Amnesty’s annual death penalty report published


Amnesty’s annual death penalty report for 2021 has just been published

The introduction to the report is reproduced here. The full report is available from this link.

Amnesty International recorded 579 executions in 18 countries in 2021, an increase of 20% from the 483 recorded in 2020. This figure represents the second lowest number of executions recorded by Amnesty International since at least 2010. Most known executions took place in China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria – in that order.

China remained the world’s leading executioner – but the true extent of its use of the death penalty is unknown as this data is classified as a state secret; the global figures for executions and death sentences therefore exclude the thousands of people that Amnesty International believes to have been sentenced to death and executed in China. Figures for North Korea and Viet Nam, which are believed to have extensively resorted to executions, were also not included in the global executions figure, as secrecy and lack of access to independent information made it impossible to assess trends.

Amnesty International recorded 24 women among the 579 people known to have been executed in 2021 (4%), in the following countries: Egypt (8), Iran (14), Saudi Arabia (1) and USA (1).

Belarus, Japan and UAE resumed executions. Amnesty International did not record any executions in IndiaQatar and Taiwan, having done so in 2020.

Iran executed at least 314 people (up from at least 246 in 2020), their highest number of executions since 2017, reversing year-on-year declines since then.

Recorded executions in Saudi Arabia rose sharply, from 27 to 65, an increase of 140% percent.

Despite these increases, the 2021 global executions figure constitutes the second-lowest figure recorded by Amnesty International since at least 2010. For the second consecutive year, the number of countries known to have executed people was the lowest the organization has recorded. In 2019, 2020 and 2021 Amnesty International recorded 657, 483 and 579 executions respectively.

In July, Sierra Leone’s parliament unanimously adopted an Act which abolishes the death penalty for all crimes.  Kazakhstan adopted legislation in December abolishing the death penalty for all crimes, which came into effect this year.  Papua New Guinea embarked on a national consultation on the death penalty, which resulted in the adoption of an abolition Bill in January 2022, still to come into force. The Government of Malaysia announced that it would table legislative reforms on the death penalty in the third quarter of 2022.

At the end of 2021, more than two thirds of the world’s countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.  108 countries, a majority of the world’s states, had abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes and 144 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.  55 countries still retained the death penalty.

Amnesty International recorded commutations or pardons of death sentences in 19 countries: Bangladesh, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, UAE, USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Amnesty International recorded seven exonerations of people under sentence of death in four countries: Bahrain (1), Kenya (1), USA (2) and Zambia (3).

Amnesty International recorded 2,052 death sentences imposed in 56 countries, up 39% from at least 1,477 in 54 countries in 2020.

Ethiopia, Guyana, Maldives, Oman, Tanzania, and Uganda handed down death sentences having not done so in 2020, while the reverse was true of Bahrain, Comoros, Laos and Niger.

At the end of 2021, at least 28,670 people were known to be under sentence of death. Nine countries held 82% of the known totals: Iraq (8,000+), Pakistan (3,800+), Nigeria (3,036+), USA (2,382), Bangladesh (1,800+), Malaysia (1,359), Viet Nam (1,200+), Algeria (1,000+), Sri Lanka (1,000+).

The following methods of execution were used across the world in 2021: beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.

Four people were executed for crimes that occurred when they were below 18 years of age: in Iran (3) and Yemen (1).  Amnesty International believes that other people in this category remained on death row in Maldives, Myanmar and Iran.

At least 134 executions for drug-related offences were known to have been carried out in two countries (China and Iran), an increase of 346% from 2020 (30). Information on Viet Nam, which is very likely to have carried out such executions, was unavailable.

Death sentences were known to have been imposed after proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards in countries including Algeria, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Egypt, Iran, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Singapore and Yemen.


The Salisbury group collects information from around the world and publishes a report each month. The most recent report can be accessed here and others by searching the site or via a search engine.

Singapore execution carried out


Singapore executes Nagaenthran Dharmalingam today

Despite international protests, the Singapore government executed by hanging Nagaenthran Dharmalingam – a man with an intellectual disability – today (27 April 2022). He was convicted in 2009 for importing 42.7 g (1.5 oz) of diamorphine (heroin) and sentenced to death under the states draconian anti-drug laws. The decision to execute someone with an intellectual disability is especially abhorrent. This is the second execution in Singapore in a month with a third scheduled for Friday 29th.

Asia-Pacific Amnesty director Erwin van der Borght said:

The execution of Nagaenthran is a disgraceful act by the Singapore government – ruthlessly carried out despite extensive protests in Singapore and Malaysia and an outcry across the world.

Amnesty International, 27 April 2022

The Singapore government justifies the use of the death penalty because of its alleged deterrent effect on drug related problems. Critics point out there is no evidence to support this claim.

Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. Read our latest death penalty report.

Death Penalty report: March – April


We are pleased to attach our monthly death penalty report for March – April 2022 thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it. Singapore features quite strongly this month. Note that Chiana, which is believed to execute more of its citizens than the rest of the world combined, does not feature as details are a state secret.

Risk of execution – Saudi


Mohammed al-Faraj’s hearing was postponed  so he remains in prison in Saudi Arabia at risk of the death penalty. Mohammed was only 15 years old when he was arrested outside a bowling alley in Saudi Arabia. That was in 2017.

The fifth anniversary of his imprisonment is coming up.  He has endured five years away from his family. Five years away from his friends. And five years at risk of a death sentence.

