October 10 is the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

Which countries still have the death penalty?

Source AlJazeera & Amnesty international

The theme of this year’s World Day Against the Death Penalty is safeguarding the health and rights of women and girls.

According to Amnesty International, more than two-thirds of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

By the end of last year, 108 countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes, eight countries had abolished the death penalty for crimes not committed during times of war and 28 countries still retained the death penalty but had not executed anyone over the past 10 years.

Fifty-five countries still retain and implement the death penalty.

On September 20, Equatorial Guinea became the latest country to abolish the death penalty when its president signed a new penal code into law. It will come into force in three months.

Executions and sentences in 2021

At least 579 people, including 24 women, are known to have been executed by 18 nations in 2021 – up by 20 percent from 2020.

Three countries accounted for 80 percent of all known executions in 2021: Iran (at least 314), Egypt (at least 83) and Saudi Arabia (65).

The recorded global totals do not include the thousands of executions that Amnesty International believes were carried out in China, where data on the death penalty are classified as a state secret.

The number of known death sentences also increased from 1,477 in 2020 to at least 2,052 in 2021 – an increase of nearly 40 percent.

source alJazeera & Amnesty international

Is the Death Penalty Ever Justified?

May 18, 2012 Source :

Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, China, Sudan.

No, this is not a list of countries with records of human rights abuses; nor is it a list of countries with ruthless dictators; nor is it a list of countries the United States has condemned at some point within the past few months.

Actually, it’s an incomplete list. Add the U.S., and you are one step closer to completing a list of countries that kill their own people.

Every country mentioned currently allows its citizens to be sentenced to death. Only China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia execute more people than the U.S. does, and they are all on a list of only 20 nations who performed executions in 2009.

But, to be fair, executions are handed out with a somewhat honorable intention: to deter, and ultimately reduce, crime. It is reasonable, then, to question whether or not that works.

Indeed, the numbers do not add up. There is no evidence suggesting that increasing executions leads to a reduction in crime. In fact, as executions increased in the late ’80s, the number of crime rose along with them. Similarly, both the number of crimes and the number of executions have fallen in the past decade. If anything, the evidence concludes that increasing executions might actually correlate with higher crime.

Regardless, the only thing being accomplished by the death penalty is death itself. A country that brutally murders its citizens seems as far from developed or democratic as it can possibly be. If the United States is the beacon of freedom and justice that it claims to be, it would abolish the death penalty tomorrow.

Not to mention the unintended consequences that come with any policy, and are not easy to undo when it comes to the death penalty. A recent New York Times editorial tells the tale of Carlos DeLuna, an alleged murderer executed by the state of Texas in 1989. According to studies involving the case, DeLuna was likely innocent. It would be foolish to believe that DeLuna’s case is isolated.

At the very least, our system needs to start holding people accountable. The prosecutors in DeLuna’s case reportedly withheld crucial exculpatory evidence that led to his conviction and ultimate death — an unfortunate tactic that is widespread and goes unpunished. Prosecutors who act in such a way are, unquestionably, more guilty of murder than the innocent people they target.

Last August, Governor Rick Perry of Texas lambasted the Syrian government for threatening the safety of its own people. The next month, he received a roaring ovation after bragging about his authorization of 234 executions, the most in history.

Well, Mr. Perry, what’s the difference?

Amnesty International publishes its annual review of death sentences and executions

Amnesty International publishes its annual review of death sentences and executions worldwide, let’s begin with the good news: the death penalty is on the retreat.

Last year, only 20 out of 198 countries carried out executions ― a figure down by more than a third from a decade ago. And 90 percent of U.N. member states were execution-free, while 140 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

march 27, 2012 source :

Each execution is one too many

By Salil Shetty

Working for an organization whose job is to stand up for justice and freedom, and to expose abuses and injustices, I am often forced to highlight problems rather than progress.

So, as Amnesty International publishes its annual review of death sentences and executions worldwide, let’s begin with the good news: the death penalty is on the retreat.

