The number of executions in the world continues to decrease, according to an annual report by human rights organization Amnesty International on Tuesday. However, a small minority of countries use the death penalty more intensively, including Saudi Arabia.
Compared to 2018, the number of executions in 2019 was about 5 percent lower. At least 657 people were executed in 2019, compared to at least 690 in 2018. In the past ten years, the number of executions has not been so low.
However, a comment must be made on the figures. Certain countries, including Belarus, China and Vietnam, do not publish official figures on the death penalty. Therefore, the figures are not complete.
Amnesty International therefore also collects information from families of relatives, the media and other social organizations. This shows that China has been number one for years with thousands of executions a year. However, countries such as North Korea and Vietnam continue to guess at the number of executions, the organization said.
Countries with the most executions in 2019
- China (thousands)
- Iran (at least 251)
- Saudi Arabia (184)
- Iraq (at least 100)
- Egypt (at least 32)
Although the number of executions seems to have decreased in recent years, Amnesty International sees that in 2019, more executions took place in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, South Sudan, Iran and Yemen.
Saudi Arabia set a record with 184 executions. According to Amnesty International, most people were sentenced to death for drug-related crimes and murder. But the death penalty is also increasingly being used as a political weapon against dissidents against the Shia minority in the country, the organization said.
Still, global abolition of the death penalty is within reach, according to Amnesty International. The number of executions fell, especially in Japan and Singapore. In Afghanistan, no executions took place for the first time since 2010. 142 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.