Amnesty International says 2017 saw a significant drop in the number of death sentences issued around the world.
Amnesty International says the global picture’s continuing to improve. Last year they counted at least 993 executions. That’s four percent fewer that in 2016 and 39 percent fewer than in 2015. And there’s been a marked drop in death sentences passed. At least 2,000 591 were recorded in 2017 a yearly fall of 17%. but there’s a major caveat these figures don’t include China. Amnesty says it’s by far the world’s biggest executioner carrying out thousands of death sentences last year but statistics are considered a state secret.
Now 84% of all recorded executions took place in just four countries: Iran Saudi Arabia Iraq and Pakistan. Iran executed at least 507 people last year more than half the recorded global figure. Amnesty says courts there often rely on confessions made under torture when passing death sentences. And several countries in the Middle East resumed executions in 2017 after years of not doing so. One continuing practice that amnesty calls disturbing is executions for drug related offenses - something that’s against international law.
“We have noticed it being used by a lot of countries: Malaysia and Iran primarily and Indonesia Singapore and all these other countries. And this is contrary to some of the obligations that this country have - the international human rights law and standards. And the fact that some of these countries actually even now taking steps to reform their own national laws to align it with international laws and regulation is a testimony to the fact that they agree with us.”
In the USA the only country in the Americas executing people the number of states carrying out executions rose from 5 to 8. And while there was progress in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria sentenced 621 people to death last year - more than any other country in the region. So a mixed picture. And Amnesty International says its public campaign to get the death penalty abolished will go on.