Last year, only 20 out of 198 countries carried out executions ― a figure down by more than a third from a decade ago. And 90 percent of U.N. member states were execution-free, while 140 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

It is worth pausing to consider these figures. When Amnesty International began its global campaign against the death penalty 35 years ago ― opposing it in all cases, regardless of the crime, offender, or method of execution ― the world’s 16 abolitionist countries were then the minority. Today, the poles are reversed and instead those states clinging to capital punishment are the exception.

In 2011, execution-free areas included all of Europe and the former Soviet Union, except Belarus; and all of the Americas, except the U.S. The Pacific region was death penalty free apart from five new sentences in Papua New Guinea.

This sea-change is testament to human rights campaigners with the courage to stand up to repression; to politicians and decision-makers with the courage to go against the political or popular grain; and to lawyers, journalists and academics with the courage to expose the truth.

They have shown that not only is the death penalty wrong ― a violation of the right to life ― but that once examined in any detail, the case for state-sanctioned murder collapses.

Does it deter violent crime? There is no convincing evidence for this. Countries that have abolished the death penalty often have lower murder rates than those that have not. State sanctioned killing endorses the use of force and can fuel cycles of violence and retribution.

What about popular support for executions? Such support is usually a mile wide and an inch deep. Once expedient reactions or a calculated desire by leaders and commentators to be “tough” on crime is replaced by considered discussion, and once alternative options are suggested, public support for execution recedes.

Don’t victims of crime deserve justice and closure? Yes, people who have suffered awful crimes deserve justice, but justice cannot be rooted in revenge. Murder is wrong, whether perpetrated by a person or by the state.

Some may find closure, but this is not self-evident ― sometimes victims of violent crimes oppose their attackers’ execution. In the U.S., Bangladeshi immigrant Rais Bhuiyan campaigned unsuccessfully for clemency for Mark Stroman, who had shot him during a series of violent crimes committed in reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Rais said: “My religion teaches that forgiveness is always better than vengeance.”

And of course there is no appeal from the grave. The U.S. state of Illinois abandoned the death penalty in 2011 following several wrongful convictions.

No wonder some argue that the true test of support for the death penalty isn’t a willingness to execute, but a willingness to accept the possibility of killing the innocent.

Others justify capital punishment for regional, religious or cultural reasons. But the abolitionist majority includes states from all major world regions, religions and cultures.

Yet a few states persist with capital punishment, and here we must address the bad news. A small group of isolated countries executed at an alarming rate last year. Whether by beheading, hanging, lethal injection or shooting, globally at least 676 people were executed and at least 18,750 people remained under sentence of death at the year’s end.

These figures exclude thousands of executions believed to have taken place in China, the world’s leading executioner. We no longer publish figures we collect from public sources on this country, as these are likely to grossly underestimate the true number. So far China has not accepted our challenge to publish the real figures, in order to confirm their claims that there has been a significant reduction in the use of the death penalty in the country over the last four years.

Neither do our figures include credible reports of large numbers of additional executions in Iran, which are not officially acknowledged. These would almost double the official tally there.

China and Iran were joined in their willingness to execute by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and ― alone in the Americas and in the G8 group of leading economies ― the U.S. Along with North Korea, Somalia and Yemen, these states are consistently among the highest executioners every year.

Regionally, the Middle East saw a sharp rise in recorded executions, up almost 50 percent on 2010. Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen accounted for 99 percent of these cases.

We should also note that in most countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, it was after unfair legal proceedings. And in Belarus, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Saudi Arabia death sentences sometimes followed “confessions” extracted through duress or even torture. As so often throughout history, capital punishment was used by repressive states to remove the troublesome or unwanted.

So there is no room for complacency. Each execution is one too many. But 2011 reinforced the overall trend firmly toward abolition, and it is clear that this cruel and irrevocable punishment, which makes victims of us all, is heading inevitably toward the history books.

Salil Shetty is secretary general of Amnesty International.