Amnesty International released its annual report on the death penalty around the world yesterday (12 April). It appears that 993 executions were recorded in 23 countries last year. This is a slight decrease of 4% compared to 2016 (1032 executions), and a very significant decline of 39% since 2015. That year, 1634 people were executed according to the organization. At least 2,591 death sentences were handed down in 53 countries in 2017, a significant drop from the 2016 record of 3,117.
But this figure must be put into perspective, because it does not take into account China, the state that executes the most in the world, usually thousands of people a year, in the greatest secrecy, with the greatest disregard for human rights. Information on the death penalty is still classified as a State secret.
Worldwide executions and death sentences have declined, following a record high in previous years.
Only four countries account for 84% of global executions: Iran (-11% in 2017), Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan (-31%). Executions also decreased significantly in Belarus and Egypt (-50%).
The United States made 41 executions in 2017, up from 32 in 2016, the lowest since 1973.
Mongolia has abolished the death penalty in 2017. Guinea, for its part, has become the 20th country in sub-Saharan Africa to abolish the death penalty. The number of convictions has also decreased, to 878 in 2017 against 1,086 in 2016. The Gambia has also signed an international treaty obliging it not to carry out executions and to progress towards the abolition of the capital punishment.
“Thanks to the progress it has made, Sub-Saharan Africa is more than ever a beacon of hope for abolition. The leaders of the countries of the region are rekindling the idea that the abolition of the most cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is possible”, said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.
“States in the region continue to take measures to limit the use of the death penalty or to abolish it when the year 2018 is already well underway, and the last countries in the world that still carry out executions are all the more isolated.”
“Now that 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, it is high time that the rest of the world follow their example and renounce this abject and old-fashioned punishment.”
142 out of 195 countries have abolished the death penalty, whether by law or de facto. 106 countries have totally repealed it. However, many countries still have to violate international law.
1 execution takes place every 9 hours on average.