HANDS OFF CAIN’S 2005 REPORT: MORE ABOLITIONIST STATES AND FEWER EXECUTIONS WORLDWIDE
June 24, 2005: The Death Penalty Worldwide 2005 Report illustrates a continued positive evolution towards abolition globally. HOC’s annual report, edited by Elisabetta Zamparutti, shows 8 countries dropped the death penalty in 2004, bringing up to 138 the total of countries and territories that have abandoned
capital punishment in law or in fact.
Worldwide, 86 countries are now abolitionist, 11 are abolitionist for ordinary crimes, 1 country, Russia, is committed to abolition as a member of the Council of Europe and observing a moratorium in the meanwhile, another 5 countries have introduced a moratorium on executions and 35 countries are de facto
abolitionist, not having put anyone to death for over 10 years.
The countries that keep the death penalty are down to 58 from 61 in 2003 and 64 in 2002. In 2004 only 25 of these countries carried out executions compared to 30 in 2003 and 34 in 2002. As a result, the number of executions also diminished, with 5,476 people put to death in 2004, down from 5,607 in 2003.
Asia tops the standings again as the region where the sheer majority of executions are carried out, with a minimum of 5,403 executions for 2004. This is nevertheless a decrease compared to 2003, when 5,482 executions were registered.
America would be practically death-penalty free were it not for the 59 people put to death in the United States, the only country on the continent to execute anyone in 2004. In the US the 2004 total was down 40% from the 1999 figure.
In Africa, the death penalty appears to be falling into disuse. In 2004 only three countries put people to death – Egypt, Sudan and Somalia – where at least 9 executions are known to have taken place. The known total on the continent was 56 in 2003 and 63 in 2002.
In Europe, the only blemish on an otherwise completely death penalty-free zone is Belarus, where 5 people were put to death in 2004.
Of the 58 countries worldwide that retain the death penalty, 44 are dictatorial, authoritarian or illiberal states. These countries were responsible for 5,411 executions, equal to 98.8% of the world total in 2004.
China alone carried out at least 5,000, or 91.3%, of the executions; Iran put at least 197 people to death and Vietnam at least 82, in an escalation of executions hitting mainly people convicted of drug crimes. These were followed by North Korea, where the number of executions is unclear but thought to amount to scores of people. Saudi Arabia carried out at least 38 executions; Pakistan at least 29, Bangladesh at least 12; Kuwait at least 9 and Egypt at least 6.
Of the 58 countries worldwide that retain the death penalty, 14 are classed as liberal democracies. Of these, 4 carried out executions in 2004, down from 6 in 2003. They accounted for 65 executions between them, equal to 1.2% of the world tally. These were: United States (59), Taiwan (3), Japan (2) and India (1).
Since the start of 2004, four countries resumed executions after a long period of suspension. Lebanon resumed executions after 5 years of de facto moratorium in January 2004, and in April 2004, Afghanistan carried out the first execution since the fall of the Taliban. In August 2004 India interrupted a nine-year
(according to official records) de facto moratorium, and Indonesia its three-year one. On June 12, 2004, with the execution of four people, the Palestinian Authority interrupted a de facto moratorium in place for three years.
In 2004 at least five juvenile offenders were put to death: in China (1), Iran (3) and Pakistan (1). Another minor was hanged in Iran in January 2005.