Iran executed nearly 1,000 last year, while executions in Pakistan highest ever recorded
A dramatic global rise in the number of executions recorded in 2015 saw more people put to death around the world than at any point in the last quarter-century, said Amnesty International today, as it published its annual review of the death penalty worldwide.
At least 1,634 people were executed in 2015, a rise of 54% on the year before and the highest number Amnesty has recorded since 1989. This total does not include China where thousands were likely to have been executed but where the death penalty is a state secret.
The figures - contained in a 70-page report Death Sentences and Executions in 2015
- show that the top five executioners in the world in 2015 were China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the USA. The surge in executions - which Amnesty described as “profoundly disturbing” - was largely fuelled by big increases in Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
In Iran at least 977 people were executed in 2015 - compared to 743-plus in 2014 (up 31%) - the vast majority for drug-related crimes. Iran is also one of the world’s last executioners of child offenders, in violation of international law. Last year Iran executed at least four people who were under 18 at the time of the crime for which they were convicted.
Pakistan continued a killing spree it embarked on when it lifted a moratorium on civilian executions in December 2014. More than 320 people were sent to the gallows in 2015, the highest number Amnesty has ever recorded for Pakistan (at least five were reportedly child offenders). Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, executions rose by 76% on 2014’s figures, with at least 158 people executed last year. Most were beheaded, but firing squads were also used and executed bodies were sometimes displayed in public.
The number of countries using capital punishment also rose last year, from 22 in 2014 to 25 in 2015. At least six countries which did not carry out executions in 2014 did so in 2015, including Chad where executions were carried out for the first time in more than a decade.
Amnesty also stressed that in the majority of countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the death penalty was imposed after proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards.
Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said:
“The rise in executions last year is profoundly disturbing.
“Not for the last 25 years have so many people been put to death by states around the world.
“Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have all put people to death at unprecedented levels, often after grossly unfair trials. This slaughter must end.”
Executions, methods and offences
Amnesty’s report shows that there were executions in the following countries during 2015: China (several thousand suspected), Iran (977+), Pakistan (326), Saudi Arabia (158+), USA (28), Iraq (26+), Somalia (25+), Egypt (22+), Indonesia (14), Chad (10), Yemen (8+), Taiwan (6), South Sudan (5+), Bangladesh (4), Japan (3), Sudan (3), Jordan (2), Oman (2), Afghanistan (1), India (1), UAE (1); plus Malaysia (unknown number), North Korea (unknown number) and Vietnam (unknown number). Many countries do not release official information on their use of capital punishment and several countries are thought to have executed many more than the minimum figures compiled by Amnesty (indicated with a “+” symbol).
The following methods of execution were used: beheading (Saudi Arabia), hanging (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Sudan, Sudan), lethal injection (China, USA, Vietnam) and shooting (Chad, China, Indonesia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Taiwan, UAE, Yemen).
People faced the death penalty for a range of non-lethal crimes, including: corruption (China, North Korea, Vietnam), armed robbery (Saudi Arabia), “adultery” (Maldives, Saudi Arabia), aggravated circumstances of rape (India), rape (Afghanistan, Jordan, Pakistan); “apostasy” (Saudi Arabia), kidnapping (Iraq), kidnapping and rape (Saudi Arabia), and “insulting the prophet of Islam” (Iran).
Progress during 2015
There were also some positive developments during 2015. Four countries completely abolished the death penalty in 2015 - Fiji, Madagascar, Republic of Congo and Suriname. Mongolia also passed a new criminal code abolishing the death penalty, which will take effect later this year. Overall, for the first time ever, a majority of the world’s countries - 102 - have now fully abolished the death penalty. In total, 140 countries across the globe are abolitionist in law or practice. Meanwhile, other positive indicators included the fact that the USA carried out 28 executions, the lowest number since 1991, while the number of death sentences imposed in the USA (52) was the lowest number since 1977. The state of Pennsylvania also imposed a moratorium on executions (18 US states have already fully abolished the death penalty).