The report by Amnesty on the use of the death penalty around the world in 2019 is now available
Update: 10 May A report from India commenting on Amnesty’s report can be read here.
There was a small decrease in executions in 2019 Amnesty International reports amounting to 657 executions in 20 countries, 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. 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. The following are some of the key points taken from the full Amnesty report. Looking at the picture overall, there has been slight progress around the world if we exclude China.
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 least 26,604 people were known to be under sentence of death globally at the end of 2019.
The following methods of execution were used across the world in 2019: beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.
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.
Amnesty International 2019 Death Penalty report (pdf)
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