never over the last 25 years had so many people in the world been executed ", - he said. According to Amnesty International, the number of executions in 2015 increased by 54% compared to 2014, and amounted to 1634.

The report does not take into account the execution of prisoners in China since there is no reliable data on this country – this is national security information in China. However, Amnesty International expressed the view that China executes thousands of people every year – that is why the organization considers the country as the world’s "chief executioner". According to the report, 89% of the officially recorded executions last year were committed in three countries - Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Most people were executed in Iran - 977 people. The biggest part of them, according to the Iranian authorities, lost their lives for crimes related to drugs. Moreover, among those executed were four minors. The second highest number of executions falls on Pakistan, with more than 320 people executed. This is the first time when the country got in the top five with the highest number of executions. For the second consecutive year, Saudi Arabia remains in the top three. Last year, it has increased the number of executions by 76% compared to 2014 (158 people perished). The top five also includes the United States, which executed 28 people, and this is the lowest number of executions since 1991.

Number of countries where the death penalty is permitted has also grown over the past year (25 in 2015 against 22 in 2014). However, Amnesty International's Secretary General Salil Shetty said it’s reassuring that four countries have abolished the death penalty last year. These are Madagascar, Fiji, Suriname and the Republic of Congo. Mongolia will join them in September this year. Now, 102 countries in the world have completely given up the death penalty. Other 32 states have an acting moratorium on the death penalty, and also 6 countries retain the death penalty for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes. The only European country that applies the death penalty is Belarus. Over the past year, the country has delivered two death sentences, yet not a single person was executed.

For comparison: according Amnesty International’s previous report, at least 607 people were executed in 2014 (this number does not take into account China). Excluding China, the largest number of executions in 2014 fell on Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia: 72% of all officially recorded executions were committed there.