When Mohammed was arrested, he was beaten, kicked and shackled with his arms above his head for up to four hours at a time. The Saudi Arabian authorities forced him to sign a “confession”.

The so-called “crimes” Mohammed committed included going to his uncle’s funeral when he was just nine years old. 20,136 people in this community signed the petition demanding Mohammed is not executed. Sending a message to Mohammed today will let him know we’re still fighting for him.

Will you let Mohammed know we’re thinking of him and fighting for his freedom?

Link to message

Repost from Reprieve

Good news! Sudan


Release of prisoner on death row

You might remember Magai Matiop Ngong, who was only 15-years-old when he was sentenced to death in South Sudan. After two years and eight months on death row, we are thrilled to share that Magai has been released.

More than 765,000 people around the world took action for Magai, which resulted in his death sentence being sent back to the High Court for a review. This week, we are celebrating his release.

This is just one example of the change we can be part of when we come together, and the incredible difference campaigning can make in the lives of people facing injustice like Magai. 

Execution is the ultimate punishment and we will always stand against it. Every human being on this planet has the right to life, and we need to ensure that right is protected no matter what. 

Good News From Iran: Death Sentence Overturned


A man sentenced to death for an offence when he was a child has had his sentence overturned by the Iranian Supreme Court after 18 years on death row. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was 15 years old when he was arrested in 2002 on charges of committing murder while stealing a car. Although he initially pleaded guilty he later explained that his two co-defendants had coerced him by promising him money to take the rap for the murder telling him that he would not receive the death penalty as he was underage. Iran is one of the few countries in the world that still uses the death sentence against minors even though it is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which prohibits the use of the death sentence for crimes committed by anyone under the age of 18. However, in Sharia law, the “age of criminal responsibility” for children is defined as the age of maturity, which means that females over 9 lunar years of age and boys over 15 lunar years of age are both eligible for execution if convicted of “crimes against God” (such as apostasy) or “retribution crimes” (such as murder).

The law grants judges the discretion to replace the death penalty with an alternative sentence if they find that there are doubts about the individual’s comprehension of the nature of the crime or consequences, or their full “mental growth and maturity” at the time of the crime. International human rights organizations say Iran is responsible for more than 70% of all juveniles executed in the last 30 years with at least 63 in the last decade, including at least six in 2018 and four in 2019. Given the security state, suppression of civil society activists, and limited interaction with detainees, the number of juvenile executions is likely to be significantly greater than reported.

In 2020 Iran carried out at least 246 executions with 194 were for murder; 23 for drug-related offences; 12 for rape; four for “armed insurrection against the state”; five for “enmity against God”; two for espionage; one for “spreading corruption on earth” and one for drinking alcohol. One execution was carried out in public and nine women were executed. Hanging and shooting were the methods of execution. The Islamic Penal Code continued to provide for execution by stoning, for some consensual same-sex sexual conduct and extramarital sexual relations. The death penalty was increasingly used as a weapon of political repression against dissidents, protesters and members of ethnic minority groups.

Repost from Amnesty

Singapore: execution to continue


Fury at decision to execute man with learning disabilities

In the early hours of yesterday morning (29 March) morning, Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a man with intellectual disabilities on death row in Singapore, lost his fight in court against his execution. The courts may have rejected his appeal, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong could still save him.  Nagen still needs this community to keep fighting for a life-saving pardon. The decision has received world wide condemnation. Singapore does not have a favourable human rights record and uses repressive laws against political opponents and human rights defenders. Human Rights Watch describes the country’s political environment at ‘overwhelmingly repressive’ with severe restrictions on free expression, association and assembly.

Nagaenthran claims he was coerced into carrying a package of heroin but that he was unaware of the contents. The UN has said the sentence is disproportionate and no allowance had been made by the authorities for his disabilities. His IQ is said to be 69.

In the 48 hours before his hearing, over 4,000 people made their voices heard and tweeted Lee Hsien Loong asking for Nagen to be spared. Only the Singaporean government can save him now, should they decide to show compassion and grant him a pardon that will spare his life.

Because of your support, Nagen is not standing alone in his fight for his life. For details and how you can help follow this link to the Reprieve site.

We include a link to a video of an interesting talk by Kirsten Han on the subject of the death penalty in Singapore.

Sources: Amnesty; Guardian; Reprieve; Human Rights Watch.

Saudi executes 81 in one day


News that Saudi Arabia has executed 81 people in one day has shocked the world. Where or how is not known but the usual method is beheading. It surpasses the 63 executed in one day in 1979. So much for the reforms Mohammed bin Salman was supposed to be introducing.

The dead were unlikely to have received a fair trial. They would almost certainly have been tortured into providing confessions. Saudi television said that those executed had ‘followed the footsteps of Satan’.

The executions brings into sharp focus UK relations with the regime. Saudi is our biggest overseas buyer of weapons many of which are being used in the war in Yemen. While our news media is giving wall to wall coverage of the war in Ukraine, the bombing of Yemen hospitals, clinics, weddings and other communal events gets scant coverage. Tens of thousands have been killed, including many children, and cholera is endemic.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, is due to visit the kingdom in the next few days to try and increase the supply of oil. One wonders if the executions and the outrage they have caused will feature in the discussions. A Reprieve action urging Johnson to cancel his trip is here. Saudi Arabia has invested in Newcastle Football Club.

A report by the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights report on this can be accessed here. This organisation has been added to our list of contacts to be found at the bottom of the page.

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