AMNESTY: SAUDI ARABIA EXECUTED RECORD NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN 2019 AMID DECLINE IN GLOBAL EXECUTIONS
April 22, 2020:
Amnesty International recorded 657 executions in 20 countries in 2019, a decrease of 5% compared to 2018 (at least 690). This is the lowest number of executions that Amnesty International has recorded in at least a decade. (Sources: AI, 21/04/2020)
Most executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt – in that order.
China remained the world’s leading 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 657 excludes the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China.
Excluding China, 86% of all reported executions took place in just four countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt.
Bangladesh and Bahrain resumed executions last year, after a hiatus in 2018. Amnesty International did not report any executions in Afghanistan, Taiwan and Thailand, despite having done so in 2018.
Executions in Iran fell slightly from at least 253 in 2018 to at least 251 in 2019. Executions in Iraq almost doubled from at least 52 in 2018 to at least 100 in 2019, while Saudi Arabia executed a record number of people from 149 in 2018 to 184 in 2019.
Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Zimbabwe either took positive steps or made pronouncements in 2019 which may lead to the abolition of the death penalty.
Barbados also removed the mandatory death penalty from its Constitution. In the United States, the Governor of California established an official moratorium on executions in the US state with biggest death row population, and New Hampshire became the 21st US state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.
Gambia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan continued to observe official moratoriums on executions.
At the end of 2019, 106 countries (a majority of the world’s states) had abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes, and 142 countries (more than two-thirds) had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
Amnesty International recorded commutations or pardons of death sentences in 24 countries: Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco/Western Sahara, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Singapore, Sudan, Thailand, UAE, USA, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
At least 11 exonerations of prisoners under sentence of death were recorded in two countries: USA and Zambia.
Amnesty International recorded at least 2,307 death sentences in 56 countries compared to the total of 2,531 reported in 54 countries in 2018. However, Amnesty did not receive information on official figures for death sentences imposed in Malaysia, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, countries that reported high official numbers of death sentences in previous years.
At least 26,604 people were known to be under sentence of death globally at the end of 2019.
At least 13 public executions were recorded in Iran. At least six people – four in Iran, one in Saudi Arabia and one in South Sudan – were executed for crimes that occurred when they were below 18 years of age. People with mental or intellectual disabilities were under sentence of death in several countries, including Japan, Maldives, Pakistan and USA.
Death sentences were known to have been imposed after proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards in countries including Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Viet Nam and Yemen.
The number of executions (from 25 to 22) and death sentences (from 45 to 35) recorded in the USA decreased compared to 2018.
At least two executions were recorded in Belarus in 2019, compared to at least four in 2